Snap judgments: ‘Forever’ and ‘Selfie’

From time to time I’m going to sample a show not on my usual rotation. First up are a couple new fall shows.

Forever“Forever” (ABC, Tuesdays): This show means well, it really does. All of the pieces are there, even Judd Hirsch, but it just ends up being kind of boring. Ioan Gruffudd is Dr. Henry Morgan who has more experience than any other doctor on the planet – because he’s been alive for hundreds of years because of a fluke in his genetics. His latest home is New York, where he’s a medical examiner and still finds himself being killed and “reborn” in the ocean on a few occasions. But when he happens to be in a subway car crash, a smart detective gets suspicious when he’s the only one to walk away alive. Eventually, she takes a shine to Morgan enough to want to have him help her with cases. In a nutshell, this show is like “Castle,” only with a paranormal aspect and no Nathan Fillion. Gruffudd just isn’t as charming at Fillion and perhaps that’s what makes this show lack spark. It’s perfectly fine as a mindless end to your Tuesday evening, but it never quite gets to the level where you feel compelled to record the entire series on your DVR. Impression: Fine if there’s nothing on, but not worth a series commitment.

“Selfie” (ABC, Tuesdays): I lost count of the social media references within the first six minutes of the pilot that I watched. The little text bubbles popping up around the characters, app icons flying around and hashtag-laden dialogue of the main character were a bit much. In fact, it was almost embarrassing. It was as if ABC was saying “Look, we get social media. Aren’t we current?” It may be of-the-moment, but that moment will not age well. The comedy is about Eliza, a young professional who is obsessed with her online persona, to the detriment of her ability to relate to the real people around her. Enter coworker Henry, who offers to help her improve her “brand” after a particularly embarrassing plane ride. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, “Selfie” is a modern retelling of “Pygmalion,” which was the basis for “My Fair Lady.” The show made me cringe on occasion, but I’m hardly their target audience. Trouble is, I don’t think their target audience is going to find the gimmick all that clever - just pandering. Impression: If you’re as obsessed with social media as the main character, you may like it, otherwise spend your time with real people.

TV Pick Six: ‘Bad Judge’ could be very good

MUST WATCH (any way you can): “Bad Judge” 8 p.m. Thursday, NBC (New, series premiere). I have no idea if this show will be good or not, but it’s trailers look funny and it looks better than almost every other new comedy this fall. Kate Walsh plays Los Angeles criminal court Judge Rebecca Wright, who has an unorthodox style and a wild life outside the courtroom. I’m putting this at the top of the list because Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are executive producers of the sitcom. They gave me “Anchorman,” among other movies, so I trust this show will at least have a few laughs. Walsh also shows promise in “Fargo” as the over-the-top wife of a murdered businessman. In the opener, Walsh takes in a young boy when she puts both his parents in jail.

Bad Judge - Season Pilot

DVR FOR LATER: “Gotham” 7 p.m. Monday, Fox (New). The man who will be known as the Penguin begins to blaze a trail back to Gotham after being banished by Gordon, who is busy investigating a child trafficking ring that involves a young Selina Kyle. Hint: She’s a future villain, too. That’s kinda the theme here.
“The Middle” 7 p.m. Wednesday, ABC (New). I’ve caught an episode of this sitcom here and there (mostly in closed caption while at the gym) and thought it was pleasant enough. But I actually watched (and heard) an episode last week and discovered it’s also laugh-out-loud funny. Tonight, parents Frankie and Mike look for second jobs so they can afford to send daughter Sue to college.

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TV Pick Six: Gotham, Goldbergs and geniuses

We’re changing things up a bit at “TV is a Food Group.” Instead of a sampling of shows for each night of the week, I’m going to offer six shows that you shouldn’t miss. (You can handle six hours or so of TV in six days, right?). I’ll also suggest what to watch live. Believe it or not some shows are still best served piping hot instead of lukewarm on the DVR.

