This week has had a ridiculous amount of new shows. For clarity, I have listed the new shows more or less in the order they originally aired. I have slightly amended the rating system as three categories were proving too cumbersome to truly differentiate all the shows. Red still signifies those shows that are so bad that I cannot recommend them to you on any level. Blue now signifies those shows that may appeal to some people but not others or those shows that were not so bad as to warrant a red rating. Green means a show that I really liked and recommend. Magenta is now for those rare shows that I think are so good that everyone should at least try them.
East Los High (Hulu)
A standard teen soap, the twist being that it takes place in East Los Angeles and, therefore, all the actors are Latino. The producers have decided to take standard teen soap stories and ramp them up with increased levels of sex and violence. In the pilot, we see a young woman get beaten as she steals a kilo of cocaine. We also see the most popular girl in school get recorded having sex. The recording is sent to the entire school, causing her equally popular boyfriend to break up with her which leaves him available for the virgin who has a crush on him. The twenty-four episodes only run about twenty minutes and they are all available instantly. I won’t take advantage of that. The pilot was enough for me.
Fatal Attraction (TV One)
A true crime show, the crimes of which are fatal attraction murders. In the pilot, the girlfriend of a man murders his pregnant fiancée. The show is exactly like all the others you may have seen. Interviews with the police, the family members and the press, all of whom tell you in more graphic detail than you need what happened during the murder. I’m not a huge fan of these shows, but I respected this one as the police admit that the boyfriend probably got away with conspiracy to commit murder.
The Fosters (ABC Family)
This show has received a lot of press because Jennifer Lopez is one of the executive producers. The premise is a lesbian couple who have a blended family of biological and foster children. The pilot was a vast assortment of OTT events, from the new daughter rescuing her brother at gunpoint, to another daughter running away to meet her biological mother, to one of the women’s ex-husband becoming her partner on the police force. All of this drama is accompanied by pop tunes, meant to wring even more emotion from us. A show that was a good idea, taken way too far.
Another wannabe guilty pleasure. Four friends navigate the trials and tribulations of friendship and relationships, but in a crushingly boring way. The plot twists are absurd (one of the four believes her husband is calling her from the grave!) and not for one second of this show did I care about any of the four. The sex scenes, of which there are plenty, are about as far from titillating and salacious as it possible to get; they are, in fact, just dull. The acting ranges from average to God awful. Pass on this one.
A game show that is masses of fun. Four teams of two have to answer a series of questions and/or solve puzzles. If they are unsuccessful, they have to exit the various rooms in which they are playing the games. The puzzles were just hard enough to be challenging, but not so hard as to be ridiculous. The exits are hilarious. In the pilot, you either had to walk the plank, get blown up by a freezing machine or sink into sand. I am not usually a fan of game shows, but this one I really enjoyed and will continue to watch.
The Alectrix (MTV)
A reality series about the formation of a new girl group, managed by Joe Simpson who is Jessica and Ashlee’s father. Expect the usual drama when a bunch of girls get together and overact for the camera. What really annoyed me about this particular series is that the drama was manufactured by and encouraged by Simpson, who let’s face it, knows a thing or two about female drama. Dreadful stuff.
Swamp Murders (Investigation Discovery)
Another true crime show, this time about murders that occur in swamps. The pilot is about a young girl who is killed by her father for sleeping with one of his employees. It is the usual talking heads and overstated narration, but I found this particular story interesting as it took the police a while to catch on that it was the father. I had it figured out from the beginning. Perhaps I should have been a cop?
Pretty Wicked Moms (Lifetime)
These reality shows just amaze me. This one is around five women who live in Atlanta, pretend they are friends, yet secretly hate each other. They compete about everything from whose hair looks the best to who throws the best birthday parties. Honestly! Only on a reality show would you expend so much time and energy on people whom you hate and who hate you.
Beverly Hills Pawn (Reelz)
In this economy, even the people with multiple garages and eighty cars occasionally need to sell off some of their excess so they can buy new necessities -- like an island. They all troop to a shop in Beverly Hills, called Dina Collection, where Yossi the owner will allow them to pawn or sell those things they no longer need. Rarely have I seen such naked consumerism on display. It was unsettling to watch, so I won’t be sticking with this one.
Southern Fried Homicide (Investigation Discovery)
Because one true crime show is not enough for this channel, we have two. This show is exactly the same format as Swamp Murders, except that the murder victims are all from the deep south. The pilot is about Susie Newsom, a woman who had truly horrific mental health issues that resulted in the death of her in-laws, her parents and her kids. This one was tough to watch.
Forever Jones (Bounce)
Unfortunately, I could not watch this one as my cable provider has not added Bounce to its lineup and the channel is not streaming full episodes online. According to the show’s page on the channel’s website, “Forever Jones is an all new reality series following the successful gospel family group of the same name. The show catches the family at career and personal crossroads, as mainstream success has proven to be their biggest blessing and also their greatest challenge. Can faith and family lead to fame and fortune? The Jones’ family life is a beautiful struggle and they can make it through anything as long as they do it together.” Take from that what you will.
The Good Buy Girls (TLC)
Brook and Tara are presenters on DSN, a home shopping network that sells only jewelry and gems. In the pilot of this reality series, they are trying to get their boss to allow them to sell other products. He reluctantly agrees and they decide to sell a home tanning product. I had to suffer through watching them try all the products first and then try to sell the one they chose. They sold a grand total of -- wait for it -- one unit. Ah, karma.
