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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW: Black-ish “Pilot” S1 E1

I’m going to try not to get too deep in this review.   After all, this is a sitcom.   But I watched Black-ish and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  I loved the trailer and laughed out loud when Dre’s son Andre (Andy) came home and wanted to have a bar mitzvah and change his name to his hebrew one (either Shlomo or Shmoole…which I’m probably butchering the spelling.)   I loved the instant chemistry between Anderson and Ross.  In a 2 minute trailer, I totally bought them as husband and wife.   So I was very excited for this premiere.   But then I watched it all and for the most part I liked it but I do have a bit of “Mike and Molly” fear for this show.

Shows like this, where they push racial and cultural boundaries, are always interesting because it can insight passionate responses from viewers…both good and bad.  I’ve already seen lots of comments on this about how “white people won’t understand the humor” and “this show is racist and offensive” etc, etc.   I think everyone needs to take a deep breath.   In the simplest of terms, this show is about an African-American family living a hugely successful life (Dre is a SVP of his company and Rainbow is a surgeon) in the suburbs yet still trying to stay true to their roots…at least Dre is.   Now he has to remind the rest of his family how important that is as well.   The cast is led by Anthony Anderson, Tracey Ellis Ross, and Laurence Fishburne.  But my favorite so far is Marcus Scribner’s Andre Jr.   That kid had the best lines and best material in the pilot.  First with the bar mitzvah.  He also wants to be called Andy (because it shows he’s edgy yet approachable), play field hockey, and hold onto his first boob (vs. holding onto his roots.)  I loved that kid.   And like The Goldbergs last year, I instantly felt like this was a family.  The chemistry between all of them was evident right off the bat.

This could be a groundbreaking show.    The kind of show that families can watch and have a great discussion about afterwards.   There are many people who argue, that shows like that don’t work on network TV any more.   Well, maybe not.   Unless it’s a well written, well thought out show that has the abilities to push the boundaries with humor to bring real conversations to the forefront.  And Black-ish has the potential to be that show.  I already have tons of questions.   I can’t directly relate to the internal struggle of an African-American man who came from a tough background to raising his family in the type of environment that was better than his and how he balances raising his children in a color free world yet staying true to their cultural heritage.  There is no way I can ever completely understand that.   But I’d like to understand it better than I do now.   And I’m curious to watch it and learn more about it.   For example, the one part of the show where I raised my eye brow was when Dre was upset that his daughter didn’t want to hang out with the only other black girl in the school and that she didn’t even refer to her as the “only other black girl in the school.”  His daughter responded by saying “I don’t know.  When I hear Liza Jackson I think of meatballs and turkey burgers.”  Isn’t that a good thing, that she didn’t see the color of her skin?   Why was Dre so upset?  I don’t understand.   I feel like the way his kids were talking about Liza is exactly the way you want them to talk about her…as a little girl, not a little black girl.   I would think so.  Look at how upset Dre was with his promotion.  He was hoping to break down barriers at his company by becoming the first black SVP.   But not the first black SVP of the “Urban Division.”  It took something away from the promotion for Dre and I do understand that.   But if your goal is to break down barriers then why drive the “blackness” so hard at home with your family?   It’s that the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve?   It’s confusing.    So I hope the show explores that a bit more because while I’ll never fully be able to relate because I’m not African-American, I could certainly be more informed and have a better understand than before.    I want to know why someone who wants his family as far away from the way he was brought up as possible, also wants to make sure his roots are still very prevalent in their everyday lives.   What specific parts of your roots are you referring to?   I really want to know.

But my “Mike and Molly” fear is that I don’t want the show to be all about “black” jokes.   With M&M, I didn’t want the show to be all about “fat jokes.”  Initially it was and then it toned down and went to everyday comedy with the fat jokes coming every once in a while.   The pilot of Black-ish was very heavy-handed with the jokes about fried fried chicken being too black for Rainbow (who is mixed race) and “if I’m not black enough can someone tell my hair and my ass.”   That’s all well and good but I hope they tone it down and it’s more background humor than the front and center humor.  I know that’s kind of the premise of the show but I think that humor can still be part of the show maybe not just every joke….like M&M was with the fat jokes.  It gets old after a while.  And I think this cast deserves to be more than one trick ponies because they’re pretty fantastic.

