Saturday, June 14, 2014

Friday Night Lights: 1.1 "Pilot"

Series Summary (from IMDb): The trials and tribulations of small town Texas football players, their friends, family, and coaching staff. (I love how succinct it is!)

I'm watching this because: I've heard so many good things about this show—from critics, from my sister, from friends. I purchased the series for about $40 from Amazon a couple years ago, and I watched the first episode about four times at different times, but it just never grabbed me ... until now. After I finished The West Wing (one of the most addictive and satisfying viewing experiences of my life), I decided to give Friday Night Lights another go.

Recap: The pilot episode follows the week leading up to the Dillon Panthers' first game of the season. Football is life in Dillon, and the football players are revered. New head coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) is under extreme pressure to deliver a win—and perhaps a state championship. Starting quarterback Jason Street (Scott Porter) is the team's star, and he's looking forward to guaranteed college scholarships ... until he is gravely injured in the season opener. Backup Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) saves the game with a last-second Hail Mary.

Reactions: For whatever reason, the fifth time's the charm. Even though I basically knew what would happen, thanks to my previous four viewings of the pilot over the past two years, I was riveted to the screen, and I immediately watched the next two episodes, as well. I love, love, love Coach & Tami Taylor (Connie Britton), I think Saracen is adorable, and, for the first time ever, I get why Taylor Kitsch (as bad boy Tim Riggins) was supposed to be the "next big thing."

Keep watching? No question. I'm completely smitten!

Watch it on Amazon or Netflix.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The West Wing: 1.1 "Pilot"

Series Summary (from Netflix): This powerful political epic chronicles the triumphs and travails of White House senior staff under the administration of President Josiah Bartlet.

I'm watching this because: Honestly, it was on a whim. I was looking for a new show to watch, and I'd pretty much decided to try The Good Wife when The West Wing popped up as a suggestion on Amazon Prime. So I pressed play ...

Recap: Basically, the pilot serves as a vehicle to introduce viewers to the vast cast of characters: President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen), White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney), Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer), Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe), and others. About a million things happen, but the memorable threads include Josh's near-firing over comments he made about the Religious Right and Sam's one night stand with a prostitute.

Reactions: OK, so now I get what all the buzz is about. The West Wing is completely charming. And though I'm a conservative and the majority of the characters are incredibly liberal, I love them. (Though it does bug me when Christians get stomped on.)

I'll now admit that I'm writing this as I begin the sixth season (less than two months after I began watching)—so obviously, I'm all in! I adore Donna (Janel Moloney) and C.J., am thrilled that Josh is finally figuring out how much he cares for Donna, and eagerly scour the names of the guest stars at the beginning of each episode, hoping that Timothy Busfield's Danny is going to return to sweep C.J. off her feet.

Also, it's so much fun seeing who will pop up as a guest star—Nick Offerman ("Ron Swanson" on Parks & Rec), Matthew Perry, Christian Slater, Lisa Edelstein ("Cuddy" on House) and John Goodman have all shown up a time or two. But I did the most squealing when George Frankly from Mathnet (Joe Howard) showed up in a one-line role!

And it's really a testament to how great an actor Dulé Hill is that I don't even see a smidge of Burton Guster (Psych) in his portrayal of Charlie, the President's personal aide.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say I'm head over heels for this show!

Keep watching? Absolutely! But what will I do once I'm finished???

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Almost Human: 1.1 "Pilot"

Series summary (from FOX): The year is 2048. Meet Detective JOHN KENNEX, a cop who survived one of the most catastrophic attacks ever made against the police department. After waking up from a 17-month coma, he can't remember much – except that his partner was killed, he lost one of his legs and he is now outfitted with a highly sophisticated synthetic appendage.

Suffering from depression, mental atrophy, trauma-onset OCD, PTSD and the “psychological rejection of his synthetic body part,” John returns to work at the behest of longtime ally Captain SANDRA MALDONADO. By mandate, every cop must partner with a robot. And despite his passionate aversion to androids, John is paired up with a battle-ready MX-43. But he abruptly terminates his partnership after the robot discovers incriminating information about him. So technician RUDY LOM introduces John to DORIAN, a discontinued android with unexpected emotional responses. Although such responses were deemed flaws, it is in these “flaws” that John relates to Dorian most. After all, John is part-machine now, and Dorian is part-human. John and Dorian's understanding of each other not only complements them, it connects them.

As he adjusts to working with his new partner, John also must learn to get along with his new colleagues, including the sharp and insightful human intelligence analyst Detective VALERIE STAHL and the distrustful Detective RICHARD PAUL, who does not welcome John back with open arms.

