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Last Week in TV - Week of September 19 - Reviews and Awards

Hello and welcome to the first week of the fall season here at Last Week in TV. With the pilots coming fast and furious this week, I didn't have time to get out an e-mail to those interested in writing for the column. I will do that by the end of this week for sure. If you are interested, please note that our guest writers last year already claimed the following shows, mostly since they did them last year too: Quantico, Prison Break, Criminal Minds, Jane the Virgin, Lucifer, Modern Family, SHIELD, and 12 Monkeys. I review Elementary, Scorpion, The Flash, FOtB, TBBT, Code Black, The Blacklist, Supernatural, iZombie, The 100, H2GAwM, The Goldbergs, Into the Badlands, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Teen Wolf, Younger, Killjoys, Stitchers, The Librarians, The Shannara Chronicles, Wynonna Earp, and new shows until I drop them. Sorry I didn't post these last week. If anyone would like to change the show they volunteered to review, please just fill out the form again with the new show or leave a comment below. Also if you didn't get a chance to fill out the short form below and want to, it will be open until Saturday.

Next week, I will begin nominated episodes. Thanks so much for all the great suggestions already. I won't review anything I've already reviewed before like The 100, of which I have reviewed every episode, or any show that our guest reviewers already cover. However, everything else is game. I especially love when shows I have never heard of are nominated, which is how I got to know k-dramas last year. Until next week, don't forget to leave a comment about your TV week and happy viewing!

Episode of the Week (tie)

Designated Survivor - 1.01 - Pilot

Now that was an engaging pilot. The story starts right off with a fun family conversation interrupted by an explosion. It then uses the flashback to help flesh out the future First Family. It's an overused strategy these days but it really worked here. What didn't work were the unnecessary side plots like the son being a drug dealer or the possibility of a military coup already. If the military ends up being behind the bombing, I give up but you can bet your politically correct sensibilities that it won't be any of the usual suspects. My running bet is homegrown terrorist. What does really work is the acting and the pacing primarily. This would be a fiasco in lighter hands, but Kiefer Sutherland nails the slightly nebbish professor look and mannerisms with just a touch of calculated president spilling out to buy that he might actually make a decent Commander-in-Chief. It's a softer side of the usual roles he plays and yet he still can deliver a set down like no one's business. On the flip side, we don't get much in the way of Maggie Q in this episode and even less of a glimpse at her character, especially since she's stuck in the political thriller part of the episode. I do hope that her path crosses with Tom's sooner rather than later. Either way, it's just nice to have her back.

Grade: B+
Ranking: 5
Audience - anyone who likes a good underdog story or who loves political thrillers
Bottom Line - It's a tie between Designated Survivor and This is Us for my favorite pilot so far.

Best Reason to Watch - the acting but the overall story building was great too
Best Scene - while I'm tempted to go with the meeting with the ambassador, in the end I think the awkward conversation between Tom and Seth in the bathroom nudges it out for the reactions alone
Best Teamwork - Tom and Alex
Best Opening - family conversation interrupted by tragedy
Best Snark - Mike
Most Cliché - for once it would be nice if the military weren't portrayed as power hungry idiots
Most Impressive - Tom's handling of the Iranian ambassador
Worst Turn of Events - Leo is a drug dealer. Fantastic.
Smartest Person Around - Hannah, who realizes that this bombing doesn't fit
Biggest What the Heck - nothing like being suddenly promoted to President on the day you find out the President is going to fire you
Most Real Reaction - Tom realizes just what he's now into and vomits
The "Welcome Back" Award - Kiefer Sutherland from 24 / Maggie Q from Nikita and Stalker / Kevin McNally from Supernatural / Arjay Smith from Perception

Best Quotes -
1. Alex: "Tom, you can't do that. You can't make promises that you won't be able to keep." Tom: "We're in Washington. They're the only promises we're allowed to make."
2. Tom: "You really think I should step down?" Seth: "I do." Tom: "You may be right but for now I'm all you've got and you have exactly 52 minutes to write a speech convincing the American people that that's a good thing."
3. Tom: "Mr. Ambassador, you may not know much about me. What you should know is that I'm about as straight a shooter as you're gonna find in Washington so you should believe me when I tell you that I do not want as my first act as Commander-in-Chief to attack Iran, but as both of us know, it's not always up to us how history plays itself out. Now I have chosen to believe that your country is not playing on our emotions tonight, but nevertheless, you will feel the full impact of them if you do not comply with my demands. Mr. Ambassador, dock your destroyers or the lead story on the morning news will not be about the attack on our Capitol but the devastating attack on yours. Please Mr. Ambassador, let's not get off on the wrong foot here tonight."
4. Tom: "You still on my side?" Alex: "I'm always on your side, Mr. President."
5. Seth: "Sir, tonight you're speaking to the world. America doesn't need another friend right now. You can't be relaxed or disarming. That's not going to work anymore. Mr. President, you need to be stronger than you've ever been before. We all need that right now."

This is Us - 1.01 - Pilot

It's not often that a TV show surprises me and even less in its pilot, but This is Us has one heck of a great twist right at the end that seemed to come out of nowhere but made perfect sense in hindsight. As such, it's a show I would strongly advise not getting spoilers about because it could lessen your enjoyment of the pilot, which is one of the better ones I've seen this season. If it can manage to keep up the heart and humor and pacing, it might actually be a contender for best new show of the season for me when the I was noticeably cool to it beforehand. The show is a strong character piece (whereas I am usually a plot-driven viewer) but it smoothly intertwines the diverse characters and holds just enough humor to keep it from falling off a pathos cliff. Equally important is the fact that all the main characters are given at least one great scene to shine in. No one felt shafted or like they were filler. All in all, I would recommend giving this one a shot. It might just surprise you as much as it surprised me.

