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Quick Hits: Pilot Season — Boardwalk Empire

October 20th, 2010 2 comments

Well late on posting this Quick Hits, but better late than never.

It’s Pilot season in America. There certainly seems to be more shows that at least have the potential to be intriguing. There’s the can’t miss in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the LOST clone in NBC’s The Event, the waiting-to-see-if-it-can-deliver in AMC’s The Walking Dead and a host of other intriguing new shows. I may not drop thoughts on all of them, but I will try to give my initial thoughts on some of those that catch my eye. After some work related delays, I’m getting back into it with HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

So of all the shows that were hotly anticipated, perhaps there was none more so than the HBO Steve Buscemi vehicle Boardwalk Empire. Promising production values that rivaled Band of Brothers, a cast of very solid character actors and a storyline and period setting that reeked of promise, it was hard not to be excited for Sunday nights with Boardwalk Empire and AMC’s Rubicon (my Quick Hits reviews thereof) and Mad Men.

Although I have been a bit delinquent in previewing the show, Boardwalk Empire is undoubtedly the best new pilot so far this season. It lives up to the billing of a Martin Scorsese production. Scorsese directed the pilot and serves as executive producer on the series. The pilot, in particular, was shot brilliantly with a heavy dollop of film cinematography. In particular, the initial boardwalk scene, traversing the Atlantic City shore with a single shot, had a tremendous, almost epic feel to it.

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Quick Hits: Pilot Season — “Outsourced”

September 30th, 2010 3 comments

It’s Pilot season in America. There certainly seems to be more shows that at least have the potential to be intriguing. There’s the can’t miss in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the LOST clone in NBC’s The Event, the waiting-to-see-if-it-can-deliver in AMC’s The Walking Dead and a host of other intriguing new shows. I may not drop thoughts on all of them, but I will try to give my initial thoughts on some of those that catch my eye. On Tuesday, I reviewed NBC’s The Event. Today is NBC’s Indian sitcom, Outsourced.


Outsourced will hopefully be cancelled quickly and buried alongside the E.T. Atari games in the desert.

This will be nice, short and sweet. Despite knowing there would be a high likelihood that I would find the show Outsourced offensive, I bit the bullet and watched NBC’s latest addition to its Thursday sitcom, fest. The basic premise is a remake of the Josh Hamilton movie of the same name. The difference is that, for all the manners in which the film Outsourced was, at times, charming and lighthearted, the television series is stale and almost purely offensive.

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Quick Hits: Pilot Season — Undercovers

September 23rd, 2010 1 comment

It’s Pilot season in America. There certainly seems to be more shows that at least have the potential to be intriguing. There’s the can’t miss in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the LOST clone in NBC’s The Event, the waiting-to-see-if-it-can-deliver in AMC’s The Walking Dead and a host of other intriguing new shows. I may not drop thoughts on all of them, but I will try to give my initial thoughts on some of those that catch my eye. On Tuesday, I reviewed NBC’s The Event. Today is NBC’s spy series, Undercovers.

While The Event was marketed directly as a LOST clone, Undercovers isn’t really promoted as a direct draw on a prior show.  That said, it has a feel that draws directly off of two recent shows: the currently running Chuck and the since departed Alias.

Relative newcomers Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw star in and carry Undercovers quite effectively.

Undercovers is the latest draw from the team over at Bad Robot (JJ Abram’s production company that produced such smash hits as Alias, LOST, Cloverfield and Star Trek).  The basic plot line is part Mr. & Mrs. Smith, brought to the small screen.  Steven and Samantha are married former CIA agents who left the life in order to run a catering company and have a quiet marriage.  The gag about Samantha’s sister trying to add pork to the menu at an Orthodox Jewish wedding aside, the pilot script isn’t weighed down by anything unnecessary.  This show knows what it is and what it has to rely on: light-hearted spy action and sexiness.

The show has no pretenses for higher level, deep plot lines.  While LOST is the standard bearer there, even Alias extended down the rabbit hole with the Rambaldi story arcs.  No such worries here.  Yes, there are going to be overriding story arcs over the entirety of the show’s run — e.g., the handlers indicate that Sam and Steve might not really be working for the CIA, a plot line run through with Alias and also the unaffiliated Rubicon (click here for my Rubicon posts).  Yet this seems secondary to the real point of the show.

We’re likely to get self contained story lines as the focal point with a hefty dose of Q style spy tech, well constructed action sequences, and light hearted banter between the show’s stars, who are a ridiculously good looking couple in a Zoolander kind of way.

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Quick Hits: Pilot Season — The Event

September 21st, 2010 Comments off

It’s Pilot season in America. There certainly seems to be more shows that at least have the potential to be intriguing. There’s the can’t miss in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the LOST clone in NBC’s The Event, the waiting-to-see-if-it-can-deliver in AMC’s The Walking Dead and a host of other intriguing new shows.  I may not drop thoughts on all of them, but I will try to give my initial thoughts on some of those that catch my eye.  First up is the first off the DVR, NBC’s The Event.

NBC apparently does not make their production stills available for download. Boo on them. The art in this post will suffer a bit.

The Event mimicked LOST in many ways, to the point that it even was blatantly marketed as a potential successor.  That will grasp the eyes of LOST fanatics with suddenly an extra hour of time each week, particularly when the show is granted at least some street cred with positive buzz.  But that buzz and intentional comparison also carries with it the heavy burden of expectation.  If you don’t deliver, you’re going to know it pretty quickly — as was the case for The Nine and FlashForward, the last two shows that filed miserably in assuming the throne of TV’s top network blockbuster.

As a LOST junkie, I somewhat knew what I wanted to see in this pilot.  First and foremost, you need a solid score.  Series creator Nick Wauters turned that task over to Scott Starrett, a virtual unknown to mainstream productions whose IMDB credits reflect a show called Drop Dead Diva and a movie called Slutty Summer.  If you couldn’t tell, I’m not exactly overwhelmed with confidence.  While Starrett fails to deliver on an epic scale in the way that Michael Giacchino did for LOST or Bear McCreary did for Battlestar Galactica, he does manage to build the appropriate adrenaline during the more action packed scenes.  The scoring during the more dramatic or dialogue is somewhat empty and overall it’s a bit lacking in imagination.  I was not terribly impressed on this level.

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