Fall Pilot TV Watch, Part 3: Two dramas and some Guys with Kids

Here’s the latest batch of pilot reviews.

Revolution

NBC, 7 p.m. Central Mondays, Drama

Will Watch Again? Yes, but only for the pedigree

Since “Alias,” I have watched or at least attempted to watch every high-concept genre show executive produced by J.J. Abrams. Sometimes I’ve struck gold (“Alias,” “Fringe”) and other times I’ve struck something much less valuable (“Lost”), but the man has an undeniable flair for the “what ifs.” As such, I’ll keep watching “Revolution” for at least a few more episodes, even if the pilot is a little bland.

The premise is just so dang intriguing: What if electricity just stopped being a thing? Everything, from generators to power plants to simple AA batteries – they’ve all just turned off, and no one knows why, and there’s no turning them on again. The pilot starts with the mysterious outage and then moves 15 years into the future, as society has adjusted to a warlord-led, agrarian lifestyle just as the secret of why the lights went out begins to resurface.

There’s lots of good-looking scenery and great ideas here, and some of the ancillary characters’ performances are good, but the acting of the primary character teens (Tracy Spiridakos, Graham Rogers, Rick Pardo) is pretty leaden, at least in the pilot. The plot of the first episode also isn’t breathtakingly captivating, settling instead for of passing interest. Still, though: J.J. Abrams. I’ve got to give it a shot.

The Last Resort

ABC, 7 p.m. Central Thursdays, Drama

Will Watch Again? Yes

“The Last Resort” has by far the most promising pilot I’ve seen so far this year. It sounds like a movie: a nuclear U.S. submarine defies suspect orders to launch their nukes at Pakistan, and a secret government cabal immediately engages in the surprisingly-difficult task of destroying the sub. It’s a literally and figuratively explosive episode of television, and it caught me off-guard by how engaging it was.

The pilot is anchored by an excellent performance from Andre Braugher, whose jaded, slightly grizzled captain makes a decision toward the end of the episode that is unexpected and highly exciting. Many of the characters on board the submarine are given a surprising amount of humanity in their limited screen time, and the parallel story of the political intrigue back home is almost as interesting as what’s going on with the people on the sub.

There are a few story threads that might end up being a little too angsty for my tastes, but those concerns seem mild at this point. I want to know what happens next, and I want to know if the show can keep its excitement level this high.

Guys with Kids

NBC, 8:30 p.m. Central Wednesdays, Comedy

Will Watch Again? No

“Guys with Kids” perhaps would have seemed like the novelty it’s trying to pass itself off as if it came out in the 1950s, when the idea of fathers as primary caretakers of their children was a novel idea – never mind that only one of these dads is actually the primary caretaker of his kids, and one is just a dad who works and whose wife stays home. And yet, this Jimmy Fallon-produced show treats the idea that a male might pay attention to his kids as an idea that has never been explored on television.

That being said, “Guys with Kids” is not nearly as awful as its title would suggest. If that sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, well, I am. There are a few moments worthy of light chuckling in this vehicle for three friends who all have to take care of young children, but it never really rises above the level of what you’d see on a moderately successful CBS sitcom.

I don’t want to pick on this too much; it’s not aggressively bad. It just thinks it’s far more hilarious (and groundbreaking) than it is.

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One thought on “Fall Pilot TV Watch, Part 3: Two dramas and some Guys with Kids

  1. Pingback: Fall Pilots, week one: Fox strikes first | Matinee Culture

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