2017 Fall TV Roundup #01 – Blow us all away.

As we try to do every year, below you’ll find quick first impressions on this season’s pilots. Knee-jerk snark, if you will.

The Orville on FOX (Thursdays at 9/8c)

Recapped: Star Trek made by Seth MacFarlane.

What Mari thinksI kind of hate Seth MacFarlane? It’s a little unfair since I haven’t watched anything by him, but what little I’ve ever seen of MacFarlane, I’ve hated. I’m also not a Star Trek fan. Basically I’m saying that I was the exact wrong person to watch this show.

And yet, I was mostly confused by my feelings regarding this show. I didn’t hate it as outrightly as I expected, but there was something here that was difficult to pinpoint. It wasn’t funny enough, sincere enough, or enough of a satire? It was bland and a little more by the book than you would expect?

I was confused. I can only say that this will appeal to anyone who wants to see Seth MacFarlane in space. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

D

What Annie thinks: I’ve hated Seth MacFarlane ever since he guest starred as a whiney asshole in one of my favourite shows. But I have liked the various Star Trek franchises, so I’m 50% the right person to watch this show!

For me, the show very much felt like Seth MacFarlane really wanted to be on Star Trek and since that was never going to happen, he made this show to make all his dreams come true. I was excited to see Adrianne Palicki (from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) and Penny Johnson Jerald (from Castle) in the cast and I didn’t hate the show. I was expecting it to be all dick and fart jokes, but it wasn’t MacFarlane’s normal brand of ‘comedy’. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve watched.

C

Overall grade: C-

 

The Brave on NBC (Mondays at 10/9c)

Recapped: Law & Order: Good Looking Special Ops Squad.

What Mari thinksThis was about as generic as a generic pilot could be, though it wasn’t offensive nor did it have any obvious missteps. It is everything you would expect it to be if you spent about 5 seconds glancing at the graphic above: good looking people on v serious missions, guns, bad guys, and the kind of far away looks that suggest some tragic backstories that are certainly not explored beyond casual mentions in the pilot. There were a few moments near they end that I felt a little tension, but they were mostly of my own making. That is, I started to wonder if maybe there was some twist coming for us– something that would spin this basic premise into something else. It never came and it never happened. And I’m not sure that I would tune in again to see if this show develops a personality past episode 1.

C

 

The Good Doctor on ABC (Mondays at 10/9c)

Recapped: Like House but with way more feelings.

What Samantha thinks: Okay lemme preface this with two things. 1. I knew literally nothing about this going on beyond its title. 2. I have a WEAKNESS for medical shows. I love them. When I found out that it was about a surgeon who is autistic I became nervous. I didn’t want them to mess it up. I don’t know how to feel about Shawn also being a super genius, which tends to be one of the only ways Hollywood portrays Autism and the only way that it’s “okay”.  There also seemed to be an abundance of douchey men and no one but Shawn was especially likable? The flashbacks were also hella brutal and intense, and I’m not sure how necessary that was. I know I just listed a lot of negatives but it was also well done, Freddie Highmore was great, and I love seeing The West Wing alums doing anything. I hope that it ends up doing good and finds itself. Do no harm, amiright?

B-

What Mari thinksI’m… torn. I don’t feel like I can comment on the rep fully because I’m not on the spectrum. I will say that it felt a little stereotypical and inspiration porn-y, though there’s a chance some of that will settle past the pilot. In general, where House had his dry wit and cynicism, this show seems to have an awful lot of… schmaltz. I thought Highmore did a good job with his material and in general, everyone gave good performances. I thought the pacing was off and the decision to frame the episode with the board meeting was unnecessary and interrupted the flow of the show. I’m with Samantha about the brutal flashbacks and how many were included overall. These all seem like things, though, that all tie directly back to it being a pilot. There is hope for that to settle, but it left the pilot with lots of pros and cons.

C

Overall grade: C+

 

SEAL Team on CBS (Wednesdays at 9/8c)


Recapped: A team. Of SEALs.

What Mari thinksI haven’t watched David Boreanaz in anything since we finished recapping Angel. If you thought I could at all talk about this show without mentioning Angel, hello, nice to meet you. Perhaps the best place to start actually reviewing this is to say that I also sat through The Brave. Comparatively, this felt much more layered, and it sold the kind of investment in its characters that The Brave completely failed on. In essentials, this is exactly what I expected it to be: highly trained and talented Navy SEALs doing mission things and brooding. And guys, if Angel, sorry, David is good at one thing, it. is. brooding. He really ties together this drama as the grizzled, sad team leader, struggling through his personal life and some past trauma. Is this ground-breaking? No. Will I keep watching? I’m not sure. But between The Brave and this, I’d definitely say this one seems like it’ll be most worth your time.

As an additional side note, someone says “5 by 5” in this episode and I SQUEED.

B+

 

Will and Grace on NBC (Thursday at 9/8c)

Recapped: It’s… Will & Grace. Again.

