Last night at Comic-Con, we saw four of this fall’s most hotly awaited new TV shows. Which one will be your new obsession, and which will be the next epic disaster? Out of four new shows, one was pretty much as good as we expected, two were blah... and one was a nice surprise. Here’s our spoiler-free rundown.
If you like The Flash... then you’ll like Supergirl. It comes from the same team, after all, and it has the same sort of light feel that The Flash has (as opposed to the heavier Arrow). But if you’re looking for someone who’s brooding or upset about being a superhero, this is not a show for you.
Kara Zor-El is excited to use her powers, excited to be a superhero, and pretty much pissed at anyone who wants to belittle her in any way. Except for her boss in her day job, who’s mean pretty much all the time. Calista Flockheart is delving deep into Devil Wears Prada territory, and it works surprisingly well. She’s a funny mean person, as opposed to the people Kara meets while superheroing, who are dickish mean people.
As is usual for this particular group of showrunners, the casting is perfect. Melissa Benoist has a lot of emotions to play in this episode, and she’s just effervescent. Mehcad Brooks is a charming-as-hell Jimmy Olsen. And Chyler Leigh has great chemistry with her sister, thank god— since that relationship drives a lot of the pilot.
Nothing in this pilot is going to surprise anyone that much. It’s a standard origin story, with a few rocky moments (Kara’s friend Winn is fine as a friend, but when he wants to be more, it’s just uncomfortable) but... it’s a pilot. That stuff will be ironed out.
I so wish I had more to say about this show, but the pilot is entirely about the premise: The FBI find a woman with amnesia covered in tattoos which are clues to certain events. So the pilot has an agent whose name is tattooed on this Jane Doe, and he’s partnering with her to stop a terrorist plot—a plot involving a New York City landmark... which made me groan out loud.
The cast is solid, but the plot of the pilot is predictable as hell. In fact, the pilot wasn’t bad, but the only thing distinguishing it from a standard procedural was its tattooed-amnesiac gimmick. This show is going to live and die by its mysteries: Who is Jane Doe, why is she tattooed, and what does each tattoo mean? If the writers can’t come up with satisfactory answers to any of those questions, the show’s going to feel like a total waste of time.
Containment tells the story of an outbreak of a mystery virus in Atlanta, the attempts to figure out its origins, and the harsh quarantine enacted by the government in response.
The show’s greatest asset is its cast, which is large and diverse. Not a demographic goes unrepresented. Which is actually a good thing, since the show’s determined to examine every possible response to a disease outbreak, and it’s mostly effective at doing so. There’s a moment where a cop yells at his friend/superior for sending him to find Patient Zero, a mission that exposes him to the disease and gets him quarantined which is actually pretty great. It’s exactly the kind of flawed and real response that this show should be covering.
However, there are moments of drama that go a little too over the top to play well. Some moments of mortal peril had a fair amount of people in the audience at Comic-Con laughing, which isn’t a great sign. And there’s too many heavy-handed “we’ve got to trust the system,” “trust authority,” and “the doctors know what they’re doing” speeches in the pilot. It’s pretty obvious that we’re going to find out that none of this is true in the coming episodes. If there isn’t a government conspiracy, I’m going to be shocked.
I loved this stupid show. It aims hard for funny and camp—and nails it. If this show aimed for anything deeper, it’d be a mess. Instead, it’s hilarious.
Here’s the plot: Lucifer has abandoned Hell for a nightclub. In Los Angeles. And he tries to help someone (partly because he likes her, partly to prove he doesn’t have to be evil) and she’s murdered. This, in turn, puts Lucifer into the path of an actress-turned-cop, who is immune to his powers. So, of course, they team up to solve crime. Which is a problem for the Heaven-Hell balance, since now Lucifer’s flat out refusing to go do his job.
Things that shouldn’t work—an actress turned cop!—actually make sense in this show. My god, there’s a bit where a kid befriends the actual devil, and it’s amazing. HE GOES TO THERAPY. He goes around calling himself “Lucifer Morningstar,” a name so ridiculous that everyone just kind of shrugs and moves on.
The reason everything in this show works is because Tom Ellis is absolutely perfect as Lucifer. Pretty much all the comedic heavy lifting falls on him, and he knocks it out of the park. He’s mostly insouciant, but he can also be angry and contemplative. But it’s mostly how funny he is—in his mannerisms and line delivery—that made the pilot a delight. When the cop asks if Lucifer Morningstar is his stage name, he says it’s “God-given” with a perfectly knowing tone. The show’s written well enough, but he’s a star.
Oh, and the soundtrack is amazing.
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