Month: March 2017

Perfect Citizen (CBS) pilot preview: The Good Whistleblower

Written and executive produced by Craig Turk (The Good Wife, Boston Legal, Private Practice). Directed by Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy, Pitch, NYPD Blue, Cold Case). For CBS Television Studios & Thinking Hat Productions. 65 pages. Second Network Draft. 01/17/17.

Description:  After his involvement as a whistleblower in an international scandal, Deck Parsons, the former general counsel for the NSA embarks on a new career at a storied law firm in Boston where his daughter works. Once there, he must face the reality that half the country thinks he’s our greatest patriot, the other half thinks he’s a traitor and so do his colleagues and clients…

With Noah Wyle (ER, Falling Skies, The Librarian), Kristin Chenoweth (The West Wing, Glee, Pushing Daisies), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Mr Robot, Glee), Lenny Platt (How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico), Adrienne Warren, Stephanie Szostack (Satisfaction), Shanley Caswell (NCIS New Orleans)…

   

You’ll like if you already like: The Good Wife, The Good Fight, Damages

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9

 

Quick résumé of Craig Turk, a writer you may not know: he’s a former attorney, he got hist first writer job at Boston Legal, then worked with Shonda Rhimes on Private Practive, and he joined The Good Wife in 2012, originally as a consulting producer and later as an executive producer. He even emerged as a trusted number 2 and heir apparent to creators Robert and Michelle King, tipped to succeed them as showrunner should the series had continued beyond seven seasons. Which thankfully didn’t happen. He could have joined the spin–off The Good Fight but he prefered creating his own stuff for CBS Television Studios where he is under an overall deal. And here we are. Perfect Citizen looks like a solid legal drama, which is not surprising; but the more I read the pilot script the more I was under the impression it was a carbon copy of The Good Wife. Take it as both a compliment and a warning.

The Good Wife is undoubtedly one of the greatest legal dramas ever made. Period. It was really strong for a longtime and even though I’m not a big supporter of the last two more political seasons, it was still incredible. 5-6 episodes in, The Good Fight is also a strong and even important show. Do we need another series in the same vein right now? It may be too soon. Perfect Citizen is not a lesser The Good Wife. It has a ton of potential. And The Good Wife was not the greatest from the get go. They needed a few episodes to get their groove on. With The Good Wife paving the way, Perfect Citizen starts big using the same plot devices in a similar environment with different characters but characters who would have fit perfectly at Lockhart/Gardner. Since it’s written the same way, the only person that may give the show a distinctive feel is the director. Paris Barclay never worked on The Good Wife or any other legal drama. He’s mostly known for his directing on Sons of Anarchy, a very different series obviously. I’m hopeful he will add something, his own thing, to the mix.

I don’t want to sound obsessed by The Good Wife -though I might be- but I just want to tell you how much Perfect Citizen is the same kind of beast. Of course, there’s the fact that they chose an ex-ER alumn to play the lead in both cases. It also starts with a scandal -of a different nature- and put the principal character, Deck Parsons, in the spotlight. Alicia Florrick was not responsible for what happened to her. Deck is. Not entirely, but still. Like her, he has to go back to work as a lawyer in a firm where he has ties. Will Gardner was Alicia’s old friend since law school and a powerful man in Chicago. Here, Paul, one of the partners, is Deck’s best friend since law school, a powerful ally and Boston power broker. And then there’s Jessica Hellsbury played by the brilliant Kristin Chenoweth. She’s the heartbeat of the firm and got her name on the door by outworking and out thinking the Ivy Leaguers. She’s different from Diane Lockhart if you look at the details but she has the same kind of personality and she gets the same respect from her colleagues. Honestly, I could go on and on. Deck has an assistant, Ingrid, who’s his Kalinda. There’s Felix Reyes, the self-proclaimed “Alpha Associate” at the firm. As charming, brilliant, ambitious and pretentious as a certain Cary Agos. And there’s a strong family element to the show since Deck’s daughter is part of the firm while his brother “Buddy” is in the picture too. It may lacks a clear love interest but there are possibilities.