I enjoyed Black-ish and will continue to watch.   Not only because I find the show incredibly interesting but it’s also really, really funny!

DVRs: 3+

 

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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW: Gotham “Pilot” S1 E1

We are a little superhero crazy right now.   Last year we had Arrow (in its second season) and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (first season.)    This year we have four more coming…The Flash, Constantine, iZombie, and now Gotham.  Is it too much?   I guess we’ll have to see.  Like anything, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.    We really didn’t need 3 different CSIs, 3 different NCISs, 2 Criminal Minds,10 different reality talent competitions, etc.   So will the comic/superhero genre be too much?    We’ll see.  In my opinion as long as they are good shows, it makes so difference to me.   And I would argue Gotham isn’t in the same realm as the other comic book shows.    Gotham is an origin story.  This is not a Batman story, in the present form as we know Batman.   In fact, Bruno Heller (the man behind The Mentalist and others) has already come out and said, we not see the Caped Crusader.   That makes me happy.  There are so many movies about Batman, I don’t need a TV show about him….unless it’s different.   Gotham is different.

As I said before, Gotham is an origin story.   What does that mean?   It means we get to see characters we are familiar with (and some we don’t) before we really knew them.   A prequel if you will.  But this isn’t the story of how Batman becomes Batman.  At least not directly.    This is the story of the man who helped define the future Bruce Wayne and the city that Batman fiercely protects.  In a way, Gotham is very much the central character of the show the way New York City was for Sex and the City.   But Gotham’s central protagonist is rookie Detective Jim Gordon (future Commissioner James Gordon) played by Ben Mackenzie who’s first real crime to solve is the murder of Tom and Martha Wayne, parents of Bruce Wayne (our future Batman.)  The Waynes are the wealthiest family in Gotham (so I’m not sure why they were walking down a dark alley at night but that’s another story.)   So when Gordon and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) are sent to the crime scene, Bullock wants no part of it.   Gordon goes over to talk to Bruce, who witnesses the crime, and connects with him instantly.  Scenes like this are why I love origin stories so much.   You know how this relationship eventually evolves and what their relationship is in the Batman world as we know it today.  But we’ve never seen how it all started.  We were told, but hearing it and seeing it are so different.   It’s a great look into the history of this friendship.   Gordon opens up to Bruce to let him know he knows what he’s going through because of the death of his father at a young age.   He promises him he’ll find out who did this and bring them to justice.   We are introduced to a plethora of characters throughout the pilot most of whom we already know…..Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman (Camren Bicondovra), Oswald Cobblepot AKA The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Edward Nygma AKA The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Ivy Pepper AKA Poison Ivy (Clare Foley), Barbara Kean AKA Mrs Barbara Gordon (Erin Richards), and is it possible the stand up comedian at Mooney’s establishment is the man we will come to know as The Joker?   Maybe not.   But Mooney spent a little too much time (as did the camera) paying attention to the stand up.   If he was just background for her scene with Cobblepot, why bother giving him so much screen time?   Just something to think about.  While I love seeing all the people as their original selves vs. their pseudonyms did we really need to meet EVERYONE in the pilot.    Couldn’t we have saved some for later?   Just seemed as if the show runners were trying to pack 10 pounds of poop into a 5 pound bag.

