Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pilot Season

This is our second post about television in as many weeks, but people seemed to enjoy the last one, so here we go.

I have an unhealthy love for television pilots (by which I mean debut episodes, not Matt Damon on 30 Rock). There is just something so bold and optimistic about them--so much potential. Everyone involved believes they have crafted the next big hit, but 90% of the time they are dead wrong. This can be particularly frustrating when you fall in love with a doomed show like Freaks and Geeks, or when you just know bullshit like Chase or CSI: Bozeman is more likely to catch on than Joss Whedon's latest project (RIP Dollhouse). But it can also be exhilerating, like when you catch an against-the-odds phenom like Glee or Lost from its first moments, and before you know it, it defines the zeitgeist.

That is why I watch all the pilots I can during this time of year, even the almost certain failures. Below is what I've discovered so far:

Lone Star: This new show about a con artist in over his head was probably my favorite pilot of the season. It stars Jon Voight, Friday Night Lights' ridiculously hot Adrienne Palicki, and charistmatic newcomer James Wolk. Unfortunately, it debuted last night to only about 4.1 Million viewers (Dancing with the Stars had 22 Million; f*#@ you, America), which means it will almost definitely be cancelled by Halloween, and I'll be bitching about it till Christmas, when I will get the DVD set and watch it over and over again while hating everyone.

Boardwalk Empire: There is really not much to say about this show. Everyone expected it to be great based on the premise and talent involved, and sure enough, the pilot was great in almost exactly the ways everyone expected. Check that box.

Terriers: FX's new show about scrappy unlicensced private eyes trying to take down corrupt billionares in Ocean Beach is reminiscient of great Noir shows like Veronica Mars and The Rockford Files. Definitely worth watching.

The Event: And now for the question mark. This is the latest in a long line of failed attempts to capture Lost's audience, but it's also the first such show that doesn't have to compete with Lost itself. I found the pilot solid enough that I'll tune in for a few more weeks, but they need to remember that Lost's success owed as much to its great characters as its intriguing mysteries.

So that's what I've got my eye on this year. How about you?

UPDATE: The second episode of The Event was basically terrible. It also lost almost 20% of its viewers from last week. I predict another Flash Forward, which means NBC will give it a season before pulling the plug. If they give enough lead time, that could actually be good for this show, since it could wrap up its narrative and deliver on its already thin set of premises. Worst case scenario, of course, is a Heroes-type deal where the show drags along lifelessly for three or four seasons like roadkill stuck to a mudflap.

Lone Star continues to be totally excellent, but it also lost viewers this week, meaning it will almost certainly be pulled from the Monday lineup. Best case scenario for fans of this gem is a midseason relaunch or a pickup from a cable network, like what happened to that cop show with Ryan from The OC.

Boardwalk Empire: still reliably, predictably, and obviously good. Already renewed for a second season.

Terriers: Gets better every week. Getting decent numbers for FX. Watch it.

Me: Still posting about tv on a law school blog for some reason.

Other people: not posting on Nuts and Boalts. Blame them.


Blogger Matt said...

Boardwalk Empire bored me. I didn't even finish the pilot. But maybe I need to give it a second chance.

And why wouldn't you watch Dancing with the Stars? Where else are you going to find Margaret Cho, Bristol Palin, Michael Bolton, the Situation, and the Hoff sharing a stage? Okay. Fine. I didn't watch it, either.

9/21/2010 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CSI: Bozeman is the shit.


Disappointed in your analysis

9/21/2010 12:28 PM  
Blogger Blake said...

Agree on Terriers and Boardwalk Empire - both incredibly strong shows. Terriers exceeded expectations, BE met expectations.

While technically about 7 eps in, can I get a Rubicon shoutout?

9/21/2010 1:15 PM  
Blogger ibz said...

Predictably, Outlaw (Jimmy Smits, etc.) was TERRIBLE. Less predictably, it was SO terrible that it made The Deep End seem totally watchable in comparison.

9/22/2010 6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only people without a social life watch television.

9/22/2010 9:22 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

And people who lack the intellect, refinement, and social aperçu to appreciate the genius of television.

9/22/2010 9:31 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

That's fair; my social life died with law school.

Props to ibz for making me remember The Deep End. Oh how I miss its terribleness. If I had more time last semester, I would have done weekly recaps on the blog. They would have been great. Alas.

9/22/2010 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, most TV sucks as art. You're kidding yourself if you think watching Dollhouse (which was horrible, by the way, and yes I love Firefly) is enjoying some sort of worthwhile art. This isn't to say it's not enjoyable, but spending so much time discussing TV is a little weird.

