Robot Television Roundup
Welcome to the Robot Television Roundup. Sometimes there’s just too much television to cover, but the Robot Television Roundup is here to help. Inside you’ll find quick thoughts about episodes of our favorite television series that we just weren’t able to review, and maybe some quick news.
Ben & Kate
Jacob: There are a few new comedies airing this fall that I can get behind. Near the top of this shortlist is Fox’s Ben & Kate. The show, which aired it’s pilot online several weeks ago, follows a mismatched brother and sister as they help each other become better people. Half-hour pilots are difficult to judge (mainly because it is hard to set up the premise in so little time) but the fact that I liked being around the cast for those 30 minutes points towards a positive direction. If you’re looking for a new comedy this season, make sure to put Ben & Kate on the top of your watchlist.
Billy: I’ve got to agree with Jacob. I didn’t expect too much from Ben & Kate, but ended up amused at several points throughout the pilot. Nat Faxon is pretty hit or miss with me; sometimes he just hams it up a bit too much. But here he’s perfectly cast as the emotionally stunted brother to Dakota Johnson’s Kate. It also doesn’t hurt that Faxon has terrific chemistry with Maggie Elizabeth Jones, who plays Kate’s five-year-old daughter. Every scene with Faxon and Jones is a delight. Ben & Kate isn’t pushing any envelopes, but could be promising
Jacob: What do you get when you mix Annie’s Boobs from Community and Weed’s Justin Kirk? Apparently you get one of the few new shows where I differ from the critical consensus. NBC’s Animal Hospital has not be receiving the best review coming off of an early airing of its pilot, but I found it to be quite charming. I won’t go so far as to say it is one of the best freshman comedies, but it’s well worth a watch.
Billy: I haven’t seen this show yet. But look at that picture! Monkey wearing little, tiny, adorable scrubs. That’s… amazing.
Jacob: File this under “show to keep on your radar.” ABC’s Nashville is likely not a show you, as a GFBRobot reader, plan to watch. It’s centered on an aging country music star and does not include vampires or space ships. That said, my completely normal – and not at all creepy – love of Connie Britton, and high praise for Hayden Panettiere’s acting, have made it one of my most anticipated dramas of this Fall class. I mentioned the series in my previous post centered on ABC’s fall lineup. Hopefully a second push will give you the necessary motivation to tune in.
Jacob: Those of you who plan on watching the CW’s new series Arrow, should keep episode seven in the forefront of your mind. This episode will not only introduce the Huntress into the show’s universe, it will be written by DC’s own Geoff Johns. Comic fans will know Johns as DC’s premiere writer and Chief Creative Officer. The writer was also responsible fo the script for Smallville’s Justice Society episode.
Doctor Who: A Town Called Mercy
Billy: I rarely enjoy the Doctor Who episodes set in Earth’s past as much as I love the futuristic episodes. That said, A Town Called Mercy was probably my favorite of the three series seven Who episodes aired so far. Yeah, the plot was kind of cliche, and guest star Ben Browder didn’t have as much to do as I would have liked… but everything else was awesome. Awesome robot-alien cowboy, stunningly brilliant looking outdoor scenes (filmed on-location in Spain), plus some terrific characterization from Matt Smith as The Doctor, showing us the darker side of our stalwart Doctor, all add up to a wonderful episode.
Jim: There was a lot to enjoy this week, especially for Western geeks like myself. Seeing the Doctor back in the Wild West was a treat. It was fun to watch the very-British Whos take on the American frontier and tweaking the staples of the genre like the noble marshall, the man with the dark past and the nameless gunslinger marching into town. I won’t say it was an epic on the scale of Once Upon a Time in the West or anything, but there was a lot of fun, especially thanks to guest star Ben Browder.
The idea of the Doctor being too merciful by allowing his enemies to live and cause more trouble down the road is something most long-term serialized fiction needs to address from time to time. It’s the old “Why Doesn’t Batman Kill the Joker” argument. Unfortunately, Amy’s argument might not have been especially convincing (Donna Noble was better at making the Doctor address his own moral shortcomings) and the fact that the villain of the piece conveniently decided to commit suicide felt like a cheat at the end.
Billy: Jim will have a more detailed review of this pilot up soon. I thought that there is a lot of promise in the premise of Revolution, it’s just maligned by some questionable acting and a perhaps silly sci-fi contrivance for the world losing all forms of electrical power. The shady conspiracy of people who can use gaudy jewelry to make electricity again is intriguing, if not wholly sold by the pilot. It’s missing the effortless cool that creator Eric Kripke imbued into his other creation, Supernatural, but Jon Favreau’s direction helped with some really cool looking effects shots of wrecked cities. I’m sticking around for a few more episodes at least.
Boardwalk Empire: Resolution
Jim: In its third year, Boardwalk has to contend with the fact that they killed off the most interesting character at the end of last season. Jimmy’s presence is greatly missed, but it is nice to see his closest friend, Richard, get some degree of revenge for Angela at least. Nucky is definitely more comfortable as a gangster, casually ordering the execution of a thief in his first scene of the year.
The show is blessed with tons of interesting supporting characters. Even without Jimmy or the Commodore, there is still so much to enjoy from former fed Van Alden getting involved in the Chicago liquor scene to Richard’s bonding with his best friend’s son (and dealing with the ever creepy Gillian). New brutish villain Gyp Rosetti should drag Nucky more into the land of the gangster. Of course, the Thompson family drama was a significant drag on the other storylines, but we’ll have to see if all the pieces fit together and become better than the sum of its parts.