Category: Script Previews

The Fix (ABC) pilot preview: American Crime Story – The People Vs OJ Simpson, a sequel

Written and executive produced by Marcia ClarkElizabeth Craft & Sara Fain (The Shield, Lie To Me, The Vampire Diaries, Dollhouse). Also produced by David Hoberman (Monk, Fighter), Todd Lieberman (The Family, Detroit 1-8-7) & Laurie Zaks (The Family, Castle). Directed by Larysa Kondracki (Rogue, Copper, Legion). For ABCABC Studios & Mandeville Television. 61 pages. 4th Revised Network Draft. 1/23/2018.

Description: After losing the biggest case of her career and being shredded by the media, former prosecutor Maya Travis has left Los Angeles for a quiet life in rural Oregon. Eight years after her devastating defeat, the murderer – a famous movie star- strikes again, forcing Maya to return to Los Angeles to confront him one more time. Will she play by the rules or will she do whatever it takes to get him behind bars?

With Robin Tunney (The Mentalist, Prison Break, The Craft, Empire Records), Adam Rayner (Tyrant, Hunted), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Oz, Suicide SquadBreckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash, Clueless), Merrin Dungey (Big Little Lies, The Resident, Alias, The King of Queens), Mouzam Makkar (The Exorcist, The Vampire Diaries), Scott Cohen (Necessary Roughness, The Carrie Diaries), Marc Blucas (Buffy, Underground), Alex Saxon (The Fosters, Finding Carter), Daniella Alonso (Animal Kingdom, Revolution, Friday Night Lights)…

   

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: American Crime Story, The Good Wife, Murder One, Law & Order True Crime…

Likely timeslot: Thursday at 10 joining the TGIT?

 

Does the name Marcia Clark mean anything to you? For those who watched the excellent American Crime Story: The People Vs OJ Simpson, she was the lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case, played by Sarah Paulson. She resigned from the District Attorney’s office after the debacle and left trial practice behind. She became a “special correspondent” for news show providing coverage of high-profile trials and she wrote several novels based on her experience, as well as pilot scripts that were never produced. She’s one of the executive producer of The Fix and her story is obviously a big inspiration for the show. ABC insists on the fact that the drama is fictional. Still, its starting point draws a lot of parallels to what was called at the time “the trial of the century” and Maya Travis is also finding herself in the eye of a media storm like Clark did. The ambition is to examine the case from all sides of the law, going home with the characters and exploring how it is affecting their personal lives. And I have to admit the writers really captured something here. Unfortunately for them, they will be compared a lot to Ryan Murphy’s brilliant piece and they can’t compete. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try!

Part legal thriller, part confessional, part revenge fantasy, The Fix is as riveting as ABC promises but it’s never a good omen to be so many things at the same time. I’d leave the “revenge fantasy” part out of the equation. It gives the wrong impression. There’s the idea of redemption, that’s for sure, but Maya Travis is not Amanda Clarke from Revenge. She’s a far more interesting character, it seems. More mature. A legal thriller? That’s what describes it the best. And of course, because we’re on ABC, it’s soapy. Not the dirty kind. It stays classy, at least from Maya’s side. From the OJ-like murderer’s side, it’s another story. But can they beat the real OJ?! Not really. It’s very much the same man, or the idea we have of him at least. Steven “Sevvy” Johnson is a narcissistic, perhaps sociopathic, famous Oscar-winning actor that most people actually love because he’s charismatic and charming, and a very good liar too probably. He’s also black, which is a subject in itself like it was with OJ since he’s well-loved by the black community, or at least was. Well, the more I write about it, the more this show feels like a OJ Simpson vs The People‘s fictional follow-up! And I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or bad thing in terms of potential. It could bring more eyeballs than this kind of show usually does but there’s a downside to it: again, the comparison is not in The Fix‘s favor, as good as it is.

