The summer is here at the movies and just about here for everyone else. With the writer’s strike in full effect, we’ll start to see impacts on our programming options, but that hasn’t happened just yet. We’re still getting a steady stream of new series on cable and streaming services. But what of the new shows are worthy of your time? Let this weekly post be your guide as I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
White House Plumbers, Mondays at 9 p.m. on HBO (Premiered May 1)
About: This latest series heads back to the Nixon administration in the 1970s, giving an inside look at two of the architects of the Watergate scandal. The series is about the unlikely partnership—and friendship—between E. Howard Hunt (Woody Harrelson) and G. Gordon Liddy (Justin Theroux). This works, when it does, because of the quirky performances and their back-and-forth. The second episode seemed more of a struggle because the focus was on the men and their families as opposed to the planning and execution of the infamous scandal that would bring them down and bring down an administration. We end with them finally planning the break in at the Watergate. I’m still interested in the series and the way this plays out, but the second episode was a bit of a step backward. Still, there’s enough here to make this short-run series worth sticking out.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C
Silo, Streaming Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered May 5)
About: The latest for Apple is based on the series of novels from Hugh Howey. It’s quite literally set in a giant Silo, where people live out their lives. The outside has been ruined, though it’s unclear how, and the Silo was built to protect humanity, though it’s unclear by who. It’s even a mystery for those who live in the Silo, as their history was destroyed during a rebellion that was quelled years earlier. Now, the people live by simple sets of rules, chief among them being that you can’t ask to go outside because, if you do, your request will be granted. As we pick up, the Sheriff (David Oyelowo) asks his deputy (Will Patton) and best friend for just that. Soon, in the pilot, we learn why. It has to do with his wife (Rashida Jones), who years earlier made the same request. The second episode introduces us to an engineer (Rebecca Ferguson), and her connection to the Sheriff and the larger mystery. The series is well crafted, coming from Graham Yost. The first two of 10 episodes were released Friday with subsequent episodes set to be released weekly. I liked the craft and the performances, while the storytelling was sharp in the first two offerings. There’s potential for this to be an engaging summer offering for the streamer, which continues to put out unique and engaging original content.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, Now Streaming of Netflix (Premiered May 4)
About: This latest series for Netflix is a spin-off of the popular series Bridgerton. It focuses on Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel), who appears here in the present, but is also portrayed by India Amarteifio as a younger woman. We see Charlotte’s early days of marriage and how she first became queen. Naturally, there’s plenty of drama—and plenty of sex scenes—in the portrayals. This has a similar style and pacing to the original. We meet new characters and get to see the origins for a few others from the original series. Fans of the original will no doubt be delighted. For a spin-off, this is more accessible. It feels like you cannot have seen the first series and still engage with this plot. But if you’re not a fan of the style of storytelling, this won’t work for you any better than the first series. It is a short commitment, with episodes around 45 minutes. Still, it will depend on your affinity for this type of historical fiction.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
Bupkis, Now Streaming on Peacock (Premiered May 4)
About: The latest Peacock series is a comedy with Joe Pesci and Edie Falco playing members of the family for Pete Davidson, here playing a version of himself. Perhaps it’s an exaggerated version, perhaps it’s pretty close to the real deal. Either way, it’s Davidson playing Davidson, literally the part he was born to play. If you’re a fan of his schtick, this is a dream come true. If you’re not a fan, this will be your nightmare. It’s an over-the-top and often self-indulgent set of episodes that only fans will find clever and engaging. The episodes are mercifully only around 22 minutes with the whole eight-episode season available to binge. I hated every minute of the first two episodes I screened. Davidson’s style is not for me. This was perhaps the biggest creative misfire of the year to me. Again, those who appreciate his style and some of his more brash films will probably feel right at home.
Pilot Grade: D-
Second Episode: F
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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