We’re past Mother’s Day but continuing to see a flood of new offerings as we turn the corner from Spring toward Summer. Perhaps you have some more free time, or you feel like kicking back and watching a show. But which of these new offerings is worth your time to binge? Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Spring. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
Candy, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered May 9)
About: This mini-series focuses on the true story of a Texas housewife, Candy Montgomery (Jessica Biel), who in 1980 was accused of killing her friend, Betty Gore (Melanie Lynskey). The five-part mini-series is airing over five consecutive days, something a little different for Hulu. The first part premiered Monday, with subsequent episodes dropping daily through Friday. The production is strong with the first episode taking place on the day of the murder. We’re introduced to both Candy and Betty, and see their lives play out before their fateful meeting. The rest of the episode is about Betty’s husband, Allan (Pablo Schreiber) trying to get a hold of his wife and enlisting some neighbors to do a wellness check. The pilot ends with the discovery of Betty’s body. The rest of the series will run through the investigation and trial, the results of which you can find on the Internet if you don’t want to wait. Biel was strong in the pilot and the series has more of an engaging hook than the glut of true crime stories we’ve seen adapted so far this year. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I’m curious to see where this five-part mini-series goes.
Pilot Grade: B+
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Now Streaming on Paramount+ (Premiered May 5)
About: It’s been nearly 60 years since Gene Roddenberry first introduced the world to Star Trek, and yet interest in the world hasn’t waned. That continues with Strange New Worlds, the latest original series for Paramount+ that takes us back to the Starship Enterprise before there was a Captain Kirk. Spock (Ethan Peck) is there, as is a young Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding). But this is the Enterprise during the time of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), as the flagship of the Federation sets out to explore new worlds and civilizations. Those that are familiar with the history of Star Trek will likely geek out over a series set in this time frame, but those unfamiliar will find a story-of-the-week format that is more accessible than recent series. The cast is strong, with many being introduced during the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. This series feels very much like a throwback in the best ways. Not only do we get the Enterprise and Spock, but we also get the familiar Star Trek series opening and a format that carried through both the original series and The Next Generation. I loved the pilot presentation and I’m excited to see where this one goes. It’s a can’t miss for Star Trek fans but should be fun for those trying to jump into the world as well.
Pilot Grade: B+
The Staircase, Now Streaming on HBO Max (Premiered May 5)
About: This new series for HBO Max brings the story of Michael Peterson and the death of his wife, Kathleen. The incident occurred in 2001 and has been the subject of many stories, a documentary series and now a fictional account. The fictional series, which released the first three episodes Thursday and will air weekly going forward, stars Colin Firth as Peterson and Toni Collette as Kathleen. We bounce along the timeline, going prior to the incident, during the trial and, at times, jumping ahead to 2017 when Peterson was eventually released. It’s meant to paint a whole picture of the incident, investigation, trial and subsequent battle for Peterson, a crime novelist, to gain his freedom. The rest of the cast includes Michael Stuhlbarg, Parker Posey, Dane DeHaan, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Sophie Turner, among others. The production is solid and the case is likely going to appeal to true crime enthusiasts. We’ve lately been saturated with these kind of stories—fictional series based on non-fiction series that caught the attention of viewers and fans. It’s not a terrible ploy but you need a hook. This has a solid cast but the story offers little new beyond the many pieces that have already tackled the case. Given that it’s hard to see how this is compelling weekly viewing.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
Bosch: Legacy, Now Streaming on Freevee (Premiered May 6)
About: Bosch was one of the first big streaming series for Amazon, a series that dates back far enough it was part of the original public pilot process. The series, based on the novels by Michael Connelly, followed LAPD Det. Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) and ran seven seasons, wrapping up last year. Now, Bosch is back. This new series, a spin-off, picks up after the events of the series finale. It finds Harry Bosch retired and working as a private detective, putting his daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz), a new LAPD officer, and defense attorney Honey Chandler (Mimi Rogers) front-and-center. It’s again created and run by Connelly and Eric Ellis Overmyer, who ran Bosch. In a lot of ways, it feels like a continuation in the best way. The series slides from Amazon Prime to Freevee, formerly IMDB TV, a free streaming service offered by Amazon. You can actually still stream the episodes on Amazon Prime, so the switch of services like the new title for the show itself seems sort of like a formality. I loved the original, and the first two episodes of the spin-off were just as good. The first four episodes were dropped on Friday with episodes dropped Friday thereafter.
Pilot Grade: A-
Second Episode: A-
I Love That For You, Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on Showtime (Premiered May 1)
About: This comedy from Vanessa Bayer, who stars in the series. It’s loosely based on her own experiences and focuses on a woman who is a cancer survivor trading on that to land her dream job as a host on a television home shopping network. The series features Molly Shannon and Jenifer Lewis, among others. The pilot was OK but a bit stiff and dry. Comedies can sometimes take a while to get on track and that could be the case here, too. I wasn’t taken with the second episode, either. Bayer is amusing but the story doesn’t quite work. It feels like something still finding its voice. When it does, that might be a voice I want to hear. For now, there are too many other options for this to stand out and stick.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
The Pentaverate, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered May 5)
About: I am a fan of Mike Myers movies. One of those is So I Married An Axe Murderer. There’s a moment in that film where one of the characters references The Pentaverate, a secret cabal running the world. The part of me that was a fan of that line was overjoyed to see the newest Netflix show, hailing from Myers, exploring the idea of The Pentaverate. While that is thrilling, and there are moments here, the show as a whole isn’t incredible. It’s a six-episode romp, each episode running a half an hour or less. The idea is amusing but the execution feels like a throwback in a bad way. The jokes don’t land and aside from the novelty, this feels like it’s spinning its wheels. I was excited to see the show come to life but the finished product doesn’t live up to my hopes.
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.