Spring TV Roundup, Week 6

Spring is quickly turning into Summer… most places anyway. Here in Colorado, we got about a foot of snow on Friday, which made for a cozy weekend of staying in doors and checking out all my options. If you, too, find yourself looking to spend some time on the couch, you might be wondering what of these new series is worth your time. Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted, and some unscripted, series this Spring. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Prehistoric Planet, Now Streaming on Apple TV+ (Premiered May 23)
: This new series looks at our prehistoric past. David Attenborough has long given us a glimpse at the majesty of the natural world. Most famously, he did this through the series Planet Earth, which continues to be a favorite long after it originally aired. Now, he’s doing it again through a five-part mini-series for Apple TV+ that launched Monday and airs daily through this week. This one is a nature documentary, but one born of imagination. It’s as if Planet Earth was being made during the time of dinosaurs. The first episode focused on the Coast, the second on the Desert region. For those who are fans of nature documentaries, this will likely be a treat. It’s expertly crafted and offers an interesting look into what the world might have been. The first two episodes were each around 40 minutes, which serves as a template for the series. It’s another win for Apple TV+.
Pilot Grade: B
Second Episode: B

Now And Then, Now Streaming on Apple TV+ (Premiered May 20)
: The latest from Apple TV+ focuses on a group of adults who are haunted by a traumatic night 20 years earlier. They live in Miami, and while they’re trying to move on with their lives, they’re held back by the deadly secret that connects them. On the night of their college graduation there was an accident. Now, the survivors are some of the few who know the truth, but that truth threatens to come out and ruin all their lives. One police detective (Rosie Perez) has remained on the case, and as a new series of events bring the survivors front-and-center, she hopes to get answers. The series is in both Spanish and English, subtitled the whole time. It’s set in Miami, and bounces back-and-forth between the present and the past to showcase how we got to this point. The first two episodes moved at a decent pace. This is a concept we’ve seen tackled before, many times in many different ways. What makes it work are the characters. Here, the characters are interesting enough to keep you invested in the journey, which includes a surprise twist at the end of each episode. The first three episodes were released on Friday, with subsequent episodes of the eight-episode season dropping weekly.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO (Premiered May 15)
This series, based on the novel from Audrey Niffenegger, was turned into a feature film previously but now gets the weekly series treatment. It stars Theo James as a man who travels through time and Rose Leslie as his wife, whom he met as a result of his time traveling efforts. The story here is interesting. It’s meant to be something of an epic love story, but it’s problematic. I remember being put off a bit by some of the overall story beats—which includes Henry meeting Claire when he’s an adult and she’s a child thanks to his gifts—as a film. But in the more contained space of two hours, it doesn’t linger as much. Spread over series length, with this season running six episodes and possibly more on the way, you have longer to be bothered by it. The second episode had some poignant emotional moments but also plenty of strange moments. James and Leslie are good in the roles but the story just doesn’t work for me. If you loved the novel, likely you’ll be able to set that aside. If not, this might have some ick factor for you, too.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Streaming Series:
Angelyne, Now Streaming on Peacock (Premiered May 19)
: The new series from Peacock explores the true origins of a Los Angeles area legend, Angelyne (Emmy Rossum), whose face graced billboards throughout the region. But why were the billboards there? Who was Angelyne? Who knew her? Those are all the questions that this series explores. Rossum takes the lead, playing Angelyne through the decades. The series is shaped as a sort of documentary-style series including interviews with the core characters in addition to scripted moments that show scenes playing out. A lot of it revolves around an article published exposing her story, and Angelyne’s efforts to combat that. The idea here isn’t bad and Rossum is solid in the lead role but, ultimately, I didn’t care enough about her story to commit past the first two episodes. The limited series is just five episodes, each about an hour and all streaming, so it’s a quick watch for those that get pulled in.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

The G Word, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered May 19)
This documentary series comes from comedian Adam Conover and boasts a producing lineup that includes former President Barak Obama, who appears in the pilot episode. It’s a documentary series that explores how the government works, or how it’s supposed to work. Conover has a fun style and is an affable host. The six-episode series each tackles a different topic and seeks to inform and entertain. I was taken with it and plowed through most of it in nearly one sitting. For those that enjoy their news with a side of sarcasm, this is the documentary series for you. Here’s to hoping he does another installment!
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-

Night Sky, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered May 20)
It’s not often you get a couple Academy Award winners appearing in a television series. And yet, that’s what Amazon Prime has with Night Sky, a series that features Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons as a long-married couple that are struggling in their twilight years. They’re also harboring a supernatural secret, one that creates a mystery for the audience to explore. It takes a bit through the pilot for that secret to come into view, but once it does the early episodes remain a slow burn. Much of it is built around Simmons and Spacek, and their relationship on screen. The performances are solid and the series is well made, but the story is a bit dull in the early going. All eight episodes are available to stream, each around an hour. There’s potential here but the early episodes lacked a strong hook.
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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