The case of the first episode -there’s only one- is very much a tell of nowadays with a telecom giant named TwoTwig which doesn’t want to give the personal informations they have on the whereabouts and communications of a missing 18 year-old girl to the lawyers. It’s efficient and absorbing. The courtroom scenes are captivating. That’s what the show is aiming for: stories that are political, controversial, that say a lot about the society we’re living in, about our governments, about the lack of privacy due to new technologies, but that never forget they’re about people, living and breathing men and women like you and me. Deck Parsons is the “perfect” Edward Snowden-like character to vehicle those big ideas and views about the world. Of course, the show itself is political and there’s one villain introduced in the very first minutes: Attorney General Fran Davids. She was a good friend of Deck until he commited what she considers as treason. Now they’re bitter enemies. That’s the main serialized story we’re offered for now. And it’s exciting.

Perfect Citizen could have been called The Good Whistleblower. It’s following the steps of The Good Wife with an impressing precision and an indeniable talent. It’s not a game-changer legal drama and it doesn’t sound like a future mega-hit for CBS but critics will love it and people who love high-end television series will have a ball.

#PilotSeason by the numbers, the genres, the genders & the studios [2017 Edition]

BY THE NUMBERS

ALL DRAMA & COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED IN 2017


ALL PILOTS & STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDERED BY YEARS


ALL DRAMA PILOTS ORDERED BY YEARS & BY NETWORKS  
 

DRAMA & COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED BY YEARS

 

ALL DRAMA & COMEDY STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDERED BY NETWORKS & YEARS

While the era of so-called Peak TV is in full force, the Big Five have ordered less drama and comedy pilots than last year and the years before. They are 76 in 2017, they were 86 in 2016 and 95 in 2014 ! In the details, ABC is on par with last year (even though they have a very strong comedy brand and don’t need much more), as well as CBS & The CW. But NBC ordered way less, simply because they needed less with a schedule already full and the Olympics coming in 2018. They went from 13 comedy pilots in 2016 to only 8 this year. They still have a hard time creating their comedy brand but they finally have a few comedies to stick with (Superstore, The Good Place), plus the return of Will & Grace for a short season. In the meantime, FOX picked-up less drama pilots (with one now shooting off season and other one pushed), meaning they will probably ordered most of them to series if they want new things to launch next season. They have two straight-to-series orders: Orville & Gifted. Will the networks order less shows during the upfronts? Doesn’t seem likely, though the fact that failing series are rarely pulled off the air nowadays doesn’t leave much space for new things. As usual, some of them will be pushed to summer with a lesser chance to shine.

BY THE GENRES

In 2016, legal drama pilots were back, probably because The Good Wife was ending and the networks felt like there was a hole to fill in that department. It didn’t result in many orders though. During this year’s development season, both CBS & NBC bet heavily on legal projects but very few got the greenlight as you can see: only three, including Shondaland’s Black’s Law. Medical dramas are on par with 2016: The Good Doctor at ABC, Shelter at NBC, The Resident and The Beast at FOX. CBS doesn’t have one this year, while Code Black is in danger again and Pure Genius likely cancelled. Cop shows/Detective dramas are also on par, with CBS having less than usual and ABC having more than usual.

The action and thriller pilots have exploded and it’s partly due to this year’s crave for military shows in the Post-Trump era: For God & Country at NBC, Behind Enemy Lines at FOX, Navy SEAL at CBS & Valor at The CW. There are more fantasy & sci-fi pilots in 2017, which doesn’t really make sense since the time-travel shows launched this year all failed to various degrees. No time travel this time, no horror either, but virtual reality (Reverie at NBC), monsters (Searchers at The CW), mutants (Gifted at FOX), vampires (The Passage at FOX) and The Inhumans from Marvel at ABC.