ALMOST HUMAN will follow the week-to-week missions of John and Dorian, as they fight crime across this futuristic landscape, while the mysteries surrounding John's attack and the larger mythology of this new world unfold.

I'm watching this because: It's from J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Fringe) and J.H. Wyman (Fringe). Enough said.

Recap: Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) is involved in a terrible attack in which he loses his partner and his leg and ends up in a coma for 17 months. He is desperate to learn the truth of what happened, so he visits a back-alley doctor to try to regain his memory. He has apparently been visiting this doctor for some time, even though the process is quite dangerous.

The next day, his boss convinces him that it's time to return to work. He's given an MX (android) partner, as it's now mandatory for each cop to have an MX as a partner. Things don't go well with that partner, and he's soon assigned a new one—Dorian (Michael Ealy), an earlier MX model who has human emotions. While John doesn't trust Dorian at first, the MX soon proves himself invaluable.

John soon discovers that recent crime in the city is connected to the attack that put him in the coma. He and Dorian work together to find the culprits, and they learn that the police headquarters—and something in the evidence locker—is the criminals' ultimate target.

They aren't fast enough to stop the attack on headquarters, but they are able to drive off the criminals and capture one of them before too many cops are killed. The police have no idea what the criminals were after in evidence, but we soon learn that it's a woman—perhaps an MX of Dorian's generation?

Reactions: This has a definite Fringe vibe to it with weird science and gross visual effects, and that is fantastic! It also has some genuinely humorous moments ... something that was sorely lacking in Fringe. Urban and Ealy are perfect together, and I think it will be fun to watch their relationship develop. I've been missing good sci-fi, and this looks like it could fill that void.

Keep watching? Absolutely. I can't wait for episode two tomorrow!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Revenge: 1.1 "Pilot"

Series summary (from Netflix): Inspired by Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, this modern-day drama follows a lovely young woman who moves to the Hamptons and charms the pants off her new neighbors -- while plotting their downfall for sins committed against her family.

I'm watching this because: My sister told me I should. And then she offered up her Netflix password so I could. (I dumped Netflix during the summer.)

I remember when Revenge premiered. I thought it looked way too soapy. But if ABC had marketed Revenge to me using the Netflix description, I totally would have watched from the beginning! I am such a sucker for adaptations of classics.

Recap: The show opens at Victoria Grayson's Labor Day party. Emily Thorne is being introduced as Victoria's son Daniel's fiancee. Only Daniel is missing ... and his body is soon found on the beach.

Flash back five months. Emily rents a house in the Hamptons for the summer season. Soon, however, we learn that her name is really Amanda, and she used to live in that house with her father. She has her sights on revenge against the people who ruined her father's life, especially the wealthy Graysons.

She soon meets Jack, a childhood friend who still carries a torch for Amanda, as well as Nolan, the only person who knows her true identity. And she begins her revenge ...

Reactions: Val told me I needed to push through the beginning episodes, and then it would get really good. But you know what? I think I'm already hooked.

The next Dawson's? Looks like it could be. I just finished the pilot, and as soon as I hit "publish," I'll be starting episode two.

Watch it on Netflix.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Under the Dome: 1.1 "Pilot"

So far, I've only been writing about the pilot episodes of shows you can stream one or more seasons of online. But why limit myself to those? New new shows have pilots to be reviewed, too, so why not write about some of the brand new shows I'm trying out? They obviously can't become the next Dawson's Creek, as I can't binge watch them, so I guess they don't really fit into my original idea. But let's be honest—I've already found two shows that sucked me in as much as Dawson's did, and I didn't blog about any of their episodes beyond the pilot. That part of this project would require more time and effort than I'm willing to put forth. Blogging about pilots, though? That's fun. So that's what I'll keep doing!


Series summary (from Amazon): Under The Dome is the story of a small town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. The town's inhabitants must deal with surviving the post-apocalyptic conditions while searching for answers to what this barrier is, where it came from and if and when it will go away.

I'm watching this because: I was immediately intrigued when I saw the first preview on CBS. At the time, I didn't have TV, but then it showed up on Prime Instant Video.

Recap: Residents of Chester's Mill suddenly find themselves trapped under a huge dome, which seems impenetrable. Due to an event in a neighboring town, many residents—including the mayor, fire fighters, and most city council members, are gone when the dome materializes. Not only are those in Chester's Mill trapped, but many are hiding secrets that they'll do anything to keep from exposure.