Grade: B+
Ranking: 4
Audience - people who are character driven and who like a show that will tug at their heartstrings
Bottom Line - this is the first to join my weekly viewing

Best Reason to Watch - good storytelling that weaves in so many pieces so seamlessly that they all still flow together
Best Scene - the twist at the end
Best Character Interaction - Kate and Kevin
Best Teamwork - Randall and Beth, who takes turns watching each of their girls play soccer (well one play and the other braid hair on the field)
Best Humor - tie - Dr. K and Toby
Best Cameos - Alan Thicke and Mario Lopez
Best Doctor Ever - Dr. K
Best Husband - Jack for making his very pregnant wife feel beautiful
Best Wife - Beth, who barely blinks before accepting her husband's biological father into their house
Best Entrance - Dr. K
Worst Nostalgia - Challenger explosion. I was in middle school and watched it explode too.
Worst Show - The Man-ny
Most Trusting - Randall doesn't even do a background check on his deadbeat dad or verify that he is indeed dying before letting him stay around awhile
Most Soul-Crushing - Kevin gives the performance of his career only to be told that they need to make the scene comedic instead of dramatic
Most in Need of a New hobby - Jack's mom whose knitting sucks big time
Bravest Character - Randall, who confronts the birth father that left him at a fire station the day he was born
Biggest Awww Moment - Dr. K tells Jack his background and gives him a pep talk
Biggest Meltdown - there's a lot to choose from but Kevin wins for doing it in front of a studio audience
Biggest Melodrama - dying dad
Biggest Huh That's Slightly Resolved in the End - Why is Rebecca not having a c-section from the start?
The "Get Over It" Award - Since when is 36 so old that everyone who turns that age must have a midlife crisis? These days 36 should be considered young.
The "Shameless Tease" Award - the butt shot in the preview is not a part of the pilot, and I'm perfectly fine with that

Best Quotes -
1. Randall: "I came here today so that I could look you in the eye, say that to you, and then get back in my fancy a** car and finally prove to myself and to you and to my family who loves me that I didn't need a thing from you even after I knew who you were." William: "You want to come in." Randall: "Okay."
2. Rebecca: "Oh baby. Oh, I'm sorry for anything I'm gonna say in the next 2 hours. I mean none of it." Jack: "You're gonna mean some of it." Rebecca: "Very little of it."
3. Kevin: "Actually Casey, it's not your fault, brother. It's not the writers' fault the show is so bad and it's sooo bad! It's not the network's fault for airing it. It's you guys. Why are you watching this stuff? It's your fault for demanding so little of us that we settle. I can't feel my face right now, but you know what? I knew exactly what this job was when I took it. Shame on me for taking the money. Shame on you for making me famous. Shame on all of us!"
4. Dr. K: "I can't run wind sprints as fast as I used to, but my faculties are otherwise completely intact. There are days that I wish they weren't because then I would retire and spend my remaining days doing something more glamorous than pulling 8 lb. objects out of women's vaginas. But until that time, I keep showing up here every day. Alright, I'm also aware I'm a complete stranger to ya' and this is the biggest moment of your life." Rebecca: "Yeah, yeah." Dr. K: "Alright, honey, listen to me. I am the best of the best and I swear to you on the lives of my children and my grandchildren that I am up to the task. Alright?" Rebecca: "Okay." Dr. K: "Alright."
5. Toby: "Boy, these people haaatttteee me." Kate: "Well you kind of crossed the line." Toby: "Nyeah, you laughed." Kate: "That's because I live across the line."

Guest Reviews

Lucifer - 2.01 - Everything's Coming Up Lucifer
BY Laura Markus

I thought this was a great premiere and a perfect return into the world of Lucifer. The introduction of Ella was adorable, and the short tease of Mom was spectacular. The writing was on point, the humour was there, the acting, the soundtrack, everything really came together. They also gave a lot of teases of things I hope can be resolved in the future. I'm looking forward to this season a great deal!

Grade: B+

Best Scene - Lucifer singing All Along the Watchtower & the montage that accompanied it.
Best Reason to Watch - A great return to form for everyone + new characters and dynamics.
Funniest Moment - Lucifer's door greeting. "Hello, murderer." That had me in tears.
The "Oh, Snap!" Award - Amenadiel's powers going down. What's causing this? I really hope it gets resolved soon.
Biggest Close Call Moment - Lucifer showing his "devil side", right in front of Chloe. You're lucky she wasn't looking or she could've seen everything.
The "Please, Do Something" Award - Dan. One of my biggest wishes for him was to have some kind of storyline that doesn't involve Chloe or Trixie. I really need that from him.
Most Interesting Character Moment - Lucifer at the addicts' meeting. It was nice to see him open up.
Best New Character - Ella, only because we haven't seen enough Mom yet. Spoiler: she'll get this for next week.

Modern Family - 8.01 - The Tale of Three Cities
BY Laura Markus

In short, I didn't enjoy this episode. I didn't find much of it funny and I didn't appreciate a lot of the writing. The best part about the episode was seeing Sonia again. I thought Cam and Mitch's storyline had potential but all they did was bicker. Add to that the endless gay jokes which, after 8 seasons, are still not funny, well. I just hope the rest of the episodes are better than this one.

Grade: C-

Best Scene - Sonia and Gloria embracing.
Best Reason to Watch - Uh, your favourite characters are back?
Saddest Scene - Phil wishes Luke could be there with him.
Funniest Moment - Sonia abducting Manny and Gloria and Jay not even caring.
Best Callback - Luke, Haley, and Alex mention hearing the people in the room next to them having loud sex. Oh, those poor kids...
Most Cringeworthy Scene - Mitch exclaiming, "Just drop it" as they are lowering Cam's grandmother into the ground.
The "Welcome Back" Award - Stephanie Beatriz as Sonia, and most of Cam's family.

