SERIES TITLE: Deputy
GENRE: Police Drama
LOGLINE: Deputy Bill Hollister is a career lawman who’s very comfortable kicking down doors and utterly lost in a staff meeting; but when the LA County Sheriff drops dead, Bill becomes acting sheriff of Los Angeles County, in charge of 10,000 sworn deputies policing a modern Wild West…
Pilot Cast: Stephen Dorff (True Detective, Blade, Somewhere), Yara Martinez (True Detective, Bull, Jane The Virgin), Brian Van Holt (Cougar Town), Siena Goines (The Young and the Restless), Shane Paul McGhie (Sacred Lies), Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow, Scream, The Killing US), Mark Moses (Desperate Housewives, Mad Men)…
Series Creator: Will Beall (Aquaman, Castle, Training Day).
Pilot Director: David Ayer (Suicide Squad, Bright, Fast and Furious).
Producers: Will Beall, David Ayer & Chris Long (Condor, Mr Mercedes, Kingdom).
Studios: EOne Television & Cedar Park Entertainment.
Ever wonder how TV executives wade through the dozens of pilot scripts they’re pitched each year? They have staff script readers, who provide what’s called “Script Coverage,” an executive summary and a recommendation for each script. Now you too can preview some of the season’s most buzzed about pilots and find out whether we’d recommend them for pickup. Note that all opinions are our own, and all plot, casting and other creative details described here are subject to change.
You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Longmire, Justified…
Likely Timeslot: Good question! I don’t have an immediate answer for…
WRITTEN BY: Will Beall.
PAGECOUNT: 61 pages
BACKGROUND: After years of bad movies and forgettable TV appearances, Stephen Dorff is back in the game and on a roll: he obtained a major recurring role on FOX’s musical drama Star and he garnered strong reviews for his starring role opposite Mahershala Ali on the third installment of HBO’s True Detective. A few weeks ago, he signed on to star in Deputy pilot and his agents got him a great deal: according to Deadline, he will be paid north of $200,000 an episode if the pilot goes to series and a big penalty if it doesn’t. If the show goes to a second season, Dorff would become an executive producer on the show. In conjunction with his casting, he closed a feature script development deal with eOne to develop and star in a movie, which would be produced by Ayer and Chris Long’s Cedar Park Entertainment as well. That’s A LOT. Deputy looks like something that will be hard to pass on for FOX. And if they do anyway, it could very well find another platform to live on.
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: DEPUTY finds maverick Sheriff’s Deputy BILL HOLLISTER (50s) promoted to LA County Sheriff on a technicality after the sitting Sheriff has a heart attack and dies, despite an ongoing effort on the part of the old Sheriff’s office to have Bill phased out of the service – he’s reckless and doesn’t play by the rules, so he’s at the top of the department’s inevitable-lawsuit list. After being thrust into office, Bill fires the Undersheriff who led the campaign against him and delivers a portion of his introductory speech in Spanish, speaking directly at the camera to LA’s Latino community in an attempt at an olive branch. He also refuses to stop doing hands-on investigations, despite his personal driver/bodyguard BISHOP’s (30s) admonitions, and he personally looks into a potential new collaboration between all the LA gangs and the Mexican cartels. He tries to keep his old partner’s son, JOSEPH (20s), out of harm’s way as Joseph starts at the bottom of the
Sheriff’s Department (mostly out of guilt about Joseph’s father’s death) but fails to stop him from becoming a Deputy or getting injured in a prison riot. He also goes toe-to-toe with his wife, PAULA REYES (50s, Latina), the head trauma
surgeon at LA General, over his new job and her role in treating criminals vs. victims. Also central to the plot is CADE
WALKER (40s), a member of the LASD equivalent of SWAT who adopts two kids orphaned in a gunfight in which he killed
their father as a solution to his and his wife’s fertility issues. The pilot concludes with Bill capturing a lower-tier ringleader
of the NEW WORLD ORDER (the new gang cooperation pact), VILLALOBOS (30s), in a vicious gunfight at a ranch in
COMMENTS: Deputy wants to be “a fresh spin on the classic Western” per the network, which is not entirely true to the script I read. It has elements of western, fo sure, mostly in its main protagonist’s maverick behaviour, especially since Stephen Dorff totally looks like someone who could be time-travelling from the 50-60s. He has this strong all-american, masculine, cowboy vibe that’s perfect for the role. It could become one of its best. But don’t expect deserted landscapes, horses and Wild West “Madams”. It is set in the urban streets of Los Angeles nowadays, with gangs and cartels. Unless there’s a big work done in the directing to make it feel like a western -which is totally doable- they should be careful with the way they promote it. Those who will expect a western TV series could be disappointed big time. So it’s definitely modern but fresh? Not so much. Remember FOX’s Gang Related for example? The characters here are more engaging though. That’s the big plus going for it. But it’s not Justified either…
It’s definitely more classic than it apparently wants to be but it can’t be considered as a straight procedural. There’s no real “case of the week”, at least in the pilot. It’s way more about office politics, power and a bit of personal storylines through the main couple and their little family. The sheriff’s wife is a doctor, of course. She’s more than “the wife” and that’s a good point. There are multiple ongoing stories starting and it should be more of an ensemble, with a leading man. That’s a subtle difference, but one that counts. That will soften something that seemed a little weird to me at first: it doesn’t try to be in sync with what’s trendy these days, which makes it stand out as a consequence. It’s not centered on a woman -but there are important ones in the show nonetheless- it’s not obsessed with diversity, though there is some -the sheriff’s wife is latina, his new partner is a mixed-race lesbian- and it’s rooted in a genre that is not really what people are craving for right now. It’s risky in that sense. And that’s brave. Oh and there’s a lot of action.
I think I told you enough about Bill Hollister, but what about the others? There’s Deputy Cade Walker, played by Brian Van Holt, also perfect for a role in a “western”. The character is a former Marine who served in Afghanistan and is eight years sober. He’s tough, with a highly developed gallows humor. Deputy Breanna Bishop is the smartly dressed, sarcastic, “quietly badass” driver in charge of newly appointed Sheriff Hollister’s security detail. Bex Taylor-Klaus was chosen to replace Jasmine Kaur, who originally was cast in the role. The decision was made after the pilot’s table read when producers decided to take the character in a different direction. Taylor-Klaus identifies as gender non-binary. The character stands out in the script. Then there’s Deputy Joseph Blair, a bright-eyed and buzz-cut young man who’s the son of Hollister’s old partner. Their relationship should be interesting. Finally, our nemesis: Jerry London, an overbearing bureaucrat who’s a “political apex predator”, openly contemptuous of Hollister and itching to drive him off the force. Mark Moses is playing him and he’s good at playing villains. So it’s a strong set of characters and interprets who could sell the show by themselves.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: It’s hard to know what New FOX gonna look like but if the main goal is to please a more masculine, middle America viewership in an environment where scripted show are surrounded by sports, Deputy could be a strong contender. But there’s a high competition with very few spots available and it’s not the safest bet.
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] PASS
[ X ] CONSIDER
[ ] RECOMMEND