Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pilot Thoughts: A to Z and Gracepoint

These next two pilots I thought were quite good, but both seem to be anchored by expectations of certain older shows. You'll see what I mean...

A to Z was my most anticipated comedy of the fall mostly because I adore the two leads played by Cristin Milioti and Ben Feldman, who I loved before in other TV shows, and also because the concept intrigued the romantic in me. As Katey Segal says in voiceover narration the two "will date for 8 months, 3 weeks, 5 days and 1 hour. This television program is the comprehensive account of their relationship, from A to Z." It's all very high-concept and twee, but the chemistry between Feldman and Milioti is palpalble and is definitely the best of the new fall shows of its ilk. The problem of course is the comparison to How I Met Your Mother which was another high-concept comedy about finding love which ended in a whimper (and featured Milioti) down to the use of flashbacks, voice narration, and non-linear storytelling. And yet people seem to forget how amazing Mother was early on and if this show can tap into that to fill the sitcom void, I'm all for it. Plus the pilot episode had quite a lot of great moments such as the quick social media montage where we saw their relationship suddenly bloom to that wonderful flashback to the first time they laid eyes on one another to that kickass cameo from Lea Thompson. Yes, this show is way too precious, but I'm the right Gollum for it.

Grade: B/B+
Willingess to continue:
I'll watch it for 8 months, 3 weeks, 5 days and 1 hour... and more if the show is willing.

It's difficult to figure out how to review Gracepoint, especially for someone like me who saw and loved Broadchurch. It's even trickier with the pilot specifically because as far as I can tell, other than very minor details, most of the story beats and character work is a direct copy of the BBC America show. David Tennant reprises his Broadchurch role except now he has a passable American accent and a seemingly bored disposition while the terrific Anna Gunn, like the rest of the cast, has the uneviable task of putting their own spin on characters already fully realized elsewhere. So yes, the Gracepoint pilot was good because the Broadchurch pilot they "adapted" was good. Perhaps this show just isn't for us Broadchurch viewers at least until they diverge more from the original story. Even during this first episode, I felt my attention waning a few times at the sameness of it all.

Grade: B-
Willingness to continue:
Maybe, I'm not sure. It's certain the end will be different (it has to be!), but will the journey to get there just feel too much of the same?

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