Get your DVRs ready for the fall TV season, when networks release every new show and season they have at the exact same time. Obviously, that can be a lot to go through, making it difficult to figure out what’s worth your time. Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.
Over the course of the next couple of months, we’ll be looking at a selection of new and returning shows and giving you a quick breakdown of what is worth watching and what you should pass on. This week, we’re talking about The Orville, The Deuce, The Mindy Project, and South Park.
400 years in the future, Seth MacFarlane plays Ed Mercer, who has been given command of a spaceship named The Orville. His second in command is his ex-wife, Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), and the two bicker with each other while running the ship. Their first mission goes awry, and the crew find themselves face-to-face with an evil alien race known as the Krill.
Regardless of what you’ve seen from the teasers and promos for this show, The Orville is not a true comedy. It’s more a drama with a couple of jokes sprinkled in. In fact, every joke from the series premiere is contained within the trailer for the show. So what is The Orville actually like? Well, it’s Star Trek: The Next Generation with a better computer-effects budget and some knee-slappers tossed in. While the show seems like it is supposed to be a parody, it never hits that same level that one would, like Galaxy Quest. The Orville tiptoes around parody and can’t decide if it’s going to be a serious show or a mildly amusing comedy. Luckily, the supporting cast is dynamic, fun, and adds some life to the show. If you’re really looking for a space adventure with some comedy tossed in, Firefly exists, and it has its own voice.
Is It Worth Watching?: It’s a pass. This is a really middle-of-the-road pilot. It doesn’t feel like anything new, with only its supporting cast managing to stand out. Ultimately, it’s Star Trek fanfiction.
The Orville airs on Sundays at 8 PM ET on Fox. You can watch the first episode on Hulu.
HBO’s newest series takes place during the ’70s in New York City; more specifically, Manhattan. It was a time when drugs, porn, and prostitution ruled Times Square, not Broadway shows and people dressed as Elmo. James Franco stars as twin brothers Frankie and Vincent Martino: one is a degenerate gambler, and the other is a bar manager trying to make a living to help his family, whom he never sees. In addition, the show follows numerous other characters including prostitutes working the area, their pimps, and an NYU student.
The pilot episode comes in at almost an hour and a half, and it is a giant information dump onto the audience; however, this show is brilliant. There is not a single moment when we’re being introduced to the world that the show feels like it drags at all. The Deuce does a spectacular job jumping between characters and introducing their story arcs, which tend to weave into other character’s stories as well. Maggie Gyllenhaal does a spectacular job as a prostitute who doesn’t have a pimp, something almost unheard of in this world. Somehow, a fully fleshed-out story arc for her is present in the pilot, without feeling rushed or overshadowing the rest of the episode. The pacing and balance for these arcs is expertly crafted. Also of note is the set design and overall look of the show, which are perfect. It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that Times Square used to be a completely different place than it is now.
Is It Worth Watching?: Stop reading this and sign into HBO or video on demand and watch this episode. The Deuce is one of the best pilots for a series I have ever seen.
The Deuce airs on Sundays at 9 PM ET on HBO. The first episode is available on HBO Go/HBO Now.
The Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling is back as Mindy Lahiri, the young doctor trying to balance her work life and her personal life. The premiere for the final season has a recently wed Mindy learning about what it takes to be in a marriage. Obviously, she has a lot to learn as she’s not very good at it.
This was a rough episode. The Mindy Project was a show I casually enjoyed a few seasons back, but this episode really didn’t do anything for me. The show looks as if it was shot in 2017, but the writing and characters feel like something from a decade prior. It’s clinging to a grounder, but overly wacky writing style that just doesn’t work anymore. The episode straddles the line between being a compelling comedic drama and an over-the-top, silly show. The Mindy Project could be a whole lot more successful if it focused on one direction or the other.
Is It Worth Watching?: No.
New episodes of The Mindy Project are released on Tuesdays on Hulu.
The 21st season of South Park opened with Alexas and Google Homes taking over homes across the town. However, this has angered unemployed citizens who feel Google and Amazon are taking their jobs (dey derp r derps). The unemployed stage a protest in town, complete with Confederate flags and tiki torches. Meanwhile, Cartman deals with his girlfriend. What is Randy Marsh up to? He’s hosting a new show with his wife called “White People Renovating Houses.”
The episode is weirdly disjointed and the sound mixing was way off, leaving the score a whole lot louder than the dialogue; however, I’ve come to expect pure insanity when it comes to South Park, especially after last year’s season, which was the only episodic season to date. Everything during the episode was a home run, especially a local waving a Confederate flag over an Alexa.
Is Is Worth Watching?: Even if you were put off by last season, you should check this episode out, but please make sure your Alexa, Google Home, and/or Siri are turned off before starting it. You’ll thank me later.
South Park airs on Comedy Central on Wednesdays at 10 PM ET. New episode appear the day after they air on Hulu.
Come back next week when we’re talking about Vice Principals, Channel Zero, Gotham, and Fuller House.