Category: Script Previews

Roswell (The CW) pilot preview: Back In Town

Written and executive produced by Carina Adly MacKenzie (The Originals). Based on 90s hit series & Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. Also produced by Kevin Kelly Brown (Roswell, Flesh and bone, Seven Seconds), Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds) Justin Falvey & Darryl Frank (Bull, The Americans, Falling Skies, Extant, Under The Dome). Directed by Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Kyle XY). For The CWWarner Bros. Television, Amblin Television & Bender Brown Productions. 60 pages. Network Revisions Draft. 1/12/18.

Description: After reluctantly returning to her tourist-trap hometown of Roswell, NM, Liz Ortecho, the daughter of undocumented immigrants, discovers a shocking truth about her teenage crush who is now a police officer: he’s an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life. She protects his secret as the two reconnect and begin to investigate his origins, but when a violent attack and long-standing government cover-up point to a greater alien presence on Earth, the politics of fear and hatred threaten to expose him and destroy their deepening romance…

With Jeanine Mason (Grey’s Anatomy, Bunheads), Nathan Parsons (Once Upon A Time, The Originals, True Blood), Michael Vlamis, Lily Cowles (Braindead), Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries, Cane), Tyler Blackburn (Pretty Little Liars, Ravenswood), Heather Hemmens (If Loving You is Wrong, Hellcats), Trevor St John (Containment), Karan Oberoi (Notorious)…

   

As much as I despise this trend of rebooting everything for no good creative reason, some of them make sense and Roswell falls exactly in this category. We don’t NEED a Roswell reboot, per say. Even The CW doesn’t really need it. They’ll already have the Charmed one and we could argue one new reboot a year is already enough. BUT the thing is: Roswell was a good show 15 years ago, that never found the success it deserved. It only lasted 3 seasons and it never became a cult favorite like Dawson’s Creek, Buffy or other contemporaries. Giving the concept a second chance somehow is a desirable idea. And what this script is doing is kinda miraculous: it improves the original show. By making the characters slightly older, they transformed the fantasy teen drama into a more adult property that’s still relevant today. Yeah, we’re not into aliens today like we were in the 90s but among all those vampires and zombies, they’re almost like a breath of fresh air (from space)! And the subject of society feeding on the politics of fear and hatred obviously resonates with post-Trump America.

Kevin Kelly Brown, who was an executive producer on the original series, is the link that connects the two Roswell incarnations. Besides him, it’s a whole new producing team. Meaning no Jason Katims no more. He was the creator of the show and he did Friday Night Lights, Parenthood & Rise since then. It’s sad he’s not part of it, I’m pretty sure he would have been precious there. Even though the show is still based on the “Roswell High” book series, our characters are in their late twenties and don’t go to school anymore, except for the traditional 10 year high school reunion that happens the week-end Liz returns to her Roswell hometown. You want to know the reason why she left? It’s something that’s revealed step by step in the script but I’ll tell you the whole truth anyway since they drag the revelations for too long in my opinion: her sister Rosa died, killing two others in a drunken car accident while she was in high school. And Max was involved in her death -the details are kept under wraps for now- though he never told Liz about it. Pretty quickly after her arrival, people shoot up her father’s diner, fatally hitting her, and that’s when Max uses his alien powers to resurrect her. Now she knows the truth about him, their romance is back full force! When the reboot was ordered, the articles insisted a lot on “the immigration twist” of this version but the fact that Liz has had undocumented parents doesn’t play any role in the pilot. It’s just something that’s said. We’ll see if they plan on delving into it later. The parallel with the aliens’ own trajectory could be illuminating. By the way, I love the scenes between Liz and her father. They’re very emotional.

