Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Red Oaks, Season One:
This Amazon original series features a young college guy with a summer job at a country club, and falls squarely in the "coming of age in the 1980s" genre. The pilot episode had mild promise, but the first season never really builds on that foundation. Plots wend their way to nowhere and individual episodes often have minimal shape or thrust. Every character and plot line is an 80s movie archetype, but beyond checking them off a list, the show doesn't offer anything new. The supporting characters are more sympathetic than the mains, and the show jumps the shark about halfway through in a traditional 80s "body swap" scenario. Rebecca hates when fantasy trods on her realism. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: D+

Sherlock, Season Three:
The third season of Sherlock is very tonally different than its predecessors. The mysterious cases take a back seat (or even get relegated to the trunk of the metaphorical car) to the characters and the amusing antics they get up to. This makes the show more amusing and easier to watch without missing details, but it's definitely not the same show it originally sold itself as. Within that caveat, I enjoyed its meandering ways but felt that the third episode's attempt to tie everything together was pretty weak. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Sneaky Pete, Pilot Episode:
This pilot stars the actor who played Phoebe's brother, Frank, from Friends, and tells the story of a con man who cons his way into a rural family and helps out with their bail bond business. The strongest aspects of the pilot were the performances of the actors, including Margo Martindale and Bryan Cranston. However, the format of the pilot felt very "episode of the week", like something you might find on CBS (and in fact, the show was originally on CBS before getting dumped and picked up by Amazon Studios). I'll definitely watch the first season (it was greenlit in September), but might not stick around if the serial story is overshadowed by the weekly cases. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B+

Mad Dogs, Pilot Episode:
This is another Amazon pilot that got picked up for a full season, and is a remake of a like-named show that I never watched. The cast (including Michael Imperioli and Steve Zahn as stereotypical Steve Zahn) is fun and the pilot does a good job of building an undercurrent of menace, but it didn't necessarily make me want to see how everything turns out in future episodes. Watch if you like the "super serious thriller" genre but be warned that it feels like a slightly faster Bloodlines. Free on Amazon Prime

Final Grade: B-

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