[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show: “Stalker” (CBS)
The Pitch: “'CSI' is still steady, but too often the victims are men and that's scaring off fans of 'Criminal Minds.' We need something with more women in peril.” “Yahtzee!”
Quick Response: There isn't a thing I can say here that would make a lick of difference to you. If you like “Criminal Minds,” you'll probably like this. Shrug. Similarly if you get off on the exploitative violence of “The Following” — possibly even more exploitative in its parent-torturing second season than in its literarily pretentious first — you'll probably get off on “Stalker” as well. Me, I found “Stalker” excruciatingly and offensively glib. Here, Williamson is dangerously-close-to-literally cutting and pasting scenes and twists from his slasher and horror movies — cheap fake-out shock-scares, threatening phone calls and parking lot terrorizing paranoia are his jam — but here they've been repurposed in a show that likes to regurgitate statistics about what a serious problem stalking is and how it happens to both men *and* women in real life. AND IT IS and DOES. [The pilot features two stalking cases, a female case and a male case that it doesn't invest in nearly as deeply.] But if you want something to be taken as a serious problem, treat it seriously, don't treat it with the “I wanna make you jump in your seat!” manipulative glee that you previously used when having nubile starlets running from Ghostface or a werewolf. You can't have it both ways. And forgive me for thinking that it's kinda unseemly to think that violence should be treated the same way in “Scream” as in a show that intends to represent actual experiences. Or maybe forgive me for thinking it's unseemly to relying on these genre tropes as a substitute for any other sort of narrative or aesthetic creativity or differentiation. Every plot point and character twist in “Stalker” is by-the-numbers and I feel bad about the wasting of Maggie Q, who always holds the screen with confidence and style. I can't feel bad for Dylan McDermott, because he probably watched or appeared in every episode of “Hostages” and he presumably is able to see that he's doing almost the exact same thing here, only it's possible that this is a less likable character than the one he played on “Hostages.” [Or at least in the first two episodes of “Hostages.” McDermott's character may have done nothing but charitable work and puppy-petting for the remainder of the series. I wouldn't know.] I would say there's no chance of salvaging McDermott's character after his behavior in the “Stalker” pilot, but I won't wait around to find out. Victor Rasuk and Mariana Klaveno, actors I'm perfectly fond of, serve no purpose here at all and neither of them has a character to speak of. I miss the Kevin Williamson I liked, the one with a sense of humor and apparently self-awareness about depictions on on-screen violence. I hope he isn't gone.
Desire To Watch Again: I guess I appreciate how clearly Williamson is delineating between sides of himself. If you like the “Scream”/”Dawson's Creek”/”Vampire Diaries” Kevin Williamson, this isn't that guy. If you like “The Following”? This is for you. Easy! While I've inexplicably stuck with “The Following” for two complete seasons, “Stalker” will get a maximum of one more episode. If that. I just don't need it. And? Guess what? It doesn't need me.
Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Selfie'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: The CW's 'Jane the Virgin'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: FOX's 'Gotham'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: NBC's 'Constantine'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Scorpion'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Black-ish'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: The CW's 'The Flash'
All of my 2013 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries