Month: March 2017

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.

#PilotSeason By The Calendar

 

January 30

LIBBY & MALCOLM (ABC)

 

February 27

GOOD GIRLS (NBC)

 

March 3

MARVEL’S  INHUMANS (ABC)

 

March 7

SEARCHERS (The CW)

 

March 9

DECEPTION (ABC)

 

March 13

BLACK’S LAW (ABC)

DOOMSDAY (ABC)

FOR GOD AND COUNTRY (NBC)

INSTINCT (CBS)

LIFE SENTENCE (The CW)

PERFECT CITIZEN (CBS)

REVERIE (NBC)

SPACED OUT (NBC)

THE TRUSTEE (ABC)

UNIT ZERO (ABC)

 

March 14

DISTEFANO (CBS)

THE CROSSING (ABC)

THE GOSPEL OF KEVIN (ABC)

SALAMANDER (ABC)

 

March 15

RAISED BY WOLVES (ABC)

 

March 16

BLUEGRASS / BLOOD RED (ABC)

HIGHER GROUND (CBS)

MISSION CONTROL (CBS)

RAPPER MAYOR (ABC)

WHAT ABOUT BARB? (NBC)

 

March 17

LAS REINAS (ABC)

 

March 18

SHELDON (CBS)

 

March 20

BEHIND ENEMY LINES (FOX)

BLACK LIGHTNING (The CW)

CONTROVERSY (FOX)

RISE aka Drama High (NBC)

GHOSTED (FOX)

INSATIABLE (The CW)

ME, MYSELF AND I (CBS)

UNTITLED NAVY SEAL DRAMA (CBS)

UNTITLED X-MEN PROJECT (FOX)

VALOR (The CW)

WIDSOM OF THE CROWD (CBS)

 

March 21

DYNASTY (The CW)

THE GOOD DOCTOR (ABC)

SPLITTING UP TOGETHER (ABC)

START UP (ABC)

 

March 22

AMY’S BROTHER (FOX)

CHARLIE FOXTROT (ABC)

THE GET (CBS)

LOSING IT (ABC)

REDLINERS (NBC)

SWAT (CBS)

THE GOLDBERGS SPIN-OFF (ABC)

TYPE A (FOX)

 

March 23

AP BIOLOGY (NBC)

JALEN VS EVERYBODY (ABC)

 

March 27

LINDA FROM HR (FOX)

THE BEAST (FOX)

UNTITLED KALING/GRANDY COMEDY (NBC)

UNTITLED REV RUN COMEDY (ABC)

 

March 31

HOUSEHOLD NAME (ABC)

REAL LIFE (CBS)

 

April 3

LA -> VEGAS (FOX)

THIN ICE (FOX)

 

April 4

HANNAH ROYCE’S QUESTIONABLE CHOICES (CBS)

 

April 13

UNTITLED SINGLE DAD COMEDY (ABC)

 

April 18

BROTHERED UP (CBS)

 

April 19

9J, 9K, 9L (CBS)

 

April 27

GONE (NBC)

 

Mid-June

THE PASSAGE (FOX)

 

See Also

#PILOTSEASON by the Cities

 

#PilotSeason By The Cities (2017 edition)

 

>>> Click here to enlarge the map <<<

(not your penis – this joke never gets old!)

 

As less broadcast pilots have been ordered overall this year, Los Angeles is the city that suffers the most with only 7 drama pilots shot over there compared to last year’s 11, though it’s still more than 2014 all-time low of dismal 5. But L.A. is compensating with 4 straight-to-series order: Marvel’s Inhumans, 10 Days In The Valley, Orville Law & Order True Crime, while most of comedy pilots, both singlecam & multicam, are shot there too (all but one: Zach Braff’s Start Up shooting in New York) as well as many cable and streaming series. The state of California also has 2 other pilots in the running: El Jefe (that has just been pushed off-cycle by CBS) and military drama Behind Enemy Lines, while Pitch may or may not get a second season on FOX.

New York & Atlanta are rebounding from 2016 with 7 pilots each, instead of 5 and 4 respectively. Plus, the Big Apple has a deal with Disney/Marvel for Netflix series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Defenders…), which is the largest film or television production commitment in New York State! 5 of the 6 pilots ordered by The CW will be shot in Atlanta, while the city is losing The Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf, which are coming to an end (The Originals may join them). It has a logic for a pilot like Dynasty, which is set there; less for Life Sentence, which is supposed to take place in… Portland! Remember Atlanta is also the home of The Walking Dead.

