Friday, January 8, 2016

Quick TV Takes: The Magicians, Shannara, American Crime, New Comedies

A few shows started over the past few weeks and I didn't have time to write full posts about any of them, so how about some quick thoughts?

The Magicians (Syfy, Mondays at 9/8c, premieres January 25th) - As I mentioned in today's Morning Coffee, I loved this premiere. "Adult Harry Potter" is the easy way to characterize this, but it's reasonably accurate - young man finds out magic is real and goes to a special university to study it. They make some major changes from the novel but none particularly upset me (so far) and I instantly wanted to watch more, which is always a good sign.

The Shannara Chronicles (MTV, Tuesdays at 10/9c) - Another fantasy novel adaptation (with a third coming next week with Shadowhunters). It was . . . fine? I honestly think the premiere was hurt by being SO LONG (almost two hours) - it started feeling like a slog, and some plotlines were introduced without really giving the audience reason to care about them. I like a lot of the cast; I like the way the chosen one is kind of dumb and surrounded by smart women. The elves wore more t-shirts than I expected. I'll watch at least one more episode.

American Crime (ABC, Wednesdays at 10/9c) - I'm counting this as new because it's an anthology, so this second season has some of the same cast but they're playing different characters and it's a new plot. It took a lot of soul-searching but I managed to watch this even though I only saw a few episodes of the first season. I've seen a lot of people say this show is easier to admire than to like, and that makes sense; luckily I tend to like slow, serious TV, as well as things about prep schools and sports team dynamics. I like that it's paying attention to race and class and gender and how they affect perceptions of crime and justice. John Ridley's directing is great. I'm in.

Superstore (NBC, Mondays at 8/7c) - This comedy about employees at a Walmart clone also does some interesting things with race and class and gender, actually. It's funny and charming. America Ferrera is a delight, of course. And the most recent episode revealed something that genuinely surprised me and suggested it wasn't going the most predictable route, so now I'm intrigued.

Telenovela (NBC, Mondays at 8:30/7:30c) - I just realized while writing this that NBC has two comedies with Latina leads back to back and that's nifty. I don't like Telenovela as much as Superstore, but it's cute, and has some actors I like in it (Diana Maria Riva! Zach Levi!).

Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life (Fox, Sundays at 8:30/7:30c) - Comedy about post-college guys learning about the real world. I watched four minutes of this and decided it wasn't for me. It was far from the worst comedy I've ever seen, I'm just . . . not its audience. Which is fine! I wish to like fewer TV shows, in general, really.

(I haven't watched Angel from Hell or Shades of Blue yet - look for another post next week about them and a few other new shows.)


  1. I'd feared Angel from Hell was either going to be really stupid or really gross, and it's neither of those things. It's also not excellent, but it was the series opener, so I'm game to give it another couple episodes to find its feet, since I like so many of the cast members.

  2. I've been meaning to read The Magicians for a while; will watching the show spoil the books for me, do you think?

    1. Hm, if you want to be very unspoiled, yes. They age everyone up and make some other changes, but it's still basically the same characters and world. And there were actually a few things that I thought might be from later books brought in earlier. (I've only read the first so far.)