New Shows

Bull - 1.01 - Pilot

If you don't like procedurals, there is nothing here that is going to interest you. It does offer a glimpse into the defense side of the judicial system unlike most crime shows, but other than that, it is fairly typical. Plus you don't even get the satisfaction of watching the guilty get their just punishment. It wouldn't be surprising if in some cases the guilty go free or the murder is never resolved. This is strictly about using psychology to work the system. Think of it as the procedural How to Get Away with Murder where not every character is a despicable person and the crimes take place out of the office. This pilot gives decent background on Bull, as misfortunate a name as they could have given him since the psychology is bull theme is definitely present. Sadly that revelation comes from a one-shot character, who also knows a thing or two about psychology for…um, reasons. The secondary characters are pretty much interchangeable at this point or differentiated by their jobs. There's no real personality there yet, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There is time to flesh out the rest. Mostly this will play to the NCIS crowd, which makes up Michael Weatherly's fan base already. He even gives us Rule #1.

Grade: C
Ranking: 2+
Audience - people who like crime shows but are tired of only getting the police side of the story
Bottom Line - it gets 1 more episode to impress

Best Reason to Watch - it offers the opposite side of the story to the typical crime procedural
Best Scene - Bull convinces Brandon to NOT take the deal
Worst Parent - Taylor's mom, who beats out the deadbeat parents of the kid on trial
Most Shameless Product Placement - Arby's
Most Squicky - Taylor's dad had sex with Brandon. It might not technically be pedophilia since Brandon is 18 but the age difference between them is enough to thoroughly creep me out. He's your daughter's age! Blech!
Least Surprising - crazy mom is the killer
Biggest Exposition Piece - Bess, who neatly tells us that Bull's talents come from a troubled past
The "Welcome Back" Award - Michael Weatherly of NCIS fame / Frederick Weller from In Plain Sight / Freddy Rodriguez from The Night Shift

Best Quotes -
1. Bull: "Hey, don't give up on people. They're all we've got."
2. Marissa: "Are we wasting time or is this teambuilding?"
3. Bull: "Rule #1, the client is the enemy."
4. Brandon: "You're supposed to be on my side." Bull: "I may be the only one who is."

Kevin Can Wait - 1.01 - Pilot

If the first TV sin is to bore me, the second one is a laughless comedy. While I get that comedies need time to develop their rhythm and characters just like any other new show, their pilots do have to have something that either sets them apart or hooks the audience. Kevin Can Wait's pilot does neither. I have zero idea how a man with 3 kids still in school can retire on a public servant's salary. I have even less idea how a man that old can be such a child. His poor wife. Still the biggest groan came from the college aged daughter who is dropping out to support her boyfriend, who may become the most annoying character of them all. All in all, there is not much to recommend this show for even one more episode much less putting it on my TV schedule. At this point, the high point is that it was not quite as bad as the Dr. Ken pilot last year and that one's still around.

Grade: D
Ranking: 1+
Audience - anyone who is willing to give this formulaic comedy time to find its feet
Bottom Line - dropped

Best Reason to Watch - Donna
Best Scene - the family finds out the daughter is dropping out of law school
Best Reference - Lance Armstrong
Worst Plan Ever - dropping out of school to support your boyfriend's dream
Worst Name - Go Balls
Most Gruesome - the cake celebrating Kevin's first homicide investigation, complete with severed head
Most Enthusiastic - Donna
Most/Least Helpful - the firefighter who wants to change the smoke alarm mid family argument
Most Fun - go-cart paintball racing
The "Welcome Back" Award - Kevin James from King of Queens / Taylor Spreitler from Melissa & Joey / Ryan Cartwright from Bones

Best Quotes -
1. Kendra: "I got my old job back at the diner and I'm dropping out of school to support Chale until he makes it big." Donna: "Honey, that's not a plan,. That is literally every stripper's back story."
2. Kendra: "Guys, he's a visionary. He wants to change the world." Kevin: "Well you know what, I want to go on tour with Taylor Swift but I don't know her and I don't play guitar." Donna: "And in your mind those are the only things holding you back." Kevin: "To be continued."
3. Kendra: "Please, please, be careful. He's sensitive." Kevin: "Oh yeah, where? Cause that's exactly where I want to punch him."

Lethal Weapon - 1.01 - Pilot

Like MacGyver, this is the 2016-2017 TV season's version of a summer blockbuster. The cars get chased, the explosions happen, and the dialogue is snarky fun. It's not going to change the world, but it will pass an hour enjoyably. The Riggs' character is suitably tragic and therefore more developed in the pilot, but the show throws a good twist into Murtaugh's character too by adding a well-paid defense attorney wife (surely to be a plot point later) and a new baby at his age. There's reasonable chemistry between the two leads, which is good because Lethal Weapon will live and die by its bromance. In fact, that and a quickly moving plot are the biggest draws to this procedural. If you only have room in your TV schedule for one popcorn show, this one had the better pilot, slightly edging out MacGyver.

Grade: B-
Ranking: 4
Audience - anyone who wants a quick paced action procedural with good, snarky banter in the bromance
Bottom Line - I'll definitely watch the next 2 episodes

Best Reason to Watch - all the lovely action
Best Scene - Murtaugh with his daughter
Best Entrance - Murtaugh comes flying through the window in Riggs' truck
Best Reference/Biggest Incongruity - Riggs whistling the Andy Griffith Show theme song while toting a huge gun
Best Plan - shooting your partner
Worst Karma - bad guy gets hit by a bus
Most Unbelievable - the cops end up in the Grand Prix
Most Specific - Riggs' description of how he would kill himself with a gun
Biggest Understatement - Murtaugh (to Riggs before he jumps onto the criminal's car) : "That's not smart."
The "Are You Kidding Me?" Award - Seriously show, we're starting off with a car crash of a pregnant woman? Way to ease into the depressing.