What Annie thinks: Full disclosure: I fucking loved the original Will & Grace. I recognize there were some problematic things about its first run (like… are there only 2 POCs in New York City? And one of them is Karen’s housekeeper? Come ON, guys.), but I enjoyed the show. This revival is kind of everything I wanted. It was cheesy and it had stupid and predictable jokes, and fun political digs. And it featured a guest appearance from Anthony Ramos.

I even give them a pass with their Dallas-esque way of dealing with where the original series finale left off, because it was exactly the kind of thing that made sense for Will & Grace.

I think Diva described it best when she called this show comforting on Twitter. The cast stepped right back into their roles and it was Will & Grace again. I hope to see them fix the problematic racist portrayals. I’m cautiously optimistic.

A

What Samantha thinks: I agree with Annie. I think the best thing the show could have done was act like “hey it’s a new episode” instead of “WE’RE REBOOTING YA’LL”. It was eerily nice to just watch a new episode. I was too young to watch this show when it originally aired and yet it still held that same comfort for me. The cast fell seamlessly back into place and there was an easy catharsis with all the political jokes. The only thing I’m not sure about is the “explanation” they gave for the original run’s series ending. I definitely think it falls into the “just go with it and enjoy” category. I wish I felt this good after all reboots (I’m looking at you Gilmore Girls) and I full on gasped when Anthony Ramos appeared. Blow us all away, Anthony!

A

Overall grade: A

 

Tune in next time for thoughts on Ten Days in the Valley, Wisdom of the Crowd, The Gifted and more! 

 

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  • OK but literally what is the point of discussing any David Borenaz project without mentioning Angel?

    I still haven’t watched The Orville, but I had complicated feelings about it from the moment it was a trailer (which can be summarized as, “I wish this show were being made by literally anyone other than Seth MacFarlane,”) and my conflicted “should I give it a shot???” persists.

    • I should also say, my wish to see Adrianne Palicki do good things is a big part of my “????? but do I watch?????”

      Secretly I hope that this show flops & is quickly canceled and then ABC reconsiders the Mockingbird spinoff, but that is actually only possible in my dreams.

      • I was SO disappointed when I heard the Mockingbird spinoff was dead. I want good characters and good shows for Adrianne. Is the Orville it? Nope, not really. But does it mean I get to watch her act circles around Seth? Absolutely.

        • That is probably the most promising reason I have yet heard to watch the show?

          There’s another project Mari and I have been kicking around which might allow us to talk about stuff without committing to full fledged recaps and I think the only way I will bother watching any episodes of this show is for the sake of that thing. BUT THEN I THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH I LOVE ADRIANNE AND I DON’T KNOW.

          I think what I’m saying is that I just need to watch the stupid thing and decide for myself instead of just thinking about it and reading think pieces about it. Thank you for listening to my dilemma.

    • So, I graded it the lowest pilot on this list, and it’s been quite a bit since I watched the pilot so a couple of interesting things: I keep hearing that it’s getting better each episode and of everything on here, it’s the thing I would probably most readily dedicate more time to. Grudgingly. I’m curious, it’s easily consumable, the supporting cast really is great, and if it finds its voice, whether sincere or satire, I see the potential.

      Though I will never stop wishing it were made by anyone other than Seth MacFarlane.

      • YES. But also, as this show is basically ‘Seth wanted to be in Star Trek and Star Trek said NO’, I struggle with the fact we only have the show because of Seth?

    • David Sagneri

      Not a MacFarlane fan myself but I have watched the first three episodes and the thing at this point hasn’t decided if it’s a dramedy homage, a straight satire, or a mostly serious Trek show with some humor thrown in about the Starfleet B-team. If it can find a core and stick with it well it has the potential to be worthwhile but that’s all it has at the moment.

      • Yeah, that was the biggest surprise for me with this show. I was honestly expecting to be hit over the head with MacFarlane-esque humour. But it was so mild. I’m confused as to what this show is supposed to be.

      • That is something that I think I’ll struggle with. That was one of Gotham’s central problems – it just couldn’t decide what, exactly, it wanted to do. (Though, that being said, it’s unforgivable sin, imo, was that nothing had consequences and so none of its stories mattered, making the show feel like this endless purgatory to watch and recap.)

        IDK. I am very conflicted by how I want good things for Adrianne and how I want bad things for Seth.

  • Christie Greenwood

    I haaaaaaaaate MacFarlane with the fire of a thousand flux capacitator polarity reversing warp core Jefferies tubes regulators.

    As you can see, I’m a huge Star Trek nerd.

    The problem with The Orville is that as a regular show, it rips off The Next Generation. As satire, it doesn’t even come close to the awesomeness that is Galaxy Quest. The jokes are unfunny, the plot lame, the setting stolen, and the acting meh. It just doesn’t work on any level and is more of the same old, only stupider.

    Fun facts about Seth MacFarlane:

    a) For Ted, he blatantly plagiarised an older Supernatural episode. Matt Groening has also called him a plagiarist on occasion, at least indirectly. MacFarlane likes to steal things and either pretend he didn’t, or call it homage. That’s not how that works, Seth. Who’re you, Paolini? Get lost. / rage
    b) He had a cameo on Star Trek: Enterprise. It’s blink and you’ll miss it. The sheer adorable nerdiness of that earned him exactly one brownie point from yours truly.
    c) He was a producer on that Cosmos show with Neil deGrasse Tyson. I love Neil deGrasse Tyson. There’s another brownie point for Seth, then.

    d) I still hate him, though.

    Another fun fact: Penny Johnson was Kasidy Yates on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, my favourite show.

    On a better note, Star Trek: Discovery is awesome. Go watch that, instead.

  • Blinvy .

    I loathe Seth MacFarlane. I actually did use to watch Family Guy and enjoyed it but grew tired of the endless jokes at the expense of Meg. Then I watched American Dad and thought that was way better but still, the weird digs at women in general started to really rub me the wrong way. Ted was enjoyable once but didn’t really have much of a point and the set up is lame. So I started getting very bored with his humour which gets stale fast.

    Then came A Million Ways to Die in the West and I was like “you are not Mel Brooks, sir.” I watched it and it was soooo ungodly boring and stale. Everything felt too polished, everything played too straight, wasted jokes, poor timing, everything that could be wrong with it, was. But this was the movie where it really hit me about what made me uncomfortable about him and that is his poor attitude about women. Women are nothing to him but a trophy and he 100% sees himself as a put upon “Nice Guy ™” It was so jarringly obvious in this movie that I went from thinking not that much of him but that some of his comedies are passable to downright hatred. He’s an egotistical, full of shit, nice guy who thinks the world owes him everything. I hate him soo much.

    Also, he made Dads and how dare you write such horrible parts for Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green, they’re supposed to be your friends and you gave them a shit sitcom to work with? Also, putting poor Brenda Song in an Asian school girl costume and forcing her to giggle was absolutely disgusting and furthered my theory that he’s a Nice Guy dickwad who thinks women are lust objects.

    • I first realized that he was actually trash when he hosted the Oscars and we all had that collective “what is happening right now???” on Twitter over “We Saw Your Boobs” but Dads was when he reached the point of no return. I wanted so badly to like that show – Giovanni Ribisi! Seth Green! Brenda Song!!! – and even after the pilot was a disaster, I stuck with it for about half the first season, desperately hoping for it to get better for the sake of these actors. Alas, it remained that lowest-common-denominator humor that Seth MacFarlane knows.

      My fear is that The Orville will be the new Big Bang Theory – a show that is a ratings smash in spite of the fact that nobody with any taste will ever admit to watching it – and ultimately live for-fucking-EVER.

      • Blinvy .

        Oh god, Big Bang won’t die!!! They’ve even made a spin-off about young Sheldon and I just can’t even. It’s not that good, people!!! In fact, it’s kind of poisonous trash. Pop Culture Detective on YouTube did a couple of interesting videos on the show highlighting the fact that it’s both misogynistic and misandrist (to anyone who doesn’t fit the mould of toxic masculinity) which is odd considering it’s supposed to be about a group of guys who are bullied for not fitting that mould. It’s fascinating how toxic the show really is while wearing the “nerd mask”. The first video is called “The Adorkable Misogyny of the Big Bang Theory” if you’re interested.

        Also, I must have blocked out “We Saw Your Boobs” out of self-preservation but I remember now and it was horrifyingly tone-deaf and wtf was he thinking? How does Seth have a career in comedy?? He’s not funny at all and has a really off-putting personality.

        • YES. I love those Pop Culture Detective videos. So good. IDGAF about that show, but I am always here for interesting cultural criticism.

          HE. IS. SO. OFF-PUTTING. STOP GIVING HIM MONEY AND PROJECTS, EXECUTIVES.

    • Jamie Miller

      “You are not Mel Brooks, sir.” Best ever! I refused to see anything with Seth MacFarlane in it any more, after the Oscars (so I didn’t see his wild west POS). I also used to like Family Guy, but I also got sick of all the jokes at Meg’s expense, and then came the Oscar hosting. He’s the worst and he is definitely NOT Mel Brooks. Oh lord, could you imagine if he tried to make a Broadway musical?

  • Samantha

    I am 100% here for thE fact that this comments section is entirely “UGH SETH MACFARLANE WHY”. Thank you everyone for making my day.

  • Andrew Alonso-Emanuel

    I may or may not have been seething watching good doctor. Being on the spectrum, I found the show wavering between a character with no real agency as autistic characters are always led through everything and being totally clueless as to how autistic people function in the professional world. The idea that someone who graduated med school including being an intern at a hospital with such high recommendations would still be so unaware of his own communication issues is baffling. The idea he might struggle to communicate in a high stress environment makes sense, however in general if he was successful in school he would have learned techniques and learned to delegate when he couldn’t convey information. All that aside (and the implication that hiring an autistic person is an “eccentric” and irresponsible decision) the show is also just kind of boring and the dialogue was meh.

  • Karen

    Seth MacFarlane is like if someone wanted to make a second George Clooney, but only had an off-brand mold, half the talent, 10% of the charm, twice the smugness and no soul to work with.

    I’m not a fan, so I haven’t seen The Orville. I was actually surprised when I heard it wasn’t as terrible as I feared. It sounds like it wants to be somewhere between Star Trek and Galaxy Quest so it just lands squarely in mediocre territory.