Canada is down overall. Vancouver is welcoming 6 pilots (4 of them are for ABC), one more than last year. Many movies and series are already shot there (especially the DC Comics shows) and as a consequence it has been hard to find crews and production facilities available for pilots. But it’s harder for Toronto, which has only 1 pilot against 5 in 2016.

Most of the other cities are getting one or two pilots, including Chicago, Austin, Dallas and Miami, while New Orleans is back in the game with the CBS Navy Seal project. Missing are Las Vegas, Boston, Salt Lake City and Wilmington, while Marvel’s Inhumans will partially shot in Hawaii.

Exotic locations are rare again this year, with no pilot shot entirely in Europe (only a few scenes for Behind Enemy Lines in Prague), but one in South Africa (The CW’s Searchers) and one (partially) in Morocco.

Of course, those which will be granted a series order in May could move to some place else. For example, How To Get Away With Murder pilot was shot in Phildalphia before moving to Los Angeles for the rest of the show.

 

MAP designed by @_Piair

 

THE FULL LOCATIONS LIST

ALBUQUERQUE
MISSION CONTROL

ATLANTA
BLACK LIGHTNING
BLUE GRASS BLOOD RED
DYNASTY
INSATIABLE
LIFE SENTENCE
THE RESIDENT
VALOR

AUSTIN
THE GOSPEL OF KEVIN

CHICAGO
CONTROVERSY

DALLAS
UNTITLED XMEN DRAMA

LOS ANGELES
THE BEAST
BLACK’S LAW
THE GET
GOOD GIRLS
LAW & ORDER TRUE CRIME: MENENDEZ
ORVILLE
SWAT
UNIT ZERO

MIAMI
LAS REINAS

NEW ORLEANS
NAVY SEAL PROJECT

NEW YORK
DECEPTION
DRAMA HIGH
HIGHER GROUND
KILLER INSTINCT
REDLINERS
SALAMANDER
SALVATION

PITTSBURGH
GONE

SAN DIEGO
EL JEFE

SOUTH AFRICA
SEARCHERS

TORONTO
PERFECT CITIZEN

VANCOUVER
THE CROSSING
DOOMSDAY
THE GOOD DOCTOR
REVERIE
THE TRUSTEE
WISDOM OF THE CROWD

LOS ANGELES / CHICAGO / HAWAII
MARVEL’S INHUMANS

LOS ANGELES / SAN DIEGO / PRAGUE
BEHIND ENEMY LINES

MAROCCO / ALBUQUERQUE
FOR GOD & COUNTRY

Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS) pilot preview: Wisdom would have been not picking it up!

Written and produced by Ted Humphrey (The Unit, The Good Wife, Incorporated). Executive produced by Alon Shtruzman (DIG), Peter Traugott (Samantha Who?), Rachel Kaplan (Manhattan Love Story, Do No Harm), Avi Nir (Homeland, Tyrant), Dror Mishani,  & Shira Hadad. Directed by Adam Davidson (Fear the Walking Dead, Hell On Wheels, Community). For CBS Television Studios, Universal Television & Keshet Studios. 63 pages. Network Draft. 01/23/17.

Description: Jeffrey Tanner, a successful tech innovator from Silicon Valley, creates a cutting edge crowd-sourcing hub named CrowdSolver to solve his own daughter’s murder, as well as revolutionizing crime solving in San Francisco. Tommy Cavanaugh, a tough cop for 16 years, reluctantly accepts to run the place…

With Jeremy Piven (Entourage, Mr Selfridge), Richard T. Jones (Judging Amy, Santa Clarita Diet, The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Blake Lee (Mixology), Monica Potter (Parenthood, Boston Legal)…

 

You’ll like if you already like: The Mentalist, Bull, APB, Pure Genius

Likely timeslot: Anywhere on CBS quite frankly.

 

I have a feeling you’re not interested in this script preview. Well guess what? Me neither. So I’m gonna keep it short and direct (and thank you for reading it anyway). It’s one of those CBS procedurals that give you so much of a “déjà vu” impression that even if it’s effective and moving at an appropriate pace, it still feels tired, unnecessary and boring. So I won’t bore you with too many details. How many more white handsome rich guys with exceptional skills and a deep dark wound -which is always a dead relative, here a daughter- will we have to endure? Now that the initial charm has worn off, isn’t it time to put it to rest for like… forever? Police procedurals need to reinvent themselves and as recent flops like CSI:CyberAPB (or Pure Genius in the medical area) suggest, using high-tech isn’t the solution. It certainly helps giving a modern feel to the projects, but it never make them special.

