Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pilot Talk 2013: Week 5 of Fall's TV Pilots

Every TV season, networks bring out a new crop of shows, in hopes that they'll be the next biggest hit.  Pilot Talk is devoted to figuring out whether these shows are worth your time based on the first episode.

The Birthday Boys (IFC, Fridays at 10:30 PM)
The past couple of years have been especially good for fantastic sketch shows (Key & Peele, Kroll Show) and generally inventive comedy (Nathan For You, Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Eric Andre Show).  And for about the same amount of time, I've heard about The Birthday Boys, with seemingly everybody in the LA alt-comedy scene citing them as the best sketch group currently working.  Needless to say, their new sketch show that follows Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC, had alot to live up to.  Judging from the pilot, it doesn't quite reach the high expectations that were placed upon it, but there's no reason for me to believe that the show won't gel in the same way that Comedy Bang! Bang! did after a few episodes.  As of right now, it just doesn't have the strong point of view that many of the best sketch shows do.  Without something to tie everything together, the pilot feels just a little bit scattered.  It doesn't help that the sketches are hit-or-miss comedy-wise too, which is another thing that plagues many sketch shows.  But still, there are things to like about the pilot, such as the way sketches make callbacks to earlier segments, building on a bit as the episode goes along.  Of all the members of the group (of which there are 7), the one who stands out is Mike Hanford, who's great at playing smarmy or slightly aloof characters.
Grade: B-

Reign (The CW, Thursdays at 9:00 PM)
There's one thing that Reign has got going for it that most of the other drama pilots of the fall don't: pizzazz.  It's very slick and full of artistic flourishes -- like the decidedly modern soundtrack, full of folk-rock from end to end -- that make the pilot go down extremely easily.  It's enough to cause me to overlook all of the glaring problems that rear their head, like the overly explanatory dialogue, ham-fisted incorporation of supernatural elements (this is The CW, after all), and wild leaps in tone.  Because behind that erratic, often puzzling curtain is a really enjoyable show attempting to blend historical drama with a young woman's coming of age story.  That young woman is Mary, Queen of Scots; played by Australian import, Adelaide Kane.  Kane is the latest in the wave of lead actresses holding together fall shows that would otherwise fall apart (see also: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland), giving enough gravitas and personality to Mary.  The core of the show is the relationship that she has with her four friends, who are also daughters of royals.  In the pilot's short amount of time, there isn't a chance to develop them beyond broad sketches, but the scenes of the girls just hanging around and bonding are easily the strongest of the pilot.  If the writers hone in on telling refreshing stories about this group of friends set to the backdrop of European history, then Reign can find its groove and become something solid, but I worry that they'll lean too heavily on the more superficially exciting aspects that they've set up in the pilot.  Oh, was I supposed to mention the controversial masturbation scene?
Grade: B-

No comments:

Post a Comment