Month: February 2017

Dynasty (The CW) pilot preview: Another Lazy Reboot No One Asked For

Written and produced by Josh Schwartz (The OC, Gossip Girl, Chuck, Hart of Dixie), Stephanie Savage (Fastlane, Gossip Girl, The OC, The Carrie Diaries) & Sallie Patrick (Revenge, Limitless, Life Unexpected). Based on the show created by Richard & Esther Shapiro. Directed by Brad Silberling (Jane The Virgin, No Tomorrow). For CBS Television Studios & Fake Empire. 59 pages. Studio Draft. 12/18/16.

Description: Two of America’s wealthiest families, the Carringtons and the Colbys, feud for control over their fortune and their children, starting with Fallon Carrington, daughter of billionaire Blake Carrington, and her soon-to-be stepmother, Cristal, a Hispanic woman marrying into this WASP family, exposing the dark underbelly that is a corrupt world built on backroom deals, betrayal, and, in some cases, murder…

With Nathalie Kelley (The Vampire Diaries, UnReal, Body of Proof), Elizabeth Gillies (Victorious, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll), Sam Adegoke (Switched at Birth, Murder in the first)…

 

You’ll like if you already like: Revenge, Gossip Girl, Empire

Likely timeslot: Monday at 9 or Friday at 8 or 9

 

When Dynasty started in 1981 I wasn’t born yet, not even conceived. Maybe my parents haven’t even met yet. Growing up, I watched a lot of television and a lot of soap operas in particular, but never this one despite the multiple reruns. I came across some of Dallas –and was a fan of the recent follow-up- have fond memories of Knots Landing and loved Melrose Place more than anything. Why am I telling you this about my life? To make a point. I feel like we, millenials, couldn’t care less about Dynasty, even though it was a huge hit in the 80s and is considered as cult. It’s too old. Really. For us, it’s just shiny earrings, sparkly outfits, incredible haircuts and crazy catfight scenes. But not something that we’re really curious about and certainly not a show we would watch in a heartbeat. Unless I missed something, The CW isn’t targeting people over 40. So I don’t understand why this pilot has been picked-up…

Okay, I’m not stupid. Deep down I know. It’s about milking CBS Television Studios’ library at all costs (same reason why Hawaii Five-0MacGyver came back to life and why Charmed is poised to be next on the list). But seriously? No one asked for this and no one will watch it. Even if you promote it like crazy. If Dallas didn’t last long on TNT, then Dynasty is doomed on The CW. It doesn’t fit. It’s as simple as that. Plus, I feel like it’s coming at the worst time possible. Most networks decided it was time to make more shows that reflect the “real” America, the middle-America that voted for Trump. The people who watch This Is UsDynasty is the opposite of that. It’s about the 1% of American who are rich. There was a time -especially in the 80s, “The Reagan Era”- when it was all people cared about. They were fascinated by wealth. Today? Not so much anymore. Dynasties still appear everywhere, from reality TV -hello dear Kardashians!- to the polling booths. But they don’t fascinate anymore. Not in the same way at least. And straight soap operas like Dynasty, without anything that makes them special like Empire, are just dead.

It’s not that Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage didn’t try to modernize Dynasty. They just didn’t try hard enough. What they did was adding diversity to the exact same concept and script. Or should I say: adding colours. Sorry but it is what it is. So our heroine is no longer called Krystle but Cristal and she’s hispanic, something that is not even vaguely adressed in the pilot. She just is. Which is defensible. The Carringtons are still white but the Colbys are black now. Finally, to spice things up, Steven Carrington is still gay but he’s totally out of the closet and it doesn’t seem to be a problem -he’s still a trainwreck though, the black sheep of the family, but it’s not because of his sexuality apparently- while his principal love interest Sammy Jo is no longer a woman (played by Heather Locklear at the time) but a young gay man, who’s still looking for easy money and troubles. Don’t get me wrong: it’s all okay! It makes sense, those are good moves and not making them would have been heavily criticized. BUT it’s all there is. That’s where the modernization begins and ends.

