Can you tell from the pilot?

Can you tell if a TV show is going to be any good based on its pilot? io9’s Charlie Jane Anders recently posted How to Tell from a Pilot if a TV Show is Going to be Any Good and offered some insightful tips on how to tell. She makes some great points, like how writing oneself into a hole or having a boring “thing of the week” is a recipe for failure. But quite simply, the answer to the question above is “no.” Continue reading

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Battleground

UPDATE: 7/22/12 I wrote the analysis below having only watched the first episode of Battleground. I don’t usually approach these posts as recommendations for or against watching a show. Having now completed the first season, I say “Watch it. Watch it now.” This is one of those shows that the pilot does not do justice to until you can appreciate it as part of the larger picture.

For example, some of the stuff that makes you scratch your head in the pilot (like just when are these interviews supposed to have been recorded, and what the hell is Cole wearing?) are ambiguous on purpose. The final episode has me dying for season 2.

 

If you happened upon the pilot episode of Battleground, you might think you were watching a documentary. For a few minutes at least, Battleground defies the obvious comparisons to Parks and Recreation or The Office. As mockumentaries go, this one opens on a more serious note. There is a film-like look about it. Amber waves of grain and small hometown businesses flavor the opening credits. It’s a bit like the tour of Scranton that opens The Office, but without the underlying sense of sarcasm. Then… we meet Jordan T. Mosley, the show’s Dwight Schrute. But I’ll come back to him. Continue reading

Parks and Recreation

When this show debuted, viewers went into it thinking they knew what to expect. It was another The Office, with a “female Michael Scott.” In fact, this mockumentary was originally conceived by creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur and a spin-off of The Office. You would be forgiven for maintaining that assumption even after viewing the pilot, although there are hints here of greater potential. To be sure, Parks and Recreation took a little time to find its own voice, and with a powerful comedienne like Amy Poehler in the lead, it’s not surprising that it did so. Here is what audiences saw in April 2009. Continue reading