I have a bad habit. My new favorite TV shows end up being the ones that get canceled after one (or two, if I’m lucky) seasons. It’s not that they’re bad shows— in fact, they are often lauded by critics. But unfortunately the general public just doesn’t seem to latch on, or even watch the first episode, of these shows. Last year it was The Grinder. This year The Good Girls Revolt has already perished, and I’m worried there might be two more casualties— Pitch on Fox and The Good Place on NBC.
So I’m here to tell you why you should binge-watch the shows this winter and cross your fingers the networks decide to renew them.
The Good Place stars Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who finds she has died and ended up in “The Good Place.” It’s not a spoiler to say that this was a mistake as we see in flashbacks she has few redeeming qualities. Ted Danson is Michael, the “architect” of Eleanor’s neighborhood, who explains to her that one’s actions over their lifetime are valued to determine whether they deserve to be there. Everyone is matched up with a soulmate, Eleanor’s being the philosophy professor and uber-ethicist Chidi (William Jackson Harper).
As Michael replays highlights from Eleanor’s life (from her point-of-view) she sees that she has been mixed up with a more virtuous Eleanor Shellstrop who happened to die at the same time. She confides in Chidi and they resolve to rehabilitate Eleanor so that she earns her place there. But disturbances in the neighborhood that began shortly after her arrival foreshadow that Eleanor’s presence might not be welcome.
It’s hard to say too much more because the less you know the better, but it’s not often that a network sitcom is this smart, and also frequently drops hilarious one-liners. NBC aired both the first and last pair of episodes back-to-back, and I really think it illustrates how great this show is for binging.
The first few installments involve quite a bit of set-up and nearly every episode ends on a twist or cliffhanger. Part of me wishes NBC had experimented with dropping all 13 episodes online at once a la Netflix or Amazon. Now that season one is complete, you can knock it out in just a few days. Check it out on-demand if you have NBC or buy it on Amazon.
While This Is Us has been getting most of the attention among new dramas, the creator Dan Fogelman’s other show Pitch, has flown under-the-radar despite its arguably more interesting premise and characters— a rookie MLB pitcher who happens to be female.
Relative newcomer Kylie Bunbury is perfectly cast as Ginny Baker, who possesses just the right amount of masculinity while still retaining her femininity. Lots of familiar faces show up in the cast including a bearded and barely recognizable Mark-Paul Gosselaar as catcher Mike Lawson, Ali Larter as Ginny’s agent Amelia, Mark Consuelos as the team’s GM and Mo McRae as Blip; a friend and teammate of Ginny’s.
After only a few episodes, you’ll have a clear picture of each character and their motivations, which can sometimes be hard to do with a fairly large, ensemble cast. An interest in baseball isn’t necessary—while the show does have a relationship with MLB that makes the game sequences (which are only a small part of most episodes) more believable, the relationships among the characters are what drives the show. There is a twist at the end of the pilot, but they don’t come as frequently as in This is Us or The Good Place.
Although the show is more grounded in reality than Shonda-land shows, it would be right at home in the Thursday night lineup. And that’s perhaps it’s downfall as Fox scheduled it for Thursday night when it’s prime audience has already made TGIT appointment TV. Watch Pitch on Fox or Hulu.
What new shows have you been watching this year? Are any on-the-bubble that you hope others will save? Leave a comment!