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Which of these 4 New Network Dramas Is Worth Your Time?

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | October 3, 2012 | Comments ()


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4. Made In Jersey -- The CBS legal drama, already given a deadly Friday night time slot, is about a woman who rises from Jersey trash to white collar law firm. Other than the fish-out-of-water premise, it's a fairly rote legal procedural. In the pilot episode, Deb Garretti Keenan (Jessica Blank) -- a first year associate -- captures the attention of one of the law firm's partners (Kyle MacLachlan) by noting that a pair of pliers are likely not a murder weapon but simply a device used by women to yank up the zipper on their tight-fitting jeans. It moves from there into legal drama formula, which is to say: Lawyers don't actually practice the law as much as they investigate crimes to find out who the real killer is (Spoiler: It's never their client). There's a nasty-elitist blonde, plus a sympathetic lawyer friend (Pablo Schreiber, aka Nick Sobotka), plus the white-trash Jersey family who offers common-sense advice typically more sound than the advice from the well-educated and wealthy soft-shoe lawyers. The only thing interesting about the series is that the lead -- who sports a heavy Jersey accent -- actually has a posh English accent in real life.

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3. Elementary -- I'll admit that "Elementary" wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, and I know how unfair it is to compare it to the BBC's "Sherlock," which it's totally not ripping off. There are countless Sherlock Holmes adaptations, and it's a simple coincidence that the CBS version would update it into present day and work modern technology into Holmesian plot lines. Total coincidence!

The truth about "Elementary," however, is that it's Sherlock Holmes in name only. Besides the character names, there's really very little separating the show from other CBS procedurals, which is to say: It's not a bad show, just a bland one. It's very routine, very formulaic, and rather uninspiring. Both Jonny Lee Miller (as Sherlock) and Lucy Liu, as his sober companion, Dr. Watson, are very serviceable in their roles, but there isn't a lot of magic or chemistry in their relationship or the pilot. It very much followed the "Castle" investigation pattern: There's a murder followed by a series of potential suspects until one is isolated and the case is solved. The signature Sherlock deductions were obvious, and Aidan Quinn is wasted as a cardboard cutout of a Captain Gregson, with whom Sherlock is consulting with on investigations.

I didn't expect much from "Elementary," but I was secretly optimistic. I love the character, and there is plenty of room for more than one (or two) strong iterations. Unfortunately, "Elementary" is very pedestrian and unlikely to suit anyone except your grandparents.

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2. 666 Park Avenue -- The Sunday night ABC series starring Terry O'Quinn as Gavin Doran, i.e., Satan, was better than I expected, but I didn't expect much from the series. Doran/Satan runs a penthouse, The Drake; he manipulates tenants into signing contracts with him in which they exchange their souls for ten years of wealth and success. When the contract is up, the tenants lose their sh*t trying to avoid their inevitable trips to hell. The show will center on Jane Van Veen (Rachel Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable), a young couple who are hired to manage The Drake and who, unwittingly, sign their own contract with Satan.

Terry O'Quinn is fun in the role: He's camping it up along with his character's wife, played by Vanessa Williams, and they seem to be enjoying themselves much more than anyone else involved in the series. I'm less sure about Taylor and Annable, who are pretty but bland and not the kind of characters I could see myself investing in. Moreover, the pilot episode didn't give any strong indications as to where the series is heading, although I would imagine that the young couple will form a series arc while each episode will also focus on a single tenant and the expiration of his contract. In this particular episode, it was a gentlemen who had agreed to murder someone in exchange for having his wife -- who had recently committed suicide -- brought back to life. Things do not go well for the young man.

It's not a good show, but it has modest potential as a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, it airs on a very crowded Sunday night, and it's premiere ratings were mediocre, so it's unlikely -- if it does improve -- to have many viewers around to witness it.

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1. The Last Resort -- Shawn Ryan's "The Last Resort" reminds me a lot of another show that Ryan had his hands involved in, "The Unit." The military language of the universe is obtuse and difficult to adjust to, almost as though it's being spoken by kids making up words in the backyard while playing war. Also, like "The Unit," everyone has the same affection as Rebecca Pidgeon: They speak in halting montones. Moreover, it's an insanely unlikely premise: A submarine crew, given orders to nuke Pakistan, refuses to do so without a direct order from the President. The United States military, in turn, attempts to take out the submarine. The submarine escapes to a nearby island with a few nukes in their arsenal, and they basically engage in war with America. It's batty bat bat batsh*t, but by the end of the pilot episode, it's immensely engrossing, thanks largely to a beastly performance from Andre Braugher, as commander of the submarine, who gives a speech the clinches the deal.

I have no idea how "The Last Resort" will sustain itself over the entire course of a series, and sadly, the style of the show seems to magnify all of Scott Speedman's flaws (he plays the second in command), but right now, it's a riveting and ballsy high-stakes action thriller, and easily the best new drama of the network season.

