I love the new Showtime series Episodes, and I hope it’s a hit. I’m also pretty into Showtime’s other newbie Shameless. So last week when someone asked, I told them I was extremely optimistic about TV’s midseason offerings. Until last night, when I watched three new shows I’d recorded and I began to think I was somehow mistaken.
But let me backtrack. I did a little research on TV shows, as in how many get made versus how many ever make it to our living rooms. Turns out, apparently anywhere from 70 to 100 pilots get produced a year with the idea that they’ll become TV shows. So that’s a ton of them right out of the gate. Then the networks fuss and plot and plan and come up with the shows they think have the best chance becoming a popular series. Now the math goes like this: about a third of the pilots get bought by each network, and less than a dozen of them get a real-live shot at airing. So we have to assume that by the time all that whittling down is finished, we’re watching the cream of the crop. The very best. Distilled and purified like the finest wine so we get – presto – the funniest comedies, the most gripping dramas, the most provocative crime shows. You get the drill. So having decided that Episodes and Shameless were pointing TV in a good direction (and personally, I’m not sure anyone can top Modern Family, Mad Men or Glee) I caught some more newbies. And they made me wonder what the networks had turned down.
Well one shows promise – I think. Not so much the other two.
I’m exaggerating slightly, because I know some of the new shows are not targeted to me and thus I won’t be able to connect. This is probably the case with the first one, The Cape. Which may actually do very well among the folks it’s meant for – only I’m probably the wrong gender and the wrong age. I’m guessing this is why it was so unintelligible. I couldn’t begin to tell you what it’s about or why it’s novel.
Now David Kelley has created some incredibly watchable TV. He brought us Ally McBeal and The Practice and Boston Legal – popular shows which I enjoyed quite a bit. His latest, Harry’s Law, stars Kathy Bates as a lawyer who’s gotten so bored with her white-collar law job that she decides to take to the streets – literally. She opens a makeshift law firm that also doubles as a shoe shop, and takes on inner-city criminal cases that nobody wants or that seem unwinnable. Despite the fact that the show feels implausible, the cast is excellent and Kelley is known for a few wacky departures in his shows. Who knows…maybe this one will work. I hope it does. I think we need to watch it for a while and see what happens because it’s super-hokey now, but it could get more intriguing later. So let’s put that on the try-back -later shelf.
To be fair, lots of pilots can seem discombobulated at first because they have so much plot information to get across in such a short period of time they trip over themselves and we end up taking the fall.
Which is not an excuse I can even submit for the third show I saw, because it doesn’t appear to have a plot or even one single redeeming quality. It’s called Perfect Couples. Which is so silly and inane and badly written (again, not the actors’ fault but none of them could dig their way out, either) that I wonder who was bribed or blackmailed to air this program. Plus, I want nothing more than to like every TV show and movie I watch. Of course, it’s still early and I could be totally off in my assessment, so let’s toss this one out to you. For today’s featured poll, voice your choice and let us know which of these new midseason TV shows is your favorite:
1) The Cape
2) Harry’s Law
3) Perfect Couples