So Liz is not very different than the one we knew in the 90s, except she became a jaded biomedical researcher. Max is now a dedicated Roswell police officer and a natural born leader. His sister Isobel is married to a man she doesn’t love anymore; she wasn’t meant for small-town life, but she lives it with all the grace and enthusiasm she can muster. Michael is a troubled but brilliant young man, who survived a violent childhood and now is secretly driven to find a way to escape Earth and the humans who have failed him to return to a mysterious home he’s never known. Meanwhile, Maria, Liz’s fun, free-spirited former best friend and social media maven is oblivious to the realities of Roswell. And in this version, she’s not romantically involved with Michael and probably never will be for a very good reason! Michael is gay. And it’s not the only twist… He’s a man of many secrets: he’s in a hidden relationship with… Alex! Yeah, more precisely Sgt. Alex Manes, who returned home from the Middle East after experiencing his fair share of psychological and physical trauma. He aims to adhere to his father’s expectations, abandoning his dreams and the possibility of a future with the man he loves… Well, that’s how you make once a bit weak characters relevant! And let’s not forget Kyle Valentin, Liz’s other ex, the popular son of the town sheriff -a woman this time!- who questions his carefree outlook on life after learning the terrifying truth of his family’s legacy. Those are strong characters all around. They’re all in this period of life when you’re starting to understand who you really are but you’re not accomplished yet and it can be painful. Young adults will relate. And there’s this cliffhanger with a new UFO crashing in the desert, that’s exciting!

The new Roswell is actually a better Roswell; a promising pilot that manages to introduce strong characters while setting an atmosphere and launching multiple storylines without getting messy in the process. It’s probably one of the best things, if not THE best, that The CW will offer us next year. 

Grand Hotel (ABC) pilot preview: One More Lazy Soap

Written and executive produced by Brian Tanen (Atypical, Devious Maids, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty). Based on spanish series Gran Hotel. Also produced by Eva Longoria (Devious Maids, Telenovela, John Wick), Ben Spector (Telenovela, Wedding Band), Oliver Bachert & Christian Gockel (Velvet). Directed by  Ken Olin (This Is Us, Brothers & Sisters, Alias, Thirtysomething). For ABC, ABC Studios, UnveliEVAble Entertainment & Beta Film. 64 pages. Draft 1/17/2018.

Description: The Riviera Grand hotel is a famed Miami Beach establishment, filled with beautiful people masking dark and explosive family secrets. The hotel’s façade of perfection begins to crumble on the night of a fateful hurricane when a woman mysteriously disappears after a heated dispute with the charming hotel owner…

With Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids, Without a Trace, Rush Hour 2), Demian Bichir (Weeds, The Bridge US, The Hateful Eight, Machete Kills), Chris Warren (The Fosters), Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Game The Steve Harvey Show), Shalim Ortiz (Magic City, Heroes), Bryan Craig (Valor, General Hospital), Denyse Tontz (The Fosters, Incorporated), Justina Adorno (Seven Seconds), Lincoln Younes (Love Child, Home And Away), Anne Winters (13 Reasons Why, The Fosters), Feliz Ramirez

 

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Devious Maids, Ugly Betty, Revenge…

Likely timeslot: sunday at 8 or 9, or wednesday at 10

 

I got excited by this Grand Hotel project, based on the spanish hit series, like 10 minutes when Roselyn Sanchez and then Demian Bichir were cast in the two most prominent roles of the ensemble. Roselyn Sanchez was just hilarious in Devious Maids & Demian Bichir is a really good actor with a wide range of acting. That was reassuring. And then they kept on casting young actors and actresses mostly based on their looks, I suppose. Which is fine if you’re doing a daytime soap, I guess. But not when you want to make a great primetime soap, with a strong comedic aspect, which will obviously be compared to Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty or Devious Maids. And those became iconic thanks to their solid writing and their skilled cast, not just because the women were sexy in their dresses and the men hot with their abs out. So maybe they’re really beautiful AND talented, BUT this script is weak and I don’t think they will be able to save it.

Look, I’m a sucker for good soaps. I was raised by Amanda Woodward on Melrose Place! So what I’m gonna tell you is not coming from someone who doesn’t like the genre and doesn’t unsterdand it. I really do. But ABC just can’t put this on their schedule and hope for a miracle. It’s just not gonna work. If they didn’t keep Devious Maids for themselves back in the days and sent it to Lifetime, it was for a (good) reason. There was like zero chance it worked for them. I was frustrated at the time but ultimately I got it. And actually, we can’t even say it really worked for Lifetime either, as great as it was. Ratings for the first season were okay but then it fell quickly. Grand Hotel is really lazy, rarely funny and it lacks so many things to make it appealing, starting by characters you can care about, that I don’t see how ABC could even consider a series order. But hey, maybe it’s just me… Of course, there’s the international appeal because Gran Hotel was a success all over the world but I suspect it was for the most part because it was a period soap set in 1906. Like a lighter Downton Abbey of some sort. But here, and I get why ABC did it, it’s set in the present days. The upstairs/downstairs aspect has disappeared and it’s mostly about the family that owns the hotel, the people who work for them and the guests are not that important overall. Making it more like a traditional family soap kinda makes sense so the american audience will feel more comfortable with it, but it looses its charm along the way and nothing really makes it distinctive. I didn’t like the new Dynasty‘s pilot either. But then it got better. So who knows? But it doesn’t work for The CW. Why would this for ABC?

