Published on April 8th, 2014 | by Craig Silliphant0
The Feedback Society’s “Should I Be Watching That Show?”
‘Should I Be Watching That Show’ is a preview of new television series as they hit the small screen, asking would we tune in again?
While I don’t watch a show without reading The A.V. Club write up the next day, there’s folly in reviewing single episodes of television — judging without seeing the whole thing (see Ian Goodwillie’s essay about that topic here). However, with more and more new shows vying for our attention, and because our hypocrisy knows no bounds, we ask the question, ‘Would we come back to this show for more?’ At this early stage in a show’s rollout, have we found the new True Detective, Mad Men, or Breaking Bad or this season’s Low Winter Sun-level stinker?
Set in New York and beyond in 1778, AMC’s Turn is the story of a farmer who joins his childhood friends to form The Culper Ring, a group of spies who make all the difference in America’s fight for independence. The pilot was pretty good, with some tension, good period costumes and sets, and gritty killings. Jamie Bell does a first-rate job as the protagonist, though many of the other characters turn into stereotypes, especially some of the hand-wringing English baddies. I think they generally balanced table setting with making the pilot dynamic enough to stand out. So far, I’d lump it in with Hell on Wheels, AMC’s Deadwood-lite. I know I’m not supposed to say, ‘we’ll see how this goes,’ but I can’t think of any other way to end this sentence. I will definitely come back to episode two of Turn.
Creator Mike Judge was apparently a Silicon Valley engineer in the 80s, before he found fame with Beavis & Butthead and Office Space. He quit after three months, citing the fact that all his fellow employees seemed like “Stepford Wives.” But it gave him fodder for a show, another Office Space of sorts, updated for The Social Network generation. Silicon Valley centres on six programmers who are living together, trying to strike it big. It’s not exactly cutting satire of the tech world thus far, but it was worth a few laughs and had some good observations and IT crowd inside jokes (like the term ‘brogrammers’ to describe, well, bro programmers). There’s a strong cast with funny guys like Kumail Nanjiani, and I’ve been waiting years to see Martin Starr (Freaks & Geeks) in something more substantial. I think there’s potential for the premise to grow — I will tune in for the 2nd episode.
Doll & Em
Because Doll & Em originally aired on British network Sky and was picked up by HBO, we are hit with all the episodes at once. While I have them all in the PVR, ready to rock, I started with just the pilot to stay true to the rules of this column. It’s a meta-sitcom about actress Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom, Hugo) as she heads to Hollywood, her best friend Dolly Wells (Bridget Jones’s Diary) in tow. The catch — Dolly becomes her assistant. I was looking forward to this one based on the actresses and the premise, but the pilot didn’t grab me. It was shot really well, looking a bit veritè, giving it a more realistic docu-feel, but it seemed to drag along. Not much happens and there was nary a laugh to be found (it is supposed to be a comedy, right?). Emily Mortimer comes off as horrible, never amusing or sympathetic like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm or Warwick Davis in Life’s Too Short. I’ll try another episode, mostly because my wife will make me, but if it doesn’t get better really quickly, I probably won’t make it to episode three.
Did you see any of these shows? What did you think?