Winter TV Roundup, Week 8

With the Winter Olympics behind us, networks will start to spring into action. February is a Sweeps month, so many favorites are returning and new series are debuting. The same goes for the cable landscape, making it a crowded chilly season. But which series are worth your time? Let this weekly column be your guide as I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

All American: Homecoming, Mondays at 9 p.m. on The CW (Premiered February 21)
: This spin-off from All American takes the action to college in Georgia, where Simone (Geffri Maya) is a budding tennis star. This one got a back door pilot, of sorts, as part of All American, and it makes sense for The CW to be trying to expand an established brand. This will likely hold some appeal to the same core demographic, featuring a cast of a certain age and mixing in sports—in this case Tennis and Baseball. Likely there will be plenty of drama, too, which we see from the jump. Simone was a decent character on All American, but I remain on the fence about whether she can carry her own show. Time will tell, but the pilot was OK.
Pilot Grade: C

The Endgame, Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC (Premiered February 21)
: What if The Blacklist featured a female Raymond Reddington? Maybe that’s not a completely fair assessment, but it certainly feels like NBC was trying to catch lightening in a bottle again with this one. This time it’s Morena Baccarin in the lead, as a terrorist referred to as Snow White. Ryan Michelle Bathe is the FBI agent who has been hot on her trail, with a husband that’s in jail and a career that’s slipping down the drain. When Elena Federova (Baccarin) is captured by authorities it turns out it was part of her plan all along. So, too, is the inclusion of Agent Fitzgerald (Bathe), and their pairing may yield better results. The pilot has some good action and presents a back story. Doubtless there is more to explore in the personal lives of both ladies and for those that enjoy this kind of format, this could work. I’ll admit, though, I’m not in love with Baccarin’s accent…
Pilot Grade: C+

Fairview, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. on Comedy Central (Premiered February 9)
This animated series, which counts Stephen Colbert among its producers, is a sad attempt to make a commentary about a certain political viewpoint. Fairview is meant to represent small town America and the small-town cliches that people assume about its populations. The first episode tackled COVID, the second tackled Cancel Culture. Both were dreadful in terms of style, characters and execution. This turns into the worst kind of cliché that ends up looking more dreadful than the type of people it’s meant to skewer. This is easily the worst new show I’ve seen in 2022.
Pilot Grade: D
Second Episode: D-

Severance, Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered February 18)
The latest drama from Apple TV+ is set in a world where those that work in a specialized division of a major corporation have agreed to be severed. In short, their personality is split. While at work, they only know the world of the office and the work they do in a windowless basement. In the world, they only know their personal lives and have no knowledge or memory of what happens at work. Or, at least, that’s how it’s meant to work. This series, which features a nine-episode first season created by Dan Erickson, Mohamed el Massri and Wei-Ning Yu, with six episodes directed by Ben Stiller, including the two released on Friday. The cast is led by Adam Scott, and includes John Turturro, Christopher Walken and Patricia Arquette, among others. It’s a very sparse world that’s created, and that’s by design. You see much of the narrative through Scott’s eyes, building a world and the struggle of those who are severed. The first two episodes are about building the world and characters, while creating a mystery. They work well as a hook, as this feels like another engaging win for Apple TV+, which is quickly creating a reputation for outstanding original content.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-

Streaming Series:
The Cuphead Show, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered February 18)
This new animated series is presumably aimed at adults, but it’s hard to tell. It’s a cartoon adaptation of the 2017 game, focusing on Cuphead and his brother Mugman. The series comes from Dave Wasson and features the brothers on various adventures. The episodes are in the neighborhood of 15 minutes, and that includes credits, with an eight-episode first season. So, the entire season is an investment shorter than most feature films. That being said, I wasn’t familiar with the source material and that could possibly be the reason I wasn’t taken with this. Some of the animation is interesting but the stories didn’t feel engaging. It doesn’t feel like subject matter aimed at kids, but it lacks the depth of most adult-oriented cartoons. This sits in a soft middle where it’s hard to tell who it would be aimed at. At least it’s a short watch.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

Lincoln’s Dilemma, Now Streaming on Apple TV+ (Premiered February 18)
: Based on the book by David S. Reynolds, this Apple TV+ documentary series looks at Abraham Lincoln and his role in ending slavery. It’s meant to be something or a reevaluation and hard look at Lincoln, his feelings and the historical era in which he lived. It features Jeffrey Wright as the narrator, Leslie Odom, Jr., voicing Frederick Douglass, a figure that weighed heavily in Lincoln’s decision-making, and Bill Camp as the voice of Lincoln. The first episode dives into what drew him to politics, his rise to the Presidency and the fracturing of the Union, while the second episode dives deeper into the trials of a Civil War. The entire mini-series is four episodes, each running around an hour. It’s an interesting look at history and timed well to coincide with President’s Day Weekend.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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