9/22/2010 3:01 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion and to assert that opinion in a pretty dickish way, so good on you.

Dollhouse had many flaws and many moments of brilliance. Whether it can be called art is debatable and subjective.

Spending any time discussing me discussing tv is at least as weird as my discussing it in the first place.

9/23/2010 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I appreciate Dan's TV posts (I really do), does anyone who writes this blog actually attend this law school? Any chance we could have some posts that are remotely relevant to life at Boalt? (an old bumped-up OCIP callback thread doesn't count.)

9/23/2010 1:49 PM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

To answer your question, 1:49pm, I attend the law school (and several other contributors do as well).

Here's an update: it's fall break, which means the 1Ls are taking a first swing at outlining, 2Ls are doing flybacks, and 3Ls are...well, probably doing body-shots down at Blakes. I, myself, made an effort to study at the library for the first time this semester, only to be driven away by construction noise equal to at least 1,000 bean grinders. So now I'm studying at a cafe instead.

I'm sure once everyone returns from break, things around here will get more lively. :)

9/23/2010 2:01 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

1:49 does have a point. I posted this diversion mainly to keep things fresh after an unusually long lull. 1:49, for you or others who may be interested, here's a post from a while back about applying to join the team:


I'm not positive if that information is still valid, though. Anyone else?

9/23/2010 2:11 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Don't worry 1Ls, people aren't really outlining. In fact, those who are are probably doing it wrong. Enjoy your break! Catch up if you're behind.

9/23/2010 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a topic:
Friday the 13th commencement. Really? Seriously? And yet it's somehow terribly fitting for our class of 2011.

9/23/2010 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That's not true at all. Many 1Ls outline over break. True, they often get it wrong the first time, but it helps them figure out what they need to do.

1Ls who plan to study by making outlines should absolutely at least start to outline for one of their classes during break.

There is more than enough time to enjoy break and get a little outlining in as well.

9/24/2010 9:43 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Yikes. What is this a Georgetown blog?

If it's not Halloween, I don't want to hear any outline talk.

9/24/2010 9:45 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Halloween? I didn't start outlining until Thanksgiving my 1L year. And I came away just fine.

9/24/2010 9:59 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Matt, that sounds about right. But I wanted to give the--shall we say--ambitious lot a wee bit more leeway. But yeah. Nothing says prepared like an outline drafted while doped up on tryptophan.

9/24/2010 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The prevailing opinion is that outlining this early is a waste of time. But I found the opposite to be true.

I spent a couple of days during my 1L fall break outlining for one class. I didn't finish the outline, and it wasn't very good. But I did figure out what works for me and what does not work for me when it comes to outlines.

With that experience I was able to synthesize the material better when I later started outlining. And while other people were outlining, I was taking practice tests.

Obviously, this may not be the optimal strategy for everyone. But starting early helped me. It may help you as well.

On another note. 1Ls: don't believe the hype that grades don't matter and that everyone at Boalt does just fine. Bad 1L grades may not be the worst thing that could ever happen to you, but it is a pretty bad outcome. At the very least, you owe it to yourself to put in a serious, disciplined effort. If it still does not work out, then at least you tried.

Also, I think this Nikita show is terrible. I was hoping it would be more like the 90's show.

9/24/2010 7:57 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Haha I actually liked the 90s Nikita as well. Didn't check out the new one.

As for outlining, everyone should do what makes them feel comfortable, but for those of you who haven't even thought about it yet, I wouldn't worry. If you're like me, your fear reflex will kick in during the first week or two of November, and you'll be fine.

9/24/2010 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought into the grades-don't-matter, P=JD BS at the beginning of my 1L year. Huge mistake. I think it's irresponsible for 2Ls, 3Ls, and alums to f**k with 1Ls by telling them to relax. If you have good grades, OCIP will be a cakewalk. If your transcript is a big P, it will be a nerve-wracking nightmare.

1Ls: Don't watch any TV. In fact, stop reading this blog and spend your time re-reading and outlining. Do you really think you can afford to borrow $60k per year to f**k around watching Dollhouse or arguing about pedantic bulls**t like whether television shows qualify as "art"?

9/25/2010 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh common, grades are about how smart you are, not how hard you study. It's pretty easy to get coif with minimal effort if you are smart. Heck, I didn't show up half the time in my 3L classes, even ones I HH'ed.