This season, CBS provided us with Bull. The legal drama is starring Michael Weatherly and is protected in the timeslot that immediately follows NCIS, where the actor spent 13 years of this career. Very smart scheduling obviously. So of course, it’s doing okay numbers. But not great numbers, not exactly what the network expected I guess. Same for MacGyver. It does a decent job for friday nights but it’s not a hit. To me, it proves this concept has been overused and is progressively dying. CBS only ordered two of these this pilot season, meaning they more or less took into account the rejection. The other one is Instinct with Alan Cumming that I already wrote about (HERE) and which is better. Funnier. And more distinctive.

The thing is Wisdom of the Crowd is an Israeli concept that has been sold to CBS and it shows. It doesn’t sound like a script that comes from the mind of its writer, it doesn’t sound like something personal or something that has been thoughtfully prepared for weeks or even months. It’s just a product he’s trying to sell us, carefully following what he has been asked. It’s just a job he’s paid for. There’s no life or passion between those lines. It leaves you unimpressed.

The main investigation checks the usual boxes meticulously, without surprising us a bit. Yes, it’s easy to read and probably comfortable to watch but it never challenges the viewer. I’d like to think we’re smarter than that. The main character also checks the usual boxes, except he’s not even fun. I have to admit I’m not a big Jeremy Piven fan. It doesn’t help imagining him in the role, but I guess he fits right in the part and he looks like the traditional CBS leading man. Secondary characters are non-existent and there’s a fuzzy political storyline regarding Jeffrey’s ex-wife that is unpromising.

Wisdom of the Crowd is yet another uninspired CBS police procedural script that’d be better left in a drawer or thrown in a trash can. It would have been a convincing option 5 or 6 years ago but we’ve been there too many times since then. 

Insatiable (The CW) pilot preview: Crazy, scary, creepy, campy… devious, scandalous!

Written and produced by Lauren Gussis (Dexter, Once Upon a Time). Executive produced by Nina Wass (Shades of Blue, Less Than Perfect), Andrea Shay (Benched), Todd Hoffman (APB), Dennis Kim (APB)  & Ryan Seacrest (Shades of Blue, Keeping Up with the Kardashians). For CBS Television Studios & Ryan Seacrest Productions. 60 pages. Network Draft. 01/16/17.

Description: when Bob Anderson, a disgraced, dissatisfied civil lawyer-turned-beauty pageant coach takes on a vengeful, bullied teenager, Patty, as his client, he has no idea what he’s about to unleash upon the world…

With Debby Ryan (Jessie, Sing It, The Suite Life on Deck), Dallas Roberts (The Good Wife, The Walking Dead), Erinn Westbrook (Awkward, Glee), Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs, Popular, Ugly Betty), Michael Provost (Six), Sarah Colonna (Chelsea Lately), Irene Choi & Alyssa Milano (Charmed, Who’s the boss?, Melrose Place, Mistresses) as recurring …

  

You’ll like if you already like: Scream Queens, Glee, Pretty Little Liars, Jane the Virgin

Likely timeslot: None.

If you feel like Insatiable pitch is kinda weird, it’s perfectly normal. The script is weird, the tone of it is weird, the characters are weird and the promise is even weirder. Ryan Murphy is not involved in this project, none of the people who work on it worked with him before but there’s definitely a Murphy vibe all along. It’s funny, and over the top, and ridiculous, and dark… and yes, ultimately weird. I have to confess I have some sort of PTSD since I read Jane The Virgin script a few years ago, and then wrote on it. I really thought it was dumb, and stupid, and that it would never work. And as it turned out, I was almost wrong. Almost because let’s be real: it’s not a success and it will never be. But it’s way better than I thought initially, it has a specific voice, critics are raving about it. So now, every time I read a weird script, I’m like: “be careful, think twice, maybe you’re mistaking weirdness and ridiculousness with genius!”. With Insatiable though, I’m almost sure that I’m not wrong -see I’ being cautious- it’s not gonna work. And not only because it’s weird. But I have to say, it could be a fun guilty pleasure.