MUST WATCH (any way you can): “Gotham” 7 p.m., Fox (new, series premiere). There is always a handful of shows that garner the “buzz,” “hype,” whatever you want to call it. This one definitely qualifies. I think it may be worth it this time - but I may be biased because I’m a fan of Donal Logue. Logue has a smaller role as the partner of central character James Gordon before he was police commissioner in this dark (both thematically and aesthetically) drama. This show is all about what Gotham City was like before Batman was there to protect it from a rogue’s gallery of villains. The villains are still around, only younger. And Jada Pinkett Smith adds another wrinkle as a vicious crime boss. Watch the extended trailer below.

WATCH LIVE: “Scandal” 8 p.m. Thursday, ABC (new, season premiere). Last we saw Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) she was on a plane for parts unknown with Jake (Scott Foley) and the future of Pope and Associates was up in the air. I’m assuming things won’t stay that way for long, and the plane will eventually return with Olivia and Jake so they can re-immerse themselves in the intrigue and conspiracies of B613 and the president, who’s dealing with his own can of worms.

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Less picks, more topics, maybe a recap

If you’re a frequent visitor to this blog (thank you, btw), you might notice a lag in new posts. I’m taking a break from weekly picks. I love TV and pouring through listings every week was starting to burn me out. Instead, I’m going to be putting up occasional posts about TV topics (like my House Hunters post) and a recap here and there. Who knows, maybe once good TV returns in the fall I’ll feel compelled to post picks again. Stay tuned…

What to Watch: New Soderbergh series debuts

How great is it that directors and actors who traditionally have worked in film are dabbling in TV? My “LK Pick of the Week” features one of two of those Hollywood heavyweights, and an interesting theme, too! You can hear this pick and more each Monday on Q98.5 FM’s “Pat and JT in the Morning.”

TheKnick

LK PICK OF THE WEEK: “The Knick” 9 p.m., Friday, Cinemax (New, series premiere). Director Steven Soderbergh is behind this drama about medicine in New York City in 1900. Clive Owen stars as a surgeon at Knickerbocker Hospital (get it? The Knick), who’s at the forefront of recent advances, but who’s making some questionable personal choices. The backdrop of the show is a time in America when great change is occurring in science and society. With so many surgeries and procedures I’m guessing there will be lots of blood, but given the subject matter it would be silly if it didn’t.

MONDAY, AUGUST 4
“Bachelor in Paradise” 7 p.m. to 9:01 p.m., ABC (New, series premiere). This is it, the bottom of the summer TV barrel. If you like to watch total strangers hook up and swap spit then this is your Oscars.

“Running Wild with Bear Grylls” 7 p.m., NBC (New). Comedian Ben Stiller joins the survival expert on Scotland’s Isle of Skye to test his mettle - and keep one eye on the medic and catering truck parked a few miles away. Continue reading

First ‘AHS: Freak Show’ teaser

It may only be 19 seconds long, but as we’ve seen with past seasons, FX packs a lot of creepy into those seconds and whets our appetite for more about the latest season of this anthology.

The fourth season, which premieres in October, will be set in the 1950s amongst one of the last carnival freak shows in the country. Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson are returning as is Evan Peters from previous AHS seasons. Michael Chiklis and Kathy Bates are also part of the cast. Creator Ryan Murphy has hinted that this “Freak Show” season will be closer in tone to “Asylum” than “Coven,” which will probably mean less camp and more disturbing horror. We also know there’s a terrifying clown on deck for this season, who we get a glimpse of in the teaser below. (Like clowns aren’t scary enough.)

The folks behind AHS will have a panel at San Diego Comic Con on July 26 and I’m hoping it will include a longer preview or at the very least more details about the season. Until then, cross your fingers and watch these 19 seconds to tide you over.

‘Orphan Black’ was robbed! (and other Emmy snubs)

Well those Emmy nominations were predictable and shocking at the same time. But they usually are. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is notorious for being behind the curve when it comes to TV trends and cutting-edge television. This year’s crop of nominees is a poor reflection of the bounty of wonderful television that can be found right now (most of which is not located on your broadcast networks. Sorry, it’s just not.)

Instead of rehashing all of the nominations, which you can see here, I’m going to look only at my perceived snubs and pleasant surprises. If you disagree, hey, that’s what the comments are for. Discuss.

