US Pilot Season: The Worst New Shows

The battle for ratings in America means networks are always scrambling to find the next big hit.  It’s at this time of year that they roll out their new shows, hoping that viewers will switch over to them for the most important hours (ratings-wise) of the day.  But it’s only natural that some of those shows will end up being bad, and here are the six shows I think you need to avoid.

The New Normal (E4, TBC) – I really can’t overstate just how hateful I found The New Normal to be.  Created and written by Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler (Murphy created Glee, Adler is a writer for that show), the plot is that a gay couple (Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells) decide they want to have a baby, and pick Georgia (Goldie Clemmons) to be their surrogate.

The show is supposed to be a comedy, but it’s almost entirely devoid of laughs and comes with a host of unlikable characters, particularly Georgia’s grandmother Jane (Ellen Barkin) who is a horrifically unpleasant bigot who hates, well, everyone.  I’m very much of the opinion that anything can be funny, but Jane is just outright disgusting as a person and genuinely unpleasant to hear what she has to say.  I barely made it through the pilot episode, and would urge everyone to stay clear.

Go On – Is Matthew Perry having a new sitcom exciting?  In the case of Go On, not really, no.  Perry plays a sportscaster who is trying to get over the death of his wife, and isn’t doing that very well.  His bosses force him to go to grief counselling classes and he has personality clashes with the class leader.

The pilot of Go On isn’t terrible, it’s just not particularly interesting or funny.  However hard Perry tries, I still find myself thinking ‘He’s just being Chandler again’.  I realise that it’s unfair, but I don’t think he’s a particularly talented comedic actor and isn’t a charismatic enough lead to make Go On something I want to watch.

Revolution – Imagine how rubbish a world without electricity would be.  For one thing, you wouldn’t be able to read this wonderful article, because you wouldn’t be able to access the internet, but you wouldn’t be able to watch television, listen to music or shoot people in the face on Call Of Duty.

This is the world Revolution is set in; a couple of decades after an unexplained world-wide event stopped all electrical power.  It’s an interesting concept, but Revolution is really poorly written and feels like it’s stolen ideas from lots of more successful shows and tried to shoe-horn them in to a new one.  The pilot got very high ratings, but they have dropped consistently since, so it may be a show that never makes it to British television.

Arrow (Sky1, October 22nd) – Maybe Arrow just comes too soon for me, after I watched The Cape just a couple of months ago.  That was a massive superhero flop, but at least Arrow is based on an established comic book figure, DC’s Green Arrow.

Like Go On, it’s just a show I didn’t find particularly interesting or in this case, gripping.  Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is the son of a billionaire who returns home after being thought dead, having apparently developed superhero like qualities while stranded on a mysterious island.  The pilot episode is naturally used to establish his motives for becoming Arrow, and there are hints that members of his family may not be all that they appear.  It might get better, but the pilot is uninspiring.

The Mob Doctor – So hey, guess what The Mob Doctor is a show about?  As you’ve probably already guessed, The Mob Doctor is a show about a doctor that works for the mob!  Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) is the doctor in question, forced to do medical favours for the mob to pay off her brother’s debts.

In the pilot episode, she’s ordered to kill a man set to testify against a mob boss during an operation, something she is loathe to do.  The show has a decent idea, but it’s terribly managed.  It’s badly cast, badly written and extremely predictable.  The producers inexplicably hired Michael Rapaport as a ‘menacing’ bad guy, and Grace is very irritating and hard to route for.  The show airs on Fox, who are notorious for being very prompt when it comes to cancelling shows, and with ratings dropping each week, it’s not likely to last into November, and that is no surprise.

Chicago Fire (Sky Living, October 24th) – Does TV land really need another show about the lives of fire-fighters?  NBC thinks so, and have allowed producer Dick Wolf (Law & Order) to get to work on Chicago Fire.  The results?  Dreadful.

I found myself rolling my eyes at a worrying rate during the pilot of Chicago Fire, with so many moments in it feeling so familiar from various TV shows, and not just those about fire-fighters.  It immediately sets up tension in the ranks as one fire-fighter dies during a seemingly routine house fire, but has so many ‘Really?’ moments that it’s impossible to take it seriously.  The new guy asks out a hot ambulance worker, only to discover she’s a lesbian, and one of the main characters smokes cigars AND has a drug habit.  There’s no drama at all in Chicago Fire, and it plays out like a lazy remake of Backdraft.  Don’t waste your time.

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