Category: Script Previews

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.

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.