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SNUBS

“Orphan Black” – This show is my everything right now. Tatiana Maslany (pictured above) is doing some amazing work as not one but at least five characters, all different (yet the same?) on this sci-fi thriller about genetic clones. I get it, Emmy voters don’t dig science fiction. But come on, how many actresses can be three different characters in the same scene and have you believing you’re watching three different people? Not many, not even the academy’s precious Claire Danes. And the show itself? Just the right pacing at 10 episodes a season versus the standard 22 or more for a network show. No episode is a throw-away. Every scene feels like it means something. This show was robbed on so many levels. Continue reading

A zombified Fourth of July

TWD_season 4

Nothing says Fourth of July like hot dogs, bunting, fireworks, watermelon, humidity and zombies. At least that’s how you could describe this year’s holiday thanks to AMC’s “The Walking Dead” marathon beginning Friday, July 4.

If you’d like to relive the horror and heroism of the Grimes Gang you can start with episode one, season one on July 4 and end with a special “Talking Dead” episode on Sunday, July 6. You’ll no double be left with more questions than answers when showrunner Scott M. Gimple visits the show to drop hints about the upcoming season 5. Remember, we last left Rick, (most of) his group and a few new members (hello, Abraham!) in a train boxcar with few options an a creepy group watching over them who may or may not be cannibals. So, yeah, there are some questions to ask. I, for one, was one of those fans who poured over screen shots and devoured blog posts about “what it all means.” So I want answers, Gimple! But I’ll mostly likely get just enough to ratchet up my anticipation.

But the season 5 preview isn’t all AMC has planned, there’s “Inside the Walking Dead” on July 8 at 8 p.m. that shows how the series is made, including mapping out the show, production design, special effects and makeup. Then “Inside the Walking Dead: Walker University” on July 15 will follow the journey from extra to “walker.” Yes, there is motivation behind those shuffles and groans and the actors must attend Zombie School to master it. Hey, the zombies need to be realistic.

Summer just started, let’s look at the new fall shows

We’re barely two weeks into “summer” TV, but thanks to the recent “Upfronts Week”we have a sneak-peek at the new shows coming this fall. The trailers I’ve included are brief and leave a lot to interpretation, but they give you an idea of what the shows will be like. Below are the fall schedules for the big five networks. New series are noted in red, all caps.

Monday
7 p.m. “The Voice” (NBC): Featuring new coaches Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams
“GOTHAM” (Fox): In case you missed the memo, superheroes are the witches of 2014. This series is an origin story of the villians and vigilantes of DC Comics, centered on James Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie, “Southland,” “The O.C.”) rise from rookie detective to police commissioner. Donal Logue costars as his veteran partner Harvey Bolluck and Jada Pinkett Smith plays the crime boss looking to corrupt them all. We also get to see young, prepubescent in some cases, Batman, Catwoman and Penguin, among others, with Gordon’s friendship with a young Bruce Wayne at the heart of the drama. “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC)
“The Big Bang Theory”/”2 Broke Girls” (starting Oct. 30) (CBS)
“The Originals” (The CW) Continue reading

Summer TV best bets

We’ve all heard the complaints about summer TV: Too much reality, not enough substance. But here’s a handful of shows that might be worth your time and DVR space. Most of them are new, but I’ve thrown in a few returning shows that are worth a second look.

7. “Under the Dome” (CBS, June 30). This show based on the Stephen King novel started out promising but went way, way, way off the rails by the end of the first season. Is the dome a living thing? Where do these new characters/citizens keep coming from if this small town is trapped inside a dome? I’m interested to see where they take this train: Will we go straight through Crazytown to Nutsville or get back on track for some quality sci-fi fun? It’s hard to tell, but it’s a good summer TV distraction all the same.

6. “The Quest” (ABC, Thursdays premiering July 31). It’s a reality competition staged in an elaborate fantasy world – think cos-play enthusiasts competing in “The Amazing Race” on the set of “Game of Thrones.” The “Heroes” (contestants) have to save a kingdom full of various obstacles from being conquered by dark forces.

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