As expected between the successes of Empire & This Is Us, drama soaps are back in the game but we can’t really talk about a trend yet. Maybe next year. The CW is rebooting Dynasty & is trying a family dramedy (Life Sentence); ABC asked Marc Cherry back with mystery soap Bluegrass/Blood Red; while NBC needs something to pair This Is Us with so Good Girls and Rise look like the perfect candidates.


COMEDY FORMATS BY NETWORKS


COMEDY FORMATS BY YEARS

CBS is still looking for a success in the single-camera comedy department and may have found one with Young Sheldon, a prequel spin-off of The Big Bang Theory. Most of the other pick-ups are for multicamera comedies except Real Life from How I Met Your Mother creators which is an hybrid. At NBC, there’s only one multicamera pilot (Relatively Happy) while they have straight-to-series new season of Will & Grace. Pairing them seems to be the best option… For the first time in years, ABC has 3 multicamera pilots, while Last Man Standing and Dr Ken don’t seem to be in immediate danger. Is the network aiming for an expansion on fridays? FOX is going full single-camera comedies, as they should.

BY THE GENDERS

It’s getting better! Male creators are still in vast majority but women writers got more pick-ups than usual, especially at The CW. FOX has also improved, while ABC & NBC are on par with previous years -they always did better than the others- and CBS is still the black sheep with only 3 pilots overall (two dramas, one comedy) written by females. Please not the numbers for female and male directors are not yet available but we’re heading towards a dramatic fall after a one-year rise.

In 2016, more pilots than usual were centered around women characters, except at FOX where there was not a single one; and at CBS which didn’t order the few they had in store to series, except Katherine Heigl’s Doubt. This year, there are slightly less female-led shows & also less ensemble shows. It means there are more male-lead shows, especially in the comedy department.

BY THE STUDIOS

With networks ordering almost exclusively pilots produced in-house now, Warner Bros. Television & Sony Pictures Television had a harder time getting pick-ups in 2016 but they were stronger than ever on the cable side. This year, Sony went more agressively and has doubled their pilot pick-ups while Warner Bros. has the exact same number. Every other studios are down since the overall number of pick-ups is down itself. ABC is the most generous network with 10 pilots from outside studios among the 24 ordered, while FOX only has one pilot not-produced in house among their 13!

SEE ALSO:

#PILOTSEASON BY THE CITIES

#PILOTSEASON BY THE CALENDAR

Graphics by @_PIAIR

Searchers (The CW) pilot preview: The CW’s most ambitious journey yet?

Written and produced by Jason Rothenberg (The 100). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Supergirl, Riverdale, Brothers & Sisters), Sarah Schester (Arrow, Blindspot, Legends of Tomorrow). Directed bt Dean White (The 100, The Shield, Once Upon a Time). For Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions. 63 pages. 01/14/17.

Description: a group of unlikely heroes find themselves on the journey of a lifetime: 10 years after the death of their parents, Cooper, a pragmatic brother and Fable, a free spirited sister are forced to team up when they learn that their mother’s terrifying and bizarre stories may be a road map to discovering the great legends, myths, and unexplainable mysteries of the world…

With Zane Holtz (From Dusk til Dawn, Make It or Break It), Alex McGregor (Of Kings and Prophets, The Dark Tower), Jeanine Mason (Of Kings and Prophets, Bunheads), Josh KiddWilliam Miller, Marc Blucas (Buffy, Underground, Necessary Roughness)…

    

You’ll like it if you already like: Supernatural, Grimm, The 100, Once Upon a Time…

Likely timeslot: Wednesday at 9

I remember vividly the day I read the script for The 100 pilot. I was very impressed and hopeful it would turn into something special and spectacular. It didn’t. The finished pilot was certainly promising but not as good and ambitious as it was on the page. It became a better show afterwards, more adult and well… less The CW! Unfortunately it went south since then. And the hope of it being “the new Lost” is definitely… lost. While The 100 will live at least one more year, The CW ordered a new pilot from its controversial creator and showrunner Jason Rothenberg (we will not talk about the blacklash here…) and yet again, it’s a winner on the page. Ambitious it is, special too, but I can’t say I’m that impressed. Initially, a lot of comparisons were drawn between Searchers and the endless Supernatural. Even though they share a little bit of DNA, they’re vastly different. I don’t see it as Supernatural‘s successor. And quite frankly, it’s better this way. It’d be too much pressure.