Gonzalo Cardena, the owner of the hotel -who decided to sell it- is decribed as “one of those people who can talk to anyone and make them feel like fast friends; he has built himself up from nothing and will do anything to keep what he has”. Well, that’s a waste of Demian Bichir. Of course, he’s worth better than that but most of all, his character doesn’t come out as charming to me; it’s just an uninteresting and coward man. It would have been fun if he were a really bad guy, even a cliché of a bad guy, but so far in this pilot he’s just nothing much. Then there’s Gigi Cardena, his second wife “impossibly stylish with a flair for excess, unapologetically fabulous but never frivolous, smart, cunning and fiercely loyal to her twin daughters”. Well, this is a dreamy description but the reality is far less exciting. I’m pretty sure Roselyn Sanchez can improve the writing by her comic genius, but the problem is: Gigi’s not a fun bitch; she’s not even a very bad bitch. She’s just a bitch. Like a bitch in a bad ABC Family/Freeform drama. A WASTE! The only character that I like is Mrs P., the no-nonsense staff manager, tough on the outside -with great lines- and lovely on the inside. That’s a character you want to follow. All the others are just bland. Not nasty enough to be fun, not nice enough to be loveable. They’re just right in the middle of nowhere.

Are the twists good at least? Nope! You just go from one cliché story to another, and you know exactly how it’s gonna end the moment one of the character appears. Not gonna spoil it just in case ABC picks it up, but let’s just say Danny, the gorgeous new waiter at The Riviera, can’t hide very long why he’s really here, what are his ulterior motives. Devious Maids did similar stories not that long ago with more flavour and cleverness. There’s a wedding happening during this pilot. They had what they needed to make it explosive, crazy… It just falls flat. We had so many weddings in soaps, some very epic, they had to top that at least. They didn’t even try. It’s just one disappointment after another. And I can’t wait to watch the opening sequence happening during a hurricane! I’m pretty sure ABC Studios special effects team will do it justice…

You really need to be a virgin in the soap opera/telenovela world to appreciate Grand Hotel. When you’ve already seen really great ones, it’s just one bad more, and we had many through the years, oh boy! And if you’ve watched something like Jane The Virgin, that plays with the genre to make it more unique and fresher, you can only find this pilot very pale in comparison. If ABC has to choose between Grand Hotel and False Profits, there’s no doubt the latter is a far more interesting option! It has depth and a feel-good vibe, something Grand Hotel lacks among many other things.

Mixtape (FOX) pilot preview: Life Bursting Into Songs

“Track I : Sam & Nellie” written and executive produced by Josh Safran (Quantico, Smash, Gossip Girl). Also produced by Megan Ellison (Her, Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher, American Bluff) & Sue Naegle (Outcast). Directed by Jesse Peretz (Girls, GLOW, Divorce, Nurse Jackie, Juliet Naked). For FOX,  20th Century FOX Television & Annapurna Television. 66 pages. Third Network Draft. 1/09/2018.

Description: a romantic musical drama that looks at a disparate group of interconnected people in contemporary Los Angeles through the lens of the music that defines who they are. Mixtape captures the different stages of love, exploring if time can heal a broken heart and if love can withstand life’s tragedies…

With Raul Castillo (Looking, Seven Seconds, Atypical), Callie Hernandez (La La Land, Too Old To Die Young, Graves), Madeleine Stowe (Revenge, 12 Monkeys, The Last of the Mohicans), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Without a Trace, Broadchurch, Blindspot), Jenna Dewan Tatum (Step Up, Witches of East End, American Horror Story), Jahmil French (Degrassi: The Next Generation), Megan Ferguson (Bad Moms, Heart of Dixie), Campbell Scott (House of Cards, Royal Pains, Damages, The Amazing Spider-Man), Evan Whitten & Christina Milian (Grandfathered)…