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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    Your critique of "Elementary" tells me we're either not watching the same show or you've reached Ebert level jaded and have no business reviewing ANYTHING, because like Ebert, you've lost all ability to watch anything without seeking out flaws to write about.

  • Pajiba always cracks me up with the hating on the "procedurals". Sure, I'm no hipster any more, but I thought Elementary had potential, although the pilot had to waste a lot of time on exposition. I hope that once it settles down into cases, and hopefully the let Lucy show some more life, it will be a decent way to spend a weeknight hour. Sometimes, shows like Castle or NCIS are just fine. They're usually well-written, produced, and acted.

  • yocean

    Premise of "The Last Resort" reminds me of this very successful and engaging Japanese manga series "Chinmoku no Kantai" -Silent Fleet, in which a high tech Japanese submarine with long range nuclear capacity becomes it's own peace keeping sovereign nation with the lead of the genius captain. That one was all about tactics, ideal and thrills. I hope the American show is not a rip-off but then again I won't mind seeing that on screen with American cast.

  • yocean

    Ok, so it seems to be a rip-off of "Silent Service" -not "Silent Fleet" which would be the direct translation. hmmmmmmm.

    http://www.animenation.net/blo...

  • Idle Primate

    i wish i could see what was so engrossing about the British Sherlock. I've watched the first season, and found it bland and dull, no chemistry between S and W. and the Sherlock character is so abrasive and antisocial (he makes the House iteration of Sherlock seem warm and cuddly) that i can't relate to him at all. Downvote all you want if you are offended. I don't hate it, I just expected way better considering how much people lose their shit over this show. I get antsy waiting for an episode to end.

    I thought there was good chemistry between the leads in Elementary, and not the sort that was going to be sexual tension. The show seems competent. It entertained me more than Sherlock does.

    666 did seem like some fun, but it would be hard to see it lasting if it didn't have loads of competition. And I have to say, i was really taken in to the tension in last resort, but it seems too ridiculous a premise to suspend disbelief for any length of time.

  • John W

    British actress Janet Montgomery plays the first year lawyer Martina Garretti in Made In Jersey. For some reason she's not listed in IMDB's page for the show.

  • And is also the person in the shot up above. She played Ames in Human Target and is introduced in that show is a dress that I *still* cannot excise from my mind... http://boston.barstoolsports.c...

  • annoyingmouse

    I have the last 4 episodes of True Blood on my DVR waiting for me. What's it been, 4 months? I've watched the finale of Sherlock Series 2 about 3 times now...

    Yeah I haven't seen Elementary.

  • Zirza

    I gave Elementary a try. I tried to keep an open mind, I really did.

    But then I fell asleep.

    So there goes that, I guess.

  • muertemaria

    I feel asleep too! Not sure it is staying in the queue.

  • Slash

    I liked "Elementary" well enough. "666 Park Ave." was meh. Haven't seen the other two. Maybe I'll see one of them eventually, when everything has already gone into reruns, sometime in late November.

  • dizzylucy

    Last Resort has potential and I enjoyed the pilot enough, but I too have no idea how they turn that into a series.
    666 Park is waiting to be watched, solely out of Terry O'Quinn love.

    Just the idea of Made in Jersey - a CBS legal procedural with tons of "Jersey" cliches makes this Jersey Girl want to hurl. No thanks.

  • emmelemm

    Having seen commercials for that Jersey lawyer show, my only overriding thought was, "That is the WORST New Jersey accent I've ever heard." (And I did live in New York for almost seven years, so I have heard them in the wild.)

    I am usually the last (the very last) person to bitch about the authenticity of accents in my filmed entertainment, but in this particular case, it's so egregious that it would be impossible for me to watch the show.

  • Sandy

    Scott Speeman has flaws? Please discuss this more openly. In my opinion he has none.

  • He's so pretty. It really is a shame that he's so aggressively untalented.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    There's the part where he's not a particularly good actor, which playing second banana to Andre Braugher doesn't help to hide.

    He seems like a perfectly decent person, though. Good eyes, if you go for that sort of thing.

  • James

    What intrigues me about Last Resort is how amazing it could be when it goes off the rails.

  • Idle Primate

    well, they nuked america in the opening episode. so, i'm not sure what off the rails would look like

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I envision missiles just nuking each other in midair, for no damn reason. Maybe Andre Braugher riding one right into the Pentagon while shooting down intercepting fighters with his sidearm.

  • troublesometots

    I'm not yet convinced that there are ANY new network dramas worth your time. I have -0- interest in anything procedural, courtroom, or hospital. I haven't seen Last Resort yet and will give it a go simply because it meets the very low bar of not being a procedural, courtroom, or hospital drama.

