Summer TV Roundup, Week 1

We’re past Memorial Day and on to June, summer is here. In eras past, which would mean a lack of new options. But in recent years, summer has exploded as a season of new offerings. We’re off to a slow start this week but give it time. With the longer days and plentiful options for entertainment, you might be wondering which new series is for you. Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer.

Irma Vep, Mondays at 9 p.m. on HBO (Premiered June 6)
: This limited series is a re-make of the 1996 film of the same name. In that film, director Olivier Assayas centered the story on a famous Hong Kong actress (Maggie Cheung) who traveled to France to re-make a classic silent film, Les Vampires. In this new version, spread out over an eight-episode series, Assayas takes the same concept and updates it. This time the focus is on a disillusioned American actress (Alicia Vikander) who is in France to star in the re-make of Les Vampires. The original film was hailed for its look at the French film-making industry through the eyes of a foreigner. Likely the series will touch on some of the same themes while expanding the story from feature-film length. Vikander is a good lead but the pilot was a bit dry, setting up the world and the characters as we prepare to launch on this journey. It feels like an interesting attempt to cultivate new content but the pilot wasn’t incredibly compelling.
Pilot Grade: C

Tom Swift, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW (Premiered May 31)
: The CW is known for its soapy Prime Time offerings and the latest, Tom Swift, is no exception. It centers on Tom Swift (Tian Richards), the brash and brilliant son of Barton Swift (Christopher B. Duncan), and heir to an empire. The Swifts are rich, based mostly on their brilliance and being on the forefront of technology. Tom is possibly the most brilliant but also the least polished as a businessman. In the pilot, he’s created a new fuel to get a manned mission to Saturn. His father heads out on the mission, but something goes wrong. Tom blames himself, but as he digs deeper he finds something else at work. Now he has to try and save his company, protect his family legacy and get to the bottom of who sabotaged their flight. It’s a big swing and there was plenty of style here. At times, it feels very soapy, but with a bit of a higher concept. Richards is decent in the lead role and it feels like something a little different. The series is based on the book series of the same name and a spin-off of The CW series Nancy Drew. It likely will appeal to The CW’s core audience, but I thought it was just OK.
Pilot Grade: C

Streaming Series:
Pistol, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered May 31)
: Danny Boyle brings to life the story of the infamous band The Sex Pistols, and in so doing takes a hard look at the 1970s music scene in London. The series is told from the point-of-view of guitarist Steve Jones (Toby Wallace) and based on his memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol. The six-episode series tracks the forming of the band, their personal life and struggles and their rise in popularity. The series comes from the FX on Hulu brand, with all six episodes available to stream. I thought the first two captured the period and brought the story to life. I enjoyed the extended cast, which includes Maisie Williams, Sydney Chandler, Thomas Brodie-Sanger and Talulah Riley. Boyle has a unique style which he applies to telling this story. It moves at a decent pace and will likely entice those that enjoy these kind of biopic explorations.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C+

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