Perhaps the Emmys should add a category for the year's most derivative, mediocre dramas. Two new entries this week would be top contenders - Fox's middling if fun sci-fi-ish crime procedural Second Chance; and Shadowhunters, an adaptation of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments YA fantasy book series from Freeform, formerly ABC Family.
There's an old sheriff in town
Second Chance, premiering at 9 p.m. Wednesday, is a predictable rehash of gimmicky crime procedurals from the Six Million Dollar Man to Knight Rider and Minority Report. The show is a basic crime-a-week whodunit featuring a 75-year-old cop who dies and comes back to life a thirtysomething super-stud. Yet, it has its charms.
The pilot opens with a brief cameo by the terrific Philip Baker Hall as Jimmy Pritchard, a crotchety, heavy-drinking, cigarette-smoking retired sheriff who is murdered by crooked FBI agents.
The bad guys are fixin' to do harm to Jimmy's son Duval, a straight-laced Dudley Do-right FBI agent played by Tim DeKay, who played pretty much the same character in White Collar.
Jimmy doesn't stay dead long. He's revived by tech billionaire genius Otto Goodwin (Adhir Kalyan) and his twin sister Mary (Dilshad Vadsaria), who rejigger his white blood cells - or was it his DNA? - to make him four decades younger and as strong, agile, and virile as a championship-winning Arabian colt. Robert Kazinsky (Pacific Rim, True Blood) plays the studly version of Jimmy. To cut a long story short: Each week, Jimmy, Duval, and the twins solve crimes and put away evildoers.
Second Chance is preposterous, silly, and forgettable. But it never takes itself too seriously and it flows along at a good pace. Take it or leave it.
The dull instruments
The same can't be said of Shadowhunters, a dull YA fantasy adventure that takes itself so excruciatingly seriously it invites mockery. It premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday on the newly rebranded Freeform.
The pilot, the only episode made available to critics, is pretty much a remake of the first half of 2013's far more enjoyable big-screen adaptation of Clare's books, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, starring Lily Collins as the teenage heroine, Clary Fray.
On her 18th birthday, Clary discovers she's a Shadowhunter, a super-being charged with protecting humankind from demons.
This time, Clary is played by Katherine McNamara (Happyland, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials), looking awfully uncomfortable, partly because of her hairdo - they have her wearing this ridiculously massive, awkward red mane. But she also a tendency to melt into bouts of whiny weeping at the first sign of trouble.
Her costars don't fare much better, committing criminal levels of overacting. Dominic Sherwood, who plays Clary's love interest, interjects such an extreme dose of earnestness and gravitas, you keep expecting his heart to burst.
Sure, this was just the pilot, but if first impressions can be trusted, this series is headed for the junkyard.