Because of the Firewall & Iceberg podcast and an out-of-control summer of original programming, I’ve barely been treading water since the TV season allegedly ended in May. I’ve had to do extended marathons of “Justified” and “Treme” to make sure I finished those shows in time to talk about them with Sepinwall, while I’ve also been plowing through episodes of new and returning shows.
That means that I haven’t had the time to dedicate myself to the TV critic’s normal June/July pursuit, which is tackling the teetering pile of pilots for fall and midseason network shows. Those programs won’t premiere until September and October, but we have to be on top of things for Comic-Con and the Television Critics Association press tour at the end of July and beginning of August.
So I’m gonna get to that. As I do, I’m going to give very quick reactions to the pilots as I progress.
The reactions will be *brief*. I established a simple format for the reactions back in my Blogspot days, a format I branded “Take Me to the Pilots,” a branding I’m going to return to now. The format requires nothing more than a paragraph and a couple other lines. It’s a gut reaction and nothing more.
I keep saying “reaction” and that’s by way of emphasizing that these will *not* be reviews. Although some of the pilots I’ll be going through won’t change at all before they premiere, most of them will be altered at least in some way. They’ll be recast. They’ll have new score and credits attached. They’ll sometimes have scenes added or excised. Tones will be tweaked, pacing amended and effects work will be prettied up in post. The pilot for “The Good Wife” sent to critics last May was identical to the one that premiered to huge numbers in September. The pilot for “Parenthood” sent to critics last May looked and felt almost nothing like the show that finally debuted on NBC in March.
Doing a full and complete review of an in-flux pilot would be utterly unfair. At HitFix, we don’t do formal reviews of movies being tested months before hitting theaters and we don’t do formal reviews of the scripts we’ve read. I would never review the sauce an Italian restaurant based on eating a slice of a tomato. Doing a one-paragraph reaction? Totally fair. The networks have sold millions (billions?) in advertising on the backs of the pilots in this form, so I can make a half-dozen down-and-dirty observations on the backs of the pilots in this form.
But these aren’t reviews. I’ll watch every single one of these shows again come September before formulating overly calculated, exhaustively verbose reviews.
Personally, I like having these handy for when I do Fall Preview stories and galleries and also for when I go really write my reviews. It’s instructive and constructive.
I’ll probably do one or two of these a day for the next few weeks. Except for when I don’t.
Now, having set the ground rules for this Not-Review project, let’s get started…