On the plus side, it’s mostly efficient, like the original pilot was. Except the beginning of the opening sequence. It’s just two minutes long tops but two minutes that are really not engaging, with people talking about the solar system, green energies… Please cut this. Many viewers will change the channel immediately! You can’t just start with this. Most of the plots are tired, cliché. That’s what happens when you decide to copy/paste a 35 years-old pilot script. We know the tricks. Dynasty must have been one of the first soap operas to perform them, but time has past and other shows that came and went used them in the meantime. So it’s predictable. Even if the end has been changed. There’s a death. Won’t say who. But damn, adding a murder mystery is not what I would call a wild and original idea…

About the tone, it can be funny sometimes. Especially with Joseph Anders, the estate manager of the Carrington family, who’s a really amusing guy who clearly hates Cristal and isn’t afraid to show her everytime he has the chance. And the catfights between Fallon and Cristal are quite enjoyable on paper, as they should be. I wouldn’t say there’s anything really daring in this version of the show, unless if you still consider that showing two men kissing and making love is daring, as well as suggesting that Fallon’s pussy is being eaten out by her african-american chauffeur in one scene. How shocking!

This Dynasty reboot feels lazy. It’s like putting makeup on a tired old lady. She looks better with the makeup on but it doesn’t really hide the fact that she’s old and tired. It doesn’t have the freshness, the cleverness and the relevance of a Jane the Virgin, neither the nostalgic vibe of a Riverdale. it’s more like Revenge, without much of a concept and new ideas. A hot and charismatic cast would certainly help but it’d still be a mistake for The CW to bet on it next year, unless they really have nothing better to offer…

Good Girls (NBC) pilot preview: The Real Desperate Housewives of Detroit

Written and produced by Jenna Bans (The Family, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives). Directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest, Red 2, Justified, Monk). For Universal Television. 5th network draft 12/01/16. 60 pages.

Description: what happens when Beth, Annie and Ruby, three “good girl” suburban wives and mothers from the suburbs of Detroit suddenly find themselves in desperate circumstances: they decide to stop playing it safe and risk everything to take their power back, descending together into a life of crime, starting by robbing a grocery store…

With Kathleen Rose Perkins (Episodes, Colony), Mae Whitman (Parenthood, Arrested Development), Retta (Parks and Recreation, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo, Scream, The Bridge US), Manny Montana (Graceland, Conviction), Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)…

  

You’ll like it if you already like: Desperate Housewives, The Family

Likely timeslot: Tuesday at 10

 

For the third year in a row, writer Jenna Bans has a pilot in contention and for the very first time it’s not at ABC, where she was schooled by Shonda Rhimes through Grey’s Anatomy & Scandal, but at NBC. She signed an overall deal with Universal Television last summer -where her husband Justin Spitzer, creator of Superstore, already was- after the failure of The Family, which was worth better by the way, one of the few good network shows from last year. Sometimes, ratings work in mysterious ways. I was eager to read Good Girls‘ pilot script. Sea of Fire‘s in 2014 was incredibly strong. But I’m sad to report this one is not her best (unless if you go way way back to Off The Map, that she created)…

Here’s the thing with Jenna Bans: her writing is fearless, she always dives in darkness, she flirts with the limits -dealing with pedophilia on a broadcast network was not exactly taking the easiest road- and she makes it entertaining at the same time, full of surprises and compelling troubled characters. Mixing soap with gloom is rare and difficult. She learned her Shonda lessons right while crafting her own style. But with Good Girls, something’s off. It took time for me to understand what was bothering me but after reflecting on it and reading again some portions of the script it became clear: the whole story is just not believable and it feels like she knows it. As if she was determined to convince the audience as well as herself that such a thing could happen in real life. Subsequently, subtlety is nowhere to be found. It’s just not working. Not with these characters and in this context. Whether or not it actually happened someday, somewhere in the world.