With all the characters we met that we have some familiarity with, two of the most interesting to me was the one who I knew nothing about and who was brand new….Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith.)   Maybe it was the way Smith was playing her but I found her to be sinister, hard ass, a bit terrifying, and incredibly enjoyable.   Mooney is one of the big crime lords in Gotham and is fortunate enough to have some of the cops (like Gordon’s partner) in her pocket for protection.   But when Mooney thinks Gordon and Bullock didn’t fall in line with her way of doing business, she had them scheduled to be killed.   Not to mention, when she finds out the Cobblepot snitched on her, she comes down on him with a violent fury, just short of killing him.     Don’t pee in her Cheerios.  But someone even scarier with stronger, more powerful ties in Gotham saves their lives.    That man is Carmen Falcone, head of the Gotham City mob with a connection to Gordon’s father.   We learn that Falcone and Gordon’s father (the former DA of Gotham) were actually friends.   I wonder how much of that is actually true vs. Falcone’s interpretation of their arrangement.  But this scene (among others) is where we learn why Jim Gordon will have a rough go in Gotham and why the Caped Crusader is eventually needed.  Falcone has everyone in his payroll….cops, lawyers, politicians, you name it.   Falcone runs the city.  In his own twisted way, he loves the city and vows to protect it at all costs.   Protect it from whom?    I would say from naive, doe eyed cops who want to “clean up” the city from crime and corruption.   “You can’t have organized crime without law and order.  I love this city and I see it going to hell.   I won’t let it go without a fight” Falcone informs Gordon.  In Falcone’s mind, the cops are a necessary part of his business model.  However, he expects those cops to fall in line with HIS sense of order and justice.   Falcone being as smart as he is realizes that Gordon is a good man, like his dad.  He’s honorable, a straight shooter, and someone who will do the right thing.   So in order to keep him in line, he orders him (through Bullock) to kill Cobblepot.  It’s an incredible scene watching Gordon walk Cobblepot to the end of the pier while Cobblepot pleads for his life.   And just before Gordon pulls the trigger he tells him “don’t ever come back to Gotham.”  He shoots and dumps him in the water.  Now, Gordon doesn’t actually shoot him ( you can’t kill The Penguin in the pilot) but from Bullock’s vantage point, Gordon did what Falcone wanted.   In the end, Gordon goes to Wayne Manor to see Master Bruce (Alfred of course is with him) to let him know that the man arrested for his parents’ murder wasn’t the right man.   That person is still at large and Gordon intends to find him.   But the key is Bruce keeping quite about what he knows in order for him to do that.  Bruce agrees.   You can already begin to see a transformation in Bruce from the scared, crying child, to the methodical, vigilante he will become.

While a lot happened in this episode, the big thing that stood out to me was how well cast this show is.  Mackenie is perfectly cast as Gordon.   He has the rugged toughness you need to be a top cop in a tough town but he also has the righteous, superior aura that certainly divides the good guys from the bad and highlights the ones in the middle, like Bullock.   But how long can he hold onto these high ground morals while trying to clean up the city from the inside of a department wrought with corruption and fear?   Will it break him?   You have to think no because we know he does become the Commissioner.   But just because he rises through the ranks, doesn’t mean he hasn’t had to change who he is to some degree for the greater good.   So I’m looking forward to seeing that evolution over the course of the series.   Another standout from the show was Robin Lord Taylor as Cobblepot/The Penguin.  He was brilliant.   He was pathetic and creepy and sad and murderous.  You watched him transform from a weak, desperate to be accepted henchman for Fish Mooney to disgraced outcast with an ax to grind against all who wronged him.   When you have a show based on a hugely popular comic story and as well a massively successful movie collection over the course of many years, people can have preconceived notions of how characters should look, sound, and act.  I try very hard not to have those when I go into a show like this and for the most part it’s easy because everyone is so much younger in Gotham from when we come to know them in Batman.  But for characters like The Penguin, The Riddler, possibly The Joker who are old enough to still have early insights into the characters they will become, that we already know, I think it’s much harder for those actors vs. Selina Kyle who is really just a baby at this point.  Taylor pulls it off superbly.  Logue’s Bullock will be the one to watch for me in the sense that I’m not sure what to make of him.   He can easily come across as the prototypical disgruntled veteran cop who hates everyone and life in general.  I don’t think that’s the case here.   You see signs of him where he may have been very much like Gordon when he started out.  But because of certain situations and possibly life altering decisions he’s had to make, he’s become the shades of grey cop who has been sucked into the corruption way of life more so as a means of preservation rather than conscious choice.   It’s probably why Gordon angers and frustrates him because he sees himself in him.   Someone who once wanted the same things Gordon did but wasn’t strong enough to see it through.  He probably sees Gordon as some who has the stones to fight the good fight and I think that makes him proud yet thoroughly embittered at the same time.   Maybe none of that is true and I’m looking for a deeper meaning that isn’t there (wouldn’t be the first time.)

Having said all that, in the simplest of terms, Gotham is a cop procedural with a cast of characters we are well aware of.   I really don’t think of this as a superhero show the way I do Arrow or probably will when I watch The Flash.  This is a cop show…like Castle.  Except instead of a precinct and villains we don’t know, Gotham has a precinct and villains we mostly do know.  However, we don’t know them in these current forms.  We know what they become.  The fun part will be watching how they get there!

