Pilot Season Second Looks (2011-2012)

I check in with some of the shows I reviewed the pilots of earlier on, as well as some I watched and never reviewed. A bulk posts. Here goes…

Revenge, “Trust” (1.02)
 Written by Mike Kelley & Joe Fazzio and directed by Phillip Noyce. The second episode of this new show embodied all of the strengths, and the weaknesses, of the show that I saw in the pilot. I liked Emily VanCamp and Madeline Stowe (though I honestly think both were stronger in the pilot), but I’m having trouble caring about any of the thousand ancillary characters.  The character I’m most interested in at this stage is Gabriel Mann‘s Nolan Ross, who is weird enough (by TV standards) to be very intriguing. Worried about the repetitive nature of the central conceit, though every show takes a few episodes to shrug that issue off. My verdict is that the show is solid, and worth a few more watches before making a positive or negative conclusion.

Revenge, “Betrayal” (1.03)
Written by Salvatore Stabile and directed by Matt Earl Beesley. Perhaps it was the fresh voice, or the fact that it wasn’t the dreaded second episode, but “Betrayal” was a great improvement on the weaker episode two. Madeline Stowe and Emily VanCamp brought their game again tonight, the writing complicated some elements nicely, and even the side stories worked.  One element I appreciated was the idea that Emily is open to people accepting responsibility for what they’ve done, such as Daniel with his ex-girlfriend. That framed the rest of her revenge nicely, as all of those involved with her father’s imprisonment and death profited from his fall. That makes it interesting when you look at the case of Victoria, who loved Emily’s father and tried to save him, but when she couldn’t, she gave up. Will Emily spare her, or will the destruction of her castle around her make that question moot? I’m starting to feel like I’ll be watching every episode of the season, now.

Pan Am, “We’ll Always Have Paris” (1.02)
Written by Mike Daniels & Jack Orman and directed by Chris Misiano. This episode cemented me as a casual fan: I’m interested in the show, and like most of the characters, but I’m not sure I have room in my schedule to watch it every week yet. I enjoyed digging into the dynamic both Kate and Laura have with their mother, and the anachronistic Maggie continues to be my favourite. Collette may not have the most interesting plotlines, but she draws you in with her infectious smile. And the guys are alright too; Dean only works because Mike Vogel is enjoyable to watch, and Michael Mosley (my favourite part of Scrubs‘ rebooted ninth season) makes an otherwise ‘eh’ character in the co-pilot pop nicely. I doubt I’ll see it every week, but I’m betting I’ll be caught up not long after the season finale airs.

New Girl, “Kryptonite” (1.02)
Written by Elizabeth Meriwether and directed by Jake Kasdan. I enjoyed the second episode a little more than the pilot, as Zooey Deschanel‘s Jess was much less over-the-top and annoying while still being very. I don’t like new addition Winston, and I’m hoping that he will grow on me as the season goes. Right now, though, the original castmates are good enough that I’ll probably binge on the show midseason to catch up, and enjoy it very much.

The Secret Circle, “Bound” (1.02)
Written by Kevin Williamson & Andrew Miller, directed by Liz Friedlander. I’m still enjoying the show, and Natasha Henstridge is the standout in a very solid cast. I’m liking the broadening of the mythology and the central ‘villains’. However, I left the episode somewhat bored, hoping the next episode would send a buzz through my blood.

What do you think of how the new shows are stacking up?

4 Responses to “Pilot Season Second Looks (2011-2012)”
  1. WindSong says:

    I’m easily suckered into liking escapism, but I just couldn’t get into New Girl, ironically one of my top interests in the new crop. I love Revenge, which makes me suspect it will be cancelled. My question is, which ones do you think are on shaky ground?

    • R. Lackie says:

      Hello, WindSong!