I’m very surprised by the cast they assembled. Positively. I love these actresses and they didn’t choose them because they were popular. ‘cos they’re not. They choose them because they were right for the parts, I guess. Like they did with This Is Us actually. And they probably tested them as a group, since many scenes are about the girls together, talking. It’d be a shame if they didn’t have chemistry. A good move anyway, that gives me hope they’ll add what’s missing in the script by their natural talent, especially comedy-wise. Good Girls is more in the drama side, depressing sometimes, definitely heavy, supposedly emotional if they don’t push it too much, but there are a few scenes that could be funny. Calling it a dramedy would be a stretch though.

The hilarious Kathleen Rose Perkins (if you never saw her in Episodes then you don’t know what funny is) will play Beth, the ringleader of the trio, a frazzled mother who discovers her husband has an affair. Fed up with her life and angry, she’s the one who decides to rob a supermarket. She struggles with guilt and fear in the aftermath. She’s the most interesting, multi-dimensional character on paper. Then there’s her younger sister Annie, played by the excellent Mae Whitman, a single mom terrified of losing her son in a custody battle. Who’s a bit boring and whining person for now. And finally her best friend Ruby, a waitress who worries about her 11-year-old daughter who has kidney disease and isn’t getting the treatment she needs at the local clinic. Retta is the most surprising casting. I didn’t picture her like this at all. And that’s good news. She’ll probably add layers to the role. The men of Good Girls are mostly bad uninteresting guys. There’s work to do to make them more than those tired clichés.

Then there’s the question of being able to sustain the premise over multiple seasons. Even with shortened orders, I don’t see it. Those girls won’t be able to escape prison at some point. Not without huge inconsistencies in the stories. That worries me a lot to be honest. If they start by robbing a supermarket, what happens next? They rob a bank, deal drugs and kill people? It’s gonna get ugly and possibly ridiculous.

Good Girls has an average pilot script that has really good moments as well as mediocre ones, and that can be elevate to a superior level by only two things: a great cast (which it has) with a real chemistry (has yet to be proven) and a director that has a vision and who’s not just a performer (I’m not sure). NBC is clearly envisioning it as a companion for This Is Us and though it would suffer from the comparison, it’s a valid option.

Deception (ABC) pilot preview: A Spectacular Show that Works like Magic!

Written and produced by Chris Fedak (Chuck, Forever, Legends of Tomorrow). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Blindspot, The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow…), Martin Gero (Blindspot, The LA Complex, Stargate Atlantis), Sarah Schechter (Riverdale, The Flash, Arrow) & David Kwong (Blindspot, Now You See Me). Directed by David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Shameless US, The Mentalist, The Flash, Arrow). For Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions. 6 pages. Draft 1/08/2017.

Description: When the career of superstar magician Cameron Black is ruined by scandal, he has only one place to turn to practice his art of deception, illusion, and influence — the FBI. He’ll become the world’s first consulting illusionist, helping the government solve crimes that defy explanation, and trap criminals and spies by using deception, even if it means breaking the rules and pissing off everyone around him, including his partner Kay Daniels, a take-charge, hard-working special agent you don’t fool easily…

With Jack Cutmore-Scott (Kingsman, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life), Hilfenesh Hadera (Show Me a Hero, Billions, Baywatch), Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break, Telenovela, Chase), Lenora Crichlow (Being Human, Sugar Rush)…

 

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Castle, Chuck, Forever, Lucifer, Blindspot

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10.

