Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pilot Screener Reviewlets - NBC Dramas

- 17th Precinct: this makes me sad, because I have an incredible affinity for many of the actors involved in various other projects (it's not just BSG alums). There's this INCREDIBLY awkward and unnecessary and dry opening saga-sell of "imagine if the world were based on magic instead of science" that REALLY makes the whole proceeding feel like Law & Order: Spectral Victims Unit. All of the silly/obvious "Lee Adama is having an affair with Gaius Baltar's wife" stuff was dropped (presumably for time). The biggest problem here is that in a world of magic without clearly set rules... anything is possible. Crime and murder investigations hinge on things that can be pulled out of a hat. Granted, a lot of the forensic science on other real-world-set procedural shows feels like magic. This world of magic needed to be the MacGuffin into a human story about the people who live in this world and the long-arc story of the Stoics (a group of terrorists who use science, not magic). Instead... magic feels like the only thing being offered up. This needed some reworking. It could've been something. It's not.

- Grimm: I had a terrible reaction to the script. It's not that bad, though I still think the main character is kind of a terrible detective. It just leaves me kind of cold. There's no reason why Nick had to stay in the dark about his lineage, and it's unexplained why his aunt allowed him to stay that way. It's also entirely arbitrary-feeling why he starts to see things. I'll probably even watch the second episode to see if the mythology deepens. The effects are good.

- The Playboy Club: no woman is going to watch this show. And, given that it's a broadcast show, it's not like there's even the promise of HBO-style nudity to attract men to it. The opening has a ton of flash, but the physicality of the accidental murder that takes place is terrible. I think the actress who plays Carol Lynn is terribly miscast. There are going to be a ton of Mad Men comparisons, of course, so here's what I'll say: YOU ARE NO JOAN HOLLOWAY. Basically, I think someone said "let's do a show set in the 1960s about playboy bunnies" and NBC bought it, then they said "oh, crap, there's no show here" so they added organized crime into it. The only part of the show I have any interest in following is the world of the secretly-lesbian bunny and her gay husband... but that's, y'know, not what the show is about, really. It's just a side story for one of the characters. It's not boring like Pan Am was, of the two 1963-set series, but it's not compelling.

- Prime Suspect: a character-cedural about the problems of being a female homicide detective in a precinct with a boys club feels very ten years ago. I don't mind Maria Bello as Jane. I just don't find this story to be particularly modern. It needed something more, a little zhuzh. Doesn't have it.

- Smash: hated the script. Thankfully, a lot of the seedier elements were taken out. The ending was changed SIGNIFICANTLY, which is welcome because it left a horrid taste in my mouth when I read it. There's even a cliffhanger, of sorts... you don't know who has been cast as Marilyn (in the script, it was a foregone conclusion), and there are insanely compelling reasons to route for both of the women who are up for the part. This show belongs to Kat McPhee and Megan Hilty. The songs were changed from the script and feel relevant to the story. "Let Me Be Your Star" is far and away a better original number than any original song thus far on Glee. I don't think this is going to be a show all about "when are they gonna sing a song that I can download?" It just... it came together. It feels special. Hands down, my favorite screener so far. Cannot wait for this show. Hope it's a huge hit. Also hope they can somehow work it out that they only make a clean, crisp, 13-episode season every year that keeps the quality up to a cable standard (only having the 3 writers, and them writing 22 episodes a year, really screwed Glee up after those first 13 in Fall 2009).

- Wonder Woman: someone pass me the crow. I need to eat it. I feel like I was the only person on teh Interwebz who thought this might be, y'know, a viable show. I saw the potential camp in the script. The script needed help, lots of help. But it went from probably-awful with brief flashes of fun to a deadly dull, serious, pathos-laden drama. The only person who seemed to be having any fun was Liz Hurley, who was marvelous at chewing the scenery (while, inexplicably wearing the same dress in every scene despite being a huge CEO and the story taking place over multiple days). If everyone had the tone she brought to it, this show could've been something. I don't fault Palicki here, and hope she comes out of this unscathed because she did what she was asked. The whole Diana Prince side of her character made even less sense as filmed... we really needed a plot about Wonder Woman joining Facebook through her secret identity? You have to laugh at some of the production choices, too. The ridiculous grandstanding scene where Diana Themyscira verbally bitch-slaps THE UNITED STATES SENATE became a terse diatribe to a single Senator over wine at a Los Angeles fine dining establishment.

Not yet watched: Awake, A Mann's World, Metro (fka SILA), Reconstruction


Julia said...

As a woman, I didn't find Playboy Club offensive. As of now, I will be watching in the fall, but I'm pretty sure I'll give it up after two or three episodes. But that's not because of the content, but the characters. I didn't care at all about Amber Heard's character. Laura Benanti was slightly more interesting, but only slightly.

But I didn't hate it. I think I will after a couple more episodes, but not yet.

As for Smash, I liked it so much more than I ever liked Glee, but the last scene was what I hate about musicals. I liked the organic singing. Skipping through the streets of NYC singing? Not so much.

Travis Yanan said...

Playboy wasn't offensive to women... I just found it uncompelling and I don't think there's a reason to watch (for either gender, really). Which one is Amber Heard? The main character? Yeah, boring/bland.

Smash doesn't have the weight of the "only on TV" comedic personalities/caricatures, which I think will be to its benefit in the long run. No Sue Sylvester ridiculousness required (Glee has such a severe problem with her... she's a source of comedy, but she destroys all other "plot," if the show can ever bother to attempt to scrounge up plot). The end was very music video, true, but I figure it was just a way to make them singing the song in their callback auditions more visually interesting?

Julia said...

I understood why they ended it that way, but it just left me with a bitter taste, considering that's NOT what I want to see going forward. I won't stick with it for too long if they end up randomly breaking into song in public like that at every turn. said...

Travis, two female friends of mine in the industry (one an exec, the other a writer) both REALLY liked Playboy.

Watched/read Grimm. Thought it was laughably thin execution of a great premise. Paper thin sidekicks, rote dialogue, just some lazy writing, it seemed (or bad studio notes asking for on the nose dialogue to 'explain' things to viewers. and yet, as you pointed out, many things were still arbitrary). Protag had no special discernible ability as a detective, though now that his aunt's 'light' moved into him perhaps we'll get to see it. The whole pilot should have been boiled down into just a teaser so we could then see the REAL episode with the deeper mythology and all his powers.

Stunned to hear Smash got THAT much better from script to screener. Looking forward to seeing it now, I guess??