Searchers is not your typical fantasy series, that’s for sure! It’s not about driving around the United States in a vintage car chasing demons, it’s about travelling the world by air and by sea to chase monsters! It’s way bigger in scope and the budget must be too, which is always worrying. Most of the pilot takes place in the Carribean islands -it is shot in South Africa- and ends on the Sahara desert. If they shoot in Vancouver after the pilot, it might be a problem… So don’t expect 22-episode seasons. Don’t even expect it for fall if it’s picked-up to series. It smells like a 13-episode season starting around january 2018. Maybe it will even share a timeslot with The 100… Anyway, the best way to describe the show is to call it an action and adventure drama with supernatural elements, the kind we don’t see much on television because it’s not cheap and because it rarely hits with the audience. There are the pirates shows like Black Sails, but that’s pretty much it right now. There are some kind of modern pirates in Searchers, but that’s not exactly who our heroes are.

They’re explorers. Cooper is a brilliant tech innovator and former soldier who has accepted his parents’ deaths. But all that changes when Fable, his strong, smart and soulful baby sister, drags him on a dangerous mission to learn what truly happened to them 10 years ago. They allegedly died while on a mission in a submarine, killed by a monster called the Grindylow -at least that’s what Fable thinks- but they may not be dead after all. Cooper, Fable and their new friends Zin, an ex-Marine fighter pilot, and Juniper, Fable’s ex-cell mate -Yeah, ‘cos Fable has just been released from jail- are now looking for them from their ship, Prometheus, led by the swashbuckling captain Bosch, a mysterious old soul who can’t shake the past experiences still weighing on his psyche. They’re also determined to find the Grindylow. And Keystones. There are 12 of them from 12 worlds. Each is said to have a pull on the creatures from those worlds and to protect the bearer from those creatures. So if they want the monsters out of our world, they need to find them. That’s basically all you need to know about the concept. It may sound a bit complex but in fact it’s pretty simple.

The goals are clear and the promise of the show is too: Searchers is a treasure hunt with young, beautiful and sexy people. And if the actors are not too bad and the writing not too easy, it could also be emotional from time to time. On paper, the relationship between the brother and the sister is. They don’t get along that well but they clearly love each other deeply. There are flashbacks with their parents, when they were just kids, and those are the scenes I liked the most. We’ll probably get more of them every week, since the stories the mother told them before bed are significant in their quest. There is more to know about the parents. I suspect they are not the good people we’re led to believe. And they have an uncle, Raff. He doesn’t act as a good guy either. So it’s Cooper and Fable against the world and there are exciting challenges ahead. For the writers too. The pilot is action-packed and really delivers on twists and turns but the subsequent episodes will need to be as well if they want viewers to stay. As entincing as the characters are initially, they’re not strong enough yet -unless the actors really add something distinctive to the mix- to bet on them and only them heavily.

With Searchers, The CW is offering an ambitious proposition, maybe they’re most ambitious yet, which is targetting a more family-oriented audience than their other shows. It can be dark and frightening sometimes but it’s mostly fun and adventurous. It’s pure entertainment. It’s not a safe bet but it’s one worth taking if they want to grow again. 

The Trustee (ABC) pilot preview: Cagney & Lacey New Generation

Written and produced by Jay Scherick & David Ronn (The Smurfs 1 & 2, Zookeeper, Spin City). Directed by Michael Engler (Notorious, The Big C, 30 Rock, Party of Five). Executive produced by Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect) & Max Handelman. From Warner Bros. Television & Brownstone Productions. 63 pages. 01/25/17.

Description:  Eliza Radley, a driven but stubborn detective, finds unlikely help from her precinct’s trustee, Amanda Jones, a larger than life ex-con finishing out her prison sentence doing menial tasks for the police department. Though these two have completely opposing views on crime and punishment, a highly entertaining and successful partnership is born to clean the streets of San Francisco… and basically help each other through life!