Ladies and gentlemen, Greg Berlanti did it again! Deception was one of the two drama projects he sold to ABC this year as a producer and I have to admit I rooted for the other one (Criminal about an hedonistic con man and his ragtag team of criminals who must complete an ongoing series of missions to clear their names and steal an unknown number of long-forgotten relics that could change the fate of the world). Imagine my disappointment. I can see yours. There’s 80% chance you rolled your eyes while reading Deception‘s description and I honestly did the same. So believe me or not, the pilot script is impressive and now I totally understand why ABC fell for it. I’ll try to explain and convince you it’s not the same type of crime/consultant show we’ve been served for years. Except, it kinda is. But better, faster, stronger.

The biggest difficulty with Deception was to make it believable. And they do somehow. I’m the first to be surprised but it is what it is. In what world would the FBI need a magician to help them? Of course, it would never happen in ours. Can you imagine David Copperfield stopping terrorists thanks to a magic trick? Laughable. The real magician here must be the writer Chris Fedak then. He did a really good job from start to finish, not only by making it believable but also by making it incredibly fresh and enjoyable. The opening sequence is a spectacular and dangerous magic trick inspired by Harry Houdini, of the great magicians, that starts in a giant Las Vegas theather and end up… in Time Square, New York! He has to free himself from chains while blindfolded in a cage two hundred feets above the stage. How is that even possible? There’s an explanation. And I intend to keep it a secret. But you’ll know and it may blow your mind and disappoint you at the same time.

There’s a note at the beginning of the script explaining that all the tricks and deceptions on the show are actually possible. A real magician could perform those illusions. And it has to be noted that David Kwong, puzzle creator and magician consultant for the movie Now You See Me, serves as an executive producer. They are not taking it lightly. So yeah, magic is a big big part of the show and those scenes look incredible on paper. With Warner Bros. Television behind, I’m not worried: it will look great on screen too. Budget-wise, they won’t be able to perform such things every week. The pilot set the bar high -especially with the disappearance of a plane into thin air- but I’m pretty sure they can also do great with less money. Plus, there’s all sorts of magic and of course, Cameron Black knows it all.

It’s that kind of character. He’s pretentious, borderline but he’s damn funny, handsome and charming (look at Jack Cutmore-Scott’s face!). Nobody can resist him. Like Lucifer, for example. They could be twin. You’re not gonna be surprised if I tell you his partner is a woman and that she hates him as much as she likes him. They’re poised to fall in love sooner or later. That’s how those procedural crime shows work. People need romance. But there’s more. Cameron has a backstory, involving his father and his brother, as well as a nenemis who wants to kill him. A mysterious woman illusionist that is apparently even greater than he is and who’s ready to play a cat and mouse game. Strong serialized elements are always welcome. By the way, Cameron doesn’t do it all by himself. He has a team. And all of them add flavours to the show, especially Dina, his witty producer and makeup genius, and Gunter, his Viking-type technician. The ensemble really works. Dialogues are great. Chris Fedak worked on Chuck. They’re similar tonally.

ABC needed a new Castle badly. They may have found it. And for real this time. It’s not produced in-house but it’s everything they could hope for. It may look like a by-the-book procedural cop show sometimes, it certainly is familiar, structured like many others that came before, but it’s irresistibly fun and inventive, impressive even, and never boring. Magic happened on paper. Let’s hope it will make it out alive from pilot season!

Reverie (NBC) pilot preview: a future success for Sarah Shahi… but in a virtual reality

Pilot “Apertus” written and produced  by Mickey Fisher (Extant, Mars). Executive produced by Brooklyn Weaver (Extant, The Number 23, Run All Night), Darryl Frank & Justin Falvey (Extant, Under the Dome, Falling Skies, Las Vegas, The Americans). For Universal Television & Amblin Television. 61 pages. Draft 01/22/2017.

