New Pilots & Returning TV Shows: The Good & the So-So 1 comment


THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY "The Dream Team" Episode 103 (Airs Tuesday, February 16, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. CR: Byron Cohen/FX

THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY “The Dream Team” Episode 103 (Airs Tuesday, February 16, 10:00 pm/ep) — Pictured: (l-r) Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. CR: Byron Cohen/FX

Fox: Lucifer

A typical handsome man in black, Tom Ellis plays Lucifer Morningstar, yes that Lucifer. Bored with his hellish life underground furrowing in fire and brimstone, he decides to surface in Los Angeles of all places, where he becomes a homicide consultant for the LAPD.

While the synopsis and overall concept is “interesting,” Lucifer is one show that’s on my “so-so” list and as such is not engaging enough to consider it anything other than a marginal TV show for a Monday night. The show offers a stale rendition of gothic, bad-boy hunk, making Lucifer nothing short of a woman’s erotic fantasy and the prototypical leading man for a Hollywood TV show.

Our Vote: So-So

Fox: X-Files

Each episode seems to be a new story, one that doesn’t quite answer the questions left behind by the previous episode. The new X-Files is once again written as if its still the 1990s, which quickly loses a 21st century audience hoping for innovative, thought-provoking wrap to the seminal series. Yet the new X-Files sports new plot and story lines that are disjointed. The cinematography brings the returns back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, but in all the wrong ways, and the story is equally weak. Nothing about the show but for some of the dialogue is current.

Every time I tune in, I am disappointed. The show doesn’t have the same wow factor it once had prior to its ill-advised resurrection.

Our Vote: So-So

 NBC: Shades of Blue

Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) is a single mother but also a crooked cop who will do anything for Det. Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta) and the rest of “her family” on the force. One lie leads to another, and before we know it the FBI is involved, forcing Harlee to help them with their investigation into Wozniak or go to jail and lose her daughter.

While this one has the requisite JLo appeal for her fans, not to mention Liotta’s brand of wise guy playing the leader of the crooked cop ring, the show is one that I found I could wait to catch up on via On Demand. I don’t even have the need to DVR it. The strength of this show is that there is one story line that you follow, which adds to the intrigue to want to tune in and find out more of the mystery unfolding in new episodes. But, in all honesty it has a template generic quality to it.

Our Vote: So-So

 ABC: American Crime

Season 2 of American Crime is appetizing yet fails to deliver the full satisfaction expected of a hearty meal. I was a bit disappointed because American Crime’s first season was so strong and gripping. I felt like I had to watch every week.

Much like American Horror Story on FX, American Crime Season 2 returned with an entirely new storyline but the same recycled cast. Everything else about the series also feels second-hand. The plot attempts to mix young, not-so-innocent, homosexual inquisitiveness with rape, bullying, rejection and drug use. Heavy stuff.

While American Crime is meant to be gripping and educational, even splicing in interviews with Columbine survivors and victims of bullying (more on that in a bit), the series often feels forced and overwhelmed at its own undertaking. It takes on too much, going overboard with the number of twists and social commentaries it throws at the audience. As a result the overly dramatic story is convoluted at best and absent any characters to root for, and sadly that includes the victims, and there are many.

I must say that the crescendo of events does lead up to a strong Episode 7 and 8, which opens with interviews from real life people who are still recovering from traumatic events, and digesting those feelings and anxieties provide many teachable moments for our youth.

Our Vote: So-So

 A&E: Fit to Fat to Fit

Ah, a new reality show about fitness or lack there of. How novel. But A&E’s foray into this sub-genre of “real life” intrigues because it involves personal trainers who must get fat and then fit again alongside their overweight clients.

OK, so the title gives the plot away, but like other weight-loss shows it does have its inspiring moments. It’s not as gripping as others, mind you, and I found it absent of any quality that made me tune in each and every week.

Our Vote: So-So

Here is a list of shows we used to watch but lost interest in. We now find ourselves only “spot” viewing:

  • Limitless: Based on the movie of the same name, a very ordinary guy takes pill and becomes a savant. We found ourselves saying out loud ,“Oh brother.” Our take: Stick with the Bradley Cooper movie. It’s less contrived, without the forced FBI consultant angle, and it’s over in two hours so you can go on with your life.
  • Blacklist: Loved this show for a while, especially James Spader, but the whole Liz Keen plot twist becoming an outlaw alongside Redd, took us out of the story.
  • Code Black: Really enjoyed the chaos at first, but then it started to drown the plot as well as character development.
  • American Horror Story: Hotel – As much as Lady Gaga brought to the show, I actually found myself desperately missing Jessica Lange.

FX: The People vs. O.J. Simpson

This season’s other “American Crime Story,” Cuba Gooding, Jr. superbly plays the fallen football hero as the mini-series attempts to re-enact sensationalistic trial resulting from the gruesome murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman on June 12, 1994. As most of us know how the story unravels, The People vs. O.J. is an exciting and gripping saga that quenches the thirst for unsolved mystery, or at least the detailed review of how to get away with murder (Nod to the ABC series of the same name), and conspiracy theory lovers everywhere. Regardless if O.J. did or did not kill his ex-wife and her friend (or knows who did), the show breathes new life into the true tale leaving the audience to gawk at the spectacle and remind themselves of how reality TV really got started.

Ironically, although we all know what happens in the end, The People vs. O.J. is expertly executed. The producers did an extensive amount of research in recreating the Bronco chase, even shutting down an entire freeway to complete the filming. They brought to life the book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson” by legal expert Jeffrey Toobin, reviewed more than 16 months of actual court case footage and interviewed many people that were involved – although, apparently and strangely not the Brown or Goldman families. But what remains is a polarizing, well casted show, one that makes the audience feel like they are back in 1994 and 1995 and that recaptures the public scrutiny and passion for the trial to a tee. You truly look forward to watching this show every Tuesday evening, which makes this one our ultimate winner of what we consider “good” TV watching material.

Notice that I didn’t include a “bad” category. The shows listed above, even the ones we found ourselves not totally loyal to, are all at least decent. This in a time of streaming services that are competing for our time in the arena of original programming. We have become consumers of binge watching. So, we have to give some mad props to The People vs. O.J. for keeping so many interested in a 20-year-old plot that everyone knows the ending to, and returning to watch week after week rather than losing interest.

Our Vote: Good!!!

Looking Forward To:

A & E: Bates Motel

Season 4, Premiering March 7.



About Sonyo Estavillo

I am a creative professional with extensive project experience from concept to development (scripted and non-scripted). My talents are diverse and include: producing, directing, production management, videography, social media/viral marketing, research, non-linear editing, story development, and content writing. *Masters in Television, Radio, & Film @ Newhouse, Syracuse University *Bachelors in Film Production @ CSULB

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