With Meaghan Rath (Being Human US, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, Banshee), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black, Doubt), Michael Cudlitz (SouthLAnd, The Walking Dead), Lance Gross (Sleepy Hollow, House of Payne), David Warshofsky, Berto Colon (Orange is the New Black), Tim Kang (The Mentalist), L. Scott Caldwell (Lost, How to Get Away With Murder)…

  

You’ll like it if you already like: Lethal Weapon, Starsky & Hutch, Cagney & Lacey

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10 or Wednsday at 10

Pilot season is more than just excitement, hope, fear and disappointment. It’s also about… mathematics. Let me do the maths for you. ABC picked-up 11 drama pilots. 7 of them are produced by ABC Studios. Meaning 4 of them are not produced in-house. 2 are from Sony Pictures Television (Doomsday and The Good Doctor) and 2 are from Warner Bros. Television (Deception and The Trustee). Historically, Warner Bros. Television refuses to co-produce. Sony Television accepts it, but not always. Last year, ABC ordered to series 1 Warner Bros. Television-produced project (Time After Time) and one Sony Television-produced show (Notorious), that ABC Studios joined as co-producer. What’s gonna happen this year? They will presumably take one of each again. Unless there’s a surprise. But if there’s one, it will come from Sony, not Warner, because of the co-production thing. Why am I telling you all this? Because Deception and The Trustee are naturally pit against each other this pilot season and it’s a shame. ABC could use both in those troubled times. I feel like Deception has the upper-hand for many reasons (read the preview HERE) but The Trustee shouldn’t be counted out of the race yet.

The truth is, The Trustee would have been a perfect match for FOX to put it with Lethal Weapon. Both are buddy cop dramedies that do a really great job at making you laugh and have some fun during 42 precious minutes of your time. This is not an easy achievement. And network television definitely need more of those. On ABC, it’s a show harder to envision and to schedule but having two women as leads certainly help. And the fact that both are black with one being a transgender woman makes it an important show suddenly. It would be the first time ever that a transgender woman would play a (co)lead on a TV show. It’s amazing. Just for the symbol, I very much want The Trustee to be ordered to series and be treated as what it is: a stepping stone. Is it a deserving contender? I’ll get to it in a moment, don’t worry. Let’s just take a minute to admire ABC for what they’re trying to do here. They tested a lot of actresses and they went for Laverne Cox as soon as she got available (when CBS pulled the plug on Doubt). One important information: she’s NOT playing a transgender woman here (as of now at least). Which is another step in the right direction. Okay, she’s playing another ex-con, wearing the orange jumpsuit like in Orange is the New Black. But it’s too soon to talk about typecasting, right?

The Trustee pilot script is flawed in my opinion and probably not as efficient as Lethal Weapon‘s was but they don’t exactly work the same way and well… The Trustee is not based on a proven feature film hit franchise. There’s more groundwork to do and an entire world to build. Buddy cop shows were very popular in the 70s & the 80s on TV before cinema took a stab at it. The tropes are there, which is not a bad thing. People need to feel comfortable, especially since they already have to accept that they’re not watching two males but two ballsy females. We’re in 2017, it shouldn’t be a problem in theory, but I can’t find recent examples. There was Cagney & Lacey between 1981 and 1988 and nothing successful -or even tried to be honest- before Rizzoli & Isles… in 2010 and which just ended. And it was not exactly a buddy cop show. Anyway. You see. So yeah, it starts and ends with a car chase (a Lincoln Sedan if you really want to know). There are cartoonish very bad guys (who trade Guatemalan girls for money). There are lazy and mysogynistic cops… Everything you’d expect with this genre but with a modern feel.

