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New Shows: March 8-21, 2014

As last week managed to get away from me, I present you with a special double edition of the New Shows piece. Some really good ones for you to explore.

The New Shows color code: red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great.

The Trip to Bountiful (Lifetime)
As you know, I rarely watch Lifetime movies. This one, however, got such rave reviews that I just had to check it out. It was wonderful. Cicely Tyson plays Carrie Watts to perfection and the supporting cast are just as good. The story of an elderly woman who makes the trip to her girlhood home one last time, it is affecting and lovely. Try to catch this one.

48 Hours: The Blue River Murder (CBS)
A Ring by Spring (Hallmark)
Timber Kings (Destination America)

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (Fox)
This show aired on ten US networks and internationally on the National Geographic Channel, making it the largest global launch ever for a TV series. The first episode, at least, was terrific. Exploring the Milky Way, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, this generation’s Carl Sagan, helps to put the science into perspective using graphics and images that are truly magnificent. I must admit that I did not really learn anything that I didn’t already know, but I enjoyed the refresher course.

Resurrection (ABC)
It is impossible not to compare this show with The Returned, the French show that aired on Sundance earlier this year. It may not be a fair comparison, but the stories are so similar (dead people return years later exactly the same as when they died) it is ridiculous. This version wasn’t bad, but it lacks the atmosphere of its cousin. There is a bit too much exposition and a bit too much making sure the audience is keeping up. I will not watch this show week to week, but it may be one I marathon through some rainy afternoon this summer.

Codes and Conspiracies (American Heroes)
Lindsay (OWN)
My Five Wives (The Learning Channel)
No Man’s Land (History)
Online Dating Rituals of the American Male (Bravo)

Believe (NBC)
A show like this, a young girl has mystic abilities and is on the run from the people who would exploit those abilities, rises and falls on the shoulders of the actress playing the child. Johnny Sequoyah, all at the ripe old age of eleven, makes it work. A joy to watch on the screen, the chemistry she shares with her protector and co-star, Jake McLaughlin, is palpable. I have watched the first two episodes and really enjoyed them both. There are moments of schmaltz and moments where one has to work a bit to suspend disbelief, but the relationship between Bo and Tate is one I will continue to watch for a while.

24 Hours on Earth (BBC America)
Chrisley Knows Best (USA)
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (El Rey)
My Big Fat Geek Wedding (Syfy)


Breaking Boston (A&E)

Live From Space (National Geographic)
Wow! Just, wow! National Geographic got full access through NASA to spend two hours with the astronauts currently on the space station. During this time, we got a full tour and the astronauts showed us what they do all day. As you can imagine, the most incredible images were the shots back to earth. The program also included historic images including the Northern Lights, the eastern seaboard at night, and sunrise over Mongolia — all of which were breathtaking. The most moving image was a shot of Manhattan on 9/11/01 made just as the second tower came down. If, like me, you yearn to travel to the heavens, don’t miss this.

The Grim Sleeper (Lifetime)

Crisis (NBC)
A busload of the country’s most important kids (including the President’s and the Chinese ambassador’s sons) are taken hostage. With twists galore, this show wants to be 24. It is not. The former show had us invest in the white hats and root against the black hats. This show, while it has some great actors and acting, can’t carry it off. There are too many shades of gray. The biggest problem, however, is that the show is not all that interested in the kids at risk, so the writers resort to stock characters for whom it is impossible to care all that much. Not a terrible show, but like Hostages earlier this season, it fails to generate the thrills and fun that were so much a part of 24.

Killer Legends (Chiller)

Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life & Times of Katrina Gilbert (HBO)
A documentary about a woman living paycheck to paycheck and barely making ends meet. This struck home for me as I work with several single moms who are in exactly the same situation. These women, all of whom work themselves to the bone to ensure their kids are cared for, deserve to be celebrated and this piece does a good job of showing the good and the bad in these women’s lives.

The Fabulist (E!)
Lords of the Car Hoards (Discovery)

Foxy & Co. (Syfy)
A “reality” show about a special effects house in Los Angeles. I was really hoping this would be about how special effects are created. It was to a degree, but it was also pure “reality.” I made it through ten minutes before I had had enough.

Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe (ABC)
A show about what the studio is calling its “cinematic universe” in which the Marvel comics characters live. As a recent convert to this world, I loved watching this and seeing what I have to look forward to as I continue to explore this insane world. It is filled with behind-the-scenes stories and outtakes, along with the producers discussing why they made some of the choices they made. Yes, there is a sense that this is ABC promoting its show and the new Captain America film, but it was fun to watch all the same.

Barry’d Treasure (A&E)
Celebrities Undercover (Oxygen)
Chasing Maria Menounos (Oxygen)

The 100 (The CW)
97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed Earth, survivors are living on The Ark (naturally), a group of space stations. The ship is running out of supplies so it sends 100 kids (seriously?) to see if Earth might be inhabitable again. There is nothing in this show that is new, nothing that is interesting. If you are interested in a mix of The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Flies with a smattering of Lost, you may enjoy this. I did not.

Doll & Em (HBO)
A British comedy written by and acted by two real life BFFs, Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer. Em, an actress, hires Doll to be her personal assistant to assist in curing a broken heart. The pilot was all right, but I couldn’t help feeling that many of the jokes were private between the two of them and did not translate well on film. The scenes were well crafted, but didn’t leave me wanting to spend a great deal of time exploring this relationship.

Save My Bakery (Food Channel)


Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way (Showtime)
Directed and produced by her daughter, this is a wonderful documentary about an extraordinary woman. What I really liked about it was its honesty. Ferraro’s political life was not without controversy and this documentary unflinchingly examines the issues. Just astonishing when one thinks of the fact that the filmmaker is documenting her parents. If you are interested in politics or the role of women in our society, don’t miss this.

1 comment:

  1. Great job as usual, Chris. I'm somewhat liking Believe, too. I tried The 100 and even took notes to write a possible premiere review, but when I got to the end, I decided not to bother. It's a shame, too, because they have a cool premise to work with. What's the point of a cool premise if they don't do anything cool with it?


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