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I can see why NBC passed on this. The fact that it is a romantic comedy series is not what I don’t like about it. Sure, I don’t think it’s helping my case for why I did not enjoy this pilot that much, but really, I don’t mind rom-coms that much. They might be as cliche as they come, but there can be some good qualities to them, especially when you know you need to find them when you’re trying to impress your date on a certain night. But with Mindy Kaling’s new series, there’s no romanticism for the genre. There are lots of references to them, but references do not make a show and what kills me here is that for a show with such an impressive cast, everything about it feels lackluster.

In the series, Mindy Kaling, who is also the star and creator, plays an OBGYN named (well you guessed it) Mindy and she must battle the ups and downs of dating, which gets exasperated when she gets drunk at her ex’s wedding and proceeds to ride a stolen bike into someone’s random pool. It is that setup which gives way to the rest of the episode, as Mindy explains the pilot’s events in a series of pseudo flashbacks that soon turn into flashforwards. It is a weird framing device, but it oddly works. I just hope that it is only used this once for the pilot as a way to set up everything, but if they plan on making this a recurring device, I’m going to be tuning out fairly quickly. In fact, there’s one portion of the pilot that deals with a Muslim woman and a young child that seek Mindy’s advice, and then deliver a baby… meaning that the single episode spans more then eight months. And I had no idea if the kid was the father of said baby, since they never explained it. This was rather unfortunate because it made that subplot more confusing then it should have been.

As a comedy, it’s unfortunate that the trailer gives away all the funny jokes from the pilot. Future episodes will likely not be that way, but what that tells me is that, with Mindy writing, it could mean that the jokes are few and far between. I am not comfortable with that potential future, but one thing this show has going for it is that it has apparently poached half the writing staff from Community which means it should start bringing the funny. The likes of Chris McKenna (Emmy nominated writer for the classic Community episode “Remedial Chaos Theory”), Adam Countee (who penned my favorite episode from season 3 “Curriculum Unavailable”), and Ike Barinholtz (my favorite MAD TV cast member) will be writing future episodes. In Barinholtz’s case, he’ll be performing in the show as a new regular, so I’m hoping that elevates the show’s quality.

The other thing this show has going for it is that it has a truly insane cast. Chris Messina, Anna Camp, Ed Weeks, and even the likeable Mindy Kaling do good work in their roles, especially Anna Camp who seems to be an actress who is above playing such a small, supporting role (though I suspect her part will expand as the series grows). They all elevate what is really weak material and seem to be having fun doing so, especially Messina who portrays Dr. Danny Castellano, the Nick Wagner (New Girl reference, anyone?!?) of the show. And if the show can attract guest stars of Bill Hader and Ed Helms’ caliber on a consistent basis, they could draw some extra eyes.

I’m just hoping that Mindy Kaling sticks with the acting here. Sure, her pilot does have its moment, but with her attention divided, I feel like it could deliver an overall weaker series and that’s where the worry comes in. There’s definitely going to be some people who are instant fans of the series and that’s fine. For the woman, I expect them to be the first ones aboard the bandwagon, but to draw a wider, male net, the show is going to need to deliver more funny while appealing the female sentimentality. I was hoping to like this more as, like I’ve said before, I do enjoy the work of a lot of people involved with this show. They are going to need to find their footing fast or it could lose me as a viewer. This is a series that has been overhyped (probably the most overhyped of the fall freshman class) and I suspect there are going to be people who are let down by the final product. The Mindy Project is not going to be the worst show that hits the air this fall (my money is on The Neighbors or The Mob Doctor to take that title), but it is definitely not an upper echelon comedy. Approach with caution and keep in mind that better comedies are premiering.

*½

The Mindy Project premieres on September 25, 2012 at 9:30pm on FOX.

From the forces that brought the world LOST, Supernatural, and Iron Man; JJ Abrams, Eric Kripke, and Jon Faverau, comes this new high concept television series set in the near future in a world where all forms of electrical energy have been wiped out in what has been dubbed “the blackout.” The show follows the adventures of The Mathesons’, a uncle, niece, and nephew combination, along with their friends, as they struggle to come to gripes in a world where the government we know is gone and a harsh miltia, known as the Monroe Republic, has taken over the region that was once Chicago and its suburbs.

What can I say about Revolution? Out of all the pilots that I have seen for the upcoming fall season, this is the show that shows the most potential out of the lot. With a great concept and a great creator (Eric Kripke) behind it, I have faith that the show is going to get better as it goes. Though this episode was plagued with having to set up a lot, I will say that it does lay the groundwork amicably and succeeds where so many other high concept shows have failed. However, this pilot was not as good as LOST‘s pilot nor should it be compared to that show. Though planes may have come falling out the sky in this pilot, as in LOST, the mysterious and mystic levels of mystery aren’t as captivating as LOST‘s and that’s where it is faulted. Like FlashForward, ABC’s failed attempt at doing “LOST 2.0″, the pilot cops out with a few cliche mysteries that come up from having this type of concept as your show and well, a few of them are evidenced in the trailer.

