Labor Day has come and gone. With it comes the unofficial end of Summer. This will be the final week of the Summer roundup, but never fear as Fall is right around the corner, literally. We already have a bevy of new Fall releases lined up the rest of September and into October, November and December. As always, I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Summer. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
The Patient, Streaming Tuesdays on Hulu (Premiered August 30)
About: The new series from The Americans creators Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields finds Steve Carrell playing a psychologist with a problem. One of his patients (Domhall Gleeson) has kidnapped him in the hopes he can stop him from killing people. It’s a unique set up for a half hour series, of which the first two episodes dropped Tuesday and subsequent episodes drop weekly. The pilot is about setting the scene and showing Carrell’s Dr. Alan Strauss in his daily routine. The second episode is about adjusting to the situation and setting the scene for what’s to come. Carrell is solid in the lead role and Gleeson works well in the first two episodes. The set up is engaging and this is a unique concept that works well in the initial set up. I’m interested to see where this one goes next, especially given the pedigree of the creative team.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Streaming Fridays on Amazon Prime (Premiered September 1)
About: Amazon Prime has worked long and hard to find its own version of Game of Thrones. They invested in this prequel series set in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The first two episodes premiered Thursday—or Wednesday night if you caught a theatrical premier—offering a glimpse into the series. From the jump, it’s clear how much Amazon wants this to be its own Thrones. Before we even get the title card we get a large battle sequence, complete with dragons, before finding a group of heroes scaling a giant ice wall in the North looking for supernatural foes. But as the series settles in, it begins to feel more like the world of Middle Earth we’ve come to know from books and films. The cast is solid and after an uneven start that is more than a little dry in the first half an hour, the episodes pick up. I think there’s potential here. The look and feel of the episodes is solid, and Tolkien’s work provides a rich tapestry to draw from even if we do already know where all this will end up. It might not live up the all Amazon’s hopes but based on the two episodes available the series is setting up to be something that will appeal to a wide array of fantasy series fans.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: B-
House of Hammer, Now Streaming on Discovery+ (Premiered September 2)
About: This docuseries dives inside the abuse allegations that brought down actor Armie Hammer, tracing his disturbing family line all the way back to great grandfather Armand Hammer. The series features interviews with Armie Hammer’s victims and a first-hand account from his aunt, who penned a book about the troubles in her family. It’s a three-episode look, each about an hour. It’s a low-barrier streaming option for those that want to learn more about the actor’s troubled history.
Pilot Grade: B
Second Episode: B
Devil in Ohio, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered September 2)
About: This new series, ideally timed for the beginning of the spooky season, is based on the novel by Daria Polatin, who adapted the story for the screen in the series. The series is based on some true events and finds Emily Deschanel as a psychiatrist and mother who brings home a young girl (Madeline Arthur) who is found with a pentagram carved into her back. She’s awkward and scared, so Suzanne (Deschanel) brings her home to stay with her husband (Sam Jaeger) and children. She seeks to help the girl and help uncover her story, but strange things begin to happen. And it becomes clear it might be her house guest at the root of it all. This series is slow to build toward its scares, teasing out the connections to satanism and cults through the first two episodes. The series is a total of eight episodes, all available to stream and all between 40 minutes and an hour. It’s a quick binge but I wasn’t taken with the production or the story in the first few episodes. The characters aren’t engaging enough and the stakes aren’t clear enough to create the kind of hook needed to keep a large number of viewers. The production values are fine but it’s hardly compelling.
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.