Hey guys I’m back again with another edition of Fall Pilot Reactions. This week I’ll be delving into reactions from the pilot episodes of shows introduced in Part II of Cadence and I’s Trailer Reactions which you can find here. You can also find Parts I, III and IV here, here and here . Also, if you would like to catch up on Part 1 of this article, you can find it here. If you haven’t had a chance to read Part II of Trailer Reactions or, you’ve just forgotten, the shows are Perfect Harmony, Carol’s Second Act, Sunnyside, Evil, The Unicorn, The Politician, Bless The Harts and Godfather of Harlem.
First up is Perfect Harmony. If you remember I said “I’ll be checking this show out for sure” and I’m sure glad I did. We are first introduced to a church choir that can't really sing. Enter Dr Arthur Cochran (Bradley Whitford), who could be the saviour the choir needs. Arthur has no mental filter and is so funny. The choir is made up of Ginny (Anna Camp) who hilariously calls goosebumps “chicken skin”. Will Greenberg is Wayne, Ginny's ex and father to Cash (Spencer Allport). Then there’s Dwayne (Geno Segers), who has a crush on Ginny, but is scared to pursue it, until Arthur steps in.
The rival choir pastor, Pastor Magnus, is played by John Carrol Lynch (who you may remember is Twisty and Mr Jingles in American Horror Story); his choir usually wins the competition every year. Through the course of pilot, Arthur diagnoses Cash’s dyslexia, and is invited to stay on to help the group beat Pastor Magnus. The best line for me was “it’s like Darth Vader ate Mufasa”, in reference to Dwayne’s amazing singing voice. I was laughing almost immediately, and continued throughout the pilot. The old school reference just make this show for me, and the show is very Pitch Perfect-esque. So if you like musical movies and shows like Glee, then Perfect Harmony should be right up your alley. Loving this show more than I was expecting to. Looking forward to the choir taking down their rival.
Next up is, Carols Second Act, and Patricia Heaton's return to TV. I said “I’ll definitely be checking this show out”. We get a round of applause for Carol (Heaton), as she starts her first day as a doctor. Her colleagues are Daniel (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Lexie (Sabrina Jalees) and Caleb (Lucas Neff). They all assume that she is the chief resident, and everything Carol says alludes to that fact. After some old people jokes (which I’m not really a fan of), the actual Chief Resident, Dr Maya Jacobs (Ito Aghayere), arrives, and she takes an instant disliking to Carol. We also get a glimpse of Nurse Dennis played by Cedric Yarborough ( who will always be JJ’s carer from Speechless to me).
Throughout the pilot, we are also introduced to Dr Stephen Frost (Kyle MacLachlan), who seems to have a history with Caleb, which I’m sure will be explored more in coming episodes. The pilot is filled with funny millennial jokes, which is a good contrast from the old people jokes. For her three colleagues, Carol, is like their mother, giving them advice and her unique perspective, that only comes with experience. Towards the end of the episode, we are introduced to Jenny (Ashley Tisdale), Carol's daughter, who is a pharmaceutical rep. Daniel takes an immediate liking to her, but Carol, puts her foot down and forbids him from approaching her daughter. I like this show but I don’t love it. I’ll continue watching not just because of Heaton, but seeing if the comedy can get better and keep me coming back.
Sunnyside is next, I said “I’ll check out the pilot”. Well. I did, and I thought the subject matter was just too serious for a comedy. Garret Modi (Kal Penn), is a disgraced councilman, finding it hard to get a job after losing his council position. His sister, Mallory (Kiran Deol), brings some laughs, but their relationship seems a little forced and comes off as disingenuous. Modi eventually gets a job helping a group of people get their citizenship. The group consists of Hakim (Samba Schutte), Griselda (Diana-Maria Riva), Brady (Moses Jacob Storm), Jun Ho (Joel Kim Booster) and Mei Lin (Poppy Liu). I’m trying really hard to laugh, but the stereotypes just aren’t funny (An immigrant with heaps of jobs. Millennials not wanting to do any work and their father pays everyone off. Politicians who drink and party and get kicked out of office). I did plan on watching on this show eventually, but while writing this article, I found out the show had been cancelled. I will leave it up to you as the reader to make your mind up if you want to watch the show beyond the pilot.