Also, they don’t have Sarah Paulson. From what I’ve heard, they were aiming for a big name to play the lead and sent a lot of offers. But the best they could get in the end was Robin Tunney from The Mentalist. I don’t mean to be disrespectful and it’s not like she’s an unknow actress either nor that she’s bad, but sadly she’s not much of a draw on paper. And these days, for a role like this one on a show like this one, it’s a big disadvantage. That being said, the cast looks strong overall, especially with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Sevvy. He’s an excellent actor, much more skilled and charismatic than Cuba Gooding Jr. if you ask me, and easily scarier. OJ was shown as a bit dumb and immature. Sevvy seems like a far more manipulative person. There’s no real doubt about what he has done. What they need is actual proofs and that’s where the fun begins for us. He’s not an easy one to catch. And his defense team is nasty. And they hate Maya, as much as she hates them. We have all the ingredients for a thrilling legal drama. It could have been less Manichaean, it’s really the good guys vs. the bad guys, but that’s probably the price to pay if you want this show to be on a network and not on cable. It needs to stay easily readable and pretty straight-forward. I’m not sure how many episodes they can squeeze out of it, though. Problaby no more than 10 if they want to keep it as efficient and fast-paced.

Other characters are: Andre, who was Maya’s second chair during the high-profile trial (think the equivalent of Sterling K. Brown’s character) and there’s an undeniable connection between them; CJ, a DA investigator who was one of Maya’s closest friends and confidantes but they lost touch when she went away; Charlie Wiest, a spineless opportunist who doesn’t have enough power within the office to control its inner workings, despite his grave efforts, another pain in the ass for Maya; Loni Cho, a Deputy District Attorney and the lead attorney on the new murder case, with a secret; and finally Ezra, an extremely confident defense lawyer -an arrogant pitbull- who won the trail against Maya years ago and who defends Sevvy once again. Those are all strong characters who really exist within the story, who all play an important part.
The Fix is a bit of a dark horse in this pilot season for ABC since it doesn’t correspond at all to what they’re supposed to be looking for. It’s heavily serialized, soapy and pretty dark, and this type of shows did poorly those past few years when they were not from Shonda Rhimes. It would work better as a limited series. Being that different from the other competitors might be an advantage for a series order though. It won’t fix ABC’s drama problems but it could be a good low-profile addition.

In The Dark (The CW) pilot preview: Blind Veronica Mars

Written and executive produced by Corinne Kingsbury (The Newsroom, Back in the Game). Also produced by Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, Dodgeball, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Jackie Cohn (Another Period) & Nicky Weinstock. Directed by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick, Love, Search Party, Wet Hot American Summer). For The CW, CBS Television Studios & Red Hour Films. 59 pages. Draft 1/22/18.

Description: Murphy, a flawed and irreverent young woman who just happens to be blind, is the only “witness” to the murder of her drug-dealing best friend. When the police dismiss her story, she sets out with her dog, Pretzel, to find the killer while also managing her colorful dating life and the job she hates at Breaking Blind- the guide dog school owned by her overprotective parents… 

With Perry Mattfeld (Shameless US), Austin Nichols (One Tree Hill, The Walking Dead, Bates Motel, Ray Donovan), Brooke Markham (Cassandra French’s Finishing School), Keston John (Blood & Oil), Derek Webster (Damages, Harry’s Law, NCIS New Orleans), Kathleen York (The Client List, Desperate Housewives, The West Wing)…

 

  

You’ll like if you already like: Veronica Mars, iZombie, Sue Thomas F.B. Eye

Likely timeslot: wherever there’s a slot available, it doesn’t matter much anyway

 

This is a **rolling my eyes** logline, probably the “best” one since… Jane The Virgin! Yes, never forget that before becoming a critical darling, the Gina Rodriguez-led show was considered as the dumbest thing ever based on the pitch during pilot season. Maybe In The Dark will follow the same path… I see you laughing! I’m batshit serious. The thing is, it’s a good script. Not a great one, a good one. And this alone is a good sign. Starting from where it starts, I mean… Plus, it’s coming at a time when one of the biggest hit of the past few years is about an autistic doctor. You know where I’m going. Not saying here that In The Dark will become as huge as The Good Doctor but it makes sense for The CW to try something like that, centered on a blind detective. She’s not exactly a detective, to be honest. But she’s about to become one of some sort. And a beautiful mess. Enough to shake a little bit the detective genre’s tired formula? Also, it comes from Ben Stiller as an executice producer and one of the hottest indie director out there right now Michael Showalter: other positive signs going for it.