DVRs: 4

 

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REVIEW: Mad Love “Fireworks” S1 E1

Dr Elliott Reid is back on TV!!!!  Raise the roof people!!!!!  I’m a loser, I know.  As much as I was happy to see Sarah Chalke back on TV, I wasn’t sure how this show would be.  But it had promise.  Aside from Chalke it has Tyler Labine and Judy Greer.  Both actors who are incredibly hilarious and have great comedic timing.  Their chemistry in the pilot was terrific and I wouldn’t be surprised if over time, their story becomes more interesting than Ben and Kate’s.  The one down side is Jason Biggs.  I have never been a Jason Biggs fan and so far he is living up to disappointment.  But I can live with him because everyone else rocks!

I have to say, when I first saw the show, Ben (Biggs) reminded me a poor man’s Ted Mosby.  He even looks a little like Ted.  He also the straight man surrounded by all the funny actors.  Although in fairness to Ted, he is having one of his strongest seasons this year.  But I digress.   Apparently though, I am not the only person who made a HIMYM analogy in regards to Mad Love.  I read some other reviews about the show and most reviews compare this show to HIMYM.  Some people also went as far to say that it was a HIMYM knock off or a not a good version of HIMYM.  I don’t know if I would go quite that far but there are some similarities.  Either way, I enjoyed Mad Love much more than I thought I would.

Where I have to agree with some of my fellow reviewers is that the best part of the show is Larry (Labine) and Connie (Greer.)  Maybe it helps that I have always been a huge fan of both actors and they both deserve a hit.  So if for no other reason, I want to see this show do well for Labine and Greer and of course Chalke!  Basically, this show is about the love story between Ben and Kate and their best friends Larry and Connie hate one another.  It’s a very simple premise out of the gate but with the comedy prowess of Chalke, Labine, and Greer, it should be a decent show.  You should check it out.  At this point I wouldn’t say it’s DVR material, but if it’s on, I will definitely watch it.

 
 

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REVIEW: Mr Sunshine “Pilot” S1 E1

I have a comment to the marketing team’s of networks who promote shows…..stop showing 80% of the show in the promos!!!!  I was so excited for the premiere of Mr Sunshine but about half way through the premiere I realized something, I had already, pretty much, seen this.   You know why?  Because all the promos showed so many different parts of the show that I basically saw the premiere and didn’t know it!  All the great one liners and zingers that were in this episode I had already seen a couple of times in promos.  I hate when that happens.   But you know what, I still loved it!!!

Mr Sunshine’s main protagonist is Ben Donovan (played by Matthew Perry), the GM of the Sunshine Center in San Diego.  Ben is just turning 40 and juggling his career, his crazy boss Crystal Cohen (played by the amazing Allison Janney) who owns the Sunshine Center, his fear of his assistant who was known to have set a man on fire, Heather (played by Portia Doubleday), and his love/sex life with Marketing Director Alice (played by Andrea Anders) who has now told him that she is ending with him so she can have a committed relationship with the always in a good mood, Alonzo (played by James Lezure.)  I didn’t lie before when I told you how incredible this cast is!  Ben is a good guy but a little self-absorbed and arrogant.  We see that Ben, while good at his job, is lousy with people.  He doesn’t know anyone’s name (and doesn’t care to remember them) and he is contradictory in his direction to suit the moment.  A clear understand of this is formed when he is talking to Hurley (we never did get his real name and like Ben, I don’t care because Jorge Garcia will always be Hurley to me) about why the ice still isn’t melted so the circus can perform.  He doesn’t know his name, the direction he is giving him is completely different from before, and he has very little patience with Hurley.   Reading this you probably think, “man this guy sounds like a complete jerk.”  If it wasn’t Matthew Perry playing Ben with Perry’s quick wit, incredible charm, and ubiquitous facial expressions, you would be right.    But Perry is able to pull it off and have this narcissist be quite likable.   And can I just say, I am so happy to see Perry back on my TV screen.  I really missed him and this show suits him perfectly!