    

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Smash, Rise, La La Land, This Is Us…

Likely timeslot: Somewhere midseason with a limited run

 

Every Song Is A Love Song“. That’s with those words that Mixtape starts… and ends. And a very beautiful and emotional demonstration ensues from our hero Sam. I’m not gonna lie and there’s no suspense anyway if you’ve seen those 5 stars up there: I fell in love with this script as you fall in love with a song. So everything in this review will only be displays of affection. I will keep it short, by the way. I hate it when songs are too long. But also, I’ll be walking -or more like dancing- on eggs here. There are things that has to be kept secret and I don’t want to spoil any surprise to anybody. That’s part of the reason why it’s so good. You never know where it’s going, like you never know what life is bringing upon you, good or bad. And when you finally get a sense of what’s really going on, you’re just happy to see it play before your eyes. Mixtape is not just another musical drama. At the core, it’s a love letter to music where life burst into songs.

Let me tell you first about the structure of this very unique pilot (and future show). It is broken up into five parts (acts), with every one of them containing one song: Nellie’s Side A, Sam Side A, Nellie Side B, Sam Side B, and finally their mashup; this development illuminates the overarching metaphor that weaves throughout the pilot: music is life, life is music. And there’s a lot of love and loss in between. It’s quite simple and very clever at the same time. I don’t remember anything like it before. Of course, every song expresses the feelings of the character who sings. That’s how we get to know them better, their profound fears, and desires, and pains, and sometimes joys. That’s how every musical works. Every song is a big number, with or without dancers, while life happens. The reference is obviously La La Land. They’re aiming at something as modern and somehow timeless too. Those songs are not originals and not even hits but more like the perfect song for the situation, even if it has to be a lesser known one from a famous or not so famous artist. If the directing is as good as the writing, we’re gonna have a lot of fun my friends, music lovers and others.

The characters happen to be very well-written too and their stories are both intimate and universal, as they should be. Nellie seems to be living the American Dream: she’s beautiful and her hot boyfriend’s band is catapulting into massive stardom. Nothing can get to her, until, on the eve of her third anniversary, fantasizing about being proposed to, her life explodes as her punk boyfriend dumps her. Her own dreams of becoming an artist have derailed along the way. Now, her life turns completely upside down. Meanwhile, Sam, a scrupulous and shattered widower, aspiring songwriter and secret romantic, who has been forced to move into low income housing with his son after his wife’s death, spends his time balancing jobs and fathering his bright-eyed son. He’s helped by his aunt and now neighbour, a warm, pragmatic woman in her fifties that loves him like her own daughter. There’s other women in there: Joanna, a young professional with everything always under control, the most rational person ever, and yet she’s a little guarded, as if always prepared for the worst; and Margot, an actress who carefully controls how she presents herself to the world, but is secretly exhausted by having to do it. All those characters are very human, attractive and appealing, fragile, sometimes shattered, simply beautiful. And that’s all I can say. Just know there’s a twist. It’s also this kind of show.

Again, Mixtape is a love letter to music where life burst into songs. I don’t know if it can be successful, it’s probably too ambitious to become a huge instant hit, but it doesn’t look like a one-hit wonder either. This script is pure beauty and artistry. Those characters need to be heard. Between La La Land & This Is Us, it may be the best thing network television will bring us next year. Prepare your eyes, your ears and your hearts to it!

Magnum, PI (CBS) pilot preview: By the people who already brought back Hawaii 5-0 & MacGyver

I saw the sun rise” written and executive produced by Peter Lenkov (MacGyver, Hawaii 5-0, Salvation, 24) & Eric Guggenheim (Hawaii 5-0, Parenthood). Based on the series by Donald P. Bellisario & Glen A. Larson. Also produced by John Davis (The Blacklist, Shaft, Predator, Waterworld, Paycheck) & John Fox (Timeless, The Blacklist, Joy). Directed by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Beyond, SWAT, Scorpion). For CBSUniversal TelevisionCBS Television Studios & Davis Entertainment. 60 pages. Revised Network Draft. 12/12/2017.