Best Quotes -
1. Murtaugh: "I just met that man, okay? This kind of crazy takes years to develop."
2. Riggs: "I'm here for the kid." Tibibian: "What kid?' Riggs: "Ramon Alvarez's son. Unless you've got other kidnapped children here. In which case, I'll take them as well."
3. Riggs: "Or we can explore option #2." Tibibian: "Which is?" Riggs: "Oooh, well that's the one where I kill as many of you as I can before you take me out and then you up your profile from small-time dealer to cop killer. Then you spend the rest of your life in prison or on the run, most likely dead. I'm not saying that it's a great option but people like choices."
4. Riggs (after their suspect is hit by a bus): "What? I didn't kill him."

MacGyver - 1.01 - Pilot

Let's face it. MacGyver is not going to win any awards and therein lies its strength. It's not trying to be anything more than a high action, fast-paced adrenaline show. There's the requisite snarky sidekick played by George Eads, who will turn out to be more softie and less player as the show goes on. There's the equally snarky geek whiz kid, whose tech swagger is only outmatched by her common sense. Finally a tech geek that knows when to use the code and when to use the hammer, literally. Too bad MacGyver himself isn't as well-developed as these two. He comes off as too young with too much baby-face appeal for me. I liked that the original Mac was older and wiser, often using his experience as much as his science savvy to get the job done. This one plays more like a member of Scorpion than someone with actual background baggage. They both have the Boy Scout - American hero thing going and I think that this Mac will grow on me because the sheer explosion/fight count is enough for this one to be penciled into my TV watching schedule.

Grade: C+
Ranking: 4
Audience - anyone who likes the hijinks of Scorpion and who stuck around past the Rush Hour pilot because it was fun
Bottom Line - it has me for 2 more episodes for sure

Best Reason to Watch - it's high octane popcorn fun
Best Scene - the original heist
Best Character - Jack, followed shortly by Riley
Best Quick Change - MacGyver from partygoer to waiter
Best Retention from the Original - the music
Best Twist - Nikki isn’t dead. She's a double agent.
Best Blackmail - making Nikki choose between living and betraying her employers or dying
Biggest Non-Product Placement - saying adhesive instead of duct tape
Biggest Question - Why didn't Jack disable the other boats so they couldn't be chased in a getaway?
Biggest Change Needed - drop the voiceovers
Biggest Say What? - the villains didn't hear the helicopter right on top of them or see Mac drop into the truck
Least Surprising - Nikki gets shot / Nikki breaks out
Most Impossible - the entire plane thing nudges out the ability to find the guy who has hidden from every watch list in 5 seconds
Most Cheesy Line - Nikki: "You were always the hero, Mac. Not me."
Time to First Explosion - 10:25
The "Welcome Back" Award - Vinnie Jones from Galavant / George Eads from CSI / Tracy Spiridakos from Revolution / Justin Hires from Rush Hour

Best Quotes -
1. Jack: "Could we not take bets on what's probably going to get us killed?"
2. Mac: "Oops." Jack: "Oops? Oops like I just stubbed my toe or oops like I just may have started the zombie apocalypse?"
3. Jack: "Because you're a bad guy, I'm gonna reserve my right not to believe anything that you say."
4. Jack: "How come you never flirt with me like that?" Nikki: "Because I don't have a daddy fixation." Jack: "Fair enough."
5. Riley: "Is it gonna be dangerous?" Mac: "Our last analyst was murdered 3 months ago." Riley: "Not the ideal recruitment slogan."

Notorious - 1.01 - Pilot

This may or may not work with the Shondaland crowd given its emphasis on morally grey (read: douchey) characters and overabundance of bed hopping. It doesn't work for me. I did enjoy how it weaved the procedural into the serial, providing both a one-off case and one that looks to be staying for the season…if the show lasts that long. The leads also have very good chemistry. Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata have a natural charm that oozes off the screen and magnifies in their scenes together. Sadly though, both characters also land more on the obnoxious side of the board and it's quite frankly toxic the way the two scheme together to manipulate the public. Here's hoping the #1 thing viewers take away from this is that there is no such thing as an unbiased media anymore. If they do, the story will serve some purpose. It's certainly not to root for any of the characters because they are all self-absorbed and appalling in their own way.

Grade: C-
Ranking: 2-
Audience - people who loves soaps and a mystery and morally challenged characters
Bottom Line - in a heavy TV rotation this year, I will be hard pressed to give this even another episode to improve

Best Reason to Watch - it's a cautionary tale on believing the media
Best Scene - the countdown to exposing Julia's ex
Best Confrontation - Julia tells Eric that she knows about his prostitutes
Best Opportunist - the counterfeiter
Best Cameo - Katie Couric
Best Twist - Sarah was totally using Jake for a defense strategy
Best Revenge - blackmail
Worst Revenge - urinating on the neighbor's lawn
Worst Plan (story) - taking cocaine out of your client's car for them at the police station
Worst Plan (writers) - making Bradley look like a complete incompetent idiot to puff up the Jake character
Biggest Douche who is Not Sleeping with a Lead - Councilman Jake
Biggest Show Theme - adultery
Least Surprising - the wife killed the kid
Most Surprising - the wife is dead at the end of the episode
Most Qualified to be a Stalker - Ryan
Most Undervalued - Bradley
Most Weasely but Possibly Most Sympathetic if He's Not Evil - Levi
The "Unnecessarily Complicated Back Story" Award - Jake and the client's wife had a thing before she married the client
The "You've Got a Point" Award - I have no doubt that Ella would have used Ryan in the exact same way if she had the chance
The "Welcome Back" Award - Piper Perabo from Covert Affairs / Daniel Sunjata from Graceland / Kevin Zegers from Gracepoint / Dilshad Vadsaria from Second Chances / Aimee Teegarden from Star-Crossed / J. August Richards from Angel

Best Quotes -
1. Julia: "Sorry, Jake. It's been a rough couple of days and I'm not just talking about work." Jake: "Is your boring, elitist federal judge giving you problems?" Julia: "Yeah." Jake: "Just say the word. I'll kill him. Or at least have the DWP shut off his water."
2. Julia: "Louise is going to lob him a softball and then throw him on defense." Jake: "Well I'm not sure what sport she's playing but it sounds like good TV to me."
3. Julia: "I'm not sure I can do this." Louise: "You're a tough a** b**. You can do anything."
4. Julia: "I'm going to forget that I ever cared about you. I'm going to forget you ever mattered to me, but every day you will wonder if today is the day share your disgusting secret with the world. I might wait until you run for Congress or the night before your confirmation to the Supreme Court. Who knows? I will forget about you but you will never forget about me. That is what is happening right now."
5. Annie: "I know what you're thinking." Jake: "How could you possibly know I am thinking that he is a boring elitist and you can do way better." Annie: "There it is. You know I'm saving myself for you, right?" Jake: "Oh, I'm in. Let's go to Vegas for the weekend. Nah, let's make it a week." Julia: "You're impossible." Jake: "Oh, I am so possible."
6. Annie: "Karma is real."

Pitch - 1.01 - Pilot

Pitch was the pilot I was most excited about this season, mostly because of the concept. Sports are often the subject of movies but not so much TV so I was intrigued about how they were going to frame it. In the end, it was good with the potential to be better. The pilot took too much time focusing on the hype and too little time focusing on the characters. The pacing had issues as well but once it got into its groove, the show clicked and delivered a heartwarming story of a woman trying to find herself in the fire of celebrity. I'd like to see more interactions between Ginny and Lawson and I really like that they are starting a friendship between her and Blip's wife. The locker room drama is stereotypical and tired, but it is also to be expected and I don't think the story would ring true without it so I'll put up with it in the hopes that her teammates will get on board sooner rather than later. Not the other pitcher though, because he is destined to be nasty and cowardly for the duration. Sucks for that actor.

Grade: C+
Ranking: 4+
Audience - people who like strong female characters with an inspiring story or people who like a good sports story complete with all the backroom drama
Bottom Line: I'm giving it at least 5 episodes, which is a lot for a rookie.

Best Reason to Watch - Ginny and Lawson's interactions
Best Scene - the pep talk
Best Friend - Blip, who talks Lawson on board for Ginny
Best Attempt at a Pep Talk - Amelia after Ginny's horrible start
Best Actual Pep Talk - Lawson's to Ginny
Best Use of Pop Culture - Amelia's speech to the driver
Biggest Twist - the dad is really dead, which I had heard rumors of but it still played nicely here
Most Difficult to Please - Bill Baker
Most Interesting Character Interaction - Ginny and her dad
Most Heartbreaking - Ginny pulls herself from the game before getting even a strike
The "Are You Kidding Me?" Award - Ginny's dad hits her brother to force her to throw a strike. What kind of messed up parenting is that?
The "I'm Taking It as a Shout Out" Award - Hello, Joe Buck. Miss your dad.
The "Welcome Back" Award - Ali Larter from 90's movies / Mark-Paul Gosselaar from Franklin & Bash / Dan Lauria from The Wonder Years / Michael Beach from The 100

Best Quotes -
1. Amelia: "Hey Joe, I know it's just a 2-minute ride to the stadium and I'm sure you've dealt with this kind of paparazzi before but there's a billion dollar piece of cargo back here and if you Princess Di her a** and you and me both survive, I'm gonna Red Wedding you and your entire family. Do you understand?"
2. Lawson: "I've been watching this past week, Baker. It looks like you've got a lot of people telling you who you're doing this for and I wonder if it's not about time you start doing this for yourself. Just you. Screw all of the attention, and you know what, screw all those adorable little girls in the crowd with their Ginny Baker signs because you're not a Girl Scout leader, rookie. You're a ball player. You do this for you, you do this for your team, or you don't do it at all 'cause you can't aim your pitches if you're aiming to please everyone. I literally just came up with that on the spot. I mean 'aim your pitches, aim to please.' Damn, I'm good. I really could be in the movies. Gotta go. You know people are gonna start talking. It's kind of gettin' awkward now."
3. Bill: "You threw 10 pitches. How tired can you be?"
4. Lawson: "This is a circus. I'm way too old to be joining a circus."

Son of Zorn - 1.01 - Pilot

When I heard the plot of this show, I thought it was an April Fools' Day joke. He-Man leaves the cartoon world to spend time with his non-animated ex and kid? You've got to be joking. After having seen the pilot, I wish they were. Let's just say that this is not for me. Even without the animation, which is too old school for me and I'm a child of the 80's, the character of Zorn is just another loud-mouthed jerk of a dad, who is clueless about his family. We did that in the 90's and it wasn't very funny then. Craig is a direct opposite but no less stereotypical, playing up his emotional, neurotic side as weakness for laughs. Luckily the women fare a bit better but even they are not enough to save this pilot.

Grade: D-
Ranking: 1
Audience - I guess anyone who likes odd, out there comedies for their uniqueness factor. Put it this way. If you liked Man Seeking Woman, this might be your next hit show.
Bottom Line - dropped

Best Reason to Watch - Cheryl Hines
Best Scene - Linda explains what being considerate means
Best Character - Zorn's boss, Linda
Best Choice - Alan refuses to get off the bus and be embarrassed by his dad
Best Music - Everybody's Talkin'
Worst Scene - killing the bird
Worst Taste in Men - Edie
Most Stuck in the 80's - the animation in this show and that's on purpose
Most Crabby - Zorn
Most Clueless - Alan
Biggest "Get Me Out of Here" - has to be Cheryl Hines, who is way too good for this, closely followed by Tim Meadows
World's Longest Message - Zorn to Alan

Best Quotes -
1. Zorn (and me): "What the hell is happening here?"
2. Zorn: "Look at us, fighting like the old days. I miss this."
3. Zorn: "What the hell. You don't want to keep that internet waiting, now do ya'?"

