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It's not easy being quirky.
TV has a tough time achieving quirkiness. At least not something entirely quirky.
The definition of quirky is "characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits." And while TV writers can come up with peculiar, unexpected is tougher to achieve.
ABC and The CW both try to achieve quirkiness with new offerings this week, and neither makes it work. Although, while ABC's "Conviction" misses badly, The CW's "No Tomorrow" has possibilities.
(Monday, 9 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) takes Hayley Atwell ("Agent Carter"), suppresses her English accent and makes her into Hayes Morrison, the ne'er-do-well daughter of an ex-U.S. president and a current U.S. Senate candidate. And Hayes has just been busted for cocaine.
But the politically ambitious district attorney (Eddie Cahill) offers her a deal. Instead of jail, she can head up his new Conviction Integrity Unit, which investigates crimes that may have ended in wrongful convictions.
That's certainly peculiar.
But "Conviction" is a below-average detective show with a quirky character. It fails partly because it can't settle on what it wants to be. Hayes is supposed to be both "dangerous and funny," in the words of executive producer Mark Gordon. The writers clearly think Hayes is a hoot.
But going for laughs at the same time you're dealing with family trauma and murder cases is awkward. And some shifts in mood are beyond awkward from self-reflection and tears to goofy dancing in an instant.
As a detective show, "Conviction" fails. In Episode 1, Hayes makes a crazy leap of logic that you guessed it! breaks the case wide open. It's a complete cheat.
In Episode 2, Hayes makes an observation everyone else has missed for years.
There are worse things on TV than "Conviction," but this is a waste of time and talent.
• "No Tomorrow"
(Tuesday, 8 p.m., CW/Ch. 30) is a romantic comedy in which one half of the couple is, well, peculiar. The other half is dull.
Evie (Tori Anderson) is an uptight, rather boring young woman who meets Xavier (Joshua Sasse, "Galavant"), who lives each day to the fullest because he's convinced that, in eight months and 12 days, the world is going to be destroyed by an asteroid.
"I think there are certainly plenty of apocalyptic doom kind of shows," said executive producer Corinne Brinkerhoff. "And we wanted an apocalyptic joy kind of show."
Yeah, that's peculiar.
Sasse warned that viewers should "veer away" from thinking that Xavier is "a lunatic, because, for him," the impending asteroid is "an empirical truth."
Also weird. And, potentially, rather limiting if he's correct. Which we all know he won't be. If the show lasts that long.
"We're going to have a lot of fun sort of teasing the audience and keeping them guessing as to his level of sanity," said executive producer Maggie Friedman.
Doesn't sound like that much fun.
Despite clawing so desperately to achieve quirkiness, "No Tomorrow" could work. It depends on whether chemistry can develop between Xavier/Sasse and Evie/Anderson.
It doesn't quite work in the premiere, but chemistry can develop. Whether it does or not only a few more episodes will reveal.
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.