How did they come with such an idea, you ask. There’s a story! It originated from the network and its social good program, CW Good, which last year began partnering with the Guide Dogs of America organization to sponsor litters of puppies to be trained as guide dogs. That’s when they thought of a series involving a guide-dog program. So writer Corinne Kingsbury was asked to write a script and tadaaa! Again, it’s a good one and the pilot order makes total sense. The only real problem I see, it’s that it should have been a procedural with a serialized arc to ensure it some longevity. It’s not something I write a lot. It’s probably the first time I’m writing this in fact. But I can’t see where the show will go once the ongoing mystery about the heroine’s best friend is solved. I mean, I know what they will do: start a new one. But remember when Veronica Mars did that… It struggled a lot and it was cancelled after three years. The situation was a bit different since the show was part-procedural too but I see it as an advantage In The Dark doesn’t even have from the start. By the way, I didn’t choose Veronica Mars as an example by chance. A few things reminded me of the Rob Thomas show. It’s even suspicious he’s not involved in this! The story of course, but also the heroine, though she’s way more trashy, and the overall tone that could be described as very witty and cynical, just like Murphy is. And I mean all this as a good thing. It’s a great show to be compared to, isn’t it?

So Murphy. Gosh, I love her already. She’s a disaffected, hard-drinking, promiscuous mess who pushes away anyone who cares for her. Or in other terms: she’s a cold alcoholic bitch bitter than liquor. We don’t meet so many characters like her, especially on The CW. And when it happens, it’s rarely the central one. I can think of a few, but it’s quite daring. Risky also. But I’m not gonna lie: towards the end of the pilot, she becomes self-aware and decides to change a few things in her behavior. It doesn’t mean it will be easy but she promises to try, for herself and for those around her. It might become a feel-good show after all! Anyway. She’s not easy to like but she’s too funny to hate. I’m very curious to see Perry Mattfield’s performance. I don’t know her, she gratuated from acting school just two years ago but she sounds like the new CW discovery everybody will be raving about, like Gina Rodriguez & Rachel Bloom before.

She’s not the only funny character. They all are, especially her parents. And the bond between the three of them, even though it’s damaged at the time, is quite strong and emotional. Some scenes could make us cry! All the people around her love her so much that it’s heart-warming to witness. The same way as The Good Doctor. Oh and for those wondering, the dog is not that important in the pilot, but it adds a little flavour to it and it certainly doesn’t hurt at all. With the mystery comes a cop, of course. He’s called Dean and he has a daughter who happens to be blind too. How convenient! It’s phony, it’s true, but somehow they make it work. Of course, it opens up the possiblity of a love story between Murphy and Dean. Well… It’s almost inevitable, I guess. The mystery helps sending a message about racism, showing the police doesn’t care about black victims, especially when they come from a poor neighborhood. Can’t say it’s dealt with subtlety but at least there’s dignity and a substantive issue behind the fun entertainment that this pilot is.

A blind girl and her guide dog. This is, like, the worst crime solving team EVER“, says Murphy’s roommate Jess at some point. And she’s right! And that’s why In The Dark is an intriguing show in the making, that could surprise and quickly become a tasty pleasure if The CW gives it a chance. I wouldn’t watch it blindly, but it may be worth opening our eyes to it. It has a lot of heart behind a layer of riveting cynicism.