Description: Thomas Magnum, a decorated ex-Navy SEAL, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator in Hawaii. With help from fellow vets Theodore “TC” Calvin and Orville “Rick” Wright, as well as that of disavowed former MI:6 agent Juliet Higgins, Magnum takes on the cases no one else will, helping those who have no one else to turn to…

With Jay Hernandez (Bright, Suicide Squad, Bad Moms, Scandal, Hang Time), Perdita Weeks (Penny Dreadful, The Tudors), Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings, FlashForward, Parenthood), Stephen Hill

  

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Letting you guess.

Likely Timeslot: Monday at 10, wednesday at 9 or friday somewhere.

 

Haven’t we suffered enough? Was rebooting Hawaii 5-0 and more recently MacGyver enough already? Since both worked, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Lazy CBS is ready for another try and this time it’s the classic 1980s Tom Selleck series set in Hawaii that’s getting the remake treatment. And once again, it’s CBS Television Studios’ go-to writer for rebooting iconic procedurals Peter Lenkov who’s behind the wheel. Per Deadline, it is said to be CBS’ most expensive pilot this season. I’m not surprised after reading the script. It looks expensive. But first, let me tell you Magnum could have come back earlier, last season, when ABC developed a new version, which was supposed to follow Magnum’s daughter, Lily “Tommy” Magnum, who returns to Hawaii to take up the mantle of her father’s PI firm. She and her tribe of friends would have mixed tropical beaches with the seedy underbelly of international crime and modern espionage. It fell through. And you know what? It sounded way better and more modern than what CBS is cooking up. More respectful to the original also, not that this one is not respectful.

In case you were wondering, there were discussions about Tom Selleck getting involved in the reboot but he opted not to get formally on board but gave the project his blessing. He’s still the star of Blue Bloods on CBS and unless there’s a surprise cancellation this may, it will be on the air at least one more year, meaning he won’t be able to say hello to the new Magnum. But after that, everything’s possible. And there’s a role for him actually. Like in the original show, Magnum is “sponsored” by the pulp novelist Robin Masters, and lives in the beautiful oceanfront Hawaiian estate owned by the millionaire called “Robin’s Nest”. Only his voice was heard in the show, he never appeared. Though there’s a theory his majordomo Higgins was in fact Masters. Anyway, if he were to appear in the new version, it would be fun if he were played by Tom Selleck himself! Unlikely, but who knows? So, the big difference between the old Magnum and the new one -and probably the only one in terms of story- is Higgins. She’s a female now. Jonathan is now Juliet. She is commanding, confident, tough, uses sarcasm to deflect emotion and hard to get to know. She’s also strict and often in conflict with Magnum and his more easy-going methods. Very much like out old pair! But there’s something else going on there. Yeah, we’re having yet another “will they?won’t they? situation” as they clearly about to become more than just friends who act like they hate each other. Can’t blame CBS for this but I’m not sure this trope can still win the audience, unless there’s something special about it.

Our other principal characters are kinda non-existent in the pilot. It includes Rick, a former door gunner with the Marines who now runs Oahu’s coolest nightclub, he’s well-connected – if you want something on the island, Rick is the man to see; Theodore “TC” Calvin, an ex-Marine chopper pilot who’s still a chopper pilot.; and well Sebastian Nuzo, ex-Seal, who’s now… dead! He’s kidnapped, tortured and killed in the pilot, which gives a good reason for Magnum to investigate. There’s also another woman, Hannah Boyle, a former CIA Intel Analyst and Magnum’s ex-girlfriend. She was supposed to be dead, until we learn she’s not. She’s connected to the somber story of a sunken ship full of gold. Yeah, you read right. But it leads to what will probably a very good-looking and impressive scene that takes place underwater, with Magnum catching bad guys on scuba gear. We’ll also find our hero on his surf ski, wearing bord-shorts, paddling. Because he’s cool. And the opening scene includes a next-generation space capsule, a space-suit, a parachute and a water Buffalo. Just sayin’! Magnum wants to be cooler than Hawaii 5-0, Macgyver & Scorpion reunited so they’re going over the top and only a good director can make this look good and not too ridiculous. Fast & Furious‘ Justin Lin is probably the right guy for the job. He also gets the chance to film him in a Ferrari, and other cars I’ve never heard of. That’s the spirit! Landscape views are described as impossibly stunning and since they’re really shooting in Hawaii, they will be for sure.

