Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pilot Talk 2014: Star-Crossed

Every CW show in a nutshell.

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

Mondays at 8:00 PM on The CW

Since Friday Night Lights ended in 2011, most of its terrific cast have been unable to find work that allows them to match the heights they reached on that series.  Adrianne Palicki has been mostly reduced to "nondescript hottie" in films like GI Joe: Retaliation.  Zach Gilford has been in all kinds of bizarre projects (Off the Map, anyone?), but lately settling into the low-rent horror film rut.  These days, Taylor Kitsch is the instrument that Peter Berg uses to get the job done in his rah-rah military films.  While Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler have gotten projects with major cachet, the former's naturalistic acting style feels woefully out of place on the gonzo American Horror Story and the sudsy Nashville, and the latter continually gets typecast as a stern federal agent.  The lone exception is Michael B. Jordan, whose star continues to rise, with terrific performances in indie films like Fruitvale Station and landing blockbusters like the upcoming Fantastic Four film.  Unfortunately, Aimee Teegarden won't be joining those ranks, given that Star-Crossed isn't exactly the best use of whatever talents she may have displayed on Friday Night Lights.

Things start out well, at least.  The pilot opens on a quick bit of exposition and a flashback that establishes the world -- an alien race called the Atrians had to flee their planet and come to Earth, only to be greeted with hostility.  It ends on a darker-than-expected note that effectively lets you know the stakes.  Years later, the Atrians that remain are forced to live in segregated ghettos and follow a harsh set of rules.  The segregation stuff lacks a bit of subtlety and nuance, but the show gets credit for at least trying to draw parallels between humanity's treatment of the Atrians and similar periods of our own global history.  Really though, the show's biggest problem is that it's on The CW, and has to meet the requirements of the network by having tons of glowering and a steamy romance at the center of it all.  Shows can work well under these confines, as The Vampire Diaries -- and to a lesser extent, Reign -- has proven, but the pilot of Star-Crossed threatens to collapse under the weight of its literal star-crossed lovers story. Again, I give them credit for even trying to tell a story with this level of thematic ambition.  When it gets lost in the lovey-dovey BS or general teen soapery, it always has those species tensions to fall back on.  It's just not enough as of right now.

Grade: C+

No comments:

Post a Comment