False Profits (ABC) pilot preview: Flashback to ABC’s Glory Days

Written and executive produced by Kayla Alpert (Code Black, Ally McBeal, Sweet Valley High). Also produced by Sabrina Wind (Devious Maids, Desperate Housewives, Reba) & Jason Reed (The Crossing, Ninja Turtles). Directed by Paul McGuigan (Sherlock, Devious Maids, Designated Survivor, The Family). For ABCABC Studios & Jason T. Reed Productions. 63 pages. Network draft 1/18/2018.

Description: Laura, Parvun and Hilary, three down-and-out women who live in suburban Arizona, fight their way to the top of the cutthroat world of a multi-level marketing cosmetics business, forming their own tribe, each wanting a better life for themselves. Little do they know what will happen in a year…

With Bellamy Young (Scandal, Dirty Sexy Money, Scrubs), Kosha Patel (Mary+Jane, The Newsroom), Shelley Hennig (Teen Wolf, Ouija, Unfriended, The Secret Circle), Vanessa Williams (Daytime Divas, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty), Ben Lawson (Designated Survivor, Doubt, Love Child), Mark L. Young (Ten Days in the Valley, The Comeback, The Inbetweeners US), Marcus Coloma (Major Crimes, Make It or Break It, South BeachTapil Talwalkar

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Desperate Housewives, Good Girls, Devious Maids, Ugly Betty…

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9, Wednesday at 10

 

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity” says Sun Tzu in The Art of War. “The best revenge is massive success” said Frank Sinatra. It’s with those quotes that False Profits‘ script starts and they say a lot about what this show is really about. The intention of it all. Yes, the logline looks like yet another desperate attempt for a “new Desperate Housewives” with working women this time, but it’s much more than that. Not that it’s a better show than DH. It’s not. And not that ABC won’t try to market it as one if it’s picked-up. With an executive producer -Sabrina Wind- who was Marc Cherry’s “eyes and ears” (that’s what he said) during DH glory, it will be too tempting for them. But I feel like False Profits tries to dig deeper and looks like a great show for the #MeToo #TimesUp era. Also, it fits perfectly with ABC’s new ambition to tell stories that are “less dark, less edgy, more hopeful, more joyful” and that reflect the true realities of what life is like for everyday Americans, especially for american women, without losing what made them successful 15 years ago.

False Profits -this title isn’t appealing at all, it needs to change- is an update on the sacred American dream, on the female side this time; which is not that ordinary. It lightens the mood in these uncertain times but not without substance when Desperate Housewives was an exciting and incredibly entertaining show but pointless most of the time. Not trying to pit them against each others. But since they will be compared a lot, I want to make things clear. Yes, it’s often comical, and bitchy, and full of twists; it’s an unapologetic soap which aims to be entertaining and exciting as well. The added value here is its hopefulness, the positive message it sends to women, the inclusiveness. That’s where it deviates from NBC’s Good Girls, for instance. They both show women fighting together and not against each others, pursuing their dreams, the “girl power” in full force, but in False Profits they launch their business, they don’t rob a supermarket. And that’s way more powerful. Even though the world of comestics is very specific, which may make it harder for viewers to relate to -and for the show to find an audience that will look beyond that- it’s still something that’s part of every women’s lives, whether they like it or not. And False Profits doesn’t show it with naiveté. On the contrary, it’s quite cynical sometimes. At least, that’s how I read it.

It starts with a big joyous cold open set in Las Vegas during 2018’s Brava Natural (the fictive brand of the show) cosmetics national sales training with women from different ethnicities, ages and religions, like they’re all members of a cult, but a million-dollar extravaganza cult with cocktails, dancers, acrobats, and even two of the original Spice Girls (Mel B & Gerri Halliwell) on stage! It’s crazy. But things quickly go south when a woman in her pink stilettos emerge from the shadows and shoots Brava‘s CEO Kirsten Odelfet. And then we flashback to one year earlier. So the show is not all positive and fun, it’s also dark. Of course, we don’t know who the female shooter is, we don’t even see her face. It’s an efficient hook, in the “who shot X?” fashion that always works. The only problem is: as of now, we don’t care about this Kirsten. And we don’t see her again in the pilot by the way. But we want to. Definitely.

