It’s that time of the year again. The time of the year when hope and adrenaline filled pilots take over our TV screens in the hopes that they make it past five episodes. This year in general is a little lighter on new pilots than years past but we still have a few diamonds in the rough.
SPOILERS AHEAD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
THE GOOD PLACE (NBC)
(Monday 10pm premiere / Thursday 8:30pm usual time slot)
Plot: Eleanor (Kristen Bell) is dead. She wakes up in the afterlife aka The Good Place because of her good contributions during her time on earth. She has paid her debts to society and as a reward she gets to live in a perfect utopia for the rest of her days. Except for one thing. Eleanor and her memories aren’t matching up. The only thing the afterlife got right is her name, not her actions. She spends the first two episodes trying to fight her selfish nature and truly earn her spot in The Good Place for fear of being sent away to The Bad Place.
Viewing Verdict: Very promising start to a new comedy, I can’t wait to see where the rest of S1 goes.
THIS IS US (NBC)
(Tuesday 10pm premiere, Tuesday 9pm usual time slot)
Plot: This Is Us revolves around one main couple (Rebecca and Jack) and three adults (Kevin, Kate, Randall) who are all brought together by one shared birthday. Short character breakdown: Rebecca and Jack are expecting twins, Kevin is an actor who has a meltdown on set, Kate is trying to lose weight and Randall has a beautiful family and has just found his birth father. Within 15 minutes this show somehow got me to be invested in each and every character on screen. Throughout the pilot you’re left to try to piece together how each of these characters fits in with each other and all is revealed in the last five minutes. Turns out Rebecca and Jack’s scenes are set in the 1970s and they are the parents to Kevin, Kate and Randall who’s scenes are set in real time. TBD on if Rebecca and Jack will interact with the kids in real time or if all of their scenes will be in the past.
Viewing Verdict: I am fully committed to see this show through the entire season after only watching this 45 minute pilot. YAY FOR SHOWS THAT MAKE YOU CRY AND FEEL ALL THE FEELS. (PS my love of Milo is back and stronger than ever. I missed you my sweet Jess.)
Plot: Speechless revolves around a 5 unit family. Dad, three kids and Mom (Minnie Driver who is easily the best part of this show). One of the kids, JJ, has cerebral palsy that keeps him confined to a wheelchair and he communicates by pointing a laser onto a grid of words and letters. In the pilot we see the family move into a new house to get into a new school district. They have typical family struggles with a slight twist because of JJ’s condition. Mom turns into mama bear when she is fiercely protecting her kids (especially when the school doesn’t have a wheelchair ramp for JJ) and the episode ends with the family deciding to actually give this new town a chance and stay for a while.
Viewing Verdict: I wasn’t totally in love with the pilot but it wasn’t bad enough to completely turn me off to the show. Going to give it a few more episodes in the hopes that they pick up steam later on in the season.
Plot: The opening scene is literally a sex scene with the girl from Coyote Ugly and the guy from First Daughter and I am already ready to turn off the TV. I take a deep breath and decide for the good of this post to trudge on. Julia (Piper Perabo) is a news producer who spins the hell out of stories. Jake (Daniel Sunjata) is a big power player lawyer and his client Ryan (Kevin Zegers aka Damien Dalgaard from Gossip Girl) just got arrested on the charges of a hit and run turned second degree murder. Julia and Jake help each other out by giving exclusives on stories in the hopes to take control of the narrative before the rest of the media takes hold. We are now thirteen minutes into this pretty terrible show when out of nowhere JULIE FUCKING TAYLOR from Friday Night Lights comes on my screen. And with that my friends, I am officially out. I cannot stomach another show with Julie Taylor. (Worth noting, in my 13 minutes of watching, Ryan Guzman aka Sean from Step Up Revolution and the god awful JLo movie The Boy Next Door also made an appearance.)
Viewing Verdict: HARD. PASS. More than anything I’m just mad that this is the trash ABC chose to fill the Scandal hole with in the sacred TGIT lineup. Do not fuck with my TGIT ABC executives. DO. NOT.
Plot: Pitch immediately went on my short list of things I HAD to watch as soon as the trailer came out a few months ago. A feminist story line and baseball? Two of my favorite things. The pilot finds Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) getting called up to the majors for the San Diego Padres. Throughout the hour, we see a little of Ginny’s backstory on how she came became a pitcher, her relationship with her dad (of the tough love variety) and meet a few secondary characters (her publicist played by Ali Larter, the Padres GM, the Padres catcher and the Padres publicist). In every type of TV predictable way, Ginny completely butchers her debut and only lasts 10 pitches. The Padres owner forces the GM to keep her on and she gets a second chance 5 days later and totally nails it. There were a few nods to bigger feminist issues that I’m sure will be dealt with as the series goes on (ass slapping, constant belittling in the club house, fragile masculine ego, you know the drill) but the big plot twist came in the last minute of the pilot when we realize that Ginny’s dad who has been shown throughout the pilot in real time is actually DEAD. Each time he has been on screen in real time (at her major league debut or otherwise) he has actually just been Ginny envisioning him there. Kind of a trip but I wasn’t as mad about it as I anticipated.
Viewing Verdict: I will definitely keep watching throughout the season. I SO BADLY want this show to succeed and I hope they have a killer writing staff that keeps it going in the right direction.