For most, Spring Break is here or nearly at an end. That might give you some extra free time to check out a new show while you’re lounging by the pool. But which new show should you be checking out? Let this weekly column 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)
About: When Renee Zellweger does network TV, it draws interest. Here she’s pretty great as Pam Hupp, the nosy neighbor at the center of a murder in a small town. This is based on actual events and has narration that makes it feel like an extended episode of Dateline. That kitsch was enough to make the pilot interesting. The second episode felt like a bit of wheel spinning where the novelty had worn off. The limited series is six episodes, but does it need to be? It’s unclear. This isn’t terrible but it didn’t feel like a must watch experience, either.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C
Minx, Thursdays on HBO Max (Premiered March 17)
About: This latest comedy from HBO Max is set in the 1970s, following Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) as a young woman who has long dreamed of starting a women’s magazine. After striking out with reputable publishers, she crosses paths with Doug (Jake Johnson). He’s a skin magazine producer who has found some value in her premise, as long as it’s juiced up a bit. This odd couple comes together to work on the new publication, Minx, that’s if they don’t kill each other first. This show, which counts Paul Feig among its producers, was a lot of fun and very unexpected. Lovibond and Johnson are great together and create something interesting and engaging. Creator Ellen Rapoport delivers a series that’s funny and engaging, built around some quirky and endearing characters. This has some serious adult content, but it’s also endearing and engaging. In fact, it’s one of the best pilots I’ve seen so far this year. I enjoyed the first two episodes, which dropped Thursday, and can’t wait to see where this one goes. New episodes drop weekly.
Pilot Grade: B+
Second Episode: B
Welcome to Flatch, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered March 17)
About: This new sitcom for FOX is a documentary-style tale about people living in a small town. It’s meant to be a quirky slice of life but it fell flat. While the cast includes some funny people like Aya Cash and Seann William Scott, the series centers on a couple of dim cousins (Holmes, Sam Straley), and their characters just aren’t interesting. Neither is the cliched small-town antics that are the focus of the series. The show airs on FOX on Thursdays, but seven episodes are available to watch already online. I screened the first two and that was more than enough for me.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-
WeCrashed, Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered March 18)
About: Adam Neumann built an empire. He was also a weird guy, who along with his wife, Rebekah, had a precipitous fall. In the latest Apple TV+ series WeCrashed, based on the podcast of the same name, we get the whole story of Neumann and his building of WeWork, all the way through to his removal. We also see the love story with his wife, Rebekah. Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway take the lead here, intriguing accents and all, and deliver a story that’s engaging, surprising and, at times, quite compelling. Both actors are solid and the first two episodes (a total of three were released Friday) draw you into the story, beginning at the end and winding back to show you how we’re getting there. By now, Neumann’s story is mostly known. There are news magazines and documentaries to tell you more, but I was fascinated by this production. It’s worth it just to watch Leto and Hathaway sink into these eccentric roles. New episodes stream Fridays, for a total of eight episodes in the limited series.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-
DMZ, Now Streaming on HBO Max (Premiered March 17)
About: HBO has been busy of late. While it dropped an engaging new series Minx on Thursday, it also dropped DMZ, a new four-part mini-series starring Rosario Dawson and with a pilot directed by Ava DuVernay. It’s based on the D.C. property from Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, set in an alternate world where a second Civil War has broken out in the United States. The country is split and, six years in, there is a DMZ over the heart of New York City. When the war broke out, Alma (Dawson) was separated from her son. After sneaking back in, she finds the boy she once knew has morphed into a violent man she doesn’t recognize, thanks in large part to his father (Benjamin Bratt), forcing her to become something else to seize power and win her son back. The first episode is a lot of set up for the world and characters, while the second episode drives the crux of the narrative forward. I like Dawson in the lead role, I enjoyed the supporting cast and I thought the basic premise was engaging. It’s a short commitment at only four total hours, and one that feels worth taking.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C+
Human Resources, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered March 18)
About: This new animated series comes from the team behind Big Mouth, which probably gives you and idea about the style of animation and storytelling. It boasts an impressive voice cast, including Maya Rudolph, Aidy Bryant, Nick Kroll and Randall Park, among others. It’s set in the world of the Monsters from Big Mouth, focusing on their work lives. It’s amusing at times but isn’t really my kind of comedy or series. The episodes are around 25 minutes and moves at a good pace. The entire 10-episode season is available to stream for those so inclined.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
Life & Beth, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered March 18)
About: Hulu’s new comedy is from Amy Schumer, who stars as Beth, a woman that needs a jumpstart in her life. She’s in a dead-end job and a dead-end relationship, and when her mother passes and her boyfriend proposes, she decides it’s time to shake out of her rut. The episodes are around a half an hour and the whole 10-episode season is available to stream. The series co-stars Michael Cera, though his character doesn’t appear in the first two episodes. Schumer has a unique style and perspective, and it’s not for everyone. I thought the first two episodes here were flaccid, with the jokes a bit hard to come by. It feels like a big swing for Hulu as it expands its original content library but this one didn’t work.
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.