They kept Magnum’s voice-over as part of the storytelling, which is not a good idea if you ask me. It makes it sound old-fashioned. It was not needed but one can argue it’s part of the charm of the original show and it would have been a pity not to use it again. Let’s just hope Jay Hernandez will do it right. Not sure what else I can tell you about this pilot. I didn’t describe Magnum but he’s exactly like you think he is. Exactly like other CBS’s leading men. Nothing new. Well, he’s a latino guy, so there’s that. And about the investigation, it works exactly as in any other CBS procedural. If you like that and if you’re not tired of it, then you should have a ball! Happy you! Something really bugged me: the patriotic message that’s all over the script and in the least subtle form. The end of the episode is a military funeral and OMG the speech of Magnum is just too much, full of clichés about brotherhood, soldiers for life… “As corny as it sounds” he says. Well at least they’re conscious about what they’re doing. And when I think about it, it’s really the perfect show for Republicans. And it’s way way more dangerous than Roseanne, believe me… But that’s what most of the CBS audience wants, right?

Compared to new Macgyver‘s pilot, Magnum P.I. ‘s is way more effective and less ridiculous, though Magnum sometimes acts like he’s MacGyver and there’s not much difference between him and Hawaii 5-O‘s McGarrett either. It’s the same show over and over again and there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work at least a little for CBS. It’s fun to watch if it’s your kind of fun, and if you’re into very patriotic shows, it’s like heaven for you! The great thing for the eye network is that they can put it anywhere. It’ll do the trick!

The Finest (ABC) pilot preview: Hail to the Queens

Written and executive produced by Pam Veasey (CSI: New York, CSI: Cyber, Washington Police). Also produced by Robin Roberts (Good Morning America) & Regina King. Directed by Regina King (Being Mary Jane, Scandal, SouthLAnd). For ABCABC Studios, Royal Ties & Rock’N’Robin Productions. 60 pages. 2nd Revised Network Draft. 1/18/2018.

Description: the lives of five African-American sisters, Lena, Ella, Anise, Serena & Nicole, all officers in the NYPD, as they face the challenges of their high-risk jobs while juggling the responsibilities of marriage, motherhood and family. Raised in the borough of Queens by working-class parents, the Kendrick sisters are New York’s finest…

With Frances Turner (The Gifted, The Exes), Amirah Vann (How To Get Away With Murder, Underground), Tisha Campbell-Martin (Dr Ken, My Wife And Kids, Martin), Aubin Wise, Leigh-Ann Rose (Love Thy Neighbor), Zoe Robins (Power Rangers Ninja Steel), Michael Beach (The 100, The Game, Third Watch, ER), Eric Balfour (Haven, 24, Six Feet Under), Dorian Missick (Animal Kingdom, SouthLAnd), Gerardo Celasco (The Have and the Have Nots, Passions)…

  

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: BET & OWN shows, Shonda Rhimes’ shows…

Likely timeslot: Joining TGIT on thursday at 10 once How To Get Away Murder ends.

 

A whole team of powerful black women, from writer to director and producers, crafting a compelling story about a sisterhood of complex black women, that’s unprecedented on network television and beautiful and precious. I really hope ABC will proceed with a series order in may. Not only for the symbol and the huge step forward but also because it’s worth one judging by the script and because, as Empire and Scandal proved, there’s an audience waiting for it, desperately. There is not a single white person in a regular role in this show. So what? We got a ton of shows with only white people for years… The Finest is a bit messy sometimes and can’t be labeled as “a fine drama”, but it does have potential. You just have to deal with the fact that this premise is highly unlikely: what are the odds not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 -and even 6- women from the same family -mostly sisters- all become police officers? I mean… It’s just weird. They make it believable somehow on the page but you just need to look beyond this, just relax and enjoy. EDIT: Turns out those sisters exist in real life! Good Morning America did a segment about them a few years ago!