Let’s meet our three central characters now, who are all smartly introduced and already relatable and moving on the page. First, there’s Laura Hazelton, a single mother of two struggling to get by. it will be interesting to see Bellamy Young in a very different role than Scandal‘s Melly Grant. Tired of being ten steps behind, Laura signs up for a multi-level marketing scheme for selling cosmetics. it’s through her that it all starts. Then there’s her friend and colleague Hilary Jenkel (Shelley Hennig), a sharp-tongued, hot-tempered former beauty queen whose glory days were cut short by a nasty drug habit. Now in recovery and single mother of a 6 year-old, she hopes to reignite the flame between her and Clark, Lila’s father. But when he sues for full custody of their daughter, Hilary needs to whip her life and bank account into shape. She joins Laura in the business, using her pageant know-how as the underdog’s team secret sales weapon. The third Musketeer is indian-american Parvun Chattoraj, a soft-spoken, whip-smart young woman, who’s much more sophisticated about computers than most people. Her very traditional parents want her married but it’s not her priority.

Finally, on the other side of the spectrum is Suzanne (Vanessa Williams), chief of a highly successful “tribe” of Brava Natural saleswomen, who become Laura, Hilary and Parvun’s best enemy when they decide to become her direct competition. At a bridal convention, they get creative in selling products, outsmarting Suzanne and her extravagant booth. So the war is on! Bellamy Young vs Vanessa Williams is the most promising thing this show can provide, by far! What if Suzanne was the shooter? Unless it’s one of our girls? See. It works! We’re dying to know what happened. Let’s just hope we will be as much invested in the little details of their everyday lives than in the bigger picture. Also that the men characters will become more interesting and complex. I get that those women don’t need men to become who they want to be, but it doesn’t mean that the ones who are in their lives should be useless. They need to exist too.

False Profits is a fun soap, mostly comical, darker at times, that takes us back to ABC’s glory days when Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters & Ugly Betty were all on the air at the same time. Does it belong to the past or does it have a future on a network that changed a lot since then? Crossing my fingers so it can find a place in the schedule and in the audience’s heart. It’s not revolutionary but it sends the right message at the right time.

F.B.I. (CBS) pilot preview: Dick Wolf By The Book

Written and executive produced by Craig Turk (The Good Wife, Private Practice, Boston Legal). Also produced by Dick Wolf (Law & Order, SVU, Truee Crime, Chicago Fire, PD, Med, Justice), Peter Jankowski & Arthur W. Forney. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Millenium, Under The Dome, Mr Robot, Midnight, Texas). For NBCUniversal TelevisionCBS Television Studios & Wolf Films. 60 pages. Network Draft. 1/22/18.

Description: the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, alongside relatively young agents Maggie Bell & Otilio Abramah “OA” Casillas, and the emotional toll cases have on their relationships and personal lives…

With Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue, Van Helsing, Reaper), Zeeko Zaki (24 Legacy, Valor, Six), Jeremy Sisto (Ice, The Returned, Suburgarory, Law & Order, Six Feet Under), Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman Boss, The Following, Gladiator), Ebonée Noel (Wrecked, Still Star-Crossed)…

  

You’ll Like It You Already Like: Any straight police procedural show.

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10 (one of the few slots available where there’s no Dick Wolf show on NBC)

 

No, it’s not a typo in the article’s title: this show produced by Dick Wolf is really for CBS! F.B.I. will be Wolf’s first drama series to launch on a network other than NBC in 15 years, since the 2003 Dragnet reboot on ABC that didn’t last long. So what happened? The project was originally developed at NBC but with Wolf’s Chicago franchise expanding, taking 3 hours in the schedule, plus veteran Law & Order:SVU still alive and new iteration Law & Order True Crime coming, there was simply not slot available for it in NBC’s slate of procedurals. So it made sense for him to look to expand his brand elsewhere and CBS was the logical first destination since the eye network is known for its crime procedurals. NBC will still get some money out of it anyway since Universal is co-producing F.B.I. with CBS. The only downside here is that they won’t be able to crossover the show with Chicago PD (or any other), something they probably would have done on NBC. CBS was so happy to get a Wolf show that they ordered it straight-to-series with a 13-episode commitment, without any writer attached and of course any script ready. Former The Good Wife executive producer Craig Turk was then recommended for the job by CBS, being one of the top drama writers on CBS TV Studios’ roster. And here we are!