First things first: who cares about beauty pageant anymore? Very few scripted shows dealt with the subject before as a central theme. It can only mean two things: it’s not an interesting enough world for a TV show and it’s really hard to find the right angle to make it more interesting than it is. It’s so superficial and full of empty people… Here, you never really get why Bob Anderson is so obsessed with it. It’s even a bit creepy at some point. He’s supposed to be an intelligent guy. He’s a lawyer… He thinks that “beauty is power”, that “everybody can be beautiful” and that’s the only reason we’re given about his strange behaviour towards his “passion”. I really don’t understand the character honestly. He’s handsome, 40, has a “perfect” family -a wife made of plastic, a quaterback son, a tomboy daughter- and apparently, he’s not gay. I don’t want to fall into clichés but… man, just come out of the closet! He behaves like the teenage girls he coaches and their stupid mothers: he’s kind of a bitch. He thrives on jealousy and rivalry. At least, he’s a unique character! At some point, he’s accused of being abusive with one of his girls. That’s when his world falls apart. And that’s when we sorta feel empathy for the poor man.

And then there’s our heroine, Patty, a bullied teenage girl known as “Fatty Patty” at school, who lived all her life in the shadow of her stunning single mother who could have been a successful beauty queen if she didn’t have her at the worst time. After an incident -she punched an homeless guy in the face- she needs a lawyer to defend her in court and that’s when she meets Bob. But she’s not the same girl anymore: she lost around 70 pounds after a liquid diet. Now she’s just like her mother was: a beauty queen in the making. She just doesn’t have any sense of fashion. And she becomes mean and a little crazy in the process, especially when she discovers her life is still shitty. Oh and she has a creepy best friend, Nonnie, who may or may not be secretly in love with her. The relationship between Patty and Bob gets weirder and weirder. They become obsessed with each others. Bob because he sees her as the “project” of his life and Patty because she’s desperately falling in love with him, seeing him as her savior. Yeah, that’s totally fucked-up.

I won’t spoil you the end of the pilot, just in case it gets ordered. You deserve a surprise. But let’s just say it gets… even creepier than it already is. Patty may be a psychopath and it involves her losing her virginity and… fire. Ugh. It’s hard not to tell you. You remember Stephen King’s Carrie? We’re not that far. And by the way, Ryan Seacrest, who produces the show, has found a way to make an appearance at the very end, playing himself. He has something to offer to Bob. Now that I think about it, maybe Bob is inspired by Seacrest? Enough said. Last things you need to know about the script: some dialogues are just hilarious, some situations too -like when Bob has to raise money for a charity about… anal cancer- and there is a voice over throughout, from different point of views -Bob and Patty mostly, but Nonnie too- which might sound a bit irritating but it definitely adds something, like it does in Jane The Virgin but in a different way. It helps it being more profound, more realistic even. More human maybe. More relatable. This pilot works as a long exposition, it’s hard to guess what’s coming next, what’s beyond the initial hook. But in the end, the writer has created something special, with its own little world and codes. And that’s not an easy thing to do.

Insatiable is not weird after all. It would be an understatement. It’s CRAZY. SCARY. CREEPY. CAMPY… DEVIOUS. SCANDALOUS. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s way edgier than anything The CW has ever done. Which makes it the odd man out. I’m impatient to know if they have the balls to pick it up to series anyway, to see the reactions. But on a less enthusiastic note: I’m not sure there’s a long-running TV series hidden behind the concept. It’s attractive somehow but for how long? And is The CW the best fit? It would have had a better chance on E! or MTV.

The Brave -aka For God And Country- (NBC) pilot preview: NBC’s National Anthem

Written and produced by Dean Georgaris (Paycheck, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life). Executive produced by Avi Nir (Homeland, Tyrant), Peter Traugott (Samantha Who?) and Rachel Kaplan (Manhattan Love Story, Do No Harm). Directed by Brad Anderson (Frequency, Forever, Fringe, The Call). For Universal Television & Keshet Studios. 64 pages. Revised Network Polish. 01/17/17.

Description: An heart pounding look into the complex world of our bravest military heroes who make personal sacrifices while executing the most challenging and dangerous missions behind enemy lines. The ISA-Special Operations Group, led by commander Michael Dalton, and a team of surveillance analysts who uncover and interpret threats, supervised by Deputy Director Patricia Campbell, will do whatever it takes to make sure no foreign nation gets away with harming Americans…

With Mike Vogel (Under the Dome, Pan Am, Bates Motel), Anne Heche (Dig, Men In Trees, Hung, Volcano, Six Days Seven Nights), Natacha Karam, Demetrius Grosse (Westworld, Banshee, Justified), Noah Mills, Hadi Tabbal, Sofia Pernas (Jane The Virgin, The Young and the Restless)

  

