Time for another roundup of opinions on New Fall TV! Whoo! What an embarassment of riches we have for us scripted speculative drama-nerds this season!
1. Westworld - In a remote futuristic immersion theme park made to look like the Old West, things get weird.
Another gorgeous-looking HBO show with a fantastic opening sequence. Whatever else they have going for them, their shows always make a good first impression that way!
It's basically the Uncanny Valley from the point of view of the natives there--regular humans are the crazy monsters in this show!
It's a theme park, but there's something more going on there. So far, only one person is trying to figure out what, and he's doing it by way of being the worst person ever ever.
It's a remarkably quiet show; lots of stuff is happening, but so far it's happening mostly in the background.
They very effectively set up this creepy, unsettling feel that hopefully will get really strange as the show goes on.
It's like Hell On Wheels on really educated acid.
2. Aftermath - When literally all the apocalypses happen at once, one family has to try to keep themselves together and alive.
In the first episode, there's freak storms, skinwalker-posessions, a plague that turns people into killers, and meteorites. It sounds like it should be cheesy, but the first episode at least is grounded really well in the family at the center of it; reminds me of how The Walking Dead is a lot of crazy stuff going on, but we believe it because of the real-feeling people.
It's great that the family tank is the mom, while the dad is a bookish academic.
It's sometimes genuinely scary, and the fact that nothing makes sense to the people in the show either means that we can figure it out along with them.
Has the potential to go off the rails in a really big way, but so far seems to be walking the line between taking it seriously and doing too much pretty well.
Engagingly freaky without being too gory. And it's an apocalypse that isn't caused by people, so maybe there's more chance of survivors banding together? Can I hope for that?
3. Conviction - There's a group that has five days to prove that people wrongfully convicted don't deserve to be in jail, and these are those guys.
Haley Atwell's character is kind of awful, but she's also really aware of her failings and it becomes clear that it's a defense mechanism--especially once she discovers that these are actual lives she's being put in control of, and she doesn't think she can do it without messing it up.
Her team is really interesting--an ex-cop, and ex-con, an up-and-coming political man, and a wide-eyed young lawyer. All have stories and opinions of their own. It's neat. Their sincerity balances her cold reason and calculated decision-making really well.
Seems to be mostly about the investigation, which is more interesting than the courtroom stuff on any show.
This is a really clean pilot; despite them just meeting each other, it feels like they really know who their characters are and where they're going.
Has Haley, the other Ashmore brother, and Emily Kinney from Walking Dead, so it's already got a hook for genre fans.
4. Timeless - A soldier, a scientist and a historian go after a lunatic who steals a time machine to change history how he wants it--and to take down America that way.
Started watching with a little trepidation because the creators were making sideways mean comments about my fav show and seem to be getting sued already by a totally different show, but it's actually not that bad...just sort of loose.
But if anything, it's more reminiscent of Legends of Tomorrow, so really, they'd better watch it and make their own mark on the time traveling genre, because they're already raising some hackles and red flags, and this is literally their first episode in a year full of other time travel shows to compare it to.
The ships look awesome, like robot-eyes. The costumes and effects are also pretty good.
The pilot script seems to have been written by people who don't know how ladies work, which is weird because the central character is a lady; that might just be pilot weirdness; waiting to see if it lingers around or if it's not an issue. Also waiting to see where they pin their soldier's personality down, because he's kind of a bundle of semi-clashing cliches right now. But the scientist is the best.
It's disappointing that they missed some good ideas: a villain who does his villainy by NOT killing people who were supposed to die? Nope, he's just killing other people later. A man who didn't know his dead wife was actually secretly from the past in his future? Nope, just looks like her. The history buff who points out that her bra is inaccurate for the time period gets to save the day by remembering this fact at a good time? Nope, the dude remembers and she doesn't even do the take-bra-off-without-taking-shirt-off trick that all girls know.
But they DID commit to the idea that this dude is actually changing time, and that the ripples are unexpected and do all sorts of small shifts. That's neat. It's also very exciting and full of punching and explosions.
Worth a few more weeks.
5. Frequency - A cop finds out she can collaborate on crimes with her dead dad, also a cop, through their old HAM radio, but meddling with time has unforseen side effects.
Another make-a-neat-movie-into-a-show attempt, and it looks like a good one, so far. Seems like TV as a whole is finally figuring out how to do that right, which is great, because there's nothing worse than a movie you loved being ruined by a bad show, when all the show has to do is expand the story and tell more of it!
It's balanced, it's interesting, it's tense, and it's all-in--they're not leading us on with the time-shifting aspect of the show: they change everything by the end of the first episode!
The parallel times is a really cool thing. 1996 and 2016, she's older than her dad was back then, and the music defines each time frame really well. It's a cool dynamic.
Not too many comparisons with other time travel shows around, building-blocks-wise, though the thing with altering the ham radio box to send a message did seem a little like the watch-scratching in 12 Monkeys.
She remembers both timelines. One where her dad died, and one where he didn't, and they're very different; how many timelines can she hold in her head as they wind up being, basically, cross-time partners working the same case?
Another good week of new TV! What did you guys think about this week? What else did you watch? Share in the comments!
About the author
Samantha is a freelance writer, editor and book and TV reviewer. She's currently in gradschool and working on her first novel, and one day she'll rule to world. Or marry her TV. Whichever comes first. Follow! twitter.com/pirategirljack.