So, F.B.I… Could they find a more generic title than this? It sums up the whole concept of the show, really. In that regard, it is perfect. Though they could have added “: New York“, cos’ knowing both Wolf and CBS, if it works for them, we will get the Los Angeles & Miami versions sooner or later! There’s a definitive lack of ambition, as the logline can attest, and it’s a choice. It’s not like they were trying to make something crazy original and they totally failed in the end. No, they were just aiming at a simple, straight-forward crime procedural since the beginning. No fat. But is it a smart move in 2018? Don’t you need a hook, even in a procedural, to bring interest? I think the reasoning behind is quite easy: Dick Wolf is a brand, and people who love his brand don’t want anything that would deviate from it. No high-concept. No strange consultant. No magic. So Wolf is bringing exactly what people are supposedly looking for from him. And from CBS. Haters gonna hate. Lovers gonna love! I don’t consider myself as a hater of Dick’s work but I can’t say that I’m a fan either. I always find his shows bland and F.B.I. kinda is too. It’s never really about the characters. It’s about the case of the week and the investigation. And sometimes, when there’s a little time left, they throw us crumbs of information about the investigators’ private lives. Like a well-deserved reward. That’s what happens here. When the pilot ends, we know one thing about every principal character. Which is already a lot I guess from such a show.

That being said, F.B.I. is as efficient as a procedural can get and it’s fast-paced. The situation is quickly set. The investigation starts two pages in. You’re given twists and cliffhangers every 8-10 minutes or so. You get a proper conclusion in the last two pages. Nothing’s left to your imagination. And it’s done. Again: no fat. There’s still some kind of ambition though, I was lying earlier. The case they chose to tackle is quite strong and heavy. Terrorism. In New York. Nothing original here either. But bombs explode, buildings collapse. It’s gonna cost a lot of money! So it starts with two bombs detonating at a working-class South Bronx apartment complex, injuring many and killing a local 7-year old boy. It’s quite horrifying, so you’re either hooked or disgusted. And then it’s the whole city that’s under a major bomb threat. Another one is found at a community center and our agents are in the constant fear of a new one exploding anywhere. The stakes are high. It must be impressive for people who never saw any of 24, Homeland or more recently Quantico. For the others, it’s business as usual. But once again, it’s well made and once you’re in, you just stay. Unless you’re not into cellphone melted on a guy’s burnt leg and other digusting things like that. Will they be able, budget-wise, to go as big in every episode? Probably not. It’s gonna become quieter I guess. Once the dust settles, they will have to be careful not to enter the boring zone…

The characters are instantly working, maybe because we meet them right into the action, and then they never sleep, never quit. You have Maggie Bell -skilled, intellectual, emotional- hard not to like, the real heroine here; Otilio Abraham “OA” Casillas -former undercover DEA operative, instinctual, grizzled- very typical; Jubal Valentine, an experienced agent who thrives on stress -and adds a hint of humor-; Kristen Yessayen, a highly intelligent analyst; Ian Lentz, a forensic technology expert; and finally Ellen Toy, the deeply respected boss, who’s elegant, cultured, disarmingly direct and impossible to intimidate. Love her already. It’s a really good team on paper and the actors they chose, especially Jeremy Sisto and Connie Nielsen, are always great. Again, F.B.I. is very low-key on the character’s private lives and doesn’t introduced any serialized elements. At some point, Maggie says : “I eat dinner with Kristen in the office most nights and neither of us have a personal life to talk about.” We’ve been warned! We’re not in Shondaland, we’re in Dickland. Oopsie. Wolfland sounds better!