    Unrelated note - when will the networks realize that the Emmys are simply a huge commercial for cable programming and simply stop airing it?

  • Artemis

    When they run out of comedy awards to throw at Modern Family?
    Yes, the drama categories usually go to cable shows, but comedy (and reality) awards reliably go network. And I would guess that the networks care almost as much about nominations as wins, because even if they lose their nominees get a bunch of attention in the run-up/get featured during the broadcast.

  • Jerce

    If Last Resort is "easily the best new drama of the network season," then this must be a dismal season indeed.
    I really wanted to like it, because not only does it showcase the fascinating Andre Braugher, Dichen Lachman is in it, and my gal needs to work more. But I watched the pilot ep over the weekend, and damn...
    I'll give it another episode or two, but I thought it was just a mess.
    I also DVR'ed Terry O'Quinn's show, but haven't watched it yet, and your words encourage me a little, since my expectations for any ABC show with a supernatural bent are in the basement to begin with.

  • KatSings

    I have Elementary and Last Resort on my DVR waiting for me to have time to catch up with them. 666 Park Ave I've watched (it films in NYC, and as a SAG NY Local member, I'm VERY interested in how it does). My problem with the show, which isn't bad, really, is that it suffers by comparison to American Horror Story. By virtue of it being network TV, it can't do the things AHS does weekly. But I simply can't watch it without saying "Oh man, if this was AHS, this would be so much crazier/more naked/scarier/more awesome" and that's hard to get past.

  • Idle Primate

    it was hard not to compare it to AHS. i tried to imagine it as an anthology show.

  • KatSings

    Also? Watching that show, the characters were nerdy writer, bitchy wife, Bland Lead, Bland Female Lead, Vanessa Williams, and Terry O'Quinn. Those were their names for the full hour to me. That...is less than ideal.

  • Idle Primate

    there were a number of characters so bland i got confused as to who was on the screen. never a good sign. though i may just be getting old, and people under a certain age, unless radical hair or clothing is going on, seem interchangeable.

  • MGMcD

    All I could think the whole time is that the show would be made infinitely better by the addition of Michael Emerson as some sort of Satanic overlord. I just don't think he and O'Quinn should ever be separated. Ben and Locke 4EVA.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I see your point and very much agree (one of the guys on there is called Henry, but I could not tell you at gunpoint which one), but I think Sexy Exhibitionist Neighbor deserves a mention.

  • KatSings

    Totally true. She ties into my "Why isn't this AHS" complaint, because on that show, her bathrobe reveal would have been shown.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I hope there's an unrated DVD release.

  • janetfaust

    If "The Last Resort" isn't on a Sunday night, I might have room for it on the DVR. Sounds like it might be in the spirit of "24." I will never, ever have room for "Elementary" because there is no point for its existence when we have "Sherlock." I kind of agree when you say that there is room for more than one adaptation, but with the Guy Ritchie movies using Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch on the BBC series, I just don't care to see Miller give it a go. I'm not sure it gets better than Cumberbatch, though I haven't watched older Sherlock Holmes fare.

  • BWeaves

    You MUST rent the Jeremy Brett versions. He nails the Sherlock Holmes character. Plus, Watson is also portrayed exactly as written, and played first by David Burke and later by Edward Hardwicke.

    They not only filmed the stories exactly as they were written, but even copied the original Paget illustrations to get the look right.

    To me, there's no point in watching the new adaptations if you haven't seen what the original is supposed to look like.

  • tinad5

    No, I don't think Granada series portrayed Watson the same as the book. The series still dumbed him down.

  • BWeaves

    I disagree, but you are entitled to your opinion. At least Watson is portrayed as a doctor and not the idiotic, comic buffoon he is in the shows from the 30's, 40's and 50's.

  • AM

    Also, you can't beat this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • AM

    I dunno, I like Jeremy Brett's style but aesthetically he's too pudgy to be Holmes, and what's up with the vampire makeup he always sports?

  • BWeaves

    Brett's only pudgy and overly made up in the later years of the series. He was pretty good in the earlier ones. The show ran for years and in the later ones, Brett's wife had died and he was deathly sick, hence the pudgeyness and the makeup.

  • janetfaust

    Thanks, I'll check it out! There are some older Sherlock Holmes series on Netflix, hope that's one of them.

  • BWeaves

    It is, and there are a lot of them, so rent them in date order.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    "Doran/Satan"

    If you had any idea how many times I've seen those two words together...

  • Even Stevens

    Dammit, I had my "speak his name and Admin shall appear" joke all ready, and you RUINED IT.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    See? EVIL!

  • Kylie

    I'm glad that I enjoyed Last Resort.

    Living in Hawaii, you are pretty much required to watch any show or movie filmed here. It makes it much easier when you enjoy them.

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