Evil is up next, my initial impression was, “I’ll be tuning in to see how this show develops its main characters”. We are introduced to Orson (Darren Pettie), a suspected serial killer. He allegedly killed three families brutally, but claims he blacked out during the supposed killings. Next, we are shown the court side of the show, it looks like Dr Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), works for the DA’s office. David Acosta (Mike Colter), seems to be a defence expert, who claims Orson is being possessed by a demon called Roy. Bouchard starts to quote the bible, and it seems like Roy takes over and starts speaking Latin. D.A Lewis Cormier (Danny Burstein), tries to persuade Bouchard to lie on the stand, by paying her off, but she refuses.
Then we are shown Bouchard’s home life. She has four daughters, Lila (Skylar Gray), Lynn (Brooklyn Shuck), Lexis (Maddy Crocco), and Laura (Dalya Knapp). It’s nice to see the contrast, between Kristen’s work and home life. Her children are looked after by her mother, Sheryl (Christine Lahti), while she is at work. Kristen is then poached by Acosta, who we find out is an assessor for the Catholic Church. Then we see the intro, which is remnant of The Good Wife and The Good Fight intros. Bouchard is then hired by the Catholic Church, to distinguish between people who are possessed and those who are actually insane. Bouchard then has a vivid dream (night terror), it contains a demon named George (Marti Matulis), who kind of reminded me of Freddy Krueger.
Bouchard is also seeing a psychologist, Dr Kurt Boggs played by Kurt Fuller (The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, Supernatural, Psych). Bouchard uses a trick in her sleep by writing on a piece of paper and trying to read it. In your dreams, you can’t read, so this helps her escape George. While possessed, Orson (or is it Roy ?!?), knows who George is but it looks like Dr Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), steal her doctors notes and that how Roy find out. Leland has different guises, but he seems to encourage people to be evil. Dr Townsend is a true psychopath, and Emerson is so deliciously evil in this role. Orson is proved to be faking the blackout, and emails on his wife’s computer proves he talked about an insanity plea and even faked speaking Latin. I’m looking forward to continue watching this show because I want to see how the story develops and whether Bouchard will become a believer.
Now, The Unicorn. I said “I’ll be checking this out to see if the show can continue to stay funny and not drop off after a few episodes”. Wade's (Walton Goggins), wife died a year ago, and his friends want to do something about him still being single. He seems to be comfortable with his life, and has a new routine, without his wife. He is so oblivious, now that he’s a widower, that women are cracking onto him. Wade gets down to his last meal and he realises that his wife is actually gone and things are going to have to change. I watched this show with a smile on my face. Wade is so hesitant about getting back into the dating game, but he has his friends to give him a push. I love the dynamic with Delia and Forrest (Michaela Watkins and Rob Corddry). Wade has two daughters. Grace (Ruby Jay), is on board with her Dad dating. His other daughter, Natalie (Makenzie Moss), isn’t happy initially, but by the end of the episode, she understands that her Dad needs to move on.
He has his first date is with Danielle, played by Bianca Kajlich, (she will always be Jen from Rules of Engagement). Danielle thinks Wade is married until he tells her that his wife died in the middle of the whole restaurant. She invites him back to her place, and he is oblivious at first. I loved the pilot and look forward to Wade trying to get back into dating and how everyone develops in the coming episodes.
Next up, the first Netflix series, and bingeable show, The Politician, which I said “I’ll be watching Murphy’s debut on Netflix and will most likely binge it.” We get the typical Ryan Murphy narration, like in Glee or American Horror Story. The intro is also weird, which is again Murphy and Co, putting their spin on it. Astrid Sloan (Lucy Boynton), reminds me of Emma Roberts. Then we have River Barkley (David Corenswet), who is running against Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), who is the star of The Politician. Payton does his speeches like he’s actually running for President of the United States. He is so over the top and dramatic, just like a lot of Murphy’s characters. Payton’s girlfriend is Alice Charles (Julia Schlaepfer), who for me, sounds like Billie Lourd.
Payton wants to win so he seeks to have Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutsch), as his running mate because she has cancer. We are then introduced to Dusty Jackson (Jessica Lange), who uses Infinity’s illness to get a table at a restaurant. Infinity keeps telling Payton no to being his running mate. Georgina Hobart (Gwyneth Paltrow) is also introduced as Payton’s adoptive Mum, and she is also an artist. I find the show a bit slow at times but hopefully it finds its feet eventually.