F.B.I. is your go-to procedural, Dick Wolf by the book product. It’s exactly what you expect from him. It fits perfectly with CBS actual line-up and might be the beginning of a lucrative franchise… unless viewers are looking for something else these days, in the era of peak TV. It will probably skew old, even though most of the characters are young, but it’s CBS best chance at success next year, it seems. Go Dick, do your thing!

Mrs Otis Regrets (FOX) pilot preview: The Good Scandal

Written and executive produced by Ilene Chaiken (Empire, The Handmaid’s Tale, Empire) & Melissa Scrivner Love (Rosewood, Person Of Interest, CSI Miami). Also produced by Judy Smith (Scandal, Braindead) & Oly Obst (The Resident, Ghosted, The Mick). Directed by Saana Hamri (Empire, Shameless US). For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television & 3 Arts. 60 pages. Network Draft. 1/21/18.

Description: FBI Special Agent Hazel Otis -wife, mother, patriot- is in the midst of investigating a domestic terrorism threat when a personal indiscretion – an affair with a prominent general – shatters her life and threatens her career at the FBI. Now labeled “the mistress,” Clementine Otis – wife, mother, patriot – begins to rebuild her personal life and professional reputation…

With Katie Holmes (Ray Donovan, The Kennedys, Dawson’s Creek, Batman Begins), James Tupper (Big Little Lies, Revenge, Men In TreesRose Rollins (The Catch, The L Word), Mark Moses (Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, Homeland), Christian Camargo (Penny Dreadful, Dexter), Ian Harding (Pretty Little Liars), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Taken, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy), Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya, Kingdom)…

  

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: The Good Wife, Scandal, Homeland…

Likely Timeslot: it’s almost impossible to guess FOX schedule at this point

 

Katie Holmes is back, guys! Between her guest stint on Ray Donovan, Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, upcoming Ocean’s 8, this pilot and her much talked-about romance with Jamie Foxx, our dear Joey Potter is doing great 20 years after Dawson’s Creek launched (I’m a die hard fan of Kevin Williamson’s teen drama). It makes me genuinely happy for her. Always thought she was worth better than movies nobody’s watching and unsatisfying TV roles. But let’s not forget she played Jackie Kennedy for christ’s sake! Too bad it was for a miniseries that was just okay. With Mrs Otis Regrets (or whatever name it ends up with), she’s playing a character like she’s never been offered before. We’ll see if she’s the right fit -and sometimes I felt like she wasn’t, I want her to prove me wrong- but it’s a great showcase for her talent. It’s demanding, she’s just not there to make her trademark pouty face. She starts the show undercover dressed as a sexy and trashy redneck southern gal, riding a mechanical bull! Later in the pilot, she’s drunk as fuck, performing Maniac in a karaoke bar, singing and doing sexy moves, and then pouring a bottle of water over her head, shaking her hair and spraying water like Jennifer Beals did in the movie. It’s gonna be legendary! And those scenes are reasons enough to pray for a series pickup!

With such an introduction, you probably think I will tell you this script is awesome. Not if you paid attention to the number of “stars” I gave it. Honestly, I went back and forth a lot. 3 stars or 4 stars? It was a really difficult decision to make. Overall, I enjoyed this script and I think it will make at the very least a decent pilot. It is great at introducing the central character, making us feel a diverse range of emotions regarding her actions, past and present; it’s a multi-dimensional, challenging heroine, that you don’t instantly fall in love with but that you know you want to spend more time with, to understand who she really is. She can be fun, badass -she has a military past that is very important in her backstory- and also very restrained and even cold at times. She’s all of this. And brilliant at her job. And a loving mom. And sexy as hell. It’s hard not to side with her, especially when her all world collapses. She’s definitely worth our attention. She’s a heroine of our times. The show is written, directed and produced by women. And that you can tell. It’s a fine portrait.

