Fall TV Roundup, Week 7

The nights are getting longer—and coming earlier. The leaves are falling from the trees and the temperatures are just falling. It’s the perfect time to cozy up on the couch and watch a new show—and believe me we have plenty this Fall. But which one should you pick? Let this weekly post be your guide as I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Fall. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Professionals, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW (Premiered October 11)
This series originally aired in Europe in 2020 and now makes its way to The CW. The network has used spin-offs and imported series to fill a mostly re-shaped Fall schedule. They get good timing here as the series stars Brendan Fraser, who is in the middle of an awards season campaign. That might have brought some eyeballs—so, too, would having former Superman Tom Welling—but it takes more than that to get viewers to stick. That’s where Professionals comes up a bit short. The plot is meh, as are the characters. The buddy comedy is supposed to come from Fraser as a quirky billionaire and Welling as a buttoned up former covert operative now handling his security. That’s admittedly the best part of the series, but still not quite enough of a hook for me. I thought the first two episodes were entirely bland.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

The Winchesters, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW (Premiered October 11)
: I chronicled the two types of shows currently populating the new Fall lineup on The CW. Professionals is one type, The Winchesters is another. This one draws on the fandom of Supernatural, offering a prequel series that focuses on parents John (Drake Roger) and Mary (Meg Donnelly). Their meet cute begins just after John returns from Vietnam, and he’s quickly drawn into the world of monster hunting. We know how their story will end, but this way we get to see its beginning and how it plays out. In theory, that works. In practice, this series lacks the pop and charm of the original, which ran for more than a decade on The CW. This is just OK and not really compelling enough to hook more than the dedicated and passionate existing fanbase.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

American Horror Story: NYC, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX (Premiered October 19)
: By now we’re used to seeing this horror anthology series pop up in the Fall. This 11th season comes later than usual, making its two-episode debut just before Halloween. It’s an eight-episode season dubbed NYC and set in New York City in 1981. It focuses on a series of horrific murders taking place in the gay community, which is oppressed and largely ignored by the police. That includes police in that world, like the one played by Russell Tovey. The rest of the cast includes Joe Mantello, Billie Lourd and Zachary Quinto, among others. The two-episode premier laid out principal characters, the world and a lot of the nefarious doings happening in the underbelly of New York at that time. These individual seasons rise and fall based on your connection to the stories and characters. I thought this one was a little more straight-forward, and more awkwardly paced. It’s also possible after more than a decade and the proliferation of similar styled series and spin-offs that the formula is wearing thin. It certainly felt that way for me, at least. But for those who look forward to this yearly trip into the strange, scary and gross, this installment arrives just in time.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-

Shantram, Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered October 14)
: Charlie Hunnam takes the lead in the new series for Apple TV+, based on the novel from Gregory David Roberts. The book was based on Roberts’ experiences and follows a bank robber from Australia (Hunnam), who escapes from prison and starts a new life as Lindsay Ford, landing in Bombay. He soon finds himself mixed up in a world of organized crime, living as a wanted man in a new country. Hunnam is a solid choice for the lead role and the story has long been popular. There have been many attempts to adapt it to a film, but finally it’s found life in a longer form as a series on Apple TV+. The first three episodes dropped on October 14 with subsequent episodes dropping weekly in a 12-episode season. The set up and look of the series is solid but those not familiar with the source material, like me, might struggle a bit diving into the narrative. The episodes run about an hour but they move at a slow pace. There’s a lot to introduce and unpack and that leaves the first two episodes a bit stiff without an incredible hook. It’s well produced and likely headed somewhere intriguing but it doesn’t have the pop of some of Apple TV+ other releases.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

The Peripheral, Fridays on Amazon Prime (Premiered October 21)
: If you’ve watched any Thursday Night Football games you know the one good thing for Amazon has been a platform to advertise and build and audience for this original series, which comes from the creators of Westworld. It’s based on the 2014 novel of the same name from William Gibson, and much like the previous series from Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy this one looks at technology and how it can be negatively used. We meet Flynne Fisher (Chloe Grace Moretz), who lives in a small southern town—really the outskirts—with her brother Burton (Jack Reynor), a former soldier. She’s got a knack for achieving things in simulations, and in a world where enhanced technology has changed everyone’s lives, that’s a great skill to have. She often plies her trade in her brother’s avatar. When they get an offer for a new simulation using new technology, it’s too good to pass up. But as Flynne dives in, she gets more than she bargained for as she and Burton are pulled into a dangerous and high-stakes game. The series teases out what’s happening over most of the pilot episode and expands on it only a little more in episode two. I won’t ruin the surprise for those who aren’t book readers, but I will say the series feels like a companion to Westworld—not so much for its story but for its style. Moretz and Reynor are solid leads and I liked some of what we got, particularly some of the bigger action sequences in the first two episodes. I’m curious enough to continue even if I’m not totally sold on the narrative after the first two hours. Amazon continues to look for hits that will bring more viewers and this seems to be a high-profile new addition that offers some potential.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C+

Streaming Series:
From Scratch, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered October 21)
: The latest from Netflix is a limited series about a romance between an American woman on holiday and an Italian chef. It’s based on the memoir from Tembi Locke, who adapted it for the small screen with her sister, Attica Locke. In it, Amy (Zoe Saldana) is on holiday in Italy when she meets Lino (Eugenio Mastrandrea). The series is about their relationship, which transitions to a life together in Los Angeles in the second episode. It’s loosely based on Tembi Locke’s own experiences. The limited series runs eight episodes, each about an hour, and all are available to stream on Netflix. I enjoy Saldana, and she had a decent connection with Mastrandrea in the first couple episodes. The story moves at a decent pace, building as they build their lives together. For those looking for a quick binge and some romance, you could do worse. Overall, we’re in an incredibly crowded time for TV and films. A series like this is some fun, and would be a nice, light binge in the summer, but doesn’t hold the same pull in the midst of a jam-packed Fall schedule.
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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