So far it looks like the character I am going to like the best is Crystal.  She is a riot!!!  I always knew Janney was talented and certainly isn’t the type of actress to be type cast because I have seen her play lots of different types of characters…from CJ Craig on the West Wing, to Juno’s stepmother in Juno, to Violet Newstead in Broadway’s 9 to 5.  But it’s funny to see her play such an off-balance, out of touch with reality type of person.  It must be very strange for people who only associate her with the West Wing.  Crystal likes to have grand gestures showing how wonderful she is…like rounding up a group of ethnically diverse children and having them hand her a trophy.  But it seems these events usually go awry because Ben explains to her that covering up her grabbing a child to shield herself from ax-wielding clowns (she’s terrified of clowns but then again who isn’t) and throwing said child to the ground will cost more than when she kicked the policeman but less than when she sank the mayor’s boat.  She is so thrilled.   I just love how completely oblivious she is to reality.  When she started singing her “ethnic song” at her press conference, my husband and I were crying laughing.  It was very early Michael Scott-ish.  Crystal reminds me of the type of person, and maybe this is just my wishful thinking and knowing how incredible Janney is I think it could work, who will early on come across as a slightly racist, ignorant, dolt, but will eventually show what a truly loving, intelligent, and thoughtful person that she is deep down.  But I can’t wait to watch her again next week and see where this story goes between her and her son Roman (played by Nate Torrence.)

Mr Sunshine looks to be a winner for ABC.   The ratings last night were strong (3.7 rating and 10.57 million viewers.)  Luckily for Cougar Town, it’s already renewed, but Mr Sunshine had the highest ratings in that time slot (the same as Cougar Town’s) since Cougar Town premiered in 2009.  Now let’s not get crazy.  Let’s see what the numbers look like in a few weeks but it is certainly great news for the mid-season rookie!!  Of all the new comedies that have premiered so far mid-season (and I think there are 1 or 2 more to go), Mr Sunshine is the best.  You should check it out!

 
 

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REVIEW: Traffic Light “Pilot” S1 E1

I feel like when it comes to new comedies, I am reviewing the same show over and over again.  Here we have another comedy about 3 couples where the guys are college friends and are working on the balance between keeping their friendships going same as always and dealing with their relationships.    The show follows Mike, Adam, and Ethan.  Mike is married to Lisa and they have a baby.  Adam and Callie are just moving in together.  Ethan is single and uses his British accent to pick up women.  There was a 4th friend, Ben (who loves Chumbawamba’s Tub Thumping), but he passed away.

The characters were fine and there were some laughs here and there but this show seems to be going after the stereotypical laugh.  Meaning, the guys are always trying to find ways to see each other but since their wives/girlfriends are such shrews, they have to make up ridiculous lies and excuses to get out of the house to see each other.  Although, the one girlfriend, Callie, seems ok so I don’t know why Adam feels the need to have to lie to her.  The wife, Lisa, is a total bitch so I can see why Mike has to lie to her.  She apparently is so awful that when his friends call him in the car, he has to set up a code to let them know when she is in the car so they don’t talk in front of her.  In one scene, he promised Adam to help him out with his boss’ son’s Bar Mitzvah but he also told Lisa he would have lunch with her and her boss.  Instead of telling her how he promised to help Adam to keep him from getting fired from his crazy boss, he has to lie to her.  He eventually gets caught in the lie and she is going to make him pay through the ringer for it.  I guess it’s funny but it’s also a little unoriginal.  Plus Lisa is so unlikable that I find it hard to laugh at their scenes.  Instead, I feel bad for Mike that he’s stuck being married to her.

As I always say, I like to give shows a few episodes before making a final decision and lots of times these pilots are just setting up the characters and it gets better over time.  Hopefully that’s the case with this show.  I didn’t think it was awful but maybe I’ve had my fill of shows like this and I’m not giving it a fair chance.  I just hope it gets more creative with the comedy.

 
 

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REVIEW: The Chicago Code “Pilot” S1 E1

Oh look another cop show!  How fun.  Actually, it was.  The Chicago Code (CC) is a fast paced show that introduced us to the main players and set up the main story arc for the year…corruption in the name of Alderman Ronin Gibbons.  This is Shawn Ryan’s first network show since doing The Shield.  I never watched The Shield but have heard amazing reviews about the show and Ryan’s use of story and characters.  So I had high hopes.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Right away, I liked how they set up the main players and what this show (at least at this point) will be about.   Good cops taking down bad, corrupt politicians and the people who support them.  The lines that have been drawn are clear.  You know who is good and who is bad and I like that the show is not sugar coating anything or leaving anything up to interpretation.  It’s clear the show knows what direction it wants to go in and I think for new shows, that’s really important.  If the people behind the show don’t know what’s going on, how am I supposed to?  A show doesn’t always need mystery to work.  A clear vision with a solid cast is usually a blueprint for success.  It seems, at least initially, that CC is using that blueprint quite effectively.

