FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

THE AFFAIR 1×01

The Affair, the new drama from Showtime, is the best new series of the year, and a daring attempt to expand the narrative possibilities of television.

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THE KNICK 1×01 – "Method and Madness"

Steven Soderbergh spent most of his movie career making formulaic B-movies better than they had any right to be. Now he does the same thing for TV in a pretty but (so far) predictable new series from Cinemax.

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OUTLANDER 1×01 – "Sessanach"

Outlander may look like an old-fashioned bodice-ripper, but—based on this confident, compelling first episode—it may turn out to be groundbreaking television.

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666 PARK AVENUE

"Safe" and "predictable" are dangerous adjectives for a horror series, and 666 Park Avenue seems to have no real scares, no real surprises, and no real taste for the jugular.

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ELEMENTARY (TV Review)

CBS is not even attempting to make the Sherlock Holmes story fresh: that is not the point. All they are trying to do is to use the Sherlock Holmes brand, cynically, to make us interested in yet another formulaic, cookie-cutter crime drama.

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LAST RESORT

Last Resort is polished, powerful, and enjoyably preposterous. It's impossible to take it seriously, but it could be a lot of fun.

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REVOLUTION

Something called Revolution should not feel so formulaic and familiar.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY

AMERICAN HORROR STORY 1×01-02: "PILOT" & "HOME INVASION"

Stupidly pretentious, embarrassingly unrestrained, and chaotically unfocused, this is a basic cable Hell for good actors who have made bad choices. It's a fiasco, but it's kind of fascinating, and way, way more fun that it has any right to be.

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TERRA NOVA

I had big hopes for "Terra Nova," which promised excellent production values, a decent cast, and a potentially-intriguing sci-fi premise. Unfortunately, the pilot episode spends two banal hours dumbing its potential down into lowest-common-demoninator television pap. It's not horrible: it's just not good.

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THE SECRET CIRCLE

There's a reason so many of these supernatural shows center around teen characters: though no one since has worked the metaphors with the sophistication or wit that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" did, the intense drama of high school politics, adolescent longing, and burgeoning sexual power lends itself naturally to stories of good-and-evil, magic, and mythical destiny.

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RINGER

"Overly complicated" and "dumb" is a deadly adjectival combination for any show, and Ringer is about as dumb as television gets.