Winter TV Roundup, Week 11

We’re rapidly approaching mid-March, which means college basketball and Spring Break. Maybe you have a little free time and you’re looking for a new show to dive into, but which one is worth your time? Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Winter. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

The Thing About Pam, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC (Premiered March 8)
Renee Zellweger makes her network TV debut, starring as Pam Hupp in this real-life story based on the 2011 murder. Pam’s friend, Betsy (Katy Mixon), turns up dead. Her husband (Glen Fleshler) is the prime suspect, but there’s something about Pam. The series, which runs six episodes, is told in a style that feels a bit like a news magazine, complete with voiceover narration that sets the stage. Zellweger does a great job inhabiting the role and the pilot sets the stage for the characters and the incident. It was different but engaging in a way. I’m curious to see where it goes, especially given the short run of the series.
Pilot Grade: C+

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered March 11)
: The newest addition to the Apple TV+ lineup is this limited series based on the novel from Walter Mosely. Ptolemy Grey (Samuel L. Jackson) is a 93-year-old man who is suffering dementia. His great-nephew Reggie (Omar Benson Miller) is the only one who can seem to get through to him, acting as his friend and caretaker. When Reggie is killed, Ptolemy’s world is shaken. As his new caretaker, Robyn (Dominique Fishback) not only beautifully helps clean up his apartment but takes him to a doctor’s appointment where a radical new treatment offers a chance to restore Ptolemy’s memory. But what are the consequences? The first two episodes of a six-episode run were made available Friday. The first episode, while building the world and exploring Ptolemy’s condition, was a slow build. I wasn’t completely taken with the world or where it was going. The second episode picked things up. The rapport between Robyn and Ptolemy was engaging, and as the treatment begins, Jackson gets a chance to flex his acting chops, moving seamlessly in and out of the two states of Ptolemy. It was enough to make me curious, especially with a series that is well made. Apple TV+ continues to offer an engaging and diverse lineup of series, and this feels like another strong addition to the library.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C+

Winning Time, Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO (Premiered March 6)
: The newest HBO series, produced by Adam McKay, who directed the pilot, centers on the rise of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s under new owner Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly). The second episode built on the premise, diving into the lives of Buss, and his efforts to make in-roads with the owners, Head Coach Jerry West (Jason Clarke), and his struggle to accept the strains of basketball and find his place in it, and Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah), and his quest to find love and acceptance. I like the concept here, though it certainly played out differently than I expected. Jonah Hill directed the second episode, and it had some intriguing moments. This likely won’t appeal to everyone, but I am enjoying it.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

Streaming Series:
Bust Down, Now Streaming on Peacock (Premiered March 10)
: This comedy, produced by Lorne Michaels, dropped on Peacock Thursday. It’s six episodes, each around a half an hour, all available to stream now. It focuses on a group of down-and-out employees working at a casino in Gary, Indiana. They are not only trapped in dead-end jobs, but they also seem to be trapped in dead-end lives. The series was created by its four primary stars—Sam Jay, Langston Kerman, Chris Redd, and Jak Knight. It’s certainly edgy, but in a way that’s completely unappealing. In fact, the first episode touched on a difficult topic in such a crass way I found it offensive. Most of the first two episodes are offensive, to the point that I’d call this the worst new series I’ve screened in 2022 so far. It’s easily skippable, and another curiously limp addition to the original lineup on Peacock.
Pilot Grade: F
Second Episode: F

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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