The Chicago Code stars Jennifer Beals as Superintendent Teresa Colvin from the CPD, who is the first woman to hold the position.  My husband hates when shows use voice overs because he thinks they can be distracting.  I don’t mind them if they are used the right way and I think they were used very effectively here.  There was a lot going on in the pilot and the show runners wanted to give you the background on the main players as simply and quickly as they could to be able to set up the main storyline.  I also liked that it emphasized who we should be paying attention to as the main players.  We got to hear how Teresa became a cop and worked her way up the ranks faster than anyone else.  So not only is she the first woman to hold the post, but the youngest.  She’s smart, she’s tough, and she’s experienced.  But being in her position, as who she is, she has a tough road and not everyone is supportive of her.  This is amplified when she has to demote a veteran detective and he threatens her.  It was a short scene but it set up that not everyone is ready to jump in line with Teresa Colvin.  Her ex partner is Detective Jarek Wysocki (played by Jason Clarke.)  When I was first getting to know him, I thought to myself “oh great.  Here’s another detective who always takes chances but is always right and blah blah blah.”  Jarek isn’t like that at all.  He’s a great detective and he is very by the book.  I think he’s a good guy who really loves the city of Chicago and wants it to be a safe as it can be.  He’s tired of the lying.  He’s tired of corruption.  He’s tired of not being able to trust his own people.  It’s probably why he gone through a bunch of partners since Teresa got promoted.  But then he gets assigned a newbie who may work out.  The newbie is Detective Caleb Evers (played by Matt Lauria.)  I instantly like him.  He’s not as experienced as Jarek but he’s smart and seems to have good instincts.  Eventually, Jarek notices this too and tells him they can be partners, even though Jarek’s a Sox fan and Caleb’s a Cubs fan!  The other set of partners we are introduced to are Officers Isaac Joiner (played by Todd Williams) and Vonda Wysocki (played by Devin Kelley.)  If you ask me if Vonda and Jarek are related I may have to throw beer at you.  With a name like Wysocki???  Of course they are!!!  She is his niece.  His brother, who was also a cop, died and Jarek raised Vonda himself.  Needless to say, he is very protective of her and is always giving Isaac the old stink eye.  She denies a relationship with Isaac but that admission comes into question later when they are at the hospital (more on that later) and she is crying in her car.  Isaac thinks she’s crying for her own safety since she was in a tricky situation earlier in the day that could have been very dangerous and Isaac was able to intervene.  She tells him she could care less about her life but she is incredibly afraid for his.  Finally, we meet the Big Bad, Alderman Ronin Gibbons (played by Delroy Lindo.)  Ronin is a corrupt politician with huge power in the city.  People in the past have tried, but failed, at taking Ronin down.  But Teresa and Jarek think they would like a crack at him now and think they have the people in place to do it.  Especially since Ronin was the one who put Teresa in the position of Superintendent, he thinks he has an ally in her…a lackey.  But he is terribly mistaken.

This is one of the best pilots I have seen this year.  I have seen too many shows with a great premise but fail to deliver on interest and succinctness.  The Chicago Code was pithy and impactful.  It even had an element of surprise!  STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED!!!   SPOILER ALERT!!! Near the end of the episode when Teresa is getting out of her car with her aide (I think his name was Anthony), shots rang out and she and Anthony are both shot.  She was hit by the first bullet and Anthony stepped in front of her to take the hit from the other bullets.   Just as I mentioned there are cops who have issues with Teresa, we learn that the cops who are behind her (Jarek and Anthony for starters) are clearly in her corner and would do anything for her…including taking a bullet.  Teresa ends up being ok but her aide is killed.  The weird thing is, when he was meeting with that gang on Teresa’s behalf, I said to my husband “I think this guy is going to die.”  Don’t ask me why, I just had a feeling.  Jarek meets her at the hospital and asks why she was wearing her vest?  She wasn’t wearing her vest, she tells him.  It was Anthony’s and he wouldn’t let me get out of the car without it. SPOILER END!!! I know a show is really good at character development when I have only know these people for about 30 minutes and I am already touched by them.  Or it could mean I am a complete and utter sap, I don’t know.  It’s probably the latter but I am going with the former and giving Ryan and the writers props!  That simple scene with the veteran cop also set up a side mystery…who wants Teresa out?  Is it them?  Is it Gibbons and his people?  Or someone else entirely?   Guess we’ll have to tune in to find out!  I know one thing is for certain, they have found a loyal viewer in me (and my husband!)