Let me introduce you to our main characters, who all have secrets. Some are included in my descriptions, some others I’ll keep, just so you still have surprises while watching it. First, there’s what we could call “the lead sister”, Lena Kendrick (played by Frances Turner). She’s not the oldest but she’s the highest ranking and accomplished. Witty and intelligent, Lena is the first African-American woman to be promoted to Assistant Chief in the department. But she struggles with the news that her cancer may be back. And there’s an incredible scene, a mash-up of two cult scenes in fact, when she takes her wig off (hello Viola Davis in HTGAWM!) -let’s see it as an hommage- and we discover a scar across her scalp (hello Kimberly Shaw in Melrose Place!). That’s quite powerful. Then we have Ella (Amirah Vann). She’s smart, kind, and principled, she goes out of her way to prove that police officers can still be good guys who treat people fairly. Married for 18 years, Ella is also a mother of three who struggles to balance her home life with her job. When she chooses to disregard protocol, her partner gets shot, putting his life and her career in jeopardy. There’s an interesting thread here since the call they responded to which was supposed to be about domestic abuse turns out to be a fake, an ambush designed to target a police officer… Also, Ella may be having an affair… with a woman! Yeah, it’s a lot for just one character.

Then we have Anise (Tisha Campbell-Martin), a witty, tough and outspoken patrol officer with a sharp sense of humor. She is immensely proud of her family, especially that her four sisters are in the NYPD, she was the first to join the force and kinda led the way. She has a daughter, Taylor (Zoe Robbins), who’s just been accepted in the police academy, and she’s not happy about it. She wanted her to become a lawyer, or at least get any college degree. Let’s move on to Nicole (Leigh-Ann Rose), an attractive, fit, strong-willed, tough detective. Her ex-boyfriend Jessie, who’s the father of their child, refuses to move out of Nicole’s apartment despite her wishes. He takes her to court to establish paternity and gain legal custody of their kid. Finally, there’s Serena (Aubin Wise), the youngest sister, a youthful and wholesome beauty, playful but tough who is happily married to her handsome architect husband. She’s a germaphobe. And kinky. She’s kind of the sister the story didn’t need, to be honest. Four would have been enough I guess. We’ll see what they’ll do with her but for now, she doesn’t have much to offer.

As I said earlier, it’s not “a fine drama”. By that, I mean it’s very very soapy, not always subtle, often on the nose. But it’s damn ambitious too. I mean, there are so many things going on at the same time, so many characters to introduce, both personal challenges and investigations to go through… It’s a damn lot! The writer did her best, I guess, to make it all fit. As a consequence, it’s fast-paced, with a few action-packed scenes in the streets of New York, but it never goes deep, there’s just not time left for that. The good side of it is that there are a lot of things left unsaid, especially about their family as a whole, their parents, their past, that they will be able to delve into later. It’s probably more of a script problem than an actual pilot problem, but you need an awfully long time to distinct the sisters. They’re all tough, they’re all beautiful, they’re all police officers of course, they’re all in their thirties or forties, they’re all fabulous… It will take more than one episode to understand the way their sisterhood works. Then again, it’s good to have things to look forward. You end up bloated but with a undeniable  desire to have some more.

The Finest‘s pilot wants to be all over the place and actually is. But when you think about it, it looks exactly like what ABC needs actually: a character-driven, female-fueled soapy drama, with police elements on the side, targeting a large audience, including an african-american demo mourning Scandal’s Olivia Pope. They’re offered like 5 Olivia Pope instead! Let’s just hope they don’t turn out as unbearable as her. For now, they’re queens from Queens and they’re just great as they are.

Bellevue (NBC) pilot preview: A great medical drama at the worst time possible…

Written and executive produced by David Schulner (Emerald City, Do No Harm, Trauma, The Event). Also produced by Dr. Eric Manheimer & Pete Horton (Grey’s Anatomy, Thirtysomething, Ironside). Directed by Kate Dennis (The Handmaid’s Tale, Secrets & Lies, The Secret Life of Us). For NBC & Universal Television. 59 pages. Revised Network Draft. Clean. 12/26/2017.

Description: Located in Manhattan, Bellevue is the only hospital in the world that has the capability to treat Ebola patients, prisoners from Rikers Island and the President of the United States all under one roof. Max Hollander, the new enigmatic medical director hired to disrupt and tame this mighty institution, always prioritize patient care while facing his own battle with cancer…

With Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist, 90210, Dirt), Freema Agyeman (Sense8, The Carrie Diaries, Doctor Who), Janet Montgomery (This Is Us, Salem, Made in Jersey, Entourage), Tyler Labine (Dirk GentlyReaper, Sons of Tucson, Invasion), Anupam Kher (The Indian Detective, Sense8), Jocko Sims

   

You’ll like it you already like: medical shows, from best to worst.