Does the duet work? Yes it does, really. And that’s the most important thing. They don’t exactly follow the usual distinct formula with one straight-laced stickler for protocol and one unpredictable loose cannon since they kinda are both loose cannons but not in the same way. On one hand, Eliza Radley is fearless and stubborn and has unorthodox methods. Just the fact that she decides to use Amanda, who’s not a detective AT ALL, in a mission proves it. And she has a complicated personal life since her partner and lover died. She has a fuck buddy though, who’s not very happy with the situation. On the other hand, Amanda is a high energy woman who knows everything about the street and conning people, that’s how she ended up in prison. She’s horny as hell now that she’s out. Her mother died when she was young, her troubled sister and her were raised by their grandmother. Both are lonely and they’ll clearly become friends rather sooner than later. There’s a welcome poignancy added to the mix through their backgrounds. At the end of the pilot, we can only root for them. We want more of their amazing partnership. We want them to catch the bad guys and kick their asses. It’s as simple as that. Chemistry between the leads will be the key.

The Trustee works as a nice a ride in The streets of San Francisco, between Starsky & Hutch and Cagney & Lacey new generation. You don’t really care about the investigation as long as you’re having fun. And you do. It’s not earth-shattering in any way but it definitely shakes things up in the buddy cop genre show, making it more modern, diverse and feminist. Trust me.

Controversy (FOX) pilot preview: Another lesser American Crime

Written and produced by Sheldon Turner (In The Air, X-Men First Class). Executive produced by Jennifer Klein (Pearl Harbor), Judy Smith (Scandal, Braindead) & Charlie Gogolak (Kyle XY). Directed by John Requa & Glenn Ficarra (This Is Us, Patriot, Bad Santa, Focus, I Love You Phillip Morris). For 20th Century FOX Television, Zaftig Films, Smith & Company & Vendetta Productions. 60 pages. 01/28/17.

Description: The Junior Counsel of a prestigious Illinois university must deal with an out-of-control scandal when a young co-ed accuses several star football players of sexual assault. From the football coaches and boosters who wield outsize influence, to a university administration under siege, the series explores the type of high-profile controversy all-too familiar on today’s college campuses, as well as the corrosive, dangerous nature of institutional power…

With Austin Stowell (Whiplash, Public Morals), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife, The Fall, Blindspot), Anthony Edwards (ER, Top Gun, Zodiac), Christine Lahti (Chicago Hope, Jack & Bobby, Hawaii 5-0), Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones, The Kings of Summer), Saycon Sengbloh (Scandal), Vince NappoGriffin Freeman

 

  

You’ll like if you already like: American Crime, American Crime Story, Shots Fired

Likely timeslot: somewhere in midseason

In a few days, FOX will start airing event series Shots Fired, which I’m not a big supporter of, mainly because it’s kind of a rip off of the first season of American Crime without what’s making this show so great and important. It’s a decent attempt to make something compelling and meaningful out of a very hot topic -police shootings- but it’s never brilliant despite its incredible cast. Too soapy probably (You can still read the preview HERE). I’m not sold on Controversy either, for some of the same reasons and a few others. But FOX is certainly hoping Controversy will be their next Shots Fired, if Shots Fired (paired with Empire) becomes successful. It does have a real shot. They share the same respectable ambition. Controversy has not been announced as a miniseries, so they can explore other controversial subjects in subsequent seasons I guess…

This first installment is about college rape, a timely topic that was already tackled on… the second season of American Crime. Brilliantly. With fierceness. Why do FOX keep on following the steps of the ABC series? I’m not sure. But they’ll argue they do it very differently and I can’t say otherwise. Sadly, it’s not as gripping and it doesn’t come out as subtle and intimate. Sometimes, it’s just too spectacular for me. Starting the show with a flashforward then going back to the hours that led to the night of the crime is not a narrative tool that should be used there in my opinion. I understand they want their show to be efficient and as mainstream as possible, but they lose the emotion in the middle of this well-oiled machine. It lacks authenticity for me. And since most of the multiple characters, including the victim, don’t seem to be very reliable and well-meaning persons, I had a hard time connecting with them. But there’s a complexity that suggests it wouldn’t be fair to jump to any conclusions after only one episode. It is obviously thought as a whole and this pilot works more like an introduction to a short season than an episode that wants to give you a promise for months and years to come. And I’m pretty sure FOX will want to air the first two episodes back to back.