In fact, the one problem of the trailer, is that it ruined a few of the big moments that this pilot had. Firstly, the reveal at the end of the trailer is the same reveal as the end of the pilot and well, that was a huge bummer. Had that moment been kept secret, the pilot would feel a little more amped up. Secondly, the promotional imagery, the one on the stairs ruins another one of the big twists, that comes very early on in the pilot, which, again, is another huge bummer. But lastly, unlike LOST, the show does not set up enough characters for me to feel like they have a lot of stories going, now I know going forward there’s going to be new characters thrown into the mix (Daniella Alonso is a regular, but starts her work in episode 2 apparently) but I’m worried that right now, they’re going to heavily rely on the weaker mysteries to pass by some of the time. The pilot does tread into too much cliche at times but my gut tells me that they’re only doing that because of the world building that it needs to do, something I understand, and appreciate, though I hope it does not last that long.

Now, what I can say is that this show does show a lot of potential. Miles Matheson, the lead played by Billy Burke, has the potential to be a very solid male hero. He’s got the quiet demeanor to be a Dirty Harry like protagonist and Tracy Spirkados, who plays the female lead Charlie Matheson, also has some room to grow, but I think the character who could prove to be the most interesting is Zak Orth’s Aaron, he seems to be taking on a Hurley like role. I gotta admit, Hurley was one of my favorite Lost characters, and especially since Aaron is someone who, before the blackout, had quite a bit of dough. I’m a little worried that Giancarlo Esposito and Elizabeth Mitchell, two of my favorite actors, are going to be underused as the series goes as there characters seem very stereotypical and limited, so here’s hoping that with the series evolution that they’ll be given more screen time. Especially since it’s heavily implied that Mitchell’s character only appears in flashbacks (but my gut tells me a twist is due sometime in the first 13 episodes).

All in all, I believe Revolution could fill the void that LOST left as I trust that Eric Kripke and company, as long as they stay true to there vision and avoid trying to be LOST‘s full on replacement. All it needs to do is give its supporting characters things to do that are of interest and depth and it could find itself not being the next series to enter the high concept ensemble graveyard alongside failed entries The Event and FlashForward. Give this show a gander as they could be onto something.

***½

The pilot premieres on September 17th at 10pm on NBC.

Within the first five minutes of the show Molly’s life seems to be completely fixed.  She is reinstated into all of her committees, and the UAA agency is interested in her writing.  Clearly everything is too good to be true.  As Kenny (David Alan Basche) urges Molly to do whatever the agency wants (an understandable position), Zach (Hart Bochner) warns her that it will be selling out.  Both men come off as complete jerks to me.

As usual, the more interesting story is not about Molly, but rather, her friends.  Liz (Danielle Nicolet) thinks she has caught her husband cheating when they follow him to a strange woman’s house, but it turns out to be a psychiatrist, Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos) stands up to Felix (his closeted love interest), and Joan (Judy Davis) has an affair.

All in all it wasn’t a phenomenal episode, but not terrible either.  Molly is getting progressively less pathetic than in the first few episodes, but she is still not the engaging Molly of the Mini Series.  I believe that the next episode will be better with the return of Lou (Joe Mantegna), as he really was Molly’s prince charming.  For some reason, I find Molly’s currently love interest, Zach, extremely unlikable.  Even her ex-husband, Kenny, is a more sympatheic character.  I have my finger’s crossed for tonight’s episode.

The Starter Wife airs every Friday at 10pm on the USA Network.

Debra Messing is The Starter Wife

The Starter Wife 1.03 – “Remains of a Snow Day”

As word gets out that Molly is the “Hollywood Ex-Wife” her life continues in a seemingly endless downward spiral.  Molly has essentially been banned from all PTA functions including Snow Day, a function she organized herself.  Didn’t Lou Manahan (Joe Mantegna) already fix this problem in the mini series?  Where is he anyway?  Molly needs some serious rescuing especially since her new love interest Zach McNeill (Hart Bochner) only seems to be leading her into more trouble.

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Along with the many other fans of the mini-series I am a bit disappointed with the start of The Starter Wife series on USA Network. I can handle the replacement of Molly’s ex-husband in the Bewitched fashion (originally Peter Jacobson, the role is now filled by David Alan Basche), but ignoring the fact that most of Molly’s friends are gone is unacceptable. I understand that actors move on and almost all of the missing characters have parts in other successful shows, but the writers needed to somehow compensate for that.

I did enjoy that the series continues to foreshadow the plot with flashes of the characters in scenes of famous movies, but Molly as the “Virgin Queen” is something no one wants to see. I was hoping that the story would pick up when it became possible that Molly might get a job as a writer while attending Zach the novelist’s party, but instead more tragedy struck Molly when her diary was stolen.

Who leaves their purse, especially one with a very private diary in it, unguarded at a party? Molly certainly should have known better. Now Molly has no job, and might lose her only new friend, Liz Marsh (Danielle Nicolet), because whoever stole Molly’s diary is publishing her private stories on the Internet, including one about Liz.

Overall, the storyline was less than engaging and Molly seems much more pathetic than she did ever before. At this point I will continue to watch in support of Debra Messing and in hopes that the show will improve.

To watch the premiere episode of The Starter Wife, click here. The show’s next new episode, “The Remains of the Snow Day”, airs tonight at 10pm on the USA Network.