Thursday, 14 July 2016

Fox Pilot Previews: The Exorcist

The Exorcist 

It is truly alarming when the majority of a network’s new series are based on old movies. 

TV shows based on films hardly ever work, and the ones that do, such as Parenthood, either differ greatly from the original film or the original contains characters which are not iconic to the actors that originally portrayed them. Furthermore, TV shows which take a self-contained film in which the narrative has already been solved and tries to turn them into one hundred episodes is a task which can very rarely be achieved, which is why The Exorcist as a TV show is bound to not live up to the original film. How could it? The original film is the best horror film ever made and a testament to the development of special effects and suspense.

I often try to disregard the original film when reviewing a film based TV show but it is virtually impossible to do so. The Exorcist stars Alfonso Herrera as Father Tomas and Ben Daniels as Father Marcus who are both priests who use alternate methods to try and help a family who are in the midst of a demonic possession. Geena Davis has also subjected herself to the role of Angela Rance in the adaptation for reasons which I fail to understand.

If you are expecting the same level of intricate horror, surprise and fright in this adaptation, look elsewhere because the The Exorcist plays out as a weak and flimsy horror show even when you remove all aspects of the original source material. The pilot is, to be blunt, not scary at all, and the ensemble cast give a mostly boring and unremarkable performance for a family in dire need of religious help.

Fox has given The Excorcist the Friday death slot; I don’t know whether they think this horror drama will thrive on Fridays like The X-Files did twenty years ago but, there are surely scarier ways to spend a Friday evening than watching this weak show.

Lethal Weapon

Fox insists on trying to find a hit show based on a film franchise and Lethal Weapon is just the latest addition to their search. 

For some strange reason, Fox believes fans of an almost thirty year old film will be willing to tune into a lower budgeted, network television series with a different cast and storylines. The series stars Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs and Damon Wayans as Roger Murtaugh replacing Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Once the Lethal Weapon is stripped away from this pilot, the show instantly becomes a generic cop duo show, with generic leads, generic cinematography and a predictable story line. There truly is nothing lethal about this show.


A.P.B. is Fox’s new police procedural (with a twist) which will be coming to the network in 2017. The series stars Justin Kirk as Gideon Reeves, a tech billionaire who purchases a poor police precinct hoping to close the file of a murder of a loved one. The story is also loosely based on a New York Times article called “Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?” Despite the source material, the show will be filmed in Chicago. Just like most police procedurals, A.P.B. will have a large ensemble cast including Natalie Martinez as Amelia Murphy (Martinez previously starred in the ABC soap Secrets and Lies with Ryan Phillippe). A.P.B. is simply a familiar fish out of water/police procedural show with a slight twist. In this case, the twist is the introduction of technology to a failing precinct. However, the twist does not give the show enough originality or uniqueness to make enough noise amongst all the other new shows this season, or the CBS dramas A.P.B. low key emulates but will be drowned out by. On the other hand, Justin Kirk is likeable as Reeves and the impressive cinematography and ensemble cast transform a fairly standard cop show into a satisfactory hour of television.


Pitch is probably one of the most ambitious new dramas this season. It does not have supernatural monsters or time travel but it definitely stands out from the crowd. The series is helmed by Dan Fogelman who is also behind one of this year’s biggest animated movies Zootopia and the critically acclaimed albeit underrated musical comedy GalavantPitch follows the story of Ginny Baker, a young female pitcher who becomes the first woman to play in the league, when she is chosen to play for the San Diego Padres.

The series also happens to be the first scripted television program of its kind to be officially associated with Major League Baseball thus, Fox are betting big on this show. At its core, Pitch is a very heart-warming show which tugs at the emotions of its audience and also encompasses a broad appeal despite its unlikely premise. The likability of newcomer Kylie Bunbury as well as the supporting cast including Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Mike Lawson, a gruff character who will probably become Ginny’s love interest by mid-season, elevates the show. Michael Beach plays Ginny’s dad Bill Baker who apparently is only a guest-star however, based on the strength of the character and the natural chemistry between both Kylie and Michael and their characters shows why their father-daughter-baseball relationship deserves much more screen time!

Another area in which Pitch excels are the scenes shot inside the Padres stadium which are absolutely breathe taking. I have never seen a basketball game live nor have I watched a game before, however, if the excitement and anticipation Fogelman and pilot director Paris Barclay are close to the truth then maybe I should reconsider.

The final and the most important question for Pitch is whether it will actually be successful? Who will actually watch this show? As previously stated, Pitch is not controversial or provocative and aims to stay away from the soapy story lines listed above although, those story lines which are common in Shondaland shows and Fox’s mega hit Empire which kept viewers coming back each week. Hopefully Pitch is not too cookie cutter to be knocked out of the game before its time.

Son of Zorn 

Son of Zorn is an upcoming animated/live-action comedy series coming to Fox next season. The comes from Phil Lord and Chris Miller the same producers behind Last Man on Earth, a similarly high-concept show which garnered a lot of buzz, good ratings and several prestigious award nominations during its first season. It is the first of two new high concept Lord n’ Miller comedies Fox will premier this season including Making History in 2017. High concept comedies are the new hot trend this season and Son of Zorn, while being quite an original concept for a TV comedy, is actually one half of a pair of animated/live-action shows coming this season. The other is the ABC comedy Imaginary Mary. However, both shows will have to count on more than their flashy concepts in order to keep viewers coming back each week for the course of the season, which leads to the question of whether Son of Zorn is actually any good beyond its high concept?

The premise of the show is as follows: “Upon arriving home on Earth for the first time in 10 years, ZORN (the voice of Jason Sudeikis, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, “Saturday Night Live”), a fully animated, legendary warrior, finds that reconnecting with his live-action son, ALAN (Johnny Pemberton, “21 Jump Street”), and ex-wife, EDIE (Cheryl Hines, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), while suffering through a mundane office job and the banality of suburban life, is harder than waging actual war in his distant, mystical homeland of Zephyria. Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”) also stars”. 

The show definitely sounds exciting and silly enough to capture an audience however, based on the pilot, the show seems a little… dull, which is surprising considering the team behind the show and the talent in front of it. The character Zorn is a He Man-type muscular warrior whose style of animation is quite jarring in front of the live-action sets and gives the show an unrealistic quality (I know that sounds strange, let me explain!). While Fox used a traditionally animated character, ABC opted for a CGI character for their animated/live action show which looks better on screen and is not as jarring to look at. My biggest disappointed with the show is how unfunny it looks... 

The lead actors Johnny Pemberton and Jason Sudeikis’ performance are both far too deadpan to be funny and many of the jokes, which obviously revolve around sex, are predictable. The show could elevate its humour and natural weirdness by placing more focus on Zorn’s backstory, including his mystical homeland of Zephyria and its impending war rather than the bland “exes reunite/trying to conform to suburban life” story lines we have seen so many times on. 

The Son of Zorn pilot is not as funny as it should be nor is it as funny as it thinks it is. The humour is too broad to appeal to the audience that love weird, offbeat humour a la Bob’s Burgers and the concept may be too unusual for a broad audience. 

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