Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pilot Thoughts: Red Band Society and Gotham

The only reason I'm putting these two shows together is because they air on FOX and nothing else since they couldn't be further from each other. One is a show about a bunch of really sick kids who band together during their extended stay in a fancy hospital while the other is the story of Batman before Batman became Batman. Onwards...

Red Band Society has been dubbed as Glee meets Grey's Anatomy meets The Fault in Our Stars and that's actually pretty on point so if you're a fan of at least two of those then this show might be for you. Unfortunately, I found the pilot just a tad cloying, over-earnest, and overall hokey. It's not easy doing a show about seriously sick kids since you don't want it to be too depressing, but it can't just be too peppy and at least based on the first episode they're leaning a bit too heavily on the latter. Granted a lot of that could just be the usual expositionary stuff every pilot goes through, but with this show all of that just seemed to magnify the over-sentimentality of it all (cue Coldplay music). And don't get me started on the coma kid who's providing voice-over narration and commentary on the goings on in the hospital and is stuck in some "in-between" world. Not even my love for Octavia "Scary Bitch" Spencer could make me tolerate that.

Grade: C
Willingness to continue: I'll check out one more episode (maybe two), but it just seemed like the show isn't for me.

Why would you do a Batman TV show without Batman? And yet the creators of Gotham did just that with the show taking place when Bruce Wayne is just a wee little boy whose parents are killed in front of him and Jim Gordon is still the boyish rookie in the form of Ben McKenzie all blue-eyed and noble. The thing is... it's not bad. McKenzie is pretty great as Gordon going up against and dealing with the shady figures of Gotham be it his opportunistic partner Bullock (Donal Logue), the  dangerous Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), the intimidating Carmine Falcone (John Doman), or the various young folks he encounters who happen to be the evil supervillains of the future. These various cameos were probably the most distracting parts of the pilot. Of course we had to see Bruce Wayne, but we also got a glimpse of the future Catwoman, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Penguin, and maybe even the Joker himself. I guess the show has to do that since without that, it would just be a run-of-the-mill cop show. At least, they got the look of Gotham City just right, feeling lived-in and appropriately dark. All of the actors also seem to be committed and I'm already intrigued by one or two things namely the past relationship between Barbara and Renee. The show does need more shirtless Jim Gordon action. Priorities!

Grade: B
Willingness to continue: Definitely for a few episodes and since I like to support genre shows, if it doesn't completely suck then it's a safe bet for a season's pass.

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