Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pilot Review: Notorious

Notorious (ABC)
Premiered September 22 at 9pm

I went into this show knowing just three things about it: the lead actress was Piper Perabo, the lead actor was Daniel Sunjata, and it was sandwiched between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” My incorrect assumption was that it was a Shondaland production, though ABC is certainly positioning it that way. I wasn’t sure what it was about at the start, and it reminded me most of a far more normative and less seedy “Nightcrawler.” I didn’t used to be a fan of Perabo, but I guess she grew on me after spending a few seasons anchoring “Covert Affairs.” She’s definitely right for this role, and casting her opposite Sunjata works very well. He was a real charmer as a firefighter on “Rescue Me,” and here he gets to ooze charisma as he wheels and deals to protect those he cares about and those he represents in partnership with Perabo’s cutthroat news producer. This first episode wasn’t necessarily as sensational as I thought it might be, but it was far more personal, affecting Perabo’s Julia when she found out that her politician boyfriend regularly had sex with prostitutes and Sunjata’s Jake when he lost the love of his life, who also turned out to be a murderer. I don’t know how much of a show this sets up, but the chemistry between the two leads is a real asset that should enable them to deal with any storyline and make it work much better than it otherwise might.

How will it work as a series? There’s a premise here that could be appealing, though I do wonder how often a news producer and a lawyer can cross paths and at what point it becomes hard to believe that no one realizes that they’re in cahoots. It’s probably going to be fun, though I don’t feel like it’s something that I need to watch.
How long will it last? I wouldn’t count on this one to last long. Its Metacritic score is a dismal 32, meaning that it probably won’t have critics or audiences fighting for its survival. The bigger problem is that its performance in the ratings was unspectacular when it was given everything it needed to succeed, and that all but seals its fate as one of the likely first cancellations of the season.

Pilot grade: B-