The most engaging character here is not the victim (sadly) or the possible culprit(s) but Jourdan Price, a crisis management consultant brought in to help with the scandal. It takes time before she appears but the show really starts with her arrival for me. Knowing that Archie Panjabi would play her certainly helped, I have to admit. What’s interesting is the show is produced by Judy Smith, the real-life top crisis-management consultant who inspired Scandal‘s Olivia Pope. It doesn’t mean Price is also based on Smith, but she did work on a number of high-profile clients, including universities. It’s reassuring. The show may be a faithful depiction of what really happens when such an horrible thing happen on college campuses, way too often apparently. But at the same time, there are soapy and conspirationist elements that show the writer Sheldon Turner is more interested in the twists and turns than in the emotional depth. And that’s a shame. But This Is Us‘ directors in charge of the pilot could add what’s missing in the script.

I’m also very curious to understand why Turner chose to adopt the Junior Counsel of the university’s point of view, which was not the case initially as the first description suggests it was supposed to be Price’s. Matt Kincaid seems to be a white-privileged golden boy, a bit pretentious, the kind of character that is not easy to like in general but who still looks like the usual leading man on a network show. Is it because he’s handsome, great to watch and that’s an easier sell? That may be the reason why and I’d like to be proven wrong. I hope there is more to him than just that and that it’s not a decision taken out of fear to make sure that FOX audience would tune in. I mean… Is there a FOX show with a female lead? Nope…

Is Controversy a quality show or a tepid impersonation of a quality show? I don’t have the answer yet. I just know it’s not a masterpiece but it has the potential to be at least a good entertainment. But one thing’s for sure: FOX will put it on their schedule next year no matter what. It’s not their best shot at a hit but it’s a project that is able to start a conversation on an important matter. They want their American Crime. They want to be in that game. They want awards recognition too. We’ll see if this effort is enough. 

The Good Doctor (ABC) pilot preview: Meet House’s spiritual prodigal son

Written and produced by David Shore (House, Sneaky Pete, Law & Order). Based on Park Jae-bum’s South Korean series Goot Dakteo. Excutive produced by Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii 5-0), Erin Gunn (Battle Creek, Houdini and Doyle), Lindsay GoffmanSebastian Dong Hun Lee (Dramaworld) & David Kim. Directed by Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Baywatch, The Goldbergs, Sneaky Pete). For Sony Pictures Television, Shore Z & 3 AD. 62 pages. 3rd Network Draft. 1/13/17.

Description: Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon with Savant syndrome, is recruited into the pediatric surgical unit of a prestigious hospital in Santa Fe. Although he has the mentality of a 10 year old, he has the amazing ability of 3D visualisation of the human anatomy and the memory of everything he reads. But can a person who doesn’t have the ability to relate to people actually save their lives and be considered as a “good doctor”? Shaun has six months to prove it…

With Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel, August Rush, Arthur & the Invisibles, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Antonia Thomas (Misfits, Lovesick), Nicholas Gonzalez (Pretty Little Liars, Sleepy Hollow, Melrose Place 2009, Resurrection Blvd.), Hill Harper (CSI New York, Limitless, Homeland, Covert Affairs), Richard Schiff (The West Wing, The Affair), Beau Garrett (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), Irene Keng (Harry’s Law), Chuku Modu (Snatch)…

 

   

You’ll like if you already like: House, Grey’s Anatomy, Code Black…

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10, Wednesday at 10 or Sunday at 9.

