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Fox Pilots Snap Judgment: Our First Reactions to the New Shows

by Maggie Furlong, posted Jun 7th 2011 12:00PM
New Fox showsWe've seen the network's new fall pilots, and while they're not for review (things often change drastically before the shows are set to premiere), we do want to share our first reactions with you.

This is designed to get you excited for some new shows ... and to warn you to curb your enthusiasm for others. Just keep in mind that we'll have full reviews of the final pilots closer to airdate, in the fall or midseason. For now, here are our snap judgments of all of Fox's new shows for the 2011-2012 TV season.

There are seven shows total -- the good ('New Girl'), the bad ('I Hate My Teenage Daughter') and the why-the-hell-did-this-happen (animated 'Napoleon Dynamite') -- and plenty of varying opinions from Mo Ryan, Maggie Furlong, Jean Bentley, Chris Harnick, Alex Moaba, Alexis Moore and Laura Prudom.

Here's how we're breaking these down:
Watch It - awesome show, can't wait for more
Skip It - it's either horrible or just totally not their thing
DVR It - there's potential, will give it a second chance

FALL 2011
'New Girl'

[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Ryan: DVR It
Zooey Deschanel can be charming -- in the right context. Much of this rather clunky pilot puts her in the wrong context, but let's hope the show figures out how to be less obvious and douchey.

Furlong: Watch It
Cute, charming, I already feel like I'm friends with these people. And I'm sorry, but the more Deschanels on TV, the merrier.

Bentley: Watch It
If you love the quirky charm of Zooey Deschanel, this is the show for you. I'm so in.
Fox's 'New Girl'
Harnick: Watch It
Zooey Deschanel oozes charm in this comedy which made me laugh out loud much more than I expected to.

Moore: Watch It
I might be biased, on account of my love for Zooey Deschanel and my tendency to randomly sing phrases (as Zooey's character adorably does), but do yourself a favor and watch this one.

Moaba: Watch It
A solid dose of dude humor (a Douchebag jar, motorboat jokes, lines like "your left boob is resting on a plate of chicken wings") is balanced out nicely by Zooey Deschannel's loserish ladycharm. One of the few pilots this year that can appeal to both male and female young adult viewers.

Prudom: Watch It
Zooey Deschanel is a ray of quirky sunshine, and the dynamic between her and her three hapless male roommates results in plenty of genuine laughs -- though I'll be interested to see who they recast in Damon Wayans Jr.'s role and whether that will change the balance of the show.

'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Fox's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'Ryan: Skip It
I hate this shrill, unpleasant comedy.

Furlong: Skip It
Ugh. The premise actually had promise, but the lame script, predictable jokes and ridiculously over-the-top acting added up to nails on chalkboard levels of annoying.

Bentley: Skip It
What a waste of two talented leads. If only they didn't go for the obvious joke every. single. time...

Harnick: Skip It
Jamie Pressly and Katie Finneran deserve better.

Moaba: Skip It
This show gets at a true-to-life stage of female adolescence (if my mom and sister were any indication) that just might have some multi-age demo potential for Fox. But because I've lived through this before, I'll be avoiding it like the plague.

Prudom: Skip It
I really wanted to like it for Jaime Pressley, but this multi-camera comedy feels oddly dated and the laughs were few and far between.

'Terra Nova'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Note: Fox has only released the extended trailer for viewing, so these remarks aren't based on the full pilot.

Fox's 'Terra Nova'Ryan: Watch It
Given how little we've seen of this show, there's no way to tell if it'll be a train wreck or dino-riffic, but it certainly looks like it cost a boatload of dough.

Furlong: Watch It
I'm totally into it, but I also know that this is the kind of show that can burn you. Great buzz and a compelling trailer (and dinosaurs on TV!) make me hope it'll impress.

Bentley: Watch It
Oh hell yes. Cinematic, ambitious -- this is gonna be great. Unless it implodes into a cheesy CGI'd mess, which is totally likely. Either way, I'm there.

Harnick: Watch it.
Based simply on the trailer, this show look promising. However, I fear it may be too ambitious for its own good.

Moore: DVR It
The trailer didn't completely reel me in, but I'd give this one at least a few DVR viewings before making a final decision. And if it turns out I don't stick with the show, I can always pop in 'Jurassic Park' and imagine it with super futuristic time travel and cooler effects.

Moaba: DVR It
'The Postman' meets 'Land of the Lost' meets 'Jurassic Park.' In other words, I'm into it.

Prudom: Watch It
How could you not? Besides 'Game of Thrones,' 'Terra Nova' is probably the year's most buzzworthy new show. It may have suffered delay after delay, but the footage we've seen so far looks spectacular, like 'Avatar' meets 'Jurassic Park,' and I'm rooting for Steven Spielberg and Fox to pull this one off.

'Allen Gregory'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Note: Fox has only released the extended trailer for viewing, so these remarks aren't based on the full pilot.

Fox's 'Allen Gregory'Ryan: Skip It
Even within the context of a short clip, the concept of Jonah Hill voicing a precocious 7-year-old snob grew tiresome.

Furlong: DVR It
Confession: I barely keep up with my favorite animated shows -- they tend to pile up for a rainy DVR-cleaning day -- but the table read for this show had me laughing the whole tme, so I'll add it to the queue.

Bentley: Skip It
Not for me.

Harnick: DVR It
I was mildly amused by the trailer, but the show looks like it'll toe the line between too quirky and painful.

