As we move into December, the 2022 slate of original programming is winding down. But there are still new offerings dropping, primarily on cable and streaming. The question is whether you should squeeze them into your schedule. Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Fall. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
Willow, Episodes streaming on Disney+ (Premiered November 30)
About: In 1988, Ron Howard gave the world Willow, a feature film based on an idea from George Lucas. It featured Warwick Davis as Willow in an adventure starring Val Kilmer and Joanne Whaley. It’s been more than 30 years since the film, but it remains popular as something of a cult classic. From that standpoint, it makes sense that Disney+ would generate a revival that speaks to that interest. Kilmer isn’t part of the new series, but Davis is back as Willow and Whaley is back as Queen Sorsha, with a new generation leaning into the story. The first two episodes dropped on Wednesday with subsequent episodes dropping weekly. The first season is slated to be released weekly. I still enjoy Davis and I liked the idea of returning to this world. The first episode plays out OK but there are some hiccups along the way. There’s potential in the story that’s being developed, and I hope to see that come through in future episodes. But there was a lot going on early and it missed some of the gallantry and humor that made the original film so fun over the last 30-plus years.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+
Three Pines, Episodes streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered December 2)
About: In this new series from Amazon Prime, Alfred Molina stars as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, a detective who is tasked with investigating a series of crimes in the small Quebec village of Three Pines. The series runs eight episodes, with the first two dropping on Friday and subsequent episodes dropping weekly. I enjoyed Molina in the lead role and I appreciated the writing and the way these first two episodes are laid out. It’s an intriguing world and set of characters, with the potential to make this into something quite compelling. There’s also an ongoing hook about missing and overlooked native girls that translates across borders. Amazon has laid out a number of series in 2022 with some mixed results, but this one feels like it has the potential to stick.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: B-
George & Tammy, Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime (Premiered December 4)
About: It’s not every day that Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain come to the small screen to combine in a series. But that’s what we have here, a series focused on country stars George Jones and Tammy Wynette. The focus of the first episode was their introduction, culminating at the point where their relationship moved from friends and colleagues to something more. If you read the history of these country music icons, you’ll know a bit about where this is headed. As someone who isn’t a fan of country music, some of these stories and songs were new. I was interested in the premise and the cast but it takes more than that to make a successful show. Unfortunately, the pilot was dull. I wasn’t bought into their relationship or really what the focus of the series is to this point, despite a good supporting cast that also includes Walton Goggins and Steve Zahn, among others. This has time to grow, but the first episode didn’t capture me out of the gate. It feels a bit too familiar and like something that we’ve seen done before, and better.
Pilot Grade: C
Irreverent, Now Streaming on Peacock (Premiered November 30)
About: A criminal on the run from some bad guys ends up posing as a priest in a small Australian town. Colin Donnell plays Mack, a Chicago-based criminal who gets burned when a deal goes bad and a big bosses child is collateral damage. He plans to escape with $1.6 million, but when he lands in Australia he crosses paths with a down-on-his-luck priest (P.J. Byrne) who has been assigned to the small rural perish in remote Clump. When the priest steals the money and leaves Mack to take his place, the criminal has no choice but to pivot. He heads to Clump intent on finding the priest and setting things right, but first he has to impersonate him with a community that hasn’t had good luck with Spiritual leaders. There’s some potential and humor in the premise. Donnell is solid in the lead role, too, and the town is sufficiently quirky. The problem is there are a lot of options out there and this didn’t have a strong enough story, characters or hook to keep me going. It’s a 10-episode season, with all episodes available to stream. The first two I screened were OK, but that felt like enough for this world.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
Riches, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered December 2)
About: We’ve seen it before, a drama about a scheming extended family that doesn’t get along. The patriarch passes and those who are left squabble and fight behind the scenes for control. That this one focuses on a family-run company in England doesn’t make it that much different. It’s a familiar and well-worn story. The cast here includes some stars that will be familiar to American audiences—including Brendan Coyle from Downtown Abbey and Sarah Niles from Ted Lasso. But here, it’s mostly soap opera and squabbling. I wasn’t taken with the characters and the plot felt overly familiar without a compelling new hook. The performances are solid, and I enjoyed Deborah Ayorinde in the lead role but it wasn’t compelling enough to stand out in the increasingly crowded television landscape. If you need a new soap opera binge, this one is only six episodes, making it a short commitment. Otherwise, it’s not overly 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.
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