11.22.63 Containment Damien Game of Silence Heartbeat Pilot Reviews Second Chance Slasher The Catch The Family The Path Wrap-Up Wynonna Earp

Pilot Reviews 2015/2016 – Dramas Part 2

Check out last year’s pilot reviews, and then read on for my views on this year’s fresh crop of dramas (click here for comedies). This post will be continuously updated as new shows make their debut.

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Creator Julie Plec is most known for creating The Vampire Diaries – a series that sucked in its debut season, then soon became must-watch television for a while before fizzling out into an atrocious mess. I had high hopes for Containment with its high-concept premise of a virus gone wild. Sadly, I was shocked to discover a mediocre creation with bland characters (except for Claudia Black’s character), flat storytelling, and absolutely zero surprises. Sure there’s hope that it might improve, with the current landscape of peak television, it’s hard to invest yourself in a show that gives you so little to work with. Avoid.
Nad Rating
C

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This was a strangely awesome surprise. I was hooked within the first few minutes of Game of Silence. The pilot has a lot of momentum, and it tells you all you need to know pretty quickly: four friends were involved in a terrifying accident as children, and the past is back to haunt them. Of course things get a whole lot more complicated (and disturbing) than that, thanks to a terrifying stint in a juvie center that’s sicker than you could ever imagine. I’ve already seen all three episodes that have aired so far, and I can’t get enough of this cable-esque drama. Plus, David Lyons needs to be a bigger star, and this show just might get him there. Terrific stuff!
Nad Rating
A-

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Well that was quite bizarre. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch The Path, so I was quite taken aback to discover a show focused on the dealings of a strange religious cult and the family at the heart of the story. This is a dark and foreboding hour of television that moves at a snail’s pace, yet still manages to be curiously captivating (well, most of the times). Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul and True Detective‘s Michelle Monaghan are well cast, but it’s Hannibal‘s Hugh Dancy who makes the most impactful impression as the cult’s charismatic speaker. The Path definitely isn’t for everyone (I don’t even know if I’ll even watch episode two), but I certainly appreciate its ambition and nuanced subject matter.
Nad Rating
B

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If Buffy The Vampire Slayer became a Western, then you’d pretty much get Wynonna Earp – an amusing enough concoction about a woman who comes into her demon-killing powers at the age of 27. The show is also mightily inspired by Supernatural, so it’s not exactly brimming with originality. Nevertheless, Melanie Scorfano makes an excellent, confident lead, while the self-depreciating humor goes a long way in making the mythology easier to swallow. I’ll give the second episode a shot and see if it still hooks me, but for now, there’s definitely some potential if you’re into this sort of thing. The deciding factor for me will definitely rest on the show’s willingness to follow through on its serialized narrative as opposed to boring standalone adventures. Also, how cool is that name?
Nad Rating
B

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I don’t know why I gave Slasher a shot, but I’m glad that I did. It’s not high-art by any means, but if you’re a fan of slasher flicks like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, this amusing little thriller should do the trick. The cast isn’t half bad, and the kills are creative enough, with a nice bit of sinister atmosphere thrown in for good measure. I don’t know how long I’ll stick with the show, but I’m a sucker for horror stories set in small towns with not much place to hide. Plus the killer (see the banner above) is appropriately creepy.
Nad Rating
B

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The Catch works because of one primary reason: Mireille Enos. The actress is astounding in the title role of an investigator who gets conned by the love of her life. That premise sets the show up for an engrossing long-running arc and some surely predictable cases of the week. Nevertheless, this is a Shondaland production, so there’s a little bit of  Grey’s Anatomy, a sprinkle of How To Get Away With Murder, and a whole lot of Scandal. Conclusion? It’s not ambitious or groundbreaking, but you could certainly do a whole lot worse. Oh, and the cast rocks!
Nad Rating
B

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It always feels like Melissa George should be a bigger star. She was pretty hated when she made her debut on American television on Alias‘s third season, and she then fluctuated between underwhelming lead roles (Hunted) and useless supporting turns (Grey’s Anatomy). Heartbeat is basically Grey’s Anatomy-light, and it’s just not very good. The first ten minutes hold some promise (they’re set on an airplane), but the rest of the hour is downhill from there with cliche storytelling and cheesy dialogue. Judging by the ratings and the reviews, this won’t last more than a couple of episodes. Good riddance.
Nad Rating
C-

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Gut-wrenching and engrossing, The Family is the compelling story of a family torn apart by a mysterious kidnapping. Lead by the sublime Joan Allen, the cast is certainly game for the twisty turns and multiple bombshells (not to mention the fact that the show keeps jumping through time). It’s unfortunate that the pilot’s ratings were so low, because I could certainly see myself sticking with the show for a while. If you’re in the mood for something dark, foreboding, and extremely emotional, give this a shot.
Nad Rating
A-

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Meh. Damien should have been a kickass and sinister show about the rise of the antichrist. Sadly, the potential is lost in a slow-moving pilot that’s saddled with delivering a ton of exposition and ominous music. Bradley James is fine in the title role, and I was pleasantly surprised by Nikita’s Megalyn Echikunwoke, but there’s really not much here to recommend. At least Barbara Hershey gets to chew up the screen in her brief appearance. Perhaps she can be further integrated in future episodes? I can’t say I’m excited to see what happens next.
Nad Rating
C-

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I like shows that establish a cozy sense of place. As an adaptation of one of Stephen King’s iconic novels, 11.22.63 isn’t perfect, but it gets enough right to warrant a watch. Be warned, the premiere is an hour and a half (far too long for my taste), but it’s got James Franco’s splendid performance and some impeccable set design (the show is set in the 60s as Franco travels back in time to prevent Kennedy’s assassination). And hey, how can we not support Hulu, the latest empire (move over Netflix) to jump into the TV business? I’ll stick with this one, particularly since it’ll  to be an 8-episode limited series with a definite ending. Fingers crossed.
Update: Episode two is great. Will stick with it for sure!
Nad Rating
B+

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Sometimes you watch a pilot and you just know it’s going to be a ratings-flop. Not that Second Chance is terrible; I was never actually bored, but it feels like it’s been done before (and in a much more effective manner). The only bright spots are the twins at the center of the story, and Robert Kazinsky’s terrific performance as our unexpected hero. I’ve only seen the actor on True Blood and he capably balances action and humor. It’s just a pity the script didn’t offer him more, because this will almost certainly devolve into a typical procedural. Maybe another episode out of curiosity?
Update: Cancelled. Won’t continue.
Nad Rating
C+

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