We’re in the midst of the May season, and while the Networks are wrapping up and turning to reality programming and re-runs, we’re still getting new options on streaming and cable. But what should you make time to check out? 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.
Class of ’09, Streaming Tuesdays on Hulu (Premiered May 10)
About: The new drama on Hulu, part of the FX on Hulu experience, is focused on a group of FBI Agents over three time periods. We see them in 2009, as they make it through the academy, in the present, and again in 2034, when one of them (Brian Tyree Henry) is the director of the FBI and has changed the bureau substantially. The core cast includes Kate Mara, Jake McDornan, Brian J. Smith and Sepideh Moafi, along with Henry, as members of the group that appear in the different timelines. The first two episodes—released Wednesday—moved among the three time periods, introducing the characters and setting up the storylines. The second episode built on that conflict, setting the stage for the first season. Episodes will be released weekly with a planned eight-episode season. Hulu has produced some engaging original programming. The pieces are in place for this series to deliver something engaging. I wasn’t as taken with the second episode, but the cast and premise are sound. This could be an interesting addition to the summer TV landscape.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C+
City on Fire, Streaming Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered May 12)
About: The latest from Apple comes from co-creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who created Gossip Girl, among other series. This one is again set in New York, this time in 2003. It’s based on the novel from Garth Risk Hallberg, and while the basic elements of the story—a shooting in Central Park connected to a wealthy family and a series of fires around the city—remains the same, much has changed. The novel is set in the 1970s, with the inciting incident coming on New Year’s Eve. This series is in 2003, with the inciting incident taking place on the Fourth of July. The changed time setting, and dates allow Savage and Schwartz to put their flare on the story. But does it work? Eh, that remains to be seen. The pilot lays out the characters and the second episode helps build the story. But it’s unclear what the connection for all these threads is or how it’s all going to come together. The season is 10 episodes, with the first two released now and subsequent episodes dropping weekly. There’s some potential, and I’ve enjoyed the series from Savage and Schwartz in the past, but this didn’t totally work. We’ll see if it can build the tension and interest in following episodes.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C
The Muppets Mayhem, Now Streaming on Disney+ (Premiered May 10)
About: Disney is releasing its latest Muppets series, this one a 10-episode comedy of sorts released on Disney+ Wednesday. The series centers on a music executive, Nora (Lilly Singh), who needs a break to get her career moving in the right direction. She discovers that the Muppet band, Mayhem, still owes her company an album. She sets out to collect and make it happen. Things don’t go as smoothly as she’d hoped. I love the Muppets. I enjoy the classic films and have even enjoyed some of the modern films. But this recent wave of series has presented disappointment after disappointment. They aren’t funny and they just don’t work. This show is no exception. Perhaps it’s a clever idea, but it can’t sustain a 30-minute episode, let alone 10 of them. And yet, that’s what we’ve got. The first two were OK but didn’t feel compelling enough to make me want to finish the series.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-
Mulligan, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered May 12)
About: This new Netflix series is an animated series from Robert Carlock and Sam Means. It begins with an alien attack on Earth, which is foiled by Bostonian Matty Mulligan (Nat Faxon). In the aftermath, he’s made President but he’s ill-equipped for the job and for rebuilding a fractured planet. Those who are left on his council are stuck trying to find a way forward. The voice cast here is solid, including frequent Carlock collaborator Tina Fey, Sam Richardson, Dana Carvey and Chrissy Teigen. But the story is limp. The jokes are limp. And even the patented pop culture references that are a hallmark of Carlock’s projects don’t really work. It’s painfully unfunny at times. The full 10-episode season is now available to stream, with each episode around a half an hour. It’s a quick binge but it isn’t worth it.
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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