House of Horrors: Kidnapped (Investigation Discovery)
Ripped from the headlines, this is the story of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight’s decade of ordeal in Cleveland. It is an astounding account of how they found themselves in that house, why they stayed for so long and what prompted Amanda to finally break free. The insights given into the man who held them are simply chilling as are the predictions of what these women are now facing. Not for everyone, but I found it fascinating.
The Fall (Netflix)
If any of you follow any of the Doux Crew on Twitter, this is the show we were raving about last week. Unlike the vast majority of series they upload, Netflix added this show last week with no fanfare whatsoever. It didn’t make any of the myriad of lists I use to keep track of new shows and the only way I found out about it was that Matt Roush of TV Guide gave it 9/10. He was right. Gillian Anderson plays a detective and Jamie Dornan plays the killer she is chasing. What makes this show so watchable (I gave up an afternoon off to marathon through all five hours) is that each of the myriad of characters is wonderfully drawn and the story is tightly written and exciting. It ends on a cliffhanger, but we have been promised a second series. Watch this.
Kathy Griffin: Calm Down Gurrl (Bravo)
An hour of stand-up that ranges from the all right to the hilarious. I find her segments on celebrities to not be all that amusing. But, she did a section on a family dinner and her dog that had me in hysterics. Overall, not a bad hour. I have certainly seen much worse.
Style Pop (Style)
This is a way for Style to pay some bills masquerading as a show telling us what is hip and trendy. Two ridiculously OTT women shout and talk over each other about how wonderfully cool they are and they give the audience promo codes to use when buying the products they are discussing -- through the network, of course. This show was actually painful to watch.
Race to the Scene (Reelz)
Dolph Lundgren hosts this reality competition based on movie scenes and where they were filmed. In the pilot, three teams perform tasks based on scenes from Forrest Gump (including eating a box of chocolate) and Independence Day (including setting off an explosion at the tunnel where the movie was filmed). Standard stuff, but entertaining enough.
The Hero (TNT)
Another reality competition series, this one hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. To give credit where it is due, Johnson is a wonderful host. He can kick people in the backside who need it and he can be supportive when it is warranted. The contestants and the challenges, however, are Survivor in an urban setting with the added temptation that, at the end of every week, the winner can either keep the money won or add it to the pot that the ultimate winner will take home. I liked the pilot, but not enough to see who America will vote as its Hero.
72 Hours (TNT)
The third reality competition series is an amped up version of The Amazing Race. Teams of three race across difficult terrain for 72 hours, using GPS coordinates to get from one supply drop to the next until finally one team finds a suitcase that holds $100,000. Unlike some of its genre, this show has real consequences. One team pushed too hard and a member collapsed, effectively pulling his team all out of the race. The drama is not enough to stick with, but I did enjoy the hour I saw.
A group of undercover agents from the FBI, DEA and Customs all live in a secret location somewhere in Southern California. The pilot started off very slowly, but I got caught up in it after the show got through all the exposition and the team finally went undercover. A great twist in the last minutes left me wanting more, so this is one I will stick with for a while to see where it goes.
In the Flesh (BBC America)
A three-hour miniseries, this is a show about zombies. Unlike its more famous cousin, this one is less gore and more allegory. The undead have been cured and are now referred to as having Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS). In the first hour, Kieran Walker comes home to a town that is intolerant of these poor souls and shoots them on sight. An obvious metaphor for any group who is reviled and misunderstood (I kept thinking of the early days of AIDS), this particular story never grabbed me. Far too much exposition, far too many characters for us to get to know any of them well, let alone care about them, a continuity error that was too obvious and really bothered me and a twist at the end that I saw coming from the beginning. I haven’t decided yet if I will watch the other two episodes, but I probably will as other reviewers have loved this show. Maybe it picks up its game.
The Confession (Hallmark)
There is an OTT heartstring puller and then there are movies like this. A very wealthy woman, dying of cancer, is looking for her biological daughter whom she gave up to an Amish couple twenty years ago. Her husband, meanwhile, is in trouble with the bookies. When he learns he has been cut out of his wife’s estate (she calls it “tough love”), he hires an out of work actress to impersonate the daughter. Meanwhile, real daughter begins to work in the house as a maid. You can imagine how the story plays out. Interestingly, the movie ends on a bit of cliffhanger. Former boyfriend of real daughter is back from the dead, determined to win her back from her new guy. I couldn’t care less.
Primeval: New World (Syfy)
Dinosaurs! How bad can this be? In a word… very. The pilot sets up the premise. A diverse group of moneymen, scientists and madder scientists have discovered a time warp (“portal”) in which dinosaurs are getting into modern Vancouver and wreaking havoc. The CGI is laughable; the acting is wooden; the plot has been done, often. Don’t get too attached to this Canadian import. It didn’t get a second series -- for good reason.
Last Call Food Brawl (Destination America)
All of us who are of legal drinking age has been there. The bars have closed; we have, perhaps, over indulged; we are looking for food. Now is not the time for a salad and some fruit. We want greasy, fried, fast food. This is a competition in which the chefs who provide said food compete for the “coveted” golden fry basket. The pilot takes place in Panama City Beach, Florida in which the chefs cook hotdogs and the ultimate fried dish. Hotdogs wrapped in bacon and deep fried? Deep fried chicken skin on top of a deep fried pork chop? I could feel my arteries hardening as I watched this. Don’t misunderstand me. As a cook, I loved it. If you’re not interested in cooking, this will probably make you turn away in horror.