Month: March 2015

“Chevy” (ABC) pilot preview: the comedy that will make you smile… and cry

chevy-chase

(Previously entitled Chev & Bev) Written & produced by Brad Copeland (Grounded For Life, Arrested Development). Co-produced by Chevy Chase, Beverly d’Angelo & Aaron Kaplan (Friends With Better Lives, The Neighbors). Directed by Ben Taylor (Cuckoo, Cockroaches, Catastrophe). For ABC Studios & Kapital Entertainment. 35 pages.

Description: Two fun and relevant baby boomers are living a selfish retirement until their world is turned upside down when their eldest daughter die. They are suddendly left to raise their grandchildren. If as they say the golden years are starting when the fun begins, then their golden years and the greatest adventure of their life start right now…

With Chevy Chase (Community, National Lampoon’s Vacation), Beverly d’Angelo (EntourageNational Lampoon’s Vacation), Aly Michalka (Hellcats, Phil of the Future, Easy A), Maulik Pancoly (30 Rock, Weeds, Whitney), Ed Oxenbould (Puberty Blues), Cooper Friedman

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To be totally honest with you, I didn’t plan to write a preview for Chevy, but it turned out I underestimated the power of Chevy Chase. Because of Community‘s popularity on the internet -more than on TV obviously- and all that happened behind the scenes, I guess people are excited to see what will be his next move and that’s the reason why many of those who are looking for more informations about this project arrive here, thanks to the Google Gods. So I’m gonna give you a quick tour of Chevy pilot, what it is about and how it looks like on paper. Spoiler alert: I was pretty impressed!

We know ABC is very good at single-camera family oriented comedies and this one is right in its alley. If I had to compare Chevy to another one already on the air, I’d say it’s in the vein of The Middle. They share the same kind of sweetness and warmness, and they aim at the same sort of truth of what a family really is, or should be, based on everyday life. Chev, Bev and their grandchildren, the Peterson family, are not bigger-than-life characters, even if Chevy doesn’t always seem like he is a right fit for this world, doing one mistake then another. Actually, he never stops doing them. That’s part of the fun of the pilot, and it’s easy picturing Chevy Chase being very good at it. Of course, those who find him irritating will have a harder time enjoying it. But I’m sure they will in the end, because Chev has nothing in common with his Pierce character on Community. He is way more appealing. He’s a kinder person. My only reservation would be about the space he is taking. He should not be the central character in my opinion. Bev should be treated as equal, and it’s not the case for now. As if Chevy Chase requested to be THE funniest one. And noboby would be surprised if it were true… Bev is amusing nonetheless.

At the center of the show, there is death. Yes. Death. The daughter’s death is dealt with real subtlety, one you don’t expect in a comedy. Mom did it perfectly recently, How I Met Your Mother too a few years ago. It’s rare but not unprecedented. Some scene are clearly meant to make you sob a little, which is hard since we just met the family and never have met the dead woman. But it works, it’s touching and the last act is beautiful in that regard, as the whole voice over from Chev is. The whole story is in fact Chev writing his memoirs for the kids, in case he is not around when they’re grown up. This very idea is just devastating. Another good news: the kids are funny. Which is important since they’re not just here to play extras. There is Taylor, 14, a nerdy and handsome young man; Hope, 12, beautiful and smart; and Elliot, 4, ridiculously cute. I can’t say they are different from every other kids on television but I don’t think it’s even possible at this point. I like them just the way they are. The Petersons have another daughter, called Molly, 26, an embittered girl, who clearly has issues and a hard time adjusting to this new life without her sister in the picture. I think it haven’t stressed enough how fun the pilot is. It’s not just SAD, it’s also FUN.

Chevy is not a laugh-out-loud comedy neither an absurd one even if it is based on the absurdity and cruelty of life: grandparents should never have to raise their grandkids on their own. They have to be there for the vacations, for the fun… but not for the whole difficult and sometimes upsetting parenting, especially as they already did that a long time ago. So it’s a sweet and profound comedy, with a lot of heart, confronting the generations. It would fit perfectly in ABC’s line-up, between The Goldbergs, The Middle and Fresh Off the Boat. I hope ABC will move forward with it. 

