Fall is an exciting time of year in the entertainment world for a lot of reasons and original, quality television is definitely one of them. While I was looking forward to watching the Millennials and Gen-Xers duke it out on the 33rd season of Survivor, hearing new music and catchy one-liners from Cookie on Empire, finding out what the nutjobs of How To Get Away With Murder are up to, and listening to new talent on season 11 of The Voice, new shows are always the best.
Although I appreciate the Netflix mentality of rolling out an entire season all at once, it’s also interesting when the old school mentality of “I can’t wait for next week’s episode” comes into play. Two shows that have become highlights of the TV-watching week are: NBC’s This Is Us and Fox’s Pitch.
While This Is Us explores the connections between people who all share the same birthday, and Pitch is about the very first female professional baseball player, these shows have more in common that I could have predicted:
- Both stories are told using multiple time frames including present day and flashbacks.
- Family is an integral part of these shows, which helps the viewer understand who these characters are and how they ended up where they are.
- Drama and comedy are creatively woven into the dialogue and storylines demonstrating the elevated level of writing.
- Race plays a role in both stories but the topic is handled with grace and ease.
- Both shows feature a twist at the end of the pilot episode which a) shocked the hell out of me and b) got me excited for future episodes.
Even though both shows will tug at your heartstrings and make you laugh, there is so much more here than sappy dialogue and wisecracks. As soon as each This Is Us character is introduced, you care about them and want to know more. Three episodes in, the intricate web that is their lives is already captivating. I’ve never been a huge Mandy Moore fan but she absolutely kills it as a mother and wife dealing with a level of emotional craziness that most people wouldn’t be able to handle. Also, Sterling K. Brown (who was fantastic in and won an Emmy for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story), plays his role with the perfect balance of calmness and sarcasm. The rest of the cast is excellent too – they are incredibly believable as people who are kind but conflicted. It’s absolutely refreshing.
Similarly, Pitch does an outstanding job of introducing characters and their connections through flashbacks and then establishing who they are in the present. I’ve only seen three episodes and I’m already excited about the main character’s relationships with her teammates, especially the catcher, her family, and her pain in the ass agent. Kylie Bunbury’s authentic performance as the San Diego Padres rookie pitcher who has to deal with being a woman in a man’s sports world is fun to watch. So is Mark-Paul Gosselaar (looking nothing like Zack Morris) as the mouthy veteran catcher, Dan Lauria (the dad from the Wonder Years) as the Padres’ manager who doesn’t know when to shut up, and Ali Larter (the cheerleader from Varsity Blues) as a high heel-stomping threat to anyone who gets in her client’s way.
Do yourself a favor and give both of these shows a chance. They exemplify the importance of quality writing and acting and how stimulating it is to be experiencing something new on television. There is nothing rehashed, rebooted, or remade here. These stories are innovative, gutsy, and a pleasure to watch.