No, I haven’t seen them all. For example, GCB looks a little too silly for me. Though, I am intrigued by the premise of a show based on a church’s social life. I toyed with the idea for years, since I grew up in a church… though not one quite so dramatic. But anyway, on to the shows:
I’ve already reviewed Smash, and the subsequent episodes, while not as astounding as the pilot, were still pretty good. Here’s hoping the show finds an audience.
Alcatraz is nifty, I suppose, with its weird time-travel (?) premise. And anything with Sam Neill in it is worth a look. (Remember Happy Town? No, I didn’t think you would.) The problem is that the show is trying to be all things to all people. There’s the anthology aspect, with each convict’s backstory as a prisoner on the island back in 1960. Then there’s the police procedural aspect, as our heroes (Sarah Jones, playing a character as boring as her name, and Jorge Garcia, playing Hurley-without-the-funny) track down the bad guy of the week. And there’s the mythology stuff, with Sam Neill being all cagey about what’s happening at his faux-Alcatraz out in the wilderness. It’s all moderately interesting, and I suspect I’ll keep watching, but this isn’t one that if it’s cancelled I’ll be moved to tears or anything.
The River is a little more focused. This is an adventure show and it’s all about moody camera angles and creepy plot lines. (Undead river boat? Check. Stealthy primitives with unknown motives? Check. Guy hanging from the neck in eternal torment for stealing someone’s soul with a camera? Check.) The found-footage angle is handled remarkably well, both from the perspective of the team of rescuers, and the original team that they’re going to rescue who left behind their own footage. My only quibble is that every episode so far (I’ve see four) involves a character performing some sort of self-sacrificial act that ends up saving everyone’s bacon. Hopefully they’ll change it up a little before the six-episode season ends in a couple of weeks.
I’ve only seen the pilot of Awake. It’s far more contemplative than any of these others. It’s well acted, with Jason Isaacs doing the heavy lifting as a cop who was in a car accident, and may have either lost his wife or his son. The strange crossovers between the two “realities” in his work are interesting, but the dueling therapists are even more interesting. Each is trying to convince our hero that they are in the real world. But with nothing to give one more credence than the other, the hero basically says he wants to live in both worlds, where he can still be with both of his loved ones, if not simultaneously. So, the pilot was pretty great. I don’t know how this premise plays out into a series format, but I’m looking forward to finding out.