Speechless - 1.01 - Pilot

Take Beverly from The Goldbergs, given her a special needs kid, and then ramp her obnoxiousness up by about one thousand and you've got Maya Dimeo. Minnie Driver is back after the cancellation of About a Boy to play a mom even more confrontational and demanding than last time. And it's not just her. The principal, teacher, and original caretaker are equally off-putting. Thankfully, there are Jimmy and Kenneth. Jimmy, played by TBBT's Kripke, is actually much more toned down than that role and as such can sometimes get a word in edgewise to be the voice of reason. Even better is Kenneth, who is the bright, shining light of the show. He not only knows when and how to put Maya in her place, but he's got a snarky comment for just about everyone. Then there's Ray, JJ, and Dylan. Ray's the everyman of the story and quite frankly, the one I am most rooting for. JJ at first came off as kind of bratty, again in a Goldbergs way, but his rescue of Ray at the end gave him a little more depth beyond the special needs kid who gets all the attention all the time. Let's just say that he knows how to read and work the situation and he uses it well. I'm glad they are not making him the super special snowflake kid but allowing him to act like any other TV kid too. Dylan, the sister, however needs a lot of work like her mother. I'm not quite sure if she is capable of actually saying words instead of yelling them. Although this pilot is a work in progress, if they can tone down Maya, it may end up being the rare comedy winner.

Grade: C
Ranking: 3-
Audience - those who like The Goldbergs but feel Beverly is too tame and not overprotective enough OR Minnie Driver fans
Bottom Line - it's got 2 episodes to prove itself

Best Reason to Watch - the potential
Best Scene - Jimmy tells Maya that she's wrong and Ray needs attention too
Best Character - Kenneth
Worst Job - anything that puts you in Maya's vicinity for very long
Most Clueless - the principal, no the aide, perhaps the teacher, maybe the mom, or just everyone in this pilot
Most Refreshing - JJ is allowed to have real strengths and real flaws like any other person
Most Sympathetic - Ray
Least Entertaining - watching people bottom out their cars
Least Believable - A school with its own planetarium doesn't have a real wheelchair access point? Come on.
Biggest Nightmare - Maya
The "Welcome Back" Award - Minnie Driver from About a Boy / John Ross Bowie from The Big Bang Theory / Cedric Yarbrough from Benched and The Goldbergs / Mason Cook from The Goldbergs

Best Quotes -
1. Maya: "I'm raising awareness." Kenneth: "Of the fact that you're nuts? Oh, word's out. Awareness is high."
2. Ray: "Why are we here? I don't know. Maybe she got a coupon for a crack house."
3. Jimmy: "You fight and fight to make sure JJ has a normal life. Maybe he's not the only one who deserves that."
4. Ray: "I get to be right and you get to be lazy. Those are our favorite things."
5. Maya: "Look yes, JJ gets a lot of my attention. Maybe it's because he needs me and maybe it's because you are so damn sure that you don't. But I hear you, Ray, I do. And I love you and if you don't feel that every minute, then I'm not doing my job properly and for that I am truly, truly…"

Van Helsing - 1.01 /1.02 - Pilot / Seen You

Van Helsing has the potential to be a very good story. Vanessa Van Helsing is the kind of super special snowflake that can also kick butt and take care of herself. Axel Miller is everything a good soldier should be - loyal, competent, patient. They are both pleasant eye candy as well and it doesn't take any genius to figure out that they are likely to screw each other before the season's out. Ho hum. Whatever. The real problem though lies in its glacial pace. You'd think that a story about the world's best vampire slayer would have more actual slaying. Instead the pilot is a treatise on world building, complete with lingering shots of empty hallways, people sleeping, and dirty skies. Episode 2 takes on the chore of character back story. Neither do a very good job of keeping up interest in a dump truck full of exposition. The good news is that there can't possibly be that much more to explain so I'd hope that episode 3 would go full throttle . Plus there seems to be a more complicated vampire motive than just kill or eat. However, if the pace doesn't pick up by the next episode, I won't be around to see it.

Grade: D+ / C-
Ranking: 2+
Audience - patient sci-fi fans or those who loved Wynonna Earp but wanted far less humor in it
Bottom Line - one more and then I'm done

Best Reason to Watch - the potential
Best Scene - Vanessa wakes up to take on the vampires
Best Twist - Vanessa's blood cures vampirism
Best Character - VampDoc
Worst Plan - walking 40 miles through Zombieland because you're bored
Biggest Incongruence - playing You Are My Sunshine at the end of episode 1, which is a very Helix move
Biggest Product Placement - Subway and Kit Kats
Biggest Idiot - John, although he has lots of competition
Biggest Douche - Vanessa's ex followed by Tommy, the abusive jerk
Biggest Mystery - Why is VampDoc so interested in Sam?
Biggest Eye Roll - the shower scene
Most Likely to Win at Hide and Seek - Dylan
Most in Need of Dying - most of the non-Supernatural new people
Most Disgusting - dead vampire dump and the guy that crawls out of it
Most Gruesome - killing your friend with a fire extinguisher because she's turning into a vampire
Least Surprising - Ted betrays them
The "I'm Not Sure What's Going On" Award - So is this all about vampires wanting to have babies? Did I hear that right?
The "Welcome Back" Award - Chris Heyerdahl from Supernatural / Tim Guinee from Revolution / Aleks Paunovic from iZombie

Best Quotes -
1. Mohamad: "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up people. This is not a petting zoo."
2. Susan: "This…uh, is my way of saying thank you." Vanessa: "This make me your pimp?"
3. John: "Who are you supposed to be? Shaq-a Zulu?"
4. Vanessa: "After she goes to sleep, I'll knock on your door, okay? We can deal with your wine surplus problem." Susan: "Oh yeah sure, choose your adorable daughter over a lush of a best friend."
5. Major: "There's seriously something wrong with you, lady?"

