Winter TV Roundup, Week 8
We’re making our way through February and seeing a number of new series drop just in time for President’s Day Weekend. But what of these new shows is worth your time? Let this weekly post be your guide as I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Winter. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
Animal Control, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered February 16)
About: The latest comedy from FOX focuses on Animal Control officers, hence the title. Joel McHale leads the cast, and this is a workplace comedy with a bit of a twist. It’s paired with Call Me Kat to give FOX a comedy block on Thursdays. The pilot introduced us to the characters and the world, including a wild and fun opening sequence. I like McHale and this type of comedy. The first episode moved at a good pace and provided a solid template for the series and where it’s going. It’s been a strong year for network sitcoms with several now showing well on networks after a couple strong development seasons. I liked the pilot and think this has potential to become a weekly staple for comedy fans.
Pilot Grade: B-
Hello Tomorrow!, Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered February 17)
About: It was a big week for big cons on Apple TV+. We got the feature-film Sharper released Friday and this new series, Hello Tomorrow! The series, which runs a half hour, has some comedy but it isn’t a sitcom. It’s also unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s seemingly a period piece with a 1950s style but set in an alternate reality where there are robots serving us, flying cars and the possibility of living on the Moon. In fact, as we meet Jack Billings (Billy Crudup), he’s selling the dream of living on the Moon. As we meet Jack and his sales force, we see how good they are at their jobs. The problem is, nothing about Jack is real—and that includes the dream he’s selling. When he has a chance to re-connect with his adult son, Joey (Nicholas Podany), he does it, albeit covertly. But can he keep juggling all the balls he has in the air before the rug is pulled out from under him? That’s the challenge with a story like this. I enjoyed the period trappings and the cast, which includes Alison Pill, Hank Azaria and Jacki Weaver, among others. The script from co-creators Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen pops in the pilot and paves the way for something interesting. I enjoyed Crudup in the lead role, too. The first three episodes dropped Friday with subsequent episodes dropping weekly. I’m intrigued.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C
The Company You Keep, Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC (Premiered February 19)
About: The latest Sunday night drama on ABC is a stylish con game. It centers on Charlie (Milo Ventimiglia), who along with his family is skilled at pulling big cons. He crosses paths with Emma (Catherine Haena Kim), an undercover CIA officer. Both are coming off devastating relationship breakups and they spark to each other. Now their personal and professional paths are on the verge of collision. The pilot is about building the world and introducing the characters. Ventimiglia and Kim have great chemistry and the pilot is stylish and fun. I enjoyed the cast and could see this working as a piece of Sunday night entertainment. The question is how long the premise can be stretched. For now, I’m intrigued.
Pilot Grade: C+
Red Rose, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered February 15)
About: This new series from the BBC aired in England over the summer and now makes its domestic debut on Netflix. This six-episode horror series focuses on a group of young people obsessed with their phones. A new app pops up, seemingly connecting them to people from beyond the grave. Naturally things go wrong. The episodes here are about 45 minutes, making it a short commitment. But it feels longer than that when you’re watching it because of how dry the storytelling is. I wasn’t moved by the scares, and I wasn’t taken with the characters. The basic premise has some intrigue, but it’s not delivered strongly enough to pull you in and hook you. If you like the genre, you might be excited to have this series, but it didn’t work for me.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-
African Queens: Njinga, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered February 15)
About: This latest docudrama comes from Executive Producer Jada Pinkett Smith, who serves as the narrator for this four-episode series. It tells the story of Njinga, who rose to become queen of her African nation, fighting Portuguese invaders, among others. The series is a combination of interviews with experts and dramatic recreations, each focusing on a different Africa Queen and telling their story. This first installment is the story of Njinga, focusing on her life, her rise to power and what she did as queen. The episodes run about 45 minutes, making it a quick binge. For those who enjoyed The Woman King, which was released theatrically this Fall, a series like this expounds on the premise and shares more historical stories of powerful women. I would have preferred straight scripted recreations rather than a hybrid, but the episodes move at a good pace.
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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