River kills himself and everyone blames Payton. The Politician's themes include how millennials see the world these days. Payton sings at River's funeral and brings everyone to tears. Payton needs Infinity, so Alice comes up with terms for a fake breakup. Payton seems like a sociopath where he doesn’t show emotion or cry when big things happen to him. He uses the death of River and the fake breakup with Alice to get Infinity as his running mate. At the end of the episode, Payton is told Infinity is scamming everyone about having cancer. The show reminds me of the first season of The Act. I’ll be watching the rest of the season at some point but I’m in no hurry.
Switching gears now to the new original animation series, Bless The Harts, which I said “I’ll be giving this show a watch, but I’ll drop it after my three-episode rule if it doesn’t use its impressive voice cast to their full potential.” The show is created by Emily Spivey (Up All Night) and executive produced by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (The Last Man on Earth). The series follows the Hart family, Jenny (voiced by Kristen Wiig), her daughter, Violet (Jilian Bell), Jenny's sister, Betty (Maya Rudolph), and Jenny's boyfriend, Wayne (Ike Barinholtz). Additional characters include, Wayne’s friend, Leonard played by Gary Anthony Williams ( Whose Line, Boston Legal, I’m Sorry). Fortune Feimster (Life in Pieces, The Mindy Project) plays Brenda, one of Jenny’s co-workers. Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, Franklin & Bash) plays Jesus, who appears as a figment of Jenny's imagination and acts as her conscience.
The pilot revolves around Jenny selling hug n bug dolls to make money and Betty unwittingly buying them back. I'm loving the humour in the first episode with the hug n bugs doll advertisements. It’s a show I’m not rushing to watch again straightaway but I do want to come back to it, eventually. Unlike Family Guy, Robot Chicken and Bob's Burgers, which I watch every week. I did enjoy the show more than I was expecting to, especially with what the trailer showed me.
Finally we have Godfather of Harlem, which I said “I’ll be ABSOLUTELY checking this show out. I’m interested to see how the story unfolds and develops.” It’s March 1963, and Bumpy Johnson (Forest Whittaker) is getting out of prison after serving time for a narcotics rap.
The series revolves around two rival gangs for the heroin trade in New York in the 1960s. Bumpy's crew is made up Del Chance played by Eric LaRay Harvey (One Dollar, Marvels Luke Cage, Boardwalk Empire) and his driver, Nat Pettigrew played by Elvis Nolasco (Claws, American Crime). The other gang is run by Vincent 'Chin' Gigante (Vincent D’Onofrio). Richie Zambrani (Louis Cancelmi) is Chin’s cousin who runs Harlem. Stella (Lucy Fry) is Chin’s daughter, who is sleeping with Teddy Greene (Kelvin Harrison Jr), against her Dad's wishes. There is also Giancarlo Esposito played be Adam Clayton Powell Jr, who is a Congressman and running against Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch).
In the pilot, Bumpy get out of prison and heads straight back into business, but is met with a lot of changes. Frank Costello (Paul Sorvino) is an old school boss who doesn’t think Bumpy can put things back to the way they were before he went to prison. The Genovese family controls Bumpy's spot so Bumpy and Malcolm are working together to take down the suppliers of the heroin. Bumpy hustles Malcolm X trying to get a piece of the Genovese family action. Meanwhile, Stella and Teddy steal a kilo, so they can start a new life together.
The music is so important in this show, which you can hear in the background of most scenes. Songs like It’s All Right by The Impressions, Hallelujah (which was written just for the show) and the intro scene has Just in Case playing with a montage of old school people with the characters on the show. John Ridley (Guerilla) directed the first episode, which explains a lot of the creative choices. I’m looking forward to seeing Bumpy work his way up and take out his competition, along the way.
Have you had a chance to check out any of the pilot’s mentioned in this article? What did you think? Did you agree/ disagree with my reactions? Please feel free to have a say in the comment section below. I look forward to bringing you the next edition of Trailer Reactions alongside Cadence, next week. See you then.
Written by TimDavidCasey on Oct 21, 2019