The Pilot Project ’16 – Notorious (ABC)

The time has come again. The summer sun has set. The days grow colder and the nights grow longer and we fill those nights with new fall TV. As happens every autumn, the five major networks have unleashed a flurry of new programs to entertain us into these dark, frigid winter months and beyond. So many choices. So much risk! How will you know what to watch? That’s where I come in. I watch every new fall pilot episode so that you don’t have to. I take one for the team, so you can watch the… screen(m). It’s time for…

THE PILOT PROJECT (2016 Edition)

Notorious (Thursdays on ABC)


It’s been a while since I first watched the Notorious pilot, so I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about it, and frankly, I’m at a loss. There’s just… not a lot to say.

I’m too bored to even tell you what the show is about, so I’m just going to copy and paste it from Wikipedia:

The show is based on real-life criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and Larry King Live news producer Wendy Walker. It is a drama that goes behind the scenes of the murky relationship between criminal law and the media as an influential attorney and a TV producer manipulate the headlines and public opinion.

I actually had no idea it was based on real people. It reminds me of Bull, which is fitting, because both shows are not super great. They both feel like they are trying to imitate better, more popular programs. I saw multiple remarks on Twitter that Notorious is a Shonda Rhimes show without Shonda Rhimes, which is pretty dead on. Shonda’s shows are usually exciting, often ridiculous, primetime soap operas. They’re filled with shocking incidents and devious characters, and they each maintain their own unique style while also having that distinctive “Shonda Rhimes” feeling. Chances are you would never confuse Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, or Grey’s Anatomy, and yet each one feels like a Shonda Rhimes show, in the same way that most Ryan Murphy shows feel distinctly like Ryan Murphy shows. Notorious wants to be a Shonda Rhimes show – it’s got the shocking incidents and the devious characters – and ABC wants it to be a Shonda Rhimes show, but it’s lacking that style that makes Shonda’s shows so appealing. Notorious feels lifeless, like a paint-by-numbers Shonda Rhimes show. Shonda Rhimes, Shonda Rhimes, Shonda Rhimes.

I feel like I may have lost most of you in that last paragraph (please tell me you know who Shonda Rhimes is). Basically, what I’m trying to say is it feels like a cheap imitation of a better show.

It’s too bad. because I actually like the cast, which includes Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs), Daniel Sunjata (Graceland), J. August Richards (Angel), and Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights). It’s just that these actors aren’t really given much to do. The plot (which involves a tech millionaire who is involved in a hit-and-run) isn’t very interesting and there’s nothing here to elevate it above your average procedural. If the show evolves into something more serialized that focuses more on the lives and careers of these characters, maybe it would be more enticing, but as a procedural? No thanks.

I don’t love Notorious. I don’t hate Notorious. I don’t really feel anything for Notorious at all. Notorious… just is. And that’s it.

Recommendation: Skip it


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