Winter TV Roundup, Week 14

March is in the rearview mirror, but the new shows are still coming. When you’re trying to decide what to dive into and devote your time to, it can be tricky to navigate the wave of new content. Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this winter. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Digman!, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central (Premiered March 22)
This adult animated series stars Andy Samberg as Rip Digman, a washed up archeologist trying to re-boot his career. It starts as something of a spoof of Indiana Jones, a character that’s even name-checked in the pilot, but now it’s about developing these characters and this world. Your interest in that journey will largely depend on how you feel about the format and the type of stories the series is trying to tell. I thought the pilot was a little droll and the second episode was more of the same. The style of humor is for a specific niche and I’m not it.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

The Big Door Prize, Streaming Wednesdays on Apple TV+ (Premiered March 29)
: This new Apple TV+ series is based on the novel from M.O. Walsh, set in a small Missouri town where a new machine tells people their potential. For just $2 and a small exchange of information, it offers a reading. At the center of the story is a couple, Dusty (Chris O’Dowd) and Cass (Gabrielle Dennis). Dusty is turning 40 and is happy with the routine of his life, where he serves as a teacher at the local high school. He’s reticent to try the machine but, when he does near the end of the pilot, he comes away disappointed. His wife, Cass, also secretly tries it and her experience, played out mostly in the second episode, informs her approach to life, as well. Beyond unlocking potential, these messages unlock something in those who receive them. The first three episodes were released Wednesday, each focusing on a different person in the town, with subsequent episodes in the 10-episode season dropping weekly. I loved the premise here and the execution is beautifully done. There’s some humor, with episodes running about 30 minutes, but there’s also plenty of intrigue and drama. The first two episodes were emotional and engaging. I’ve enjoyed much of the original slate from Apple TV+ and this seems like one of the better offerings in 2023. It’s worth checking out.
Pilot Grade: B
Second Episode: B

The Power, Streaming on Prime Video (Premiered March 31)
Based on the novel from Naomi Alderman, The Power is set in a world where teenage girls around the globe are developing electrical powers. The story bounces to a number of different parts of the globe as these powers begin to manifest and the world begins to change. In addition to teen actors, the series features some established actors like Toni Collette, playing the mayor of Seattle, and John Leguizamo, among others. The first two episodes are about establishing the world and building up these characters. Some of the stories are a bit grim. The world as a whole is still somewhat mysterious but those that are drawn to superhero stories and origin stories will find something to latch onto here. Episodes run between 45 minutes and an hour, with the first three available on Friday and new episodes dropping weekly hereafter. I liked the premise and there were some moments that worked well but it wasn’t as engaging or as well conceived as I’d hoped. Still, it’s got enough of a hook to attract and audience and strong production values and storylines to keep people interested.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Streaming Series:
Unstable, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered March 30)
: The new Netflix comedy features Rob Lowe and his son, John Owen Lowe, playing father and son. It’s a stretch, I know. The comedy is mined from their divergent styles and awkward reunion of their characters. Rob plays Ellis Dragon, a brilliant CEO who is struggling since the death of his wife. His No. 2 (Sian Clifford), desperate to get Ellis back on track before the board intervenes, reaches out to his son, Jackson (John Owen). Jackson agrees to come for a day, but soon enough finds himself drawn back into the world. Can father and son learn to co-exist before it’s too late? The pilot was a fascinating ride that featured a number of engaging and hilarious sequences. The second episode settled more into a series pattern but was still engaging. Both Lowes have charisma on the screen and their characters and world are built in an entertaining way. The episodes run about a half an hour, with the eight-episode season available to binge. It’s a quick watch and an entertaining one.
Pilot Grade: B-
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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