      New Girl is problematic for me, because even though I feel like the show has achieved a great cast chemistry (and 1.03 was MUCH better on that score than 1.02), Jess still doesn’t feel like any real person I’ve ever known or could ever know. I can’t figure out why she does most of the things she does, which is frustrating. Revenge, after three episodes, I suspect I’m falling in love with, though I worry about longevity – aka the Prison Break issue.

      Shaky ground ratings-wise? The best resource I can recommend is TV By the Numbers’ Renew/Cancel Index, which has a pretty great track record with analysing how well a show is doing.

      My specific take? Of those two, New Girl is already a ratings home run, becoming one of the first new shows to get ordered for a full season. Revenge is trickier to call; it’s doing pretty well, but I’m not sure the ratings have stabilised yet, so it could take a couple more weeks to really get a sense of its temperature.

      Of the others covered here, Pan Am had a really great showing for its pilot, but the numbers dropped pretty steeply for week 2, so it will be a few weeks before we can really speculate. Secret Circle, however, is going rather strongly, and stands on solid ground for a full season.

      As for season 2? It’s way too hard to tell this early. 2/3 of new shows don’t make it to season 2, which is definitely a stat to keep your eye on.

  2. WindSong says:

    I have no doubts Secret Circle will make it. It’s a perfect CW show, and from the same author as the Vampire Diaries, it’s been paired perfectly for ratings. Ringer I can’t get a handle on. I think it’s numbers are due primarily to Geller fans wanting to give it a chance (maybe, like me, they’ll be suckered into watching it despite it’s flaws), but it’s slow paced and doesn’t quite fit the CW mold. Hart of Dixie is already starting to bore me, but it’s another perfect CW show. It’ll be fine for this season. Like you’ve said, the CW audiences are pretty predictable.

    I agree with you about New Girl (although I definitely preferred Coach), but I have seen that the ratings are good. Eh, I missed the last episode and when I realized I didn’t care about the fact that I had to wait 8 days to get it streaming, I realized it was one to let go.

    As for Revenge, longevity is definitely an issue, but right now, all I care about is whether the shows I like will get cancelled before things are resolved (Ringer and Revenge). So, hopefully they will get a full season, and the current arcs will be resolved and then we can worry about how to make Revenge last another season (my suspicion: people getting their own back on Emily). Do you think cliff-hanger season ends will stop now that it’s apparent that they don’t keep people interested? I know, they’ve been around too long to be abandoned now, but one can hope that show creators will like their audiences enough not to leave them hanging.

    Terra Nova won’t survive past one season (maybe, unlikely 2). Like Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, it’s a niche audience that can never command enough viewers to pay back the special effects. All sci-fi shows are that way, not enough people like a show that isn’t set in this world, about ordinary people. They survive only when their budget isn’t too high. However, Fox is promoting the hell out of this one, so I doubt they’ll screw it over the way they did with T:SCC and Firefly.

    • R. Lackie says:

      I think I’d agree with you on pretty much every count there.

      As for cliffhanger endings: it’s a case-by-case basis with individual showrunners. Cliffhangers can be cruel to the fans, but they sometimes rile the fans up enough that they’ll fight against cancellation. The best case I can think of for this is Farscape: In their ‘series finale’, they seem to resolve almost everything, but decided to tack on a huge cliffhanger out of nowhere and the show got cancelled. That, specifically, led to the outrage and uproar that led to the making of the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries to wrap the series up. For every Farscape, though, there are ten shows (or more) that try the cliffhanger route and the gambit doesn’t work. Personally, I’d prefer we move away from cliffhanger endings, but it seems the nature of the medium that creators will ultimately try to do what they think will get them another year, often more than they’ll want to give closure. Giving closure, after all, gives the audience emotional permission to relax once the show is cancelled.

      Some shows can end on a cliffhanger because they’ve already been renewed and know it, though, and I think those are fine. Stuff like How I Met Your Mother’s cliffhanger last season, which they knew would play out because they had already confirmed they’d be back the following year.

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