Weekly Shows

The Big Bang Theory - 10.01 - The Conjugal Conjecture

This was one of the more enjoyable episodes of TBBT in a long time. Part of it comes from the extended family that visited and made each scene funny yet human. I'm a big time fan of Mary but Penny's family were a good surprise. Katy Sagal nailed the part of Penny's nervous mother. (If she knew how much Penny already told the gang about her family, she would have been an even bigger wreck.) She was sympathetic and while nagging like every other female in this episode, she did it from a place of family pride which lessened the blow. I would have liked to see just one couple getting along and not sniping at each other besdies Penny and Leonard, but I'll take what I can get. Beverly and Alfred's sour grapes story was a bit too drawn out as was Sheldon's frequent mentioning of coitus, but this is a great start to a series that has been feeling a little tired for years now. Here's hoping that the military angle is interesting in the future and that Dean Norris will continue to be involved in it.

Grade: B

Best Reason to Watch - the extended family
Best "Awwww" Scene - Penny and Leonard's wedding vows
Best Buffer - Stuart
Best Manipulation - Penny gets Beverly to stay for the wedding by basically saying her ex wins if she leaves
Best Crowd Control - Bernadette
Best Prank - Howard makes Raj think he's talking to the government about his immigration status
Best Topic for a Wedding - Sheldon tells Leonard and Penny that they are his family
Worst Topic for a Wedding - STD rates in the elderly
Worst Timing - Penny when she is talking about Beverly and Beverly is right behind her
Most Awkward Word - "good"
Biggest Dummy - Penny's brother
Snark Queen - Bernadette, who was on fire tonight
The "Why Yes It Does" Award - if you really think the CIA is chasing you, either you have a far more interesting life than what you have been showing, Howard, or you are a lunatic.
The "Welcome Back" Award (characters) - Mary, Beverly, Wyatt, Alfred,
The "Welcome Back" Award -Dean Norris from Breaking Bad and Under the Dome / Katey Sagal from Sons of Anarchy

Best Quotes -
1. Bernadette: "Love is patient but it's not gonna put up with all the side chatter so let's knock it off."
2. Penny: "Your parents are old. Anything unspeakable was finished by 9:30. Go to sleep."
3. Leonard: "Penny, as a scientist my job is to figure out why things happen, but I don't think I'll ever understand how someone like me could get to be with someone like you. Maybe I don't need to understand it. I just need to be grateful. I love you, Penny." Bernadette: "Anybody have anything snarky to say about that? Didn't think so."
4. Bernadette: "I now pronounce you husband and wife….and weird other husband who came with the apartment."
5. Susan: "Stop trying to be the cool dad. You have a shirt with our cat's picture on it."

The Blacklist - 4.01 - Esteban

For the record, I am Team Navabi on this one. If Elizabeth Keen gets to walk straight through betraying everyone she knows, then I will riot. People need to stop being on Navabi's back for not wanting to have anything to do with Liz anymore and they better do their own yelling when Liz is back with them. I find their overall lack of a reaction a bit disconcerting to be honest. I don't even know what Liz could say to get the FBI to still let her consult with them, much less be a part of the team. Other than that though, this was a well-paced episode with plenty of action and good character moments. I'm glad Mr. Kaplan is still with us but it seems increasingly clear that she will give her life for either Reddington or Agnes, which I am not fond of. She's far too good of a character to lose and exactly how is Liz going to handle having a kid anyway. She gets shot at or kidnapped every other episode. It feels almost like this season will need to be the Hunt for Agnes because I can't see Tom and Liz splitting for any other reason than to double their resources to get their daughter back.

Grade: B

Best Reason to Watch - moves the plot along nicely
Best Scene - Mr. Kaplan confronts Reddington about letting Liz go
Best Twist - I did not see that car crash coming
Best Decoy - the log baby
Best Negotiator - Reddington
Worst Way to Play Hide and Seek - with a crying baby
Worst Pun - asking a blind man for a blind date
Worst Plan - besides ticking off Red, the worst plan is to talk to the guy you are going to kill instead of just killing him, especially when that guy is Tom
Worst Time to be a Good Guy - whenever Red is in your country…or Tom because you'll wind up dead
Worst Timing - Aram asking about Tom's involvement in Liz's "death"
Most Entitled - Navabi can think whatever she wants about Liz because Liz totally screwed them all over and everyone trying to make her feel bad because she's angry needs to back off her
Most in the Dog House - Mr. Kaplan, but at least she's still on the show because she rocks
Most Kick Butt - in this episode, Liz who nails Alexander Kirk right in the nose
Least Likely to Take Anything from Anyone - Red
Biggest Huh? - Why didn't Kirk just knock Liz out with some drug and then she wouldn't be fighting him the whole way?
Biggest Ewww - the guy who removes his fake eyeballs
The "You Have a Point" Award - I'm not saying that Kirk is right because he's evil as well, but it's not like the rest of them haven't made extreme choices too.
The "Welcome Back" Award - David Zayas from Dexter

Best Quotes -
1. Navabi: "I informed the Bureau that Elizabeth Keen has risen from the dead. They said 3 Hail Marys and they're on the lookout for the zombie apocalypse."
2. Kaplan: "I know you don't want to talk to me. Fine, then listen. It was excruciating to watch you mourn Elizabeth's death, to know that I was making you endure that. Yes, I betrayed you, but only after you had betrayed her. Raymond, you have to change. I took Elizabeth from you and now I need your help to get her back. But when you do as I'm sure you will, you have to let her go."
3. Red: "Your job here is done, Donald." Ressler: "Like hell it is. I came here to get Keen. I'm not leaving without her." Red: "You think I'm going to let you tag along so you can inform the people who kidnapped Elizabeth they have the right to remain silent? I appreciate your assistance, but I'm not interested in having an ethical debate with you about whether they have the right to consult with an attorney before I put a bullet in their head."
4. Panabaker: "There are bigger issues, Agent Ressler." Ressler: "Torture, abuse, murder…I don't see any bigger issues than that."
5. Kaplan: "That's not your child."
6. Panabaker: "Are you a traitor or just a moron?"

