Winter TV Roundup, Week 9

We’re rapidly closing in on March, which often brings the last torrent of new shows as part of the network season. But that’s what’s to come, first up is what’s already come. What of the new shows are worth checking out? 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)
This latest FOX sitcom is a workplace comedy that takes place at an animal control precinct. Joel McHale leads the cast and seems perfect in the role. I also enjoyed the ensemble and the wacky cases they get dealt. I was particularly amused by Michael Rowland, who plays McHale’s partner in the series. The first two episodes moved at a good pace with some good jokes. It’s been a solid couple of years with new comedies and this feels like a strong addition to the landscape and one of the better new FOX sitcoms in years.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

Liaison, Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered February 24)
: The latest from Apple TV+ is a spy thriller. This is an international series, featuring Eva Green and Vincent Cassel. The pilot is a lot of set up, but the implication is Green, playing a ranking member of British intelligence, and Cassel, a French free-lance operative, have a romantic past. When they’re draw together in an incident that includes cyber breaches, that threatens to come out. Most of the first hour is a slow burn and some set up. This six-episode series is being released one a week, with the pilot ending on something of a cliffhanger. The pieces are in place and the cast is strong, but the pilot was a little too amorphous to pull you in. Hopefully it coalesces into something a bit stronger.
Pilot Grade: C

The Company You Keep, Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC (Premiered February 19)
The latest drama on ABC’s post-football Sunday nights is a con game. The key players are Charlie (Milo Ventimiglia), a hustler from a family of hustlers, and Emma (Catherine Haena Hill), a covert CIA Agent, who cross paths at a low point in their personal life. They spark to one another and begin a romance, despite both their best judgements. When they turn out to both be involved with the same criminal, that further complicates things. I enjoyed the pilot, which introduced the characters and built the world. I liked the mix of pace and story. The second episode deepened the story and raised the stakes. It was also a bit of fun. Will this work well long-term? That’s tough to say, but for now I’m enjoying it.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

Streaming Series:
The Consultant, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered February 24)
The latest from Amazon Prime is a drama set at a video game company. It opens with the CEO being shot by a child, which is dramatic enough. Soon a consultant (Christoph Waltz) arrives that takes control and shakes things up. But what is his real purpose? There’s mystery in the premise and Waltz is an imposing and creepy actor. Still, this didn’t work for me. The episodes only run about a half an hour, with an eight-episode season making for a quick binge. But I wasn’t taken with the story or the characters. This fell flat for me, ending up being creepy in the wrong ways.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: D

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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