Tag Archives: Hell on Wheels

Fall 2011 New TV Show Predictions Reviewed, Part 1

23 Dec

A couple of months ago, I made predictions about how long new shows on cable networks, ABC, and Fox would last.  As all the shows have aired for a few weeks, it’s time for an evaluation of my predictions, although for some shows, the final word is not in yet.  Such an evaluation follows:

Cable

Hell on Wheels

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed away – not as successful commercially as AMC stalwart The Walking Dead or critically as Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but good enough.  It’s no Rubicon.

Homeland

Predicted:  Renewal

What Happened:  Renewal – right on, everyone else agreed with me and I agreed with everyone else that this is the best new show of the year.  It’ll be back with a vengeance.

American Horror Story

Predicted:  Renewal

What Happened:  Renewed – I still don’t understand it, and I don’t mean that in either a good or a bad way, but it’s become a bit of a sleeper hit.

Boss

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed – Cheating, it was renewed before it aired.  Still, it got good enough reviews, for whatever that’s worth.

Enlightened

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed, but barely, as it survived the great HBO comedy extermination of 2011, which saw the ends of personal favorite Bored to Death, Hung and How To Make It In America.

ABC

 

Charlie’s Angels

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled.  One of the five easiest predictions to make all year.  Had no chance from day one.

Last Man Standing

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Picked up for full season so far.  Probably the prediction I got wrong which I would have staked the most on.  I still don’t think it will last past this year, but I would have said it’d be gone after three or four episodes, so who knows.

Man Up

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Second of the top five easiest decisions.  Didn’t have a shot in hell, and shouldn’t have.

Once Upon A Time

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up a for a full season, likely renewal.  It’s become a family hit, and although it hasn’t been renewed yet, so I could technically still be right, it probably will be renewed and I’ll be wrong.  Oops.

Pan Am

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Not cancelled officially yet, but looking like all but a formality.  This was one of the more difficult shows to call.

Revenge

Precited:  Renewal

What happened;  Picked up for a full season, and looking likely for renewal.  Very pleased about both my call, which wasn’t obvious, and the popularity of one of the better new shows.

Suburgatory

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up, with a renewal likely.  It’s been kind of a surprise hit on what’s become a bit of a surprise hit Wednesday night comedy block on ABC, with Modern Family, The Middle, and Happy Endings next to Suburgatory.

Fox

New Girl

Predicted; Renewal

What happened:  Picked up for a full season, it would be a total shock if it was not renewed.  One of the biggest new show hits of the season so far.

Allen Gregory

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled – not a shocker by any means.  Bad show, bad spot, no chance.  Third of my five easiest cancellations to call.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter

Predicted:  12-

Renewed:  Uncertain, as it didn’t start until the end of November.  That said, I still feel fairly confident in a cancellation.

Terra Nova

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  This is the closest show on the list, and it could still go either way.  I wouldn’t take odds one way or the other.

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Fall 2011 Review: Hell on Wheels

9 Dec

The first episode of Hell on Wheels left me intrigued but not excited.  The pilot gave me just enough to make me want more but not enough to draw me in immediately like Homeland did, for example.

The story takes place soon after the Civil War as the great project of building the transcontinental railroad commences.  Our protagonist is former southern soldier Cullen Bohannon who heads out to work on the railroad, getting hired as a foreman because as a former slave owner he may have a rapport with the black workers, who while free, are treated as barely better than slaves.  Before he heads out, he kills a priest who we find out had something to do with Meridian, a place in Mississippi, in which events resulted in the death of Cullen’s wife.  Cullen’s goal is to find everyone else responsible and kill them as well.  The northerners and southerners get along pretty much right after the war, while the former slaves bear the brunt, the scenes seem to show us.  By the fringes of the railroad, civilized law doesn’t apply.  Rather, the territory is controlled by our antagonist, railroad baron Doc Durant, played by Irish television veteran Colm Meaney.  The episode ends with a long Richard III like speech by Durant, self-identifying himself as the villain but noting that that’s what it takes to get things done, in this case to get the railroad built and of course make him as much money as possible in the process.

Before this, Cullen learns in discussion that his immediate boss had a hand in Meridian, leading the boss to pull a gun on Cullen but inform him that he knows the name of his wife’s murderer.  Unfortunately, a black member of Cullen’s crew, played by Common, slits the boss’s throat before the name of the murderer can be revealed.  Other potential main characters appear to be the wife of a surveyer who is killed by Indians, a reverend, an Indian recently converted to Christianity and a couple of Irish brothers who were on the same train to work as Bohannon, but none of these characters had a whole lot to do in the first episode.