How to Get Away with Murder - 3.01 - We're Good People Now

I am one of those who thought the beginning of season 2 was awful on this show. While the season did turn itself around and become engrossing again in the back half, it is a relief to see that several of the problems that plagued season 2 are not an issue here. There was only one pointless sex scene (2 if you count massages) and most of the students, while still being self-centered babies, were more tolerable than ever. Another move for the better is opening the clinic, which allows them to take on more sympathetic clients and not the heart of evil. I like this move a lot because even if I've resigned myself to the main characters being bad people, despite the episode title, I did have someone to root for here. I felt sorry for the dad, who was just trying to protect his daughter, and suffered the consequences for his loyalty. Justice does suck sometimes. Yet, it gives me hope that the cases will be stronger and more engaging this season while letting the student characters grow professionally. In the end though, the best change comes in Annalise herself. I like that she finally is taking an interest in the students as people and going out of her way to include them on certain things - although not everything. It puts her character in a more sympathetic light and hopefully will provide for some character growth for Annalise too.

Grade: B

Best Reason to Watch - all the changes, particularly to Annalise
Best Scene - This one is tough, but in the end I'm going with the cliffhanger. This show definitely knows how to end on a high note. Let the guessing begin on who is under the sheet…and may it NOT be Bonnie.
Best Acting - it shouldn't even be a category anymore because it is always Viola Davis
Best Reaction - the students and Annalise to the killer poster hung up in the classroom
Best Upgrade - Annalise is actually teaching another class so it is slightly more plausible that the Keating 5 would still work for her and it gives them a chance to represent people who aren't evil
Best Way to Catch the Audience Up with the Characters - Summer flashbacks. Take note, The 100 writers.
Best Point - Laurel says Annalise has no right to be angry at her
Worst Plan - Oliver tells Annalise that he can be bad too
Worst Secret Keeper - Annalise tells Connor that Oliver deleted his Stanford acceptance
Most Mindboggling - the characters on this show keep thinking the others offed someone, whether they did or not, and they keep offering forgiveness for murder like it is an appropriate first response
Most Primeval - Annalise and Wes screaming out their frustrations
Most Likely to Hit the Shirtless Quota in Any Given Episode - Nate
Biggest Go-Getter - surprisingly, it is Wes this episode who is prepared for the case before it is his
Biggest Hmm - So, did we ever conclude Caleb's death? It doesn't feel like it and never mentioning his name is just weird.
Strangest Reaction - Connor is not mad at Oliver for lying to him
The "Oh Yeah, Right" Award - none of these guys are "good people" and I'm not sure they ever were

Best Quotes -
1. Michaela: "I'm a grown-a** women. I can't be having sex in dorm rooms." Asher: "Uh, of course you can. Otherwise you're discriminating against me because I'm poor now." Michaela: "Welcome to America."
2. Annalise: "You're strong enough to run away from a bad family so you're strong enough to get through this. That's why I never worried about you. The next time you want to drink yourself silly, call me. I've got a full liquor cabinet and I won’t let you drive home drunk, okay? Now let's go. We look like we're working the corner at this point."
3. Nate: "All I'm saying is whoever did this could be unstable." Annalise: "I'm unstable. Maybe they need to be protected from me."
4. Annalise: "Justice is the exception. You should know that by now. Take the anger that you're feeling and put it into your next case."
5. Annalise: "It's a piece of paper." Asher: "That says, 'Killer' on it." Annalise: "I've been called worse."

Other Shows

The Goldbergs - 4.01 - Breakfast Club

Grade: B
Best Reason to Watch - the principal
Best Scene - dance scene
Best Music - theme from Breakfast Club
Best Reaction - principal to seeing Beverly in his office
Best Retribution - kicking Beverly out of the teachers' lounge after she had been so obnoxious to the teachers
Worst Plan - Beverly as teacher / Earl giving in to her
Most Supportive - Murray

Best Quotes -
1. Beverly: "I get the sense you don't want me here, Earl." Earl: "Oh good. Thanks for reading all the obvious social cues."
2. Erica: "You always support our dreams no matter what, so I guess now it's our turn." Beverly: "Really? You want me here?" Adam: "Oh absolutely not." Barry: "I will run from you." Adam: "But for once, it's not about us."
3. Earl: "Oh good. The first week wouldn't have seemed complete without uncomfortable quality time with every Goldberg."
4. Murray: "That would mean that she would no longer be your worst nightmare. She would be the worst nightmare of anyone you want her to be." Earl: "That's a scary amount of power."

The Good Place - 1.01/1.02 - Pilot / Flying

Grade: C/B-
Best Reason to Watch - the second episode was better than the first
Best Character - Michael
Best Quotes -
1. Eleanor: "Well it doesn't sound awesome."
2. Eleanor: "I was a medium person. I should get to spend eternity in a medium place - like Cincinnati."

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and/or creates polls for Teen Wolf, The 100, Grimm, How to Get Away with Murder, The Librarians, and others. She also runs the annual Character Cup. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts The 100 "Red-Shirted" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
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