Description: Mara Kint, a former detective turned professor specialized in human behavior, is brought in when the launch of an advanced virtual reality program called “Reverie”, designed by a young woman seen as “the next Einstein”, has dangerous and unintended consequences. “Reverie” puts people inside a waking dream of their own design, but some of them don’t ever want to come back, which put them into a coma and treathens their lives. Mara’s mission is to bring them back, one by one, before it’s too late…

With Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest, Fairly Legal, Life, The L Word), Kathryn Morris (Cold Case, Pensacola), Jessica Lu (Awkward), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes, Lucky Man, Covert Affairs), Dennis Haysbert (24, The Unit)…

  

You’ll like it if you already like: Extant, Person of Interest, Minority Report, Falling Water

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10.

Reverie was one of those rare spec pilots that garnered interest from multiple networks and ultimately landed at NBC. Same thing happened with Mickey Fisher’s first project, Extant, that he wrote when he was an unknown writer, which sparked a bidding war before landing at CBS with a straight-to-series order with Halle Berry signing on to star. This is the proof miracles can happen… twice! I remember how much I loved Extant on paper and how much the show was a disappointment overall (and a snoozefest most of the time). So forgive me if I’m being cautious with this one. I can see why people loved it -and I liked it- but I can’t help being pessimistic for its future if it’s picked-up to series. Mainly because NBC (and other networks for instance) doesn’t have a good track-record with sci-fi and fantasy recently. Revolution, Timeless and Emerald City weren’t exactly earth-shattering.

In the meantime, Sarah Shahi was one of the most sought-after actresses of this pilot season and she ultimately chose Reverie. Which is not that surprising. She’s staying in her comfort zone. She apparently loves procedural shows -or she loves shows that can potentially air for multiple years, can’t blame her- and she’s best known for Person Of Interest, which was already a grounded thriller drama with sci-fi elements. Again, I get it. She loved the script, bla bla bla. And her character can be both badass and emotional. Mara is smart, she can kick ass if needed and of course she’s tortured because of a terrible thing that happened to her family in the past, a thing that she feels responsible for. It’s certainly appealing for an actress. But I feel like she may be doing a mistake (again). But not as huge as Nancy Drew for CBS last year, rest assured…

The concept of Reverie is cool -a procedural without a crime !- but narrow. Once Mara will have rescued ten or twelve people from their dreams, we’re gonna get bored. Inevitably. Even if the settings change in every dream (it’s a hotel in the pilot), as well as the characters involved and their personal story we’re told (a romantic one this time). So narrow I don’t see how it could last for long, except if they turn it into a more serialized show at some point. Like Person of Interest did in fact. There’s the potential to do so, especially with the puzzling creator of the virtual reality program and the mysterious private company behind. But will they be able to get there?

Reverie is exactly the type of show that is stuck between two ambitions: being network-y, knowing exactly what it means in terms of pace and structure; and being more than that, looking towards what they’re doing on cable. But in the end, it’s too much for procedural lovers -and well, there’s no crime in there you know- and not enough for HBO, Showtime or Netflix users. The premice could sound like a Black Mirror episode (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Fisher was partly inspired by it actually) but turned into a basic procedural. Raising the standart of the procedural shows is a beautiful ambition to have and a brave thing to do. But it rarely pays off sadly.

Reverie is a modern and ambitious sci-fi thriller series, the kind that rarely works on network television, that also happens to be a procedural, which is a shame. It could easily land on Minority Report territory, unless it miraculously finds an audience as Person of Interest did. It’s a fine vehicle for Sarah Shahi, but it probably belongs to SyFy, not NBC. Except it would be too pricey. In another world or in a virtual reality, it would be a success. 

Unit Zero (ABC) pilot preview: Revenge of the badass lady nerds

Written and produced by Lindsey Shockley (Blackish, Benched, Trophy Wife). Executive produced by Kenya Barris (Blackish, The Game) & Toni Collette. Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Vince Principals, Kenny Powers). 59 pages. Network 3rd Revised Draft 1/29/17. For ABC Studios.