Moore: DVR It
I have to admit I chuckled a few times while watching this trailer. And I'm on board for any show where the main character appears to drink more Pinot Grigio than Ramona Singer, especially when that character is a child.

Moaba: Watch It
There is something that just feels right about Jonah Hill voicing an erudite seven-year-old struggling to fit in at public elementary school. This may be the closest we'll ever get to a Stewie Griffin spinoff.

Prudom: DVR It
It's hard to predict the rhythm of a comedy from a three-minute trailer, and Jonah Hill generally irritates me, but Fox knows awesome animation and the premise is weird enough that I'll give it a shot.


[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Ryan: Watch It
This well-crafted, intriguing pilot kept my interest from beginning to end. It's good. We really have to wait until midseason for more? Dangit.

Furlong: Watch It
I didn't love this pilot ... at all. But that doesn't mean I don't have high hopes. And hey -- they've got some time to work out the kinks and get it right, which could be a midseason schedule blessing.

Bentley: DVR It
I really wanted to love this. After the by-the-numbers pilot, I'm cautiously optimistic, but not interested enough to watch in real time.
Fox's 'Alcatraz'
Harnick: DVR It
I wasn't sold on this pilot and the mystery it set up, but with plenty of great actors in the cast I'll give it another shot.

Moaba: DVR It
I'll give this series a chance based on its J.J. Abrams pedigree and the entertainment value of watching Jorge Garcia try to play an Alcatraz academic, but the pilot was slow to develop and didn't grab my attention. I kept expecting Nicholas Cage to jump out of a cell and start yelling, but unfortuntaely it never happened.

Prudom: DVR It
I'm always rooting for J.J. Abrams, but I don't think 'Alcatraz' knows what it wants to be yet; it relies too heavily on an uninteresting procedural element and seems to threaten another 'Lost' style mystery -- I don't know if audiences will have the patience to let it find its feet.

'The Finder'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Fox's 'The Finder'Ryan: DVR It
Finally, Geoff Stults finds a show that isn't irritating in the extreme. I wasn't a fan of the Finder's female sidekick, however, so I was glad to hear they're recasting the role.

Furlong: DVR It
I'm not a huge 'Bones' fan (not because it's not quality TV, just not one of my must-watch shows), so my expectations here were low, but I was surprised at how entertained I was, and I finally get the appeal of Geoff Stults.

Bentley: DVR It
Once they replace the insufferable Saffron Burrows, this could provide the same level of quirky procedural fun that 'Bones' always delivers.

Harnick: Skip It
It's not my type of show, but for fans of 'Bones' and USA Network procedurals, this will be right up your alley.

Prudom: DVR It
I skipped this backdoor pilot when it aired as a 'Bones' episode because Saffron Burrows' terrible cockney accent proved too grating for my delicate English ears. Knowing she won't be in the actual series makes me more inclined to give it a second chance -- Geoff Stults is a charismatic lead and it has a certain 'Bones'-esque charm.

'Napoleon Dynamite'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Note: Fox has only released the extended trailer for viewing, so these remarks aren't based on the full pilot.

Ryan: Skip It
The charms of the film of the same name were completely lost on me, so this show's preview clip didn't do much for me.

Furlong: Skip It
Seriously? Who OK'd this? I had the great displeasure of sitting through a table read of the show with the cast, and I had to remind myself to fake courtsey laugh several times. Just ... no.

Bentley: Skip It
Nope. And I'm not excited that those catchphrases are being dug up again. What's next? 'Borat: The Series'?

Harnick: Skip It
Didn't like the movie, probably won't like the show.
Fox's 'Napoleon Dynamite'
Moore: Skip It
I barely cared about Napoleon when the movie came out SEVEN YEARS AGO. I care even less about this animated version that seems way too late for anyone to take notice.

Moaba: DVR It
My real rating would be "watch this when I'm flipping channels and nothing else is on," but the Napolean Dynamite cartoon reboot looks like it has some 'Daria'-meets-'King of the Hill' potential.

Prudom: Skip It
No. Just no.

Read our ABC pilot snap judgments here, and keep up with all things Fall TV at aoltv.com

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While I am a huge 'Bones' fan, I did not like the backdoor pilot for 'The Finder.' Nothing, absolutely nothing, worked for me. It might because I adore the books on which it's based, and the show is a poor imitation. I'll give it an episode or two to see if it finds its stride. But I'm not holding my breathe.

June 07 2011 at 4:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

As possibly cool as Terra Nova might be,I'm having trouble getting past that it's obviously set before the asteroid hit 65 million years ago so if the idea is a new human race/destiny,hey folks you're gonna be fried eventually.

June 07 2011 at 2:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What would be helpful is if you guys would include the premis for these shows. It would put your comments in context. Hello.

June 07 2011 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to EuropaE's comment
Maggie Furlong

We didn't want to repeat ourselves too much, but if you click the link at the bottom of the post you can see official descriptions and video previews which we posted a few weeks back. Enjoy!

June 07 2011 at 9:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Maggie Furlong's comment

Thanks. Eventhough you posted them, as you say a few weeks back, I don't know about every one else but I didn't memorized them. :-|

June 10 2011 at 6:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

If Damon Wayans Jr. is in The New Girl does that mean that Happy Endings has been canceled? I really liked Happy Endings, it made me laugh a lot more than most other shows I watched,

June 07 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to drno7777's comment

No -- because Happy Endings was renewed, his role is being recast in The New Girl.

June 07 2011 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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