Spring has broken and March is nearly in the rearview mirror. We got lot of fresh content in the month of March, but thanks to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the Oscars, along with Spring Break, this past week it slowed to a trickle. Two new series bowed, but was either worth diving into? 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.
Halo, Thursdays on Paramount TV+, Premiered March 24
About: Halo is one of the more anticipated new series of the Winter/Spring, based on the popular video game series. Paramount TV+ has been working on building an engaging and diverse lineup of original series, but it’s clear that Halo is one that holds a lot of hopes for the streamer. The pilot was advertised heavily and jumps right into the action. Full confession, I’ve never played Halo. In fact, I don’t even really know what it is about aside from being a first-person shooter game. So, I wondered if that would put me at a disadvantage with this pilot. It did. I felt like I was dropped into a world and given little information. We see things mostly through the eyes of Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber), whose armor looked familiar to me from ads for the game. A lot of action happens, there’s a war and Master Chief breaks with his overlords. That was most of my takeaway from the pilot, which runs about an hour. The first season is set for nine episodes, airing weekly on Paramount+. The production values are solid and the action was well choreographed. I liked Schreiber in the role for the most part, but as a non-game player, I felt more than a little lost and under-whelmed by the pilot. If the second episode provides more clarity, great. If not, this might be the kind of entertainment geared toward a niche audience.
Pilot Grade: C-
Pachinko, Fridays on Apple TV+, Premiered March 25
About: Apple TV+ has exploded with original content this year. The streamer often has a number of shows going at once, which is again the case. With the debut of Pachinko, the streamer currently has four series running all at once. Pachinko, based on the novel from Min Jee Lee. It was a New York Times bestseller that focuses on one family’s hopes, dreams, and struggles to thrive. The series spans four generations of a Korean family that lived through the Japanese occupation of Korea. The series is in three languages, English, Japanese and Korean, with colors used to differentiate the languages in subtitle. The first two episodes are directed by Kogonada, who directs four of the episodes with Justin Chon directing the other four. Kogonada directed After Yang, a fascinating film that debuted at Sundance in January and on Showtime in March and brings a strong visual style to the first two episodes. A total of three episodes were released Friday with additional episodes being released in subsequent weeks. I was drawn into the story being told and appreciated the craft here. Apple TV+ is developing a diverse and beautiful library of original content, and this feels like a series that will fit right in.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-
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.