Fall TV Roundup, Week 15

We’re in Christmas week. The last of the new shows for 2022 will roll out the next few weeks. But never fear, we’ll get new shows aplenty in January and beyond. Still, over the Christmas Break you might be wondering what’s worth checking out. 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.

Wednesdays:
National Treasure: Edge of History, Wednesdays on Disney+ (Premiered December 14)
About
: The National Treasure films became hits following a fun formula of puzzle solving, comedy and an exploration of American history. The franchise spawned two successful films and there has long been talk of more. Now, we get a spin-off series. This one centers on Jess Valenzuela (Lisette Olivera), a brilliant puzzle solver whose family history has her pulled into a potential adventure after she crosses paths with former FBI Agent Peter Sadusky (Harvey Keitel). It turns out she could have a link to a great treasure in Central and South America, one that Billie (Catherine Zeta Jones) and her team are eager to find. And we’re off. The first two episodes, each around 45 minutes, dropped Wednesday with subsequent episodes in a 10-episode season dropping weekly. The appearance of Sadusky was one of the only links to the original film present in the first two episodes. The series doesn’t have original star Nicholas Cage, but will feature Justin Bartha’s Riley Poole beginning in episode three. Still, this follows a familiar formula but tweaks the premise. The films were always about American history, with this new series morphing that concept to extend American history to all of the Americas. That could be interesting but the first offering was a little dry. Olivera gives a decent performance but I wasn’t drawn into the new characters and the new mystery right away. There is time for this one to build but the initial offering wasn’t as robust as I’d hoped.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Sundays:
1923, Streaming Sundays on Paramount+ (Premiered December 18)
About
: The latest series from Taylor Sheridan is another prequel series building the lore of the Dutton family. This time the action jumps from 1883 to 1923, with a cast led by Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren. This one advances the story about 40 years, finding the Duttons settled at the Yellowstone Ranch. Now it’s Jacob (Ford), James (Tim McGraw) brother who is now leading the ranch, along with James’ children and grandchildren. The Great Depression is looming and ranching is hard as ever. The pilot introduces the characters and the world—including a Dutton abroad as a big game hunter in Africa and a school for Native American girls that has a hard approach to beating the gospel into the native residents. I like the cast here and the potential. This has a strong look and feels like another solid entry into the Yellowstone universe. I’m excited to see where this goes.
Pilot Grade: B-

Streaming Series:
Kindred, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered December 13)
About
: Based on the novel of the same name from Octavia Butler, this series follows a young woman named Dana (Mallori Johnson) who moves to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a writer and be close to family in the wake of her grandmother’s death. The problem is, she keeps having these strange vivid dreams, from which she wakes in strange places. This issue is further complicated when she meets Kevin (Micah Stock), who helps her discover she’s not dreaming, but rather traveling through time. And she’s not the only one. The novel, released in 1979, has a strong following. This adaptation keeps the bones and moves the story up into the present. It’s an interesting undertaking, as Dana is transported to the antebellum south, with all the challenges that presents for a young black woman. The first two episodes are about laying out the characters, the premise and the world. All eight episodes are available to stream, each running about an hour. There is merit in the premise but I wasn’t taken with how the story was laid out. There’s a built-in audience thanks to the source material but given the timing and the glut of original series right now there wasn’t enough of a hook here for this to draw me in.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

The Recruit, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered December 16)
About
: Noah Centineo takes the lead in this new series from Alexi Hawley (The Rookie, Castle), focusing on a young lawyer who’s just joined the CIA. He’s soon pulled into a case where a former asset is threatening to disclose classified information. He jumps in with both feet despite not fully understanding the process, procedures or the danger, getting little help from his colleagues. This series spans eight episodes in its first season, with each bearing a set of letters as a title, adding to the intrigue of the series, supposedly. Centineo is fine in the lead role and the cast is fine as well but the series isn’t as gripping as it wants to be. The episodes move at an OK pace but the first two episodes, despite ending with cliffhangers, did little to suck me into the world or the drama. There are a lot of options out now and it feels like there’s a reason this one was dumped in late December.
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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