Reactions: What fun! Not fun in a lighthearted, funny way, but fun in a J.J. Abrams-esque what-the-crap-just-happened kind of way. I love shows like this! Here's what Under the Dome feels like after one episode: Lost meets Fringe meets Jericho. This show is totally and completely in my wheelhouse.

The next Dawson's? No, but it just might be the next Lost, which is equally important, if totally different.

Watch it on Amazon Instant Video.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Covert Affairs: 1.1 "Pilot"

Series summary (from Amazon): New jobs are tough—especially when your new employer is the CIA. Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) is fluent in six languages, has traveled the world and is besting her fellow CIA trainees in every test. But that doesn't explain why she's suddenly summoned by CIA headquarters to report for active duty as a field operative one month before her training is over. She doesn't know there may be something—or someone—from her past that her CIA bosses are really after.

I'm watching this because: I'm a big fan of Christopher Gorham. Loved him in My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. (And if you have yet to watch My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, go read my review, and then go stream the movie.) I've not traditionally liked Piper Perabo, but when this popped up as a recommendation on Amazon, I decided to check it out.

Recap: Following a horrible breakup, Annie decides to join the CIA. She still has a month of training left when she's called to Langley. They need someone with her language skills (she speaks six languages fluently) to work with a Russian spy who has agreed to sell intel to the US. She immediately meets Auggie (Gorham), a tech agent who was blinded in Iraq, and they quickly bond. But Annie doesn't realize that her bosses might want her at Langley for reasons that have nothing to do with her skills as an agent ...

Reactions: My sister mocks me for watching this show, calling it a poor man's Alias. And there is definitely some truth to that ... I'd call it Alias-lite. But I love spy shows, I love Christopher Gorham, and I was so happily surprised to see Peter Gallagher in a supporting role ... after years of not particularly caring for him due to his role in While You Were Sleeping, I completely fell for him as Sandy Cohen on The O.C. Also, I love having a couple to root for, and I know they're going to go in the Annie-Auggie direction eventually.

The next Dawson's? Most likely. I just realized that I started Dawson's Creek at this time last year—and without any "homework" to bring home from work during the summer, I should have plenty of free evenings to watch!

I wrote the preceding paragraphs last month, prior to blowing through all three seasons in a few weeks. I think I averaged about two episodes per night, so Covert Affairs certainly has become 2013's Dawson's Creek. As I predicted, they have gone for an Annie-Auggie romance, with the first kiss coming in the Season 3 finale. And I actually find myself torn about it, because there's another character, Eyal (played by guest star Oded Fehr), who I would love to see Annie with. Season 4 premiered last night, and it's going to be hard for me to wait a whole week between episodes when I'm so used to watching them on demand!

Watch it on Amazon Instant Video.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pushing Daisies: 1.1 "Pie-Lette"

Series summary (from Amazon): Ned, a young man with a very special gift, discovered as a boy that he could return the dead briefly back to life with just one touch. But his random gift isn't without deadly consequences, as he soon finds out. As a pie shop owner, grownup Ned puts his talent to good use by touching dead fruit and making it ripe with everlasting flavor.

I'm watching this because: Several years ago, I remember my cousin Beth asking if I watched Pushing Daisies. (This was when it still aired on ABC.) When I said no, she told me she thought I'd like it. I filed that away but never checked it out ... until last night, when I was looking for something short and sweet to watch before bed. After coming up empty on Netflix, I started scrolling through Prime Instant Video on Amazon, and Pushing Daisies caught my eye.

Recap: As a child, Ned (Lee Pace) discovers he has a gift: his touch can bring the dead back to life. However, if the person (or animal) stays alive for more than one minute, someone else in close proximity to the "dead" person will die. Also, as Ned learns the hard way, if he touches a person he has brought back to life a second time, the person will die again ... permanently.

When private investigator Emerson Cod (a hilarious Chi McBride) learns Ned's secret, he convinces Ned to go into business with him—Ned will wake murder victims just long enough to learn their killer, and when the killer is brought to justice, Emerson and Ned will split the reward money.

Business is going great until Ned's childhood crush Chuck (Anna Friel) is murdered. When Ned wakes her, he doesn't have the heart to "kill" her ... so he lets her live, knowing he can never touch her again.

Reactions: Why did I wait so long to start watching this show? I loved everything about it—the narrator, the vivid colors, the set up, the supporting cast (except perhaps for Kristin Chenoweth, who, at least in the pilot, was a tad annoying). I had to force myself to stop watching after one episode, and as soon as I post this, I'm going back for episode two!

The next Dawson's? I'm thinking yes. Definitely.

Watch it on Amazon Instant Video.
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