Favorite Pilots of 2013

Honestly, I didn’t watch a lot of TV in 2013. For more definitive lists of the “best of 2013” may I suggest The Wire or The AV Club. I’m just gonna tell you my favorite pilots of 2013, because it’s like, late December and making lists is the thing to do.

Agent Coulson don't touch lola1. Almost Human — Not the most original thing ever on TV, this show managed to find its own voice in its pilot. It’s witty and engaging, and is responsible for my first — and currently, only — A.I. crush.

2. Orange is the New Black — Much has been written about why this show is great. It became much more than it was in the pilot, i.e. the story of one pretty white woman turning herself in for a prison sentence. Still, the pilot is fantastic in its own right. Don’t let the cheesy title put you off.

3. Orphan Black — If you know nothing about this show, I recommend watching the pilot that way. The less you know what to expect, the more you’ll enjoy it. The premise of the show isn’t truly introduced until late in the second episode, and that’s awesome.

4. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. — Despite introducing us to one of the most annoying characters ever one TV (Skye, who according to imdb, has no last name), this pilot was a fun ride. I’m sure that the build-up to the premiere colored the experience. Just seeing Coulson deliver the “Don’t touch Lola” line was enough to make fans cheer. It wasn’t the episode plot that made this pilot exciting, though, but the introduction of the still-unwinding plot, “How the hell is Coulson still alive?” BTW, Lola’s licence plate reads, “681 PCE.” That has to mean something!!

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Susan 313

This week, Sarah Silverman released the pilot of a show she made last year for NBC. I’m going to preface this by saying, I’m not a huge Sarah Silverman fan. I don’t dislike her, I’ve just never loved her. This is honestly my first trip to her YouTube page.

Wreck It Ralph

This is not a photo from the show. It’s from Wreck It Ralph. If you don’t see the connection, you’re probably not interested in this post.

But did you see what was on NBC last year? It’s hard to believe anything of even remote quality didn’t make it to air. (Exhibit A: Another show created by and starring an otherwise very funny comedienne, Are You There, Chelsea? My rating: unwatchable.) Continue reading

Under the Dome… and other apocalypses

PilotUnder the Dome is the latest in a seeming mobius strip of apocalypse stories being forced down our gullet by the entertainment industry. “But wait,” you say, “Under the Dome isn’t an apocalypse story. It’s only about one town.” This Stephen King-based saga, which debuted last month, centers on a small municipality that finds itself, inexplicably and without warning, under a dome. Like in The Simpsons Movie. Continue reading

The Booth at the End

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There isn’t much to explain about the premise of The Booth at the End. A weird, nameless dude sits in a booth — at the end — in a diner and gives people cryptic assignments to complete in order to obtain things they want. It’s like The Wizard telling Dorothy to kill the witch, whom she’s never met and has no beef with, in order to go home.

Booth is a Hulu original series, but the episodes run the length of an ordinary televised show. That’s probably a bit long for a series of basically all bottle episodes. Continue reading

Pilot titles, round 2

Script_TitlePageI did an earlier post of match-the-pilot title-to-the show, but here’s a fresh batch. Some are obvious, some are not. See if you can guess which shows’ pilots these are:

1. Give Me a Ring Sometime

2. Serenity

3. The Beginning

4. Boardwalk Empire

5. Flowers for your Grave

6. We Just Decided To

7. The Man Trap

8. Movin’ In

9. Death Has a Shadow

10. Help Wanted

Answers after the jump. Continue reading

The Americans and sex in pilots

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Elizabeth and Phillip as they look in their “everyday” life.

Sex on TV can be a cheap way to get attention, whether it’s in advertising or entertainment, shorthand for “look at this!” And a pilot is where, above all else, a show needs to grab attention. It’s the rare cable drama of the past ten years that doesn’t feature at least one sex scene in its premiere episode. The pilot of The Americans, which premiered on FX several weeks ago, features not one, but three of them.

It’s easy to view the ubiquitous romp in the sheets (or airport supply closet, or… wherever) with cynicism. In this case, however, the sex serves the story brilliantly, and I’ll get to why. Continue reading

Cougar Town, revisited

cougar-town-tbs-castLast night, TBS premiered Cougar Town to much ballyhoo. This wasn’t a pilot; Cougar Town lived on network TV for three seasons, much of that time perched atop the bubble. (You can check out my impressions of the pilot here.)

I didn’t stick with the show for very long. I know there’s wine. I know there’s a cul-de-sac. And I’ve heard that Jules and Grayson got together — hardly a surprise, based on the pilot alone. Even from the beginning the title didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, and from what I’ve heard, made less so over the years. I honestly didn’t think the show would last long. (After all, how many Tom Petty songs are there?) Continue reading

Bomb Girls

Reelz Channel bills Bomb Girls as an original series, much as Soap Net took credit for the originality of Being Erica. Both are actually Canadian shows, lacking some of the sheen of more mainstream fare but with their own charm nonetheless.

The Bomb Girls pilot introduces us to a group of women working in a Canadian bomb factory during World War II. It opens with a series of very short scenes, quick brushstrokes that show us three women each under the thumb of a man. One expressing a desire to “go a little further” with her fiance is told to cool it. The next one is chastised by her husband for serving pot roast, a luxury he claims they can’t afford. The third is singing in a street choir and has the audacity to notice a passing man. Her preacher tells her with a firm hand squeeze to stay focused. Continue reading

Saving Hope

As Saving Hope heads toward the light, not a lot of people will mourn its passing, according to the ratings. It did so poorly this summer that NBC isn’t airing the final two episodes of the lone season. Viewers have had to watch online to find out if Charlie, a charismatic surgeon, wakes up from his coma. The finale goes online Sunday.

Saving Hope is a kind of Dead Like Me meets Grey’s Anatomy — and those two show probably don’t have a ton of audience overlap. Continue reading

Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time

“This is the best show I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” is what Abed said when he saw his first thirty seconds of Inspector Spacetime. If he was impressed with that, he should see Travis Richey’s Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time. For starters, the production values are much better. And if you think that the low production values are what gives Inspector Spacetime its charm, don’t worry — you won’t be starved for camp. Continue reading