“The Carmichael Show” (NBC) preview: So long, Jerrod…

Townies

Previously entitled Go Jerrod Go. Written & produced by Jerrod Carmichael, Willie HunterNick Stoller (Sex Tape, The 5-Year Engagement, Yes Man). Co-produced by Ravi Nandan (Best Friends, Forever, Playing House). Directed by Scott Ellis (Undateable, 2 Broke Girls, Weeds). For NBC & Universal Television.

Description: Jerrod is terrified to tell his parents he’s going to move in with his longtime girlfriend Maxine, because he’s terrified to move in with her and terrified to tell her too, and it makes all too real suddenly… Irreverent multi-camera comedy inspired by Jerrod Carmichael stand-up and his relationships with his girlfriend and family.

With Jerrod Carmichael (Neighbors), Amber Stevens (Greek), Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Public), David Alan Grier (Bad Teacher), LilRel Howery

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I’m always happy when a young writer is given a chance to shine and it rarely happens on network television these days. Last one was Cristela Alonzo and even if her sitcom for ABC Cristela is not a hit right now and probably never will be, it’s an efficient multicamera that is worth a bigger crowd to please. This woman is here to stay whatever happens with it. So, I’m happy for newcomer 26-year old stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael that NBC really believes in him, enough to order an untitled pilot presentation revolving around him last year, that didn’t go to series, and order a full pilot this year, Go Jerrod Go, which just landed a series order for a small amount of six episodes to begin with. It may be paired with another new comedy, Mr Robinson, with The Office‘s Craig Robinson, developed for two years and finally due next summer. Meaning NBC is not betting big on Go Jerrod Go. And after reading the pilot script, I totally get why. In fact, I’m not even sure why they ordered it in the first place! Cheap? Diversity? A hole to fill in the schedule?

I haven’t seen anything Jerrod Carmichael has done except his very small and uneventful part in Neighbors movie, but his stand-up got an HBO special, directed by Spike Lee. So he must be hilarious and smart, right? It didn’t strike me while reading honestly. The version of himself he plays here is annoying, to say the least. The two first acts consist of Jerrod avoiding real conversations and emotions with his very patient girlfriend and then with his soulful parents. That translates into and endless argument where important matters are discussed throughout, mostly politics and I guess that’s why NBC describes the show as “irreverent”. Which is not. Let’s be clear. But it’s still better than dealing with the same old shit over and over again. The last act is funnier but also very predictable. In the end, what I liked the most is the parents. And I love Loretta Devine. She will probably do a very good job with the material. The girlfriend is okay. The brother is okay. But Jerrod, no. I just can’t put up with his attitude.

Go Jerrod Go. I think there’s an obvious joke to make with the title. But I won’t make it. I like to believe I’m better than that. And I’m sure Jerrod Carmichael is also better than this pilot is. Maybe NBC should have cast him in an ensemble comedy, where he would have been a strong player… So long, Jerrod!

“The Broad Squad” (ABC) pilot preview: the cop show you didn’t even know you wanted!

BroadSquadABC

Written & produced by Bess Wohl. Executive Produced by Josh Schwartz (The OC, Chuck) & Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries, Hart Of Dixie), Len Goldstein, Aaron Kaplan (The Mysteries Of Laura, GCB) & Alexandra Lydon. Directed by Coky Giedroyc. For ABC, ABC Studios, Fake Empire & Kapital Entertainment. 58 pages.

Description: In 1978, the graduating class of Boston’s first female patrol officers was dubbed “The Broad Squad” by the local press. Eileen, Molly, Joanne & Lisa arrived at a tumultuous time in Boston’s history, marked by corruption within the police force and a heightened organized crime presence in the city. Navigating rival neighborhoods as well as the conflicting attitudes toward them from everyone, they find themselves tested both on and off duty.

With Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, Torchwood), Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Charlotte Spencer (Glue), Cody Horn (Magic Mike), Michael Gaston (The Leftovers, The Mentalist, Unforgettable), Kenneth Mitchell (Jericho), Alberto Frezza

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The police department in the 1970s was the ultimate boys club… Until four women showed up and changed everything. They were only looking for equality. What they found was themselves.” This is how The Broad Squad pilot script starts, with these words and I think it’s the moment when I realize to my own surprise it might not be the little project I overlooked because it was a period detective drama and I hate both detective and period dramas and there are way too many on television. There is definitely something more. In fact, the detective part doesn’t even really matter. Yes, these women are police officers but they don’t investigate or interrogate. They patrol and they make people abide by the law, with force if needed. The Broad Squad is really a female character-driven drama which wants to show you how it was like being a woman in the 70s-80s, how much courage and pride it took for these four to drive and walk around the city everyday to make it safer for everyone. This pilot manages to be both entertaining and intelligent, even important I might add.

Between Rookie Blue -because of course, the show starts on their very first day on duty- and SouthLAnd -because they spend most of their days and nights patrolling and facing domestic violence, bar fights, young offenders making graffitis on the walls… no big drug lords and shootings on the streets- The Broad Squad is trying to be realistic, staying in the everyday life of people, not going into those exceptionnal moments when there is murder and death. Surely, if picked up, it will happen sometimes. It will need those. But the goal is to stay close to the characters, feeling what they feel. And it totally works. I’ve just met these women but I really wanna get to know them better, and also the people around, their families, their friends. There is already a lot to explore. My only doubts so far would be about the anger they are all experiencing, which is a little too heavy to take sometimes -fortunately there’s humour- and about the male characters, who are a little bit too… manly so far.

Joanne (Rutina Wesley) is probably the character that stands out the most because she’s the most struggling one. She’s not just a female cop. She’s an African-American female cop, who also happens to be a lesbian -but her colleagues don’t know it yet. And I have to remind you it’s the 70s! I mean: it’s a lot! She has one foot in the precinct and the other one in the poor neighbourhood where she grew up. She can be seen as a traitor by her own family. Then there is Eileen (Lauren Ambrose). She’s from an Irish family, her father was a cop, her husband is a cop and she always dreamt to be a cop. Now she has two children to raise and a lot to prove to everyone. She’s kind, maybe a little too much so far to be really interesting. But it’s a promising character, that’s for sure. Molly (Charlotte Spencer) is the famous one because she comes from a family that has a reputation in Boston, and not a good one actually. Her father disappeared when she was 15 and her brothers are delinquents. And finally, we have Lisa (Cody Horn), the gorgeous one. Her beauty doesn’t help her when it comes to be respected by men. She has a very dark secret that still haunts her everyday -and makes her an alchoholic- and the person who is responsible for her trauma happens to be a cop in the same precinct. They all have a good reason to be there. They all have something to prove, and something to find. They are beautifully written characters.

The Broad Squad is not your usual cop show, not only because it’s a period drama but because it aims to be different, not a crime-solving straight procedural but a heavy serialized and character-driven one, with no strong emphasis on romantic storylines. It’s hard to tell whether or not it can be successful on ABC. They have nothing like it right now. It’s not Castle. It’s not Scandal either. But it’s good and broad, with a strong cast. And I want to believe good shows always find a way…

The “Walking Dead” spin-off “Fear The Walking Dead” ordered to series!

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UPDATE: AMC just made it official! Two seasons have been ordered for a launch late summer 2015. First one will consist of 6 episodes. Second one could get more.

It has not been officially announced yet but I can tell you “Fear The Walking Dead”, the inevitable spin-off, is ordered to series a few weeks after the pilot was shot. It can’t come as a surprise since the original show is such a success for AMC. 