So what’s the problem exactly, you’re asking? Well. First, they didn’t do a great job at introducing the other characters. Her new partner in crime, Sam Gerard, is a 29 yerd-old preppy, privileged and unexperienced agent who’s mostly irritating. I have no doubt they will make him more likeable in the subsequent episodes but so far, they made it way too easy to hate him. And then there’s her husband, Larry, a handsome news reporter who’s like the perfect man any woman would want to marry, which makes him a bit bland. He’s modern but he’s too kind, even when he should be really angry at his wife. You want him to scream and go nuts, and he doesn’t. Again, with more episodes they will be able to flesh him out. There are a lot of family scenes by the way. We meet their daughters, Chelsea (13) and Catherine (8). They found the right balance between her professional life and her private one, but sometimes, I have to say I just wanted the show to be about that, and office politics, but not about her mission of the day. She has to save a known racist politician from an assassination attempt. It’s efficient, just not the best part. There’s a serialized story behind though, since the mastermind behind this is not caught in the end. He’ll be back. I remember I had the same feeling with The Good Wife when it started. As much as I liked the cases and Alicia’s relationships at the office, what I wanted the most was her scenes with her husdand and her children, at home. It’s not the only thing that made me think of The Good Wife, to be honest. And it’s both a compliment and a reproach.

From start to finish, I felt like this script was a clever mix between The Good Wife & Scandal, with a hint of Homeland since she’s doing the same job as Carrie Mathison. So, yeah, clever. But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re always under the impression that you’ve already seen it before. It makes it very much predictable. Like this scene when the press is outside her home after the scandal broke. So cliché. Unavoidable, maybe. Or the one when the scandal breaks for instance: she’s right in the middle of a school fundraiser with the other moms. Or the daughter who’s harassed at school and called names because of her mother. But honestly, the most worrying part here is not the comparisons drawn with The Good Wife and Homeland. It’s the one with Scandal. The show is just about to end and it won’t leave on a good note since it’s stupid for ages now. I’m very much afraid Mrs Otis Regrets falls into the same traps. I don’t want Hezel to become as annoying and murderous as Olivia Pope. I don’t want a tiring and never-ending love triangle between Hezel, her husband and NSA’s General Moses Fallon, who’s a lot like President Grant. Been there, done that! Coincidentally, it’s also produced by Judy Smith, like Scandal, which was based on her own life! And with an Empire producer/showrunner on the team, I wouldn’t want the show to become too soapy either. I do love soaps but when they take place at the FBI -look at Quantico!- they can quickly turn into a mess.

Even though Mrs Otis Regrets have a few problems, mostly a bit predictable and déjà vu premise, it definitely has potential for the long haul and it’s a great vehicle for Katie Holmes. At some point, one character says: “The timing is all wrong. All anyone cares about right now is the sexual assault stuff.” And that’s my main concern here: is the show’s timing wrong? I’d say its timing is perfect as long as they play their cards right: it has A LOT to say about sexism in the work place, about the glass-ceiling, about being in the public eye and how much the perception is different if you’re a man or a woman, and I hope they won’t shy away from all of this, that they will embrace it and make it an important show in the process. Women deserve this.

In Between Lives (NBC) pilot preview: In Between Naps

Written and executive produced by Moira Kirland (Medium, Dark Angel, Castle, Madam Secretary). Also produced by David Heyman (Fantastic Beats, Harry Potter, Gravity, Paddington) & Nancy Cotton (Young Americans, Complete Savages). Directed by Charlotte Sieling (The Killing, Bron, Borgen). For NBC, Universal Television, NBCUniversal International Studios  & Heyman Television. 61 pages. Third Network Draft. 12/21/2017.

Description: Cassie Gallagher, a mysterious young woman, reluctantly uses her gift of clairvoyance to help a veteran LAPD detective and a damaged ex-FBI outsider solve the most unnerving and challenging cases the city encounters. This eerie ability also opens