It’s hard not to think of Deadwood when watching even the pilot, as the shows are both set in roughly the same time period and both evoke the spirit and lawlessness of the old west, where there were no legal or moral rules governing society.  The main character seemed at first view like a poor man’s Timothy Olyphant and Durant’s ending speech was needlessly over the top.  We get that you’re a villain, and I can understand a small amount of cartoonish theatrical rationalizing, but it was a bit much.  Many of who appear to be other main cast members didn’t do much in the first episode so it’s hard to evaluate them.  The show is a little bit over serious and could get buried under its own weight if it’s not careful.

That said, there’s enough going on to interest me.  I love the setting and the idea of the moving railroad town and I think there’s a lot of potential there.  I think the revenge plot has possibilities.  Honestly, it’s not so much that the show has done a lot in the first episode to keep me coming back for more as much as raised the possibilities of good things coming in the future.  I’m taken in enough by this though that I’m willing to give it a few episodes to start delivering.

Will I watch it again?  Yes, I’m going to give it another try to see if it builds intrigue and finds its footing.  I’m the first to admit I’m a sucker for historical dramas.  That said, I hope the parts get moving relatively soon and the characters become a bit more compelling.

Fall 2011 Preview: Cable

5 Oct

Homeland – Showtime – 10/2/11

 

Homeland stars Claire Daines as a CIA analyst who obtains a piece of intelligence about terrorist activity that no one else knows, which is that an American prisoner of war has been turned by Al Queda.  She makes nothing of that information until a POW marine who has been away eight years is discovered alive in Iraq.  Hailed as an American hero, the POW, played by Damian Lewis, may be a terrorist, or Daines may be crazy.  Nothing but great buzz here, and it sounds more intriguing than any other new show as a layered psychological thriller.

Prediction:  Renewal – best buzz of the year, and that’s worth even more on a premium network, and even more on Showtime, which still wants to be HBO

American Horror Story – FX – 10/5/11

 

The preview looks insane, and about the only fact I know, other than that Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton and their kid move into a haunted house is that Britton has sex with a ghost in a latex suit in the first episode, and frankly that leaves me even more confused.  Ryan Murphy has an extremely hit and miss record (Nip/Tuck, Glee) and horror is a genre that you generally don’t see on television, because it doesn’t play well for the long run.  From what buzz I have read, a ton takes place in the first episode, enough to make the episode exciting in and of itself but to wonder where the show goes from there, and why the fuck the couple doesn’t just move out.  This’ll probably take a couple episodes of watching to figure out whether it’s worthwhile.

Prediction:  Renewal – I honestly don’t know what to think, but here’s a stab

Hell on Wheels – 11/6/11

Set during the building of the transcontinental railroad, the series features a confederate soldier determined to take revenge on union soldiers who murdered his wife.  Deadwood is the first comparison that springs to mind, due to the time period.  It looks at least interesting, and as a history major, I tend to be a sucker for historically-based shows.  Apparently reconstruction plays a part, and Native American attacks, and who knows what else.

Prediction: Renewal – I have just as little idea as with the show above, but since Rubicon’s been the only non-Renewed show on AMC so far, I’ll take the odds

Boss – Starz – 10/21/11

 

Kelsey Grammer stars as the mayor of Chicago who has been recently diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease.  He keeps this from everyone, his family, friends and staff, who are generally too busy with their own priorities to notice him slipping.  Political intrigue and family drama are in play, with administration members shooting for higher office, and a relationship between Grammar and his wife that may be falling apart.  I’m not sure it will be good, but it certainly could be.

Verdict: Renewal – this is downright cheating – it’s already been renewed, which is admittedly kind of incredible.  I wish Party Down got this kind of support from Starz.

Enlightened – HBO – 9/10/11

Laura Dern portrays an executive with a public breakdown in this HBO comedy.  Buzz seems to be at least slightly positive.  Luke Wilson plays her ex-husband, and Diane Ladd playes her mother.  Creator Mike White wrote for Freaks and Geeks and wrote School of Rock, but also wrote Nacho Libre.  This preview is admittedly weak but after the varying and distinct dramatic premises of the shows above, it’s hard to find a lot to say about Enlightened, especially before watching it.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, just in a premise-is-a-lot-less-important-in-comedy-so-let’s-wait-and-see way.

Prediction:  Renewal – it’s absolutely ridiculous I’ve predicted renewal for all of these, though I feel anecdotally shows are more likely to get picked up on premium cable networks.