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Fall Pilot Preview: A to Z, Selfie, Forever

September 8, 2014

This blog post is brought to you by Hulu.

Ok, not really, but Hulu plays a large part. Recently several networks have released pilots for upcoming fall shows on Hulu, giving audiences a sneak peak about a month before the shows premiere. It’s telling that the three I’m about to talk about are not highly anticipated.

a-to-z

A to Z

I was really hoping for this to be good, but alas, it wasn’t. The two lead characters are prototypes of Ted and Robin in How I Met Your Mother, so it’s no surprise that Cristin Milioti is playing the female lead. But the real problems start in the beginning. Katey Sagal‘s voiceover intro tells us that the two will date for an amount of time that would line up perfectly with the end of the season. This already makes me mad. So, you’re telling me at the beginning that the relationship is going to fail? So why should I root for them? There is the possibility that the end of the “dating” period will be an engagement, but I find that unrealistic.

Once we are past the voiceover, we meet our main man, Andrew (Ben Feldman) and his best friend, Stu (Henry Zebrowski, a college colleague of mine…go Henry!). We also meet their harridan of a boss, whom I don’t like from the get go. We aren’t supposed to, but starting with that character instead of one of the people we’re supposed to like was a bad choice. She doesn’t play like a funny bad boss, but instead plays like a cliche of a woman being a bitch just because she’s a manager.

Moving past that, Milioti’s Zelda enters the picture and the romantic hijinks (which aren’t funny) ensue. Along the way we meet Zelda’s best friend, Stephie (Lenora Crichlow). Here enters another problem. Stu’s and Stephie’s energies are so high that they seem out of place next to Andrew’s and Zelda’s. I do not fault the actors, because that is their style, so they were likely cast because the producers wanted that.  I instead blame the writing, direction, and production. In fact, I blame them for all of it. This is an example of a network playing it safe and failing. Expect a cancellation at the end of season one.

Selfie

Another show I had high hopes for, but is likely to disappoint. While I didn’t outright hate it, I was definitely under impressed.

John Cho plays Henry to Karen Gillan‘s Eliza in this modern day Pygmalion/My Fair Lady. However the two are such extremes that it is difficult to connect with either one. Uptight Henry tries to makeover flighty Eliza’s image after a social media disaster by trying to get her to put the phone down and connect with people on a human level. By the end of the pilot, it’s starting to work and she’s making him more fun in the process.

Given that we know the outcome of this story (they get together), it’s hard to imagine how the show will stretch out the premise, in addition to the over-the-top characters not giving the audience a way in.  The only character that really sticks out as a shining star is Da’Vine Joy Randolph‘s secretary Charmonique, who plays a stereotypical sassy black woman to perfection without being overly cliched. I’ll watch a few more episodes for her, if for nothing else.

Forever

As much as I’m over procedurals-with-a-twist, the concept of Forever intrigued me enough to watch the pilot. A medical examiner (Ioan Gruffudd) in New York City is drawn into the investigation of a murder, but the real ongoing mystery is that he’s immortal and he doesn’t know why.

All the tropes are there: his sidekick who knows his secret (Judd Hirsch), the female cop who will eventually figure out his secret while they fall in love (Alana de la Garza), and the helpful cast members who will provide exposition and conflict (Joel David Moore and Lorraine Toussaint).

The pilot borrows from many things: Sherlock Holmes, Unbreakable, Highlander, to name a few. But despite the cliches and unoriginality, by the end of the pilot, I was actually quite enjoying myself. There’s a mysterious potential villain we know little about and Gruffudd and Hirsch are incredibly charming and fun to watch. Given how people love procedurals, I think it may do well despite it’s dead end time slot. We’ll see if it lives up to its name.

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