 

I have to be perfectly honest, I considered The Good Doctor as a weak contender and a low priority for a spot in ABC’s schedule next year for four main reasons: 1/ Because of this uninspired and so generic title (we already have The Good Fight & The Good Place by the way) 2/ Because it’s the adaptation of a Korean hit (I have nothing against Korean series but they’re not appealing to me at all) 3/ Because of the concept, that seems standard and tired (he’s a genius but he’s really bad with people) 4/ Because I tend to think ABC doesn’t need any new medical drama as long as Grey’s Anatomy is alive and well (and it is). But that was before Freddie Highmore got cast in the lead role and before I read the script, that really took me by surprise and moved me more than I could have imagined. Now, I feel like there could be a hit hiding in there. On paper, it looks like one. What will it take to become one? As always: a good timeslot, an efficient promotion and a bit of luck.

I was expecting a “medical dramedy soap” but it turned out The Good Doctor is a real medical drama. It has soap elements, it’s true, though ABC seems to have tone them down in their version compared to the Korean one. They changed the end for example, that probably looked inapropriate. Shaun and one of his female colleagues were getting very close, already. Too soon! They’ll get there at some point of course, but they have time (especially if they’re looking for 22-episode seasons). But to give us a Grey’s Anatomy feel anyway, there’s a scene where two characters are making out in the room where the residents are supposed to take a nap, not fuck. Allergics to Shondaland, fear not: it’s not the kind of show where everybody is sleeping around. It has comedic elements too but nothing that will make you laugh out loud. They’re not agressively looking for big funny moments. It’s more subtle than that. A few lines, some situations. A fine balance to make it not too heavy. Because heavy it is, most of the time.

If you’re looking for a “real” medical drama, The Good Doctor is for you. Writer David Shore knows his subject, his 8 seasons of House certainly helped, though he’s a former lawyer, not a former doctor. And it shows. Medicine is raw in the show. The first case involves a little boy who gets hit by a huge glass-covered commercial sign that falls on him at the airport. Shaun happens to be there and does his best to save him while the crowd is watching him. Remember he’s autistic. It’s a double challenge for him. He has no tools and no help. It’s an action-packed and intense teaser that will leave you breathless and begging for more. Medicine is nerdy too in the show. Of course, Shaun is kind of a nerd because of his condition and “savant syndrom” (which is a real thing in case you’re wondering). But Shore has also decided to add something that is not in the original show apparently, what he calls “pop-up medecine”. It’s a card that appears on the screen which is an image from Shaun’s memory. It’s here to provide us information about his current medical though-processes. I’m not totally sold on the idea, I’m not sure it’s necessary, but why not? As long as it doesn’t scare people off… After all, it worked on House with the human body’s 3D internal views.

But let’s get to the best part: the characters. That’s how you recognize a good series. What can be more important than that? They don’t all get the same amount of screentime and they don’t all get to show their potential but they really work as a group and they all have their “moment”. Shaun, as the central character, is in most of the scenes, almost everything revolves around him and his arrival in the hopistal -which doesn’t make everyone happy in the board- but it’s still an ensemble show. There are poignant flashbacks about our awkward but so touching hero during his childhood with his family that are deeply emotional and could leave you in tears. I’m pretty sure Freddie Highmore can do that. He is really talented, as he proved constantly in Bates Motel. To sum up: his father was violent, his mother abandoned him and his brother is no longer with him. Shaun makes a beautiful speech towards the end of the pilot that is heartbreaking. Plus, he forged a special relationship with the president of the hospital, Dr Ira Glassman, the one who helped him get the job, that goes way way back. It’s some kind of mentor for him and those two together should make great television. Remember House and Wilson. Or Cristina and Burke. Or Meredith and Richard. He also has a special connection with Claire Browne, another brilliant young doctor, and there’s a lot of potential there too. Shaun quickly finds his nemesis, Dr. Neil Melendez, the boss of the surgical residents at the hospital. This part comes off as a little forced though, but you will want more anyway.

There’s an urgency and an intensity in The Good Doctor that makes it an efficient and appealing medical drama. It doesn’t really revolutionize the genre but it keeps it fresh and straight-forward. What makes it distinctive is its unlikely hero and all the emotions that he makes you feel just by being him. Can ABC resist to a show they can heavily advertise as “the next great medical drama brought to you by the creator of House“? I don’t think so.