Opening night of the San Diego Comic-Con always includes Warner Bros Television screening a group of their most highly-anticipated pilots for the upcoming TV season. Past shows to get the Comic-Con-first treatment include The Vampire Diaries, Fringe, and Supernatural, and these are all shows that have benefitted from a huge swell of early fan support thanks to the so-called "Premiere Night." Yesterday The MindHut was lucky enough to catch four of this year's pilots. Here are our thoughts to help you make your DVR selections come September:
666 Park Avenue: In a nutshell: the Devil becomes a New York City landlord. Makes sense, right? In this series, Gavin Doran (Lost's Terry O'Quinn) owns a posh Manhattan building, and his tenants always seem to get whatever they most desire. Of course, that comes with a price greater than the rent payments. This probably sounds like a really cool idea, and it is; in fact, this is the kind of series where if you're just told about it it's going to sound amazing. Unfortunately, the execution leaves much to be desired. Everything in the show is so darned heavy-handed; it's full of Satanic symbolism, for instance, that a high-school English teacher would love to geek out about. Additionally, the series plays a game of seeing how obvious it can be about what's happening without actually saying it forthright, which means the inevitable episode where things are finally spelled out is going to be crazy boring. Finally, this show is really miscast; other than the excellent O'Quinn, none of these people are believable in their roles. We're supposed to accept that our point-of-view characters/heroes are a poor Queens couple with noble dreams and $18 to their name, but they come off as disconnected Manhattan socialites from the minute we meet them. Basically unwatchable.
Arrow: After five years stranded on a deserted island, socialite Ollie Queen returns to his city to rid it of crime and corruption as the costumed adventurer Green Arrow. When The MindHut first posted about this show, a lot of MasterMinds said they felt that it would basically be a rip-off of Batman. You guys should win a prize. The Batman influences in this pilot are overwhelming, ESPECIALLY as far as Batman Begins, which it seems to take quotes directly from. Everything here feels like the show's producers wanted to make Green Arrow a Christopher Nolan character but had no idea how to make it unique: you've got your rich guy thrust into social responsibility, your overly-growly voice over, your general lack of humor about anything that's happening. On the other hand, the little bit of Robin Hood added on top of the Batman story is nice. That's the one thing this script gets right; it preserves Ollie's quest to steal from the rich and give to the poor to see social justice done (Batman, on the other hand, doesn't usually concern himself with matters of class). Still, it's a super-serious script with an overly derivative and basically unlikeable hero; at one point in the pilot, Ollie kills a bad guy in cold blood. That's not cool. It's bad, but there is a tiny ray of watchability in there.
The Following: One of the US's most notorious serial killers breaks out of prison, and he's out to finish the work he started. The thing about this guy: he thinks his murders are a work of art; he actually fancies himself the Edgar Allan Poe of murdering women. Now it's up to the FBI agent who literally wrote the book on the guy to bring him to justice yet again. The problem is that that book romanticized the story of this killer, thereby making him an attractive figure to a whole new generation of followers (see the title?). Now a cult of creeps who worship this original guy are out there helping him do his work on a nation-wide scale. Guys, this show is amazing. It skips right past all the typical serial-killer TV tropes in favor of a more literary approach that scrutinizes the relationship between art and idol worship. It's so creepy and intense. Also, there are scenes in the pilot that are genuinely disturbing, and the show is perfectly cast. This might very well be the best new drama on TV in the fall. Must-watch.
Revolution: In 2012, an unknown event causes all technology around the world to go dead. Fifteen years later, a teenage girl learns that her dad and his brother may have had something to do with the blackout. Now she's on a quest to find her family and maybe restore the world's electricity along the way. This show is going to be huge. Its release is perfectly timed to slot right into The Hunger Games phenomenon, and even though it's not at all derivative of that series, there are a lot of common elements here that will get people interested. Our heroine, for instance, is a brash 17-year-old girl who's proficient with a bow and doesn't take "no" for an answer. Katniss fans will love her. Additionally, this show is also very good; it's really fun to see how people would function in a pre-technological society but with the remnants of technology still around. For example, the first episode shows us a blacked-out Chicago where old car engines are used to grow crops and highway signs provide decorations for bars. The show also has a really solid old-school adventure feel, kind of like Lord of the Rings or a Final Fantasy video game, as party members are collected and quest objectives are met. Finally, the show impressively possesses a good sense of humor as well. Unlike other shows at preview night (Arrow!), Revolution isn't doom and gloom all the time, even though its setting could easily fall into that trap. Its main character is even, gasp, an optimist! Definitely worth watching.