TV Reviews

TV shows pictured clockwise from the top left: Atlanta FX, This is Us NBC, The Good Place NBC, Bull CBS

Atlanta (FX Tuesday)

Atlanta is the latest comedic offering from Donald Glover (Community). The show follows his character Earn Marks as he tries to manage his up-and-coming rapper cousin, Alfred ‘Paper Boi’ Miles (Brian Tyree Henry). Broke with a kid to look after, Earn has his work cut out for him.

It needs mentioning that, for a show labelled a comedy, it wasn’t that funny.

There were comedic moments and some good one-liners, but it was more of a drama with guns and philosophic asides splashed throughout. That being said, it is an intriguing show. The characters have dimension and the plot isn’t run-of-the-mill. So if you’re OK with a comedy that’s more dramedy than sitcom, it’s worth tuning in.

This is Us (NBC Tuesday)

The only thing I knew going into the premiere of This is Us was that it was about people who shared the same birthday. Well, that and Mandy Moore was in it.

The show has funny moments and juggles different stories at the same time. My initial complaint was that, while the acting was good and the storylines were intriguingly focused on character development, there wasn’t anything to keep me watching next week.

The last three minutes changed that. Plot twists rained down just when you thought the show was going to be predictable.

It’s not a thriller and it’s not a comedy. It’s a drama that tells the story of four 36-year-olds: an unhappy Hollywood B-lister who is close to a tantrum, an unhappy overweight woman wanting to diet, a soon-to-be father, and an adopted man in search of his birth father. If you like stories about people’s lives, you’ll like this.

Bull (CBS Tuesday)

If your favourite conspiracy theory — which actually has a lot of truth to it — is that the justice system is fucked up and rarely about the truth (or you just need your Michael Weatherly fix now that he’s left NCIS), you will love Bull.

Part truth bomb, part inside look at the psychological and perceptual behind-the-scenes of the courtroom, Bull is a solid show. As a psychologist, Dr. Jason Bull spends his time reading jurors in order to get defendants let go on pleas of not guilty.

It’s smart, witty, and yet socially cognizant. Before the show dives in, they have a montage of people discussing the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” The last discernible statement was, “It’s innocent until proven black.”

Despite his nonchalance, Bull has a moral compass, as shown by the closing moments of the episode, where the murderer is officially revealed. It’s captivating — I can’t wait for next week.

The Good Place (NBC Thursday)

The Good Place stars Kristen Bell as Eleanor, a selfish, not-good person who has managed to get into the “Good Place” after her death by mistake. It’s funny enough and has just enough rewarding qualities to watch both the pilot and the immediate second episode (aired back to back).

Only the best people get to go to the up place, with just about everyone else going to the down place, which no one on the show is allowed to discuss. That makes it an intriguing mystery, particularly given that so few people manage to rise up.

It’s a laid-back half-hour comedy show that isn’t a waste of your time, but it’s not something you’re going to be dying to watch as it airs. If characters struggling for redemption while navigating what’s supposed to be the equivalent of utopia (save the misfortunes that occur due to Eleanor’s presence) as an afterlife sounds appealing — definitely watch it. At some point.