This article originally appeared on Crossfader
It’s been a short but landmark week at Crossfader TV. Out of four new premieres we covered, the one we liked the most was a SyFy Original! You just never know in this whackadoo world of prestige television. Enjoy our thoughts on the latest from the small screen!
ALEXA & KATIE (Netflix)
From a purely artistic perspective, ALEXA & KATIE disappoints. The acting is mostly mediocre, the writing is sloppy, and the sight gags are poorly done. Think back to a bad Disney Channel sitcom you watched when you were eight. That said, the reason this show is remotely watchable is because it not only promotes on-screen representation of those fighting cancer, but does it in such a way that it’s teachable to kids and can be appreciated by their parents. So many people in this world are affected by cancer in some form or another, and to have that kind of talk with your kids about what it is and what changes come with it is difficult for a lot of parents. In that respect, this show is a great dialogue-starter about cancer. That said, the multi-camera sitcom form used to try and address the topic sometimes comes off as unnecessary. It is painfully obvious that the show is not taped in front of a live audience given the dead silence during serious moments on the show, and it makes you wonder if single camera wouldn’t be the better format for the show. On the whole, the show serves its purpose toward the target demo pretty well. Unfortunately, I have to assign a rating—and, let’s be honest, the key demographic for this show doesn’t overlap with the one reading this review.
The entire first season of ALEXA & KATIE is available to stream on Netflix
Since SHERLOCK, it’s difficult not to think everything is a low-quality rendition of coincidental discoveries and poorly planned patterns. Meaning, when INSTINCT’s psychology professor, Dylan Reinhart, started force-feeding the audience rather unsubtle clues—I was turned off. This is not to say that SHERLOCK is the only detective story allowed to exist, many came before and great ones have come after—but INSTINCT just isn’t one of those shows. It follows the aforementioned Reinhart, who published a book about killers and “abnormal behaviors” and is working, to no avail, on a sequel. He partners with Lizzie, a member of the NYPD, to solve a chain of murders inspired by his first book in hopes that these deaths will bring his writing back to life. In theory, the plot is strong and the characters are very inclusive—featuring Reinhart as a gay married man and giving many powerful roles to females—but the carry out is where the drop occurs. The writing is like coming home drunk when you’re in high school: everyone can see it’s trying so hard to be natural but the reality is, it’s just loud and clumsy. And from this, the acting suffers. In general, everyone does a fine job, but the “advanced techniques” of feeling emotion or building relationships is totally missed; I, a gay, non-heteronormative thinker, watched Reinhart and his husband interact for three minutes before I even realized they were married! To say the most, this show will be a good crime thriller for audiences that aren’t very quick-witted; but, if you’re a big fan of mysteries, then this CBS pilot is a crime scene in and of itself. [Jade Michaels]
INSTINCT airs on Sundays on CBS
This is television gambling at its finest. The production design on this show looks amazing, and equally as important—expensive! The quality is way above the grid of what SyFy normally puts out aesthetically (meaning those films that you look at and within 30 seconds say, “This is definitely a SyFy original”) but did the hard work pay off? If you like superheros, then yeah, it kinda did. KRYPTON follows the life of Superman’s grandfather in a “let’s spin-off a random character and try to be the next WICKED” kind of way, mixed in heavily with GAME OF THRONES and, well, obviously, some sci-fi elements. However, it makes itself original by adding a time-travel aspect to gain independence from the well-known Superman plotline and predictability as a whole. The new story highlights corruption in government, socio-economics, and other elements that are important in real-life society—a trait of television that I find admirable when it is given due diligence. I will say that the costumes can be wonky and try-hard, and the acting is rough in spots, but SyFy had to be true to itself in some way or another. Regardless of this, if you are into the DC universe, this is a worthy competitor to the over-compensation of Marvel’s mass in media right about now. [Jade Michaels]
KRYPTON airs on Wednesdays on SyFy
STATION 19 (ABC)
I am not a big fan of GREY’S ANATOMY. I’ll watch it if it’s on, but it’s not a show I’d ever actively seek out. This latest spinoff, STATION 19, might be better appreciated by fans of the aforementioned show, but it can also stand on its own. Starring Jaina Lee Ortiz (ROSEWOOD) and Grey Damon (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS), STATION 19 follows a Seattle-based group of firefighters as they . . . fight fires and get involved with each other romantically. It features all the things you love about Shonda Rhimes-produced shows: extensive dialogue that explains to you how something works (memorably, one character gives advice to another on how to best slide down a fire pole), strong female leads, and even a cameo appearance by Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital (with probably more to come, considering the subject material). Fans of GREY’S ANATOMY will also recognize Jason George as Ben Warren, a surgeon-recently-turned-firefighter trying to make his way in the world. I will say in defense of the show that their fire and other visual effects are really, really good for broadcast television—shows like DECEPTION and movies such as BAYWATCH have done much worse. On the whole, I enjoyed the pilot, and I’d probably watch more based on my enjoyment of firefighter-based content (see: BACKDRAFT), but STATION 19 is nothing special. Shonda, please go to Netflix soon so that your characters can actually swear and die and do cool things that Disney can’t show on television.
Verdict: Sh** (but like a good-smelling kind, one that treated you well)
STATION 19 airs on Thursdays on ABC