It’s Pilot Season – 2016

OK, this post is a little late since I’ve been promoting my book. Pilot season is essentially over, and all the new shows are in full swing. But who cares? I’m doing this post anyway!

The Fall 2016 television season is upon us. And that means we’re inundated with the worst the networks have to offer. Each year brings us new series; a few will be great, but most will be unwatchable trash. There’s far too many horrible series out there for me to review them all. So, I’ve decided to watch the three pilots that had the most promotional advertising of this season and review them. Please note, my reviews are not necessarily what I think of the entire series, but simply my thoughts on the pilot episode.

The Good Place

Mike Schur is a comedy genius. He wrote for Saturday Night Light, he worked on the US version of The Office, he created and ran Parks & Recreation, and he co-created Brooklyn Nine-Nine. So, I’m going to take notice anytime he gets involved in a show. Now, he has created yet another new comedy series, The Good Place, starring Mrs. Brik’s female crush Kristen Bell.

The Good Place is essentially heaven. It’s where good people go when they die. But the standards are really, really high. Your run of the mill good person isn’t going to get in. You have to be an ultra-humanitarian, a Ghandi or a Lincoln to make the cut. Everyone else goes to The Bad Place AKA Hell.

Bell plays a woman named Eleanor who shows up one day after having died in a freak accident. The curator of The Good Place, played by Ted Danson, explains everything to her. He escorts her around paradise, and introduces her to her soul mate. Everything is hunky dory except for one tiny problem: Eleanor was supposed to go to The Bad Place, and she got sent to The Good Place by mistake.

To make matters worse, she was an atrocious person in real life. She was conceited, arrogant, rude, and a downright bitch. Her negative vibes immediately start wreaking havoc on The Good Place. Weird crap starts to happen, like a giant sinkhole forming in the center of town. And so, the series goes on with Eleanor trying to learn how to be a good person while keeping her true persona under wraps.

The premise certainly seems very limited, but the jokes immediately break free of the concept. Bell is perfect as the self-centered Eleanor, and Danson is hilarious as the dimwitted curator. The Good Place represents a change for the standard comedy TV series. It has a unique premise, and is a lot of fun so far. I look forward to checking out more of it.

Verdict: Good


NBC has dumped a shitload of money into this series. They want it to be a dramatic flagship for the network. I’m not sure if their intention is that it will become the new Lost, but they clearly have high hopes for it. I wonder… after watching the first episode, did they still feel that way?

Timeless is a braindead time travel adventure. It starts out with terrorists stealing a time machine and going back to prevent the Hindenburg from exploding on its maiden voyage. The scientists enlist the help of a historian and an ex-special forces soldier to go back in time (in their backup time machine – facepalm) to stop the terrorists from succeeding.

There are so many things wrong with this shitshow, I don’t even know where to begin. First, the inventor of the time machine is supposed to be Elon Musk, but the second he steps onto the set he flamboyantly shouts, “HELLOOOO WHO’S READY TO GO BACK IN TIIIIIMEEEE?” Well, he doesn’t say that verbatim, but it’s basically what he says.

The main character, is played by veiny-forehead Abigail Spencer, a woman whose life is a trainwreck, well, the TV version of it. She’s single, didn’t get tenure at her university, and her mother is dying from an undisclosed illness. How do we know her mom is sick? She is comatose in a bed at home with a scarf wrapped around her hair: TV shorthand for terminal illness. Naturally, Spencer jumps at the chance to go back in time.

The soldier is a moron. He is told countless times not to interfere with the events as they are supposed to happen. So, he immediately starts hitting on a 1937 woman, and saves her from dying when she was supposed to.

And then there was the scientist, who was black, who went with them. His role seemed to be nothing more than I’M BLACK AND RACISM WAS PREVALENT IN THE PAST SO LET’S DEAL WITH THAT. He didn’t have much to work with. I actually felt sorry for the actor playing him. He probably thought he was going to have a juicy role in a new show, but his character has nothing to do except deal with existential threats.

The team of wonder idiots fail, and the terrorists succeed in their plan. But not before whispering some cryptic shit to Spencer about who she is really supposed to be. When Spencer returns to the present, things have changed. She is engaged, her sister was never born, and her mother isn’t sick. Obviously, the terrorist is from a point further in the future than the main characters. He is changing things for Spencer for some unknown purpose. I suppose it’s good they actually have some kind of storyline in mind for this show rather than it just being a moronic procedural.

But it’s still moronic anyway. The instant the terrorists went back in time, everything in the present would have changed. They wouldn’t have had time to mount a counter offensive. And when the team returns, they explain to the other scientists how things changed. The scientists knew full-well the team was sent back, but with no more recollection why. Ugh, it was so fucking dumb.

In the show’s defense, it had really high production values. They worked hard to have period sets, costumes, props, etc. It looked really good. Not quite movie level, but pretty close. Except for that horrible CGI exploding Hindenburg, that looked like trash.

Fuck this show.

Verdict: Shitty

Lethal Weapon

The original Lethal Weapon film doesn’t need much of an introduction. It was a hit 1987 buddy cop film starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. It helped explode both of their careers, made a killing at the box office, and spawned three sequels.

Since Hollywood is completely out of ideas, they have gone the route of turning popular film franchises into TV series. Lethal Weapon probably can withstand it since it’s basically just a cop show, and that format has always done well on TV. For the most part, I can say that this one wasn’t terrible.

Damon Wayans was pretty damn good as veteran cop Roger Murtaugh. He’s actually older than Glover was in the first film, but doesn’t really look it. Wayans doesn’t age, apparently. He does a good job letting his own personality shine through, but keeping it tempered enough to not betray the grumpy nature of the character. Clayne Crawford plays the Gibson role, Martin Riggs, AKA the lethal weapon. Crawford seems to be a perfect fit: naturally charismatic, slightly unhinged (but not as good as being crazy as Gibson), and believable enough when it’s time to kick some ass. Unfortunately, none of the other characters were any good. The police captain was one-dimensional, with no personality. Wayans’ wife is also a stereotype: sassy woman who constantly denies her husband sex and thinks it’s hilarious. Ugh.

Sadly, this seems to have been transformed into a run of the mill procedural. There were no hints of a greater plot lurking in the shadows. That may come to light in later episodes, but the pilot was completely self-contained. The duo investigated a crime and had it wrapped up at the end of 45 minutes. And at the end, everyone had a good laugh.

The action scenes peppered throughout were decent. They were certainly better than what most TV shows do. They were at least trying to stay true to the franchise’s film roots. It remains to be seen if they will keep this up, or if they blew their action budget on the pilot.

The Wayans/Crawford duo has perfect on-screen chemistry. That was where this show was going to live or die, and thankfully it succeeds there. Without it, there would be no point.

Verdict: Average

Check out previous entries in this series:

It’s Pilot Season – 2015

It’s Pilot Season – 2013

It’s Pilot Season – 2014


3 Responses to “It’s Pilot Season – 2016”

  1. November 27, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Was not expecting the “average” verdict for the Lethal Weapon TV show from you, though I’ve not seen any of it—the trailer didn’t exactly light a fire under me. Though can see how it’s got some merits. Sadly not enough for me to give it a whirl.

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November 2016


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