Time to double up on discussing premieres again! There are just so many to talk about right now! Today’s TV shows have actually released a couple of episodes at this point—which tells you how much of a backlog I’ve got going right now. I’ll get around to them all…eventually. Anyway, today we are discussing two brand-spankin’ new Fox shows: Minority Report and Scream Queens. In this humble reviewer’s opinion, one of these is significantly better than the other. If you know me, I bet you can guess which, but let’s get to those particulars.
What I liked:
- The visuals and futuristic gadgets. The premiere is chalk-full cool effects, and it’s fun to see the future of tech imagined through the show. I know it borrows some things from the Minority Report film, but as a TV series there’s plenty of room to explore that more, and I think that could be interesting.
- Sweet pre-cog Dash (Stark Sands), who just wants to help, bless him. As someone who had a pretty unconventional childhood—you know, being used by the government to predict crimes and all—Dash is pretty awkward around people, but charmingly so, and he’s very dedicated to helping save people. He’s a different sort of hero, but that’s not a bad thing.
- Plenty of action. The premiere doesn’t waste any time diving right into things. Det. Vega (Meagan Good) seems like the type who’s going to get into a fair share of tricky situations, but she also seems tough enough to handle herself. This seems like the kind of show where the action is pretty much constant.
- The hints of interesting things to come. Predictions about a grim future for the precogs and conspiracies and whatnot. I think there’s enough planned out for the show that it could get very interesting.
What I didn’t like:
- It feels derivative. I hate using that word—“derivative.” Feels so pretentious. But it actually fits the bill here. Remember Almost Human? It feels just like that with a dash of Sleepy Hollow. Fox is copying off of its own shows. Sorry, Minority Report, but Almost Human was significantly better, and Abbie and Ichabod trump Vega and Dash any day.
- The tone. It’s so different from the film that it’s kind of off-putting. While the film takes on a fairly serious tone, the TV show is light-hearted to the point of being straight-up cheesy, and I didn’t love that. Lightheartedness is all well and good, but having it all the time just doesn’t suit this premise.
- It all seems to be leading back to the exact same issues in the Minority Report film, which could end up feeling kind of cheap. I realize that’s kind of an inevitability, but at the same time the show should be expanding on the ideas of the film rather than circling back to the same things. Maybe the show as a whole can get beyond this hurdle, but the first episode didn’t give this impression.
- Wilmer Valderrama as Det. Vega’s superior officer. I’m sorry, but he’s Fez. I just can’t take that seriously. Couldn’t they have picked anybody else for his role? Like, literally, anybody?
The Potential: Eh. I’m not so sure there’s much. Maybe this show just needs some time. Personally, the first episode didn’t blow me away, and that’s a shame because I really do think it could be good. It’s simply not living up to its potential yet. Dash is sweet and Det. Vega seems like an admirable enough heroine. Plus, the effects are great. Yet the show is so “been there done that.” Just another attempt at a sci-fi hit that’s more likely to flop than succeed. Seriously, if Almost Human can’t do it, I have doubts that this one will last.
My Grade: C-
What I liked:
- The biting humor. This show cracks me up. If you’ve seen and enjoyed Ryan Murphy’s other shows, you’ll probably agree with me that his dialogue is fantastic. It’s just really witty and fun, and I absolutely love it. Honestly, I think Murphy’s best stuff might end up coming out of this show.
- The characters. Many of them are pretty extreme in one way or another, but it works to hilarious effect. Chanel (Emma Roberts), for example, is a bitch to the max, but she’s so mean that it’s ridiculous and pretty funny. Chad (Glen Powell) is such a conceited meathead that you can’t help but laugh. Denise (Niecy Nash) is the least effective security guard ever, and it’s glorious. This is a kooky, quirky bunch, and I think they’re all great, interesting characters. Murphy does a good job balancing time with each of them, too, so we get to know and like (or dislike) them.
- The twists. There are some pretty good ones even in the first episode. I feel like this show is going to leave us guessing on a lot of things—especially when it comes to the identity of the red devil killer. In some cases, this kind of thing might drive me crazy, but I like that literally anyone could be the killer in this. Everyone has his or her own motive, which just makes the show that much more intriguing and unpredictable.
- The pure fun of it all. I don’t know if this should count as a real reason, but I just had a really great time with Scream Queens. It’s one of those shows that’s incredibly easy to watch and enjoy. Honestly, it’s the most fun I’ve had with a premiere so far this fall.
What I didn’t like:
- It’s very mean-spirited. Particularly when it comes to the Chanels (and, yes, there are multiple Chanels). It’s kind of like Mean Girls meets Scream. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with this, but if you don’t like humor that’s vicious and generally not very P.C., then you might not care for this.
- If you don’t enjoy Ryan Murphy’s other endeavors, it’s very unlikely you’ll enjoy this. It’s basically like Glee meets American Horror Story, taking the more humorous aspects from Glee and the more gruesome bits from AHS. It’s not for everybody. (Although to be fair, I find Glee insufferable, but I adore Scream Queens so far.)
- It walks the line of being too silly for true horror fans and too heavy for non-horror fans. Yes, it’s like Glee meets American Horror Story, but it could be somewhat gruesome for sugar-sweet Glee fans and too preppy and light for those who enjoy the darker thrills of AHS. Again, as a pretty dedicated AHS fan, I still loved this. But I can’t speak for the Glee fans, I’m afraid.
- A two-hour premiere probably wasn’t necessary. I was enjoying the show so much that I was okay with the length, but settling in for a long premiere is still kind of an annoying commitment. It’s why I still haven’t watched The Bastard Executioner. Whoops.
The Potential: I really love Scream Queens so far, and I think the potential is unlimited. Color me surprised, however, when I hopped onto Rotten Tomatoes and discovered that the critics had given it a rotten 58 percent. Apparently, the critics aren’t convinced. But I am. I’m a sucker for horror-comedies, and I think Scream Queens is basically perfect. If you’re a Murphy fan, this is a must-watch.
My Grade: A