Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pilot Review: The Astronaut Wives Club

The Astronaut Wives Club (ABC)
Premiered June 18 at 8pm

Sometimes the premise of a show doesn’t matter – it can be appealing enough to travel to any time or destination for the right cast. I have watched and enjoyed a number of this show’s stars on other shows, and the opportunity to see so many of them together seemed too good to be true. JoAnna Garcia Swisher was one of my favorite parts of “Better With You,” Yvonne Strahovski was great on “Chuck” and “Dexter,” Dominique McElligott left “Hell on Wheels” far too soon, ditto Odette Annable with “Banshee,” and Desmond Harrington (“Dexter”), Bret Harrison (“The Loop”), Kenneth Mitchell (“Jericho”), and Evan Handler (“Californication”) all have strong TV histories as well. Unfortunately, amassing a talented troupe of performers doesn’t always to do the trick, and in this case there are far too many of them to competently keep track or properly get attached. This show is billed as a miniseries the way a lot of multiseason shows tend to be these days, but I think it may be a much more contained story given its tie-in to historical events. Its frequent use of news footage and that style definitely grounds it in the past, but it doesn’t make it very inviting the way that “Mad Men” and other 60s-set series have effectively done. None of the actresses or their storylines stand out, and that’s a shame given the wealth of material here that really should speak much more loudly and energetically than it does. Neither the astronauts nor the wives are as compelling as they need to be for this show to be worth it.

How will it work as a series? Plenty has happened in the first hour alone, so I think this show will continue to sprint ahead as it paints a colorful picture of these newfound celebrities and the women who support them. It should be soapy and over-the-top, which might make for sufficient drama but not something that I’m interested in watching.
How long will it last? I read a nauseating number of puns about soft launches regarding the ratings for this show, but it’s important to remember that it is summer and broadcast networks don’t tend to do too well with their original offerings. I think this will end up being considered a successful one-shot miniseries, but you never know.

Pilot grade: C-

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