Likely timeslot: Not sure there’s one in the fall…

 

How many medical shows can work at the same time? Historically, not much more than two (ER & Chicaco Hope in the 90s; Grey’s Anatomy & House in the 2000s…). But this past season, four aired at the same time: Grey’s Anatomy -such a beast- & new hit The Good Doctor, both on ABC, plus Chicago Med doing good business on NBC & The Resident doing decent by FOX’s standarts. Betting they will all be back next year, does any new medical drama even stand a chance in this crowded market? Networks doesn’t seem to think so since Bellevue is actually the only medical drama pilot that was picked up to pilot (many projects were in development). So the question is now: does Bellevue even stand a chance? And my answer is… In another situation, on another year, it would certainly have, but now…

It’s a pity for NBC and for us, because Bellevue is really more interesting than Chicago Med or The Night Shift, and other medical shows that failed over there those past few years like Do No Harm or Heartbeat, but I don’t see how they can fit in the schedule and how viewers would be willing to give it a fair chance. Such a shame. The central character is inspired by a real person -Dr. Eric Manheimer, the former medical director at New York City’s real Bellevue Hospital and author of the memoir Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital which inspired the series- and you can tell those stories are true, or at least sound like they are. It’s not eccentric with quirky cases to have some fun in the middle of the big drama, it’s really a mix of “normal” cases like you can find in every other medical show and high-stakes ones like the one used in the logline: Alain, a 15 year-old boy, arrives from Africa and shows signs of Ebola disease, which leads the police to think he might have been used as a biological weapon by an Isis agent. Talk about a first day for Hollander ! No sign of the President of the United States just yet!

The pilot is really packed, fast-paced but never at the detriment of the characters, and does a good job at showing America in all its diversity, by facing the difficulties of the healthcare system. And I think that’s what I liked the most about Bellevue. We’re said multiple times that it’s an important hospital, the oldest public hospital in the United States that has a tradition of “serving the underserved” that dates back to 1736 and bla bla bla, but we can also feel it for real through the doctors and through the patients. CBS’s Code Black wanted to show real medicine, based on a documentary, but Bellevue does it better. One case is about a 16 year-old victim of abuse for whom the bedraggled Dr Iggy Frome tries to find a permanent home. It’s very emotional. Another is about a 70 year-old woman who appears dead on arrival, but actually suffers from a neurological condition caused by a tapeworm indigenous to her hometown in Mexico. She only has one year to live and Max will do whatever he can so she returns to her native Guadalajara. There’s a lot of compassion in this show, a lot of emotion and a feel-good vibe amidst the chaos, similar to The Good Doctor.

Hollander is a complicated character but he mostly acts as a hero, even if it means annoying some people for the greater good. I don’t know if Ryan Eggold is the right choice for it -NBC’s executives have a thing for him obviously- but it’s a great challenge. Hollander’s maverick approach and intense commitment to the job exasperate his boss, as well as his seven months pregnant’s wife, who just separated from him. I feel like this personal story will quickly becomes a stone in the writers’ shoes, especially since they’ll have the cancer one to worry about even more. It’s a lot for just one character but the good news is those around him also make good impressions. I’m thinking of Dr. Hana Sharpe (Freema Agyeman), who’s the lead doctor at the hospital who has not practiced medicine in a while. Rather, she appears on talk shows across the country pitching Bellevue hospital. She’s fierce and strong and I like her already. Dr. Anil Kapoor is interesting too, since he’s one of the oldest doctors there and he believes the hospital needs to change but does not feel he needs to change his ways. He could be a lot of fun. They don’t come out as characters we’ve already seen a million times in medical shows.

I’m very conflicted about Bellevue: it sure is a good pilot, and it sure could become a great medical drama, but it’s coming at the worst time possible with already a lot of similar options on network television. I would love it to thrive, I would love it to stay with us for the long haul but I just don’t see it happening sadly. In the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s how I’ll remember it. Unless there’s a miracle…