9/25/2010 3:26 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

My point was not that grades are unimportant, nor that 1Ls shouldn't work hard. My point is outlining over fall break is not good advice, and only adds stress (rather than success).

9/25/2010 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, how did the thread about TV turn so toxic?

This has only served to reinforce two points:

1. The 2L class sucks compared to the ones before it. You guys are a bunch of awkward gunners.

2. Boalt has changed. Not sure why, but it seems like people stopped coming because it was Boalt and started coming because it was ranked #7, which is incredibly dissapointing.

9/26/2010 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Putting in consistent hard work is not "gunning."

Gunning involves things like sitting in the front row and repeatedly asking obnoxious questions, consistently comparing yourself with others, and declining social events every single time because you need to outline.

Spending a couple of days during break making sure you understand the material and figuring out what outlining is about is not "gunning."

Law school should not be a toxic fearful environment in which everyone spends every minute of the day in the library. But at the same time, it isn't a vacation either.

9/26/2010 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Telling others what to do is gunning. Outlining whenever the fuck you want isn't.

9/26/2010 8:02 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

It's amazing how often this conversation has been repeated on the various comment threads this year. I guess the economy is freaking people out or something. Not that that's irrational. But everyone try to stay sane.

9/26/2010 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Props to Dan and 8:02.

I do agree with advice above. I start outlining the week after Fall Break for most classes though this year for one class I started earlier.

But above all, my advice is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. I always say ask a few different people and go with what sounds good.

And yes, Dan, I think it is the economy that is messing with people's minds. And I echo your advice to relax

9/26/2010 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A 3L telling 1Ls that outlining early can be helpful is "gunning?" I think that word has been imbued with so many meanings that at this point it is meaningless.

A ton of 3Ls and alumni like to parrot the view that outlining early is somehow shameful, "gunnerish," or useless. I don't think they are right and I am sharing my perspective with anyone who cares to listen.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter to me if a 1L outlines today or outlines next month. But I think they deserve to know that there is a difference of opinion on this issue.

And yes, stay sane! 1L year does suck, and it is stressful. But there are two ways of handling this. One way is to ignore it for now and to pin your hopes on cramming for finals. The other way is to make a little progress in understanding and synthesizing the material each and every day, and then putting down your books and going out with your friends.

In my experience, this second option was a great way to keep stress under control by (1) making progress and (2) having some fun.

Your mileage may vary, but I thought a perspective other than "don't worry about it" might be useful.

9/26/2010 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While having nothing to say about TV and pilot episodes, I'm hoping someone on this blog can help this lost and confused Boaltie. How do I get my ID card to unlock the Student Center? Someone told me it just takes some time for new students to get put in the system, but it's now the middle of the semester and my card still won't work. Thanks!

9/27/2010 11:26 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...


Take your ID card to Mindi. There is a form for you to fill out. If you already did this, the form likely was lost. To avoid that problem, it is best to wait until Mindi is the only one in the office.

9/27/2010 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is insanely hot in Bus. Associations, and it has been this way for weeks. The administration should figure out a way to cool this room down because right now, no one is paying any attention.

I can't think about Sharon Steel when I am sweating like a pig.

9/27/2010 2:51 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Do pigs sweat? I would have assumed they panted, like dogs.

9/27/2010 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the story is they do not sweat, thus the mud-wallowing -- to cool off.

9/27/2010 10:12 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I'm a little late viewing it, but can we all agree that Dexter has officially jumped the shark? I mean - and not to give too much away here - but did what happened right after that cleaning scene really happen? I mean, really?

9/29/2010 2:24 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Matt, I already gchatted with you on this, but I feel obligated to voice my dissent in a public forum. The season premiere of Dexter was great. The season as a whole will also likely be great. Your overreaction to the traditional "grief sex" plotline is irrational, as Deb's sexual exploits have rarely made sense. I mean she already boinked a serial killer, a criminal informant, and a really old guy. You're gonna get hung up on grief sex with her hot cop friend?

9/29/2010 3:57 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Yep. The grief sex - on the kitchen floor, no less - the hint at Deborah becoming Dexter's stand-in-wife subplot, and the whole Dexter-Harrison developing parallel. But that's my opinion. Oh, and uh, spoiler alert?

9/29/2010 7:02 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Eh, we can spoil grief sex. I wouldn't spoil who they are grieving for, but grief sex is not big enough to worry about.

9/29/2010 7:07 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Plus no one is reading this thread anymore anyway...

9/29/2010 7:07 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

We should post something really controversial - or juicy.

9/29/2010 7:53 PM  

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