Winter TV Roundup, Week 14

April is here, which means we’re seeing longer days, periods of warmer temperatures and rain rather than snow—sometimes. It also means the traditional network TV season is winding down, but with the rise of cable and streaming, there is no off-season. With so many choices out there, what should you use your time to watch? Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Winter/Spring. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesdays:
The Girl From Plainville, Tuesdays on Hulu (Premiered March 29)
About
: The latest Hulu drama is ripped from the headlines. It’s based on the story of Michelle Carter (Elle Fanning), the young woman charged with the death of her boyfriend based on their text exchanges. It was a landmark legal case, and the eight-episode series seeks to explore the story and her role, which culminated in charges and a landmark conviction. The first episode, which is a bit cringe-worthy, focuses on her boyfriend (Colton Ryan), who commits suicide. We see her reaction to the events, and how she makes a show of her grief. But is it real? The second episode focuses on the broadening investigation, while also showing how Michelle and Coco met and became enmeshed. The first three episodes were released Tuesday with subsequent episodes being released on following weeks. The cast includes some veteran actors like Chloe Sevigny and Norbert Leo Butz, who play Coco’s parents, and Kelly AuCoin, who plays the investigator who refuses to accept it as a traditional suicide. The case is fascinating, and doubtless many true crime fans will be excited to dig deeper into the mystery. I like Fanning as a performer, but I struggled with this series. I was moderately repulsed by Michelle, and though that’s probably largely the point, I didn’t have a desire to continue with this story past the first two episodes. It’s an interesting idea but interest in it will likely depend on how much you want to explore the nuances of this dour story.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

Wednesdays:
Moon Knight, Wednesdays on Disney+ (Premiered March 30
About
: Last year we got five original Marvel Series, all of which brought a different style but features characters we’d previously met. Moon Knight is not only the first Marvel series of 2022, but it also introduces a new character, played by Oscar Isaac. The six-episode series will run on Wednesdays, with the first episode kicking off this week. The production values were great, as has been the case with all these series. And Isaac was compelling as a lead actor, too. But the pilot was a bit uneven. We only get hints as to what’s happening with his character, Steven Grant, during the pilot. For those not familiar with the character and his history in the comic books, the pilot likely doesn’t provide enough information and context. We also get some glimpses of the character played by Ethan Hawke, who’ll be Grant’s foil. Ultimately the first salvo is solid and sets the table but hopefully we’ll get a bit more action and information in the next installment. The series has potential but the pilot didn’t land for me as strongly as I’d hoped.
Pilot Grade: C

Thursdays:
Halo, Thursdays on Paramount+ (Premiered March 24)
About:
Halo is another original series, based on an existing property, which offered a somewhat amorphous pilot. Not familiar with the games myself, I felt lost when it came to the characters, world and plot. I enjoyed the action sequences but the pilot didn’t hit for me. The second episode, by contrast, felt more engaging. There was a bigger portal to the world opened, we learned more about these characters and the plot. I enjoyed the second episode and the way it set the pieces for the rest of the season. Sometimes it takes shows a bit of time to find themselves. This can be especially true of series based on a well-known piece of IP. Halo is a big swing for Paramount+ and it will be interesting to see how this first season unfolds.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C+

Julia, Now Streaming on HBO Max (Premiered March 31)
About
: Julia Childs is a huge part of the America culinary experience. Even those that haven’t watched her series know her name and know what she brought to at home chefs around the country. The new series Julia, which debuted on HBO Max on Thursday and will air weekly, aims to showcase how we got th0ere. Sarah Lancashire takes the lead role as Julia with David Hyde Pierce playing her husband and Bebe Neuwirth playing her sister. The series picks up as she’s about to publish her first cook book and goes through the process of her being offered a shot at a TV series. The first two episodes introduced Julia, her gift and her tenacity, culminating in the filming of her first episode. I enjoyed Lancashire in the lead role and enjoyed the idea. The episodes run around an hour, with the first three available to stream now and new episodes dropping weekly thereafter. The production is strong with the series, which adds another solid original series to HBO Max, which is having a strong 2022 in terms of original programming. For those who are fans, and those who just want to learn more, Julia is a series worth checking out.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

How We Roll, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS (Premiered March 31)
About
: CBS’ latest sitcom is centered on the life of Tom Smallwood, who moved from plant worker to professional bowler. In the pilot we meet Tom (Pete Holmes) as he’s been laid off two days before Christmas and trying to find a way to support his family. His friend Archie (Chi McBride) wants him to take a shot at the professional bowling ranks, but his wife (Katie Lowes) and mother (Julie White) are less certain it’s a good idea. Hilarity ensues. Or at least that’s the point. CBS hit a home run with its other new comedy this Fall, Ghosts, but How We Roll feels like a throwback in the worst way. The pilot felt a bit predictable and stiff. I generally like the cast and think the concept seems original but I don’t know if the series will develop into a hit. The pilot lacked punch but it’s not uncommon for comedies to take a bit to get on track. We’ll see what the second episode brings.
Pilot Grade: C-

Fridays:
Slow Horses, Now Streaming on Apple TV+ (Premiered April 1)
About:
This new series from Apple TV+ has already been renewed for a second season. It’s a six-episode drama about a group of disgraced MI-5 Agents working for an inauspicious unit due to mistakes they’ve made. The leader of the unit is Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman), a legend who’s also a curmudgeon. The cast is strong, featuring Kristin Scott Thomas, Jack Lowden and Olivia Cooke, among others. The first two episodes were about building the character and the world and moved at a slower pace. My guess is this series won’t be for everyone but based on the first couple of episodes I feel like it’s building toward something. It’s not the best of the new offerings from Apple TV+, but it feels like a series that will reward those that remain patient.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Streaming Series:
The Outlaws, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered April 1)
About:
When you see a series that boasts Stephen Merchant and Christopher Walken in the cast and is about a group of small-time offenders serving community service, you’d be forgiven for believing it to be a comedy. This six-episode series that aired in the U.K. in October 2021 has dropped for American audiences on Amazon Prime. Episodes run about an hour and, well, it’s not a comedy. In fact, I was surprised at the stakes and storylines in the pilot episode. I don’t know where it’s going, but it is much more of a drama than you’d expect with the cast highlights and the series description. The series has been renewed for a second season, so the stories will continue. The episodes moved at a fine pace, but in the crowded landscape of original series, I’m not sure it makes enough of an impression to keep the audience hooked, at least it didn’t through the first two episodes.
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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