You’ll like if you already like: Homeland, The Unit, JAG…

Likely timeslot : Tuesday at 10, Midseason sundays…

For God And Country. No, it’s not a joke. That’s really the title of this NBC military drama pilot. It’s unsubtle, overly direct, the more on-the-nose title ever created. It doesn’t leave a room for any possible doubt: this is a patriotic show, specifically designed for a Post-Trump America and blue-collar audiences. But let’s be clear, it’s the huge success of Eastwood’s feature film American Sniper that triggered the ongoing push from the networks to get more programs featuring military heroes. Not the Agent Orange/Bratman/Cinnamon Hitler POTUS. While USA Network’s Shooter launched successfully and will come back next summer, 4 other pilots are sharing a military DNA this season: Behind Enemy Lines at FOX, an Untitled NAVY Seal Drama at CBS, Valor at The CW & comedy Charlie Foxtrot at ABC. Let’s just hope only 1 or 2 get a series pick-up during the upfronts. For God and Country -Man, I will never get used to it!- is already a clear favorite at NBC. And I can see why. And I’ll try to explain.

The truth is, this is an edge-of-your-seat pilot that could be compared to the most successful action-oriented episodes of Homeland. I wanted to hate this script but despite myself, I got hooked quickly and couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Unless the director screws things up, it’s gonna be epic. The 5 characters from the operations group are always in action: moving, hiding, shooting, fighting… They don’t talk a lot. And when they do, it’s not particularly impressive. It’s hard to tell who they really are deep inside. Consequently, it’ll take time to get to know them and possibly appreciate them. So far, they are just like machines. But they have potential. And SPOILER ALERT: you shouldn’t get too attached to them, because it is revealed in a flashforward at the beginning of the episode that one of them will die during one of the 23 missions they’ll complete on their nine months deployment. Smart way to help the viewers’ go through an entire season of the show, which is bound to be highly procedural by the way, with tiny serialized elements about their personal lives.

Michael Dalton (played by Mike Vogel) is your typical team leader, your perfect and stunningly beautiful war hero, meaning he’s a bit boring. Juice is the team’s computer and communications expert and all-around tech badass, “a lethal MacGyver”. I let you draw your own conclusion. Joseph J McGuire is the team’s medic who is the quickest to violence and fond of mixed martial arts and… J.K. Rowling. He’s a bit of an asshole honestly. I guess they needed one, to make it real. But he has a sense of humor. He made me think of Lost‘s Sawyer in a way. Then there’s Amir. Before joining Dalton’s team, he spent nearly six years as a lone wolf penetration agent in ISIS, which makes him the most interesting character so far an he goes through a lot during the pilot. And finally, there’s Jaz, one of the few women in the world to make it through the U.S. Army Ranger School. She’s a sniper now, which makes her the second most interesting character of the show. And as the only woman of the team, the most likely to survive the season.

The characters from the Defense Intelligence Agency are less mobile, stuck in their bureau, but they talk a lot instead. They are the ones who make difficult decisions, who strategize. Their leader Patricia Campbell has not much to do with Carrie Matheson sadly, and there’s no Saul Berenson either, but their scenes are intense nonetheless, and I’m convinced Anne Heche is capable of adding extra-life to her too calm and always in control role. There’s an overall lack of emotion, which is a shame for that kind of show who wants to go straight to the viewers’ hearts, but the rescue mission of the pilot is the most emotional thing in there. It’s about a surgeon kidnapped in Syria and her husband waiting for some reassuring news in DC. In fact, I think we get to know more about them than any other characters. And I don’t see it as a good thing. But we’re invested in their story at least.

So is it this patriotic? Yes. But it’s easy to go with the flow and enjoy the show for what it is first and foremost: a military thriller. If you’re not fond of arms, you might get irritated from time to time. They loooove their weapons. And the writer makes sure we get it. But different point of views about war are represented, especially through Juice, who’s a muslim, and McGuire, who’s clearly a Trump soldier. They talk about it. It’s furtive and not really deep, but at least it means the show tries to lauch a conversation. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m still laughing from the ridiculous opening sequence. Dalton yells to a bomb maker: “It doesn’t matter where you hide. If you hurt us, we will find you“. Cut to black and the title appears on the screen. TOO MUCH.

For God and Country is an intense military series that has every chance to resonate with americans right now by playing an ambiguous game that consists of pleasing the republicans without infuriating democrats. Unless people want something more radical. It seems to belong more to CBS than to NBC but there’s definitely an audience looking for this and they’ll find it wherever. There’s a real potential to make something powerful out of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if NBC puts it behind This Is Us next year, though they’re very different tonally.