Description: Jackie Fink, an unassuming CIA engineer and single mom, is chosen to be the leader of a team of CIA underlings who are thrust into the field as first time spies. Each week, this team of zeroes races against the clock to gather intelligence and solve cases of national security. And they succeed partly because no one in their right mind would ever suspect they were spies. Overlooked in the workplace, their invisibility makes them perfect for the most covert missions…

With Toni Collette (Hostages, United States of Tara, Little Miss Sunshine, Muriel’s Wedding), Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital, Transparent), Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals, Devious Maids)…

 

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Kingsman, Agent Carter, Scorpion, Quantico… 

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 8 or 9; Tuesday at 10; Wenesday at 10

 

Writer and producer Kenya Barris -who co-created America’s Next Top Model back in the day- is on fire! His comedy Blackish is winning major awards, his comedy pilot Libby & Malcolm starring Felicity Huffman & Courtney B. Vance looks like a sure thing for a series order (read the preview here), a Blackish spin-off is in the works (but I don’t think ABC should move forward with it) and now comes Unit Zero, a hour-long dramedy with Toni Collette he executive produces that looks like another winner… even if it’s about losers. Is the alphabet network, where he is under an overall deal, trying to turn him into their comedic Shonda Rhimes? He has found his own style -making political statement and starting a conversation while being funny- and might have two hours of programming next year. That’s a really good start.

At its core, this show is about outsiders, those of us who don’t fit in. It celebrates everything that’s beautiful about being different” said creator Lindsey Shockley about Unit Zero when the project was sold to ABC last summer. And she’s not lying. That is exactly why I found this pilot script so refreshing, apart from the fact that you don’t stumble upon a show labeled as an action spy dramedy every day. Those characters are instantly endearing and special, starting with our heroine, Jackie Fink, who just gave birth in her forties. And now she’s stuck with the father, who was just a one-night stand she’s not in love with (yet?). She’s a whip smart nerd with an unsinkable spirit and a beautiful mess. She’s perfect for Toni Collette, who already proved in United States of Tara she’s able to play anything and everything with brilliance.

Then there’s Brianna, her fearless (black) best friend, looks tough but hides a lot of pain inside; Azeema, a young foxy Muslim-American college freshman who’s just starting as an intern in the CIA; Midge, an overweight delightful woman in her late fifties who was an olympic biathlete in her youth; and finally the man of the team, Phineas, a tone deaf genius who’s (not so) secretly in love with Jackie who (not so) secretly doesn’t really care. With its female-fueled cast, Unit Zero pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to be a woman in a historically male-dominated field, showing underrepresented voices. And that’s another reason why it’s unusual and enthusiastic.

This character-based procedural with strong serialized elements doesn’t take itself too seriously, constantly deflecting highly dangerous situations with humor. They’re all very funny in their own way and their world is bigger than life, as are their crazy (unrealistic?) high-tech inventions they test in the field. The action scenes are insan. Jackie slaloming through traffic is something I definitely want to see. Especially since she’s wearing a jet-black punk wig, a leather skirt and combat boots so she can be mistaken for a badass hacker called “Lonelyheart”, dominatrix style, right in the middle of Acapulco with a cartel running behind her car.

Everything moves fast and in style. Think the movie Kingsman (with a lesser budget probably). Music plays an important role with classic energetic hits like “Dancing with Myself” by The Donnas in the opening sequence. The whole point of the pilot is to asemble the team after Jackie made a huge mistake her first day back in the office that could threaten her future in the CIA. They all decide to help her. The rest is history! Despite everything that’s happening, the emotions in there are real and it makes the show very complete.

Unit Zero is a joyful and thrilling ride alongside characters you can only root for who will move you, make you laugh hard and think a little. Suddenly, “action spy dramedy” is a thing, a thing that you’ll like and want. Will it be a hit for ABC? It surely looks like one. 

Life Sentence (The CW) pilot preview: Pretty Little Cutie Pies

Written and produced by Erin Cardillo & Rich Keith (Significant Mother, Fuller House). Executive produced by Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town, Undateable) & Jeff Ingold (Ground Floor, Undateable). Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (Riverdale, Beyond, Adaline, Celeste & Jesse Forever). 61 pages. Network Draft Revised 01/11/2017. For Warner Bros. Television & Doozer Entertainment.

