MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #9: “Forever”


The only new fantasy/sci-fi series of the Fall 2014 season that’s not based on a comic book, the hero of Forever, a Manhattan medical examiner who’s also a 200-year-old immortal, could’ve been adapted from the medium, using either DC Comics’ Immortal Man or Vandal Savage, or Marvel’s Mr. Immortal from the Great Lakes Avengers. Instead this mash-up derived from the crossed bones of the much more popular Sleepy Hollow and Sherlock will have to rise or fall on the strength of some added flourishes and the charms of star Ioan Gruffudd, who’s much more at ease here than he was as the uptight Reed Richards in the two Fantastic Four films.

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MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #8: “Scorpion”


Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Scorpion the Best New Series on TV!

That’s my honest assessment based purely on how its pilot stacked up against the nine others I’ve watched so far in my ongoing marathon. When I first read about the premise — the short version is, our government pays wacky hackers to save the world every week — my initial impression was a CSI: Big Bang Theory that would have depressing things in store for me. I feared the limited plot possibilities that would be solved every episode with some combination of “Let’s Enhance!” zooms and frenetic compute-offs in which Our Heroes must TYPE FASTER OR ELSE THINGS EXPLODE, all while we point and laugh at their personal defects. The first twenty minutes of the pilot saw my prophecy fulfilled for the benefit of CBS viewers who prefer that their shows look exactly like other CBS shows.

Then a strange thing happened during the back half of the premiere. This time, things got personal for me.

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MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #7: “Gotham”

Penguin!Sorry to join the party so late! Everyone else already watched the premiere of Gotham days ago on Fox and blogged, tweeted, Tumblr’d, or tin-can-on-a-stringed about it to all their circles, right? If everyone else is already over it, that means I can write whatever I want without fear of anyone reading it, right? Okay, cool. The way my week has gone, I’m considering using this space to update our grocery list and gauge its effect on site traffic.

For those who spent this week focusing on other things, or who don’t care about shows based on comics: Gotham tells the story of a young, stringy, ineffective toady named Oswald Cobblepot who spends his life groveling for a notorious crime lord and wishing people would stop bullying him. The ending has already been spoiled because fans of comics or old TV know Cobblepot will someday outgrow his ineptitude and mature into the formidable businessman known as the Penguin. Gotham, then, is his origin story, plus a half-dozen irrelevant subplots about far less interesting people.

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MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #6: “Madam Secretary”

Madam Secretary!

Longtime MCC readers should know, putting it inadequately, that politics are not my thing. Tea Leoni is okay by me, but I knew ahead of time her new CBS political drama Madam Secretary might have a hard time holding my attention. I tried it nonetheless as part of the MCC 2014 Pilot Binge Project and found a fair number of upsides. For one, I enjoyed seeing the always-contrarian Zelkjo Ivanek rebound from the cancellation of NBC’s Revolution. Also: Keith Carradine is the President of the United States of America. It’s the sentence America wants and needs.

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MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #5: “A to Z”

A to Z!

Serendipity meets (500) Days of Summer, with an added twist for people who like lists, in the new series A to Z, one of NBC’s additions to its ailing Thursday comedy lineup. The title holds a double meaning: the cute couple under scrutiny, played by Ben Feldman (whose Michael Ginsberg was last seen being carried off Mad Men in a stretcher) and Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother), are named Andrew and Zelda. As described to the audience by narrator Katey Sagal, the series will detail their entire relationship “from A to Z”.

And when she says “entire”, she doesn’t just mean in-depth; it’s an implied time-bomb countdown to The End. Continue reading

MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #4: “The Mysteries of Laura”

Mysteries of Laura!

The hard-knock life of an undercover officer.

Debra Messing is back on network TV! She’s po-lice! She’s Mom! Debra Messing is…POLICE MOM!

Have you been dying for a a return to the glorious absurdity of Sledge Hammer! and Police Squad, even if the absurdity is unintentional? Do you lie awake at night wondering why Lifetime never greenlit a series based on the Miss Congeniality movies? Are you tired of shows like The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street that think real-life, hard-knock police work is more important than magazine makeup or hair care? Then your new favorite show is ready and waiting to make you laugh and cry in all the wrong places.

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MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #3: “Red Band Society”

Red Band Society!

I’ve not yet watched or read The Fault in Our Stars, so I’m unqualified to comment on whether or not Fox’s new terminal-teens drama Red Band Society owes it some debts. Of the twenty-six pilots I’ll be sampling over the next few months, it’s among the small number that I was not dreading. For me the major selling point is Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer, who was great in The Help, lent Snowpiercer some of its heart, and tore me up inside as the tough-loving mother in Fruitvale Station. I was curious to see her handling a bona fide starring role.

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MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #2: “Selfie”


Hey, that was my face while watching, too! We can totes share the same emoji!

She was Amy Pond and Nebula. He was Sulu and the Headless Horseman’s lackey. Together, Karen Gillan and John Cho could be an unstoppable TV power couple. So how were they lured into starring in the new ABC show Selfie, which feels ready-made for Disney Channel prime-time?

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The MCC 2014 Pilot Binge: Kickoff and First Down


Not a codeword for the new fall TV lineup.

And now for something completely regrettable:

I have a short list of TV shows I follow every year, but I don’t watch nearly as much TV as the average internet user my age. I don’t connect with what many of today’s sitcoms consider “humor”. The Wire ruined all ordinary police shows for me for all time. We don’t subscribe to any premium cable channels. I’m not remotely interested in any show that describes itself as “sexy”. My list of disqualifiers goes on and on.

This year I’ve decided against my better judgment to dare myself to do something different. I spent time this weekend reading the official annual “Fall TV Preview” cover features in the latest issues of Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide, and compiled a list of the new shows that merited full articles or capsule previews. I omitted a few premium-cable shows for the one reason mentioned above (the pirating option is off the table) and a few online-only streaming shows for assorted logistical reasons. That left me with a list of twenty-six TV shows in all.

Right this way for the details…

“Sleepy Hollow” 9/16/2013 (spoilers): Death Wields a Mean Shotgun

Nicole Beharie, Tom Mison, Sleepy Hollow

She’s a medium-town sheriff with FBI dreams. He’s a 250-year-old Minuteman. They fight crime!

With a swing of the axe and a shotgun blast into the air, Fox brazenly kicked off the 2013-2014 fall TV season Monday night with our first new series, Sleepy Hollow. From the early ads its simple but silly premise — Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horsemen, ripped from Washington Irving’s short story and transported to the World of Tomorrow (i.e., today) — felt to me like another uninspired Hollywood reboot, scraping the bottom of the public-domain intellectual-property barrel.

If you don’t mind the occasional hour of loony, far-fetched “popcorn TV”, you can do plenty of fun things with barrel scrapings.

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