This week on Criticwire's TV roundup, we look ahead to the debut of a new BBC series, the sci-fi clone saga "Orphan Black." The show premieres Saturday, March 30th at 9:00pm eastern, and critics are starting to weigh in on the pilot episode, "Natural Selection:"
"While this isn't made explicit in the pilot, after a couple more hours it's explained (vaguely) that the whole thing has something to do with cloning, with a lot of women who share Sarah's face running around. But other than enjoying Maslany in multiple characters, wigs and accents, there's nothing so distinctive about the plot as to provide an incentive to hang around long enough to sort out all the gory details regarding who might want to eliminate them."
"Unfortunately, by the time the first episode's mystery guest shows up, a familiar pattern begins to emerge. It is all too easy to foresee a covert government laboratory and a parade of sketchy informers in Orphan's future. Frankly, we have been down that road many times in the past and it almost invariably leads nowhere." Grade: C+
Bendel also hipped Criticwire to his (more favorable) review of "Dangerous Edge: A Life of Graham Greene," PBS' recent profile on the famed British spy and writer, who of course gave us "The Third Man:"
"Aside from Le Carre, Edge's participants largely give Greene a pass on Philby and related Cold War issues. Great pains are taken to portray him as an equal opportunity geopolitical gadfly, but it is far from convincing. Nonetheless, the complexity of Greene's relationship to his Catholic faith should interest readers and viewers across the spectrum. A well paced examination of a flawed but fascinating figure, 'Dangerous Edge' follows 'Philip Roth: Unmasked' (another unsuccessful Nobel contender, thus far), this Friday (3/29) on PBS stations nationwide." Grade: B-
Meanwhile, over at Hitfix the venerable Alan Sepinwall has his take on the latest Elvis-themed episode of New Girl, "Chicago:"
“Death isn't an easy subject to tackle in the format of a half-hour network sitcom, especially one like 'New Girl' that wants you to feel genuine emotion at the same time it's pushing very hard on your funny bone, and that doesn't always have the best track record of juggling different tones and stories in a given episode.”
Over at the prolific A.V. Club, Ryan McGee has some thoughts to share on the latest episode of "Cougar Town," "This Old Town:"
"There are episodes (and sometimes half-seasons) that feel so light that a stiff wind might send the whole endeavor into the ocean. But beneath it all are a few core questions that suggest the show's small scale nevertheless contains some rather large conundrums. Again: This isn't a way to suggest that 'Cougar Town' is actually a steathily deep psychological drama posing as a happy-go-lucky hang-out comedy. But since the show introduced Chick's illness a few weeks ago, everything in the show just feels slightly different." Grade: A-