Description: When Stella, a young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer finds out that she’s not dying after all, she has to learn to live with the choices she made when she decided to “live like she was dying.” She then discover her family has been lying to her for the past ten years so she doesn’t worry. Now, she has every reason to worry…

With Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars, Privileged), Jayson Blair (Whiplash, Young & Hungy, The New Normal), Dylan Walsh (Nip/Tuck, Unforgettable), Gillian Vigman (New Girl, Suburgatory), Brooke Lyons (The Affair, iZombie, 2 Broke Girls)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Jane The Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Life Unexpected…

First there was Jane The Virgin. Then came Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Now there’s No Tomorrow (which doesn’t have much of a future ironically). Despite underwhelming ratings -but rave reviews and rare prizes for the network- those hour-long dramedies are very much alive, as if The CW wanted to apologize for all their superhero shows -there will be 5 next year if Black Lightning is ordered to series!- by balancing them with lighter fares targeting millenial women. Before reading the script, I expected Life Sentence to be yet another romantic comedy with charming and colorful leads. It turned out the leads are charming and sometimes colorful but it is not that romantic. Though it can be. There are clichés about Paris and Amsterdam after all. But it’s mostly about a quirky, messy, relatable, instantly appealing family from Portland that we could enjoy spending a few years with.

First of all, let me introduce you to all of them. Stella, our heroine and narrator, is a 25 year-old decisive, strong woman, with a wry, sometimes morbid, sense of humor. She’s a cutie pie. I’m not a Pretty Little Liars fan but I feel like casting Lucy Hale in the starring role is the best thing that could have happenned to the project. She’s certainly capable and she does have fans that will sample the show. Wes is Stella’s husband, a cool guy’s guy. Paul is Stella’s father, a solid rock who rarely shows his feelings. Ida is Stella’s mother, a kind and emotional 55 year-old woman who owns a cheese shop called… Brie Yourself. Elizabeth is Stella’s older sister, an aspiring writer with a family of her own to take care of. Aiden is Stella’s older brother, an immature womanizer who still lives with his parents at 28. There’s also Dr Helena Chang, Stella’s awkward oncologist and the closest she has to a best friend; and Poppy, Ida’s best friend who has become an aunt for Stella and her brother and sister. We get to meet all of them through the pilot and have a pretty good idea of who they are… or more precisely: who they want Stella to believe they are and who they really are. And it’s already a hell of a ride! And they’re never irritating, which is kind of a miracle.

Life Sentence is funny. But discreetly. Without a red light warning sign saying “Be ready, we’re gonna be funny in 3,2,1…”. It’s funny because the characters are -and hopefully the actors too- because the dialogues are sharp and smart, and probably because the writers and the producers wrote for comedies before. It shows. It’s touching without being cheesy, especially thanks to the heroine’s voice-over that could be compared to the narrator’s in Jane The Virgin, though she’s not breaking the fourth wall. And it has potential to go on for years. As long as the characters are good, and I don’t want to repeat myself but they are, everything’s gonna be fine. You want to know their secrets? Here’s one [SPOILER ALERT!]: Ida wants to divorce Paul for years. And you know why? Because she doesn’t love him anymore, yes. But mostly because she’s in love with a woman. And this woman is… Poppy! It is this type of show. The situations can be far-fetched, there’s too much going on, but the emotions feel real.

Life Sentence is a delightful, funny, soapy, certainly not preachy, breath of fresh air, that may not be as inventive as Jane The Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are, but there’s a lot to like in there, especially for those who want more family dramedies on TV. Can it be a huge success for The CW? Probably not. Can it win awards? I doubt it. Can it charm the hell out of the audience? Oh yeah, it will!