 
 

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REVIEW: Fairly Legal “Pilot” S1 E1

I thoroughly enjoyed this show.   This is my first USA show (ducking while people are throwing things at me) and it did not disappoint.  I am a sucker for a good legal show and I like the twist on it with the lead being a mediator and former lawyer who works for her father’s firm which is now being run by Margaret Hamilton, I mean the woman who is the wife of her recently deceased father.

The show is pretty straight forward.  It centers around Kate Reed (played by Sarah Shahi) who is a former lawyer turned mediator and whose father has recently passed away.   She is working at his firm and her stepmother, Lauren (played by Virginia Williams) is now running the firm.   They don’t seem to like each other on the surface but it’s the pilot so I’m sure more will come out about their relationship and will slowly evolve over time.  Kate looks to be sleeping with Justin (played by Michael Trucco) who is an ADA (Assistant District Attorney) and also Kate’s ex-husband.  Since the show opens with them in bed and ends with some very nice words exchanged, they seem to be on good terms with each other.  Her brother Spencer (played by Ethan Embry) is also an attorney but seems to be a stay-at-home dad and doesn’t appear to work at their father’s firm.  Leo (played by Baron Vaughn) is Kate’s assistant and friend.  Finally there is the mysterious Andrew (played by Tim Fellingham) who is Kate’s neighbor (she lives on her dad’s boat in the marina) and potential suitor, maybe?   We’ll see.

Most of the episode is Kate running around like a chicken with her head cut off going from case to case.  One case is court appointed, one case is Lauren appointed, and one case she is just sticking her nose in.  But even as crazy as she comes off in the episode, I never feel like she is out of control.  She appears sporadic and bemused but she is smart, passionate, savvy and completely aware of her clients’ situations and how to handle them.   I would think as a mediator, it’s easy to come across as a know-it-all or condescending.  Kate is neither.  She exudes calmness and thoughtfulness and she truly wants to get to the heart of what is concerning her clients and what is causing them to be at odds.  She also has a great sense of humor.  In one of the opening scenes, she goes to get a cookie and some coffee and the store is being robbed at gun point.  She starts to talk to the gunman and store owner to see if they can come to a compromise.  Normally this would come across as preposterous but Sarah Shahi pulls it off very convincingly.  Turns out the gunman wants money for beer and beef jerky and wouldn’t you know it, the store he is robbing has both.  So Kate asks what his cost is on a case of beer and beef jerky and the owner says $17.50.  “$17.50?  Really?  Who’s robbing who here?” Kate asks.  But the owner agrees to give the guy $50 worth of beer and jerky and it will only cost the owner $17.50.  My real job is in alcohol beverage industry and I have to say, if that truly is his mark up, he is robbing people.  Wow!!!!   Kate instantly comes off as someone you can root for, which I prefer in a lead protagonist role for my enjoyment.

As for the rest of the cast, they were very likable as well.  I am most curious about Lauren at this point.  It’s easy to assume she would be the bitchy trophy wife but she appears to have a genuine interest in keeping afloat her late husband’s firm (it is losing clients left and right and she is working hard to retain them.)  You also see a solid side to her when she has a drinks with a client she is trying to retain.  When he does agree to give her his business and she promises to go the extra mile to keep him happy, he immediately slides his room key over to her side of the table.  “What is that” she asks and the dirt bag says “the extra mile.”  Oh Lord please tell me people don’t say things that cheesy or nasty!  She politely declines but thanks him once again for his business.  As she leaves, he shouts “what am I too young for you Lauren?  Should I call my father for you?”  What an asshole.  The look on her face made me want to jump through the TV set and give her a hug and him a swift kick in the groin.  I am also very interested to see how her relationship with Kate will possibly change over time as these two will need to work together to save the firm of the man they both love and respect.

Fairly Legal is on Thursdays at 10pm on USA.  I highly suggest you check this show out because it’s a keeper!

 
 

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