Described as a family drama, Fear The Walking Dead (previously known as Cobalt) takes place in Los Angeles and will tell the story of the early days of the epidemic through the eyes of a family, without any tie with the comic books. We don’t know much more except a lot of the action happens in an hospital. All characters are new, played by Kim Dickens as Miranda (Deadwood, Sons Of Anarchy, Treme), Cliff Curtis as Sean Cabrera (Missing, Trauma, Training Day), Alycia Debnam-Carey as Ashley (The 100), Frank Dillane as Nick and many more. The pilot has been written by Dave Erickson (Low Winter Sun, Sons of Anarchy) and directed by Adam Davidson (Hell On Wheels) who never worked on the original. The shooting is expected to start in early April for a likely launch this summer, as a bridge between season 5 and season 6 of The Walking Dead. Production will move from Los Angeles for the pilot to Vancouver, Canada, for the remainder of the first season.

SEE ALL THE OTHER AMC PILOTS ORDERED

2015 PILOT CHARTS

Click on the title to read the script preview

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QUANTICO (ABC)

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BLINDSPOT (NBC)

ORIGINAL SIN (ABC)

THE BROAD SQUAD (ABC)

LFE (CBS)

BOOM (ABC)

THE PLAYER (NBC)

THE CATCH (ABC)

LUCIFER (FOX)

FOR JUSTICE (CBS)

GAME OF SILENCE (NBC)

SNEAKY PETE (CBS)

NERD HERD (ABC)

DELORES & JERMAINE (ABC)

LIFE IN PIECES (CBS)

BLOODLINE (NETFLIX)

GRACE AND FRANKIE (NETFLIX)

CHEVY (ABC)

FAMILY FORTUNE (ABC)

THE REAL O’NEALS (ABC)

ALL STARS (ABC)

STRANGE CALLS (NBC)

THE GRINDER (FOX)

THE KING OF 7B (ABC)

THE 46 PERCENTERS (ABC)

COOPER BARRETT’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING YOU 20s (FOX)

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MINORITY REPORT (FOX)

DIVORCE (HBO)

CODE BLACK (CBS)

DOUBT (CBS)

KINGMAKERS (ABC)

LOVE IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD (NBC)

THE CURSE OF THE FUENTES WOMEN (NBC)

OF KINGS AND PROPHETS (ABC)

FRANKENSTEIN (FOX)

RUNNER (ABC)

THE LA CRIME: THE SUNSETSTRIP (ABC)

SUPERSTORE (NBC)

MIX (ABC)

TELENOVELA (NBC)

SHADES OF BLUE (NBC)

STUDIO CITY (FOX)

SENSE 8 (NETFLIX)

COLONY (USA)

SCREAM (MTV)

ANGEL FROM HELL (CBS)

CROWDED (NBC)

DR KEN (ABC)

KNOXVILLE (ABC)

UNCLE BUCK (ABC)

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THE ADVERSARIES (ABC)

HEARTBREAKER (NBC)

GO JERROD GO (NBC)

ROSEWOOD (FOX)

THE ADVOCATE (ABC)

GRANDPA (FOX)

UNTITLED TOMMY JOHNAGIN COMEDY (CBS)

48 HOURS TIL MONDAY (FOX)

WARRIORS (ABC)

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RUSH HOUR (CBS)

WARRIOR (NBC)

UNVEILED (NBC)

“Minority Report” (FOX) pilot preview: Major sci-fi movie turned into minor sci-fi TV show

MinorityReport

Written & produced by Max Borenstein (Godzilla 2014). Executive produced by Justin Falvey (Falling Skies, Under The Dome, Extant), Kevin Falls (Franklin & Bash, Sports Night, The West Wing) & Darryl Frank (The Americans, Under The Dome, Smash). Directed by Mark Mylod (Entourage, Shameless US, Game Of Thrones). For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television, Amblin Television & Paramount Television. 60 pages.

Description: small screen follow up to the 2002 feature. The year is 2040 and three young siblings, Agatha, and identical twins Dash and Arthur, have the unique ability to see the future, specifically murders before they are committed, and researchers are closely monitoring their every move. Fast forward to the year 2064, the siblings are now in their 30s, and Arthur has been separated from his brother and sister for quite some time. Dash believes his brother is nearby and he is determined to be reunited with his twin. Meanwhile, Dash would like nothing more than to do something to prevent the horrible murders that he knows are about to occur. Circumstances partner him with Detective Lara Vega, and they become a formidable secret crime fighting team.

With Meagan Good (Deception, Californication, My Wife & Kids), Stark Sands (Inside Llewyn Davis, Generation Kill), Laura Regan (Mad Men), Wilmer Valderrama (That 70s Show, Awake, From Dusk Til Dawn), Daniel London (Minority Report), Li Jun Li (Damages, The Following)…

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Some of you will probably be horrified by this secret I have to share but… I have never seen the Minority Report movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. What can I say? Nobody’s perfect! For an instant, I thought of watching it before reading the sequel’s script. And then I said to myself: “You should discover it as a virgin, it’s the best way to analyze whether or not the show is understandable and enjoyable on its own, which must be FOX’s goal“. So here I was, born-again virgin, reading this pilot script for the Minority Report TV show. Did I enjoy myself? Yes, I did. But right after I finished it, finishing myself. During? Well…

After the two first acts, I was like: “How many pages are left? 40? Gosh! I’ll probably gonna kill myself before I get to the end of this“. Which is never a good sign. But honestly, the show finds its footing midway. The problem is not the story in itself but the boring first act, and the way the script is written. Too many details, too long paragraphs, not enough dialogues. The writer certainly has a very clear vision of what he wants, and you certainly can’t blame him for showing it on the page. But it doesn’t leave much space for the reader to imagine and for the director to create. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a decent pilot in the end. Two sure things: it’s gonna be pricy and the special effects team will have a lot of work. As a result, we probably won’t get the same amount of money throw at our faces on a weekly basis. It’s just impossible. The show will then have to rely on its concept. Is it solid enough? It kinda is. Mostly. Let me explain it to you.

Deception - Season Pilot“Pre-cogs” are special human beings blessed with the ability to see the future. That’s what our three heroes are. In the past, the police used this power to predict murders and arrest the perpetrators before they could commit the crime. But at some point, someone used the program for his own gain so it was stopped and everything went back to normal with the same old investigations. Of course, pre-cogs have not disappeared. They’re still there, among us, and they still see the future but they can’t help the police anymore. So it’s frustrating and terrible and sad and… of course one of them, a rebel, can’t take it anymore and decides to help one detective undercover. A cute, funny and bad-ass woman. There you go, you have your show. A police procedural that is. With action, strong sci-fi elements, a mythology to explore and enjoyable primary and secondary characters, a few funny lines here and there too. And amusing details like… a god called Kanye, or The Simpsons still on the air 50 years later, or Starbucks’ new Marijuana recipee, or Lara’s 80 year-old mother explaining she found love on  something called Tinder back in her days…

When you’re thinking about it, this pilot doesn’t feel fresh at all. The idea was 13 years ago when the movie came out. Then we had Early Edition, where Kyle Chandler knew what was coming because he received his newspaper one day in advance -how dumb was this?- and now we have highly-praised Person Of Interest. On FOX, it’s close to home because of Fringe and last year’s sci-fi effort Almost Human, which was mysteriously not granted a second season. Minority Report is not that different. You can find elements of all of them in it. The most striking difference is the feminine vibe of this show with a trio: our heroine, plus a loyal, funny and effective colleague who happens to change her wig every day, and finally a transgender woman -I hope they’ll stick to the plan!- who has no other choice but to help the team. This is appreciated, especially on FOX, a network that didn’t have a decent heroine since Ally McBeal. Oh sorry, I forgot Olivia Dunham and Mindy! This isn’t much anyway. There are a lot of things to do with the twins and their sister, especially since one of them has gone to the dark side…

Minority Report is definitely a hot property, with a honorable pilot script. I totally see FOX pairing it with Gotham on Mondays, sending Sleepy Hollow to its death on Fridays or as a mid-season filler. Ironically, I also totally see Minority Report endings its days on Fridays at some point, the way every other FOX’s sci-fi series died. It looks like a failure because those who liked the movie are not remotely excited by the project from what I understand and those who are not familar with it probably won’t find any good reason to give it a chance. If only the cast was crazy attractive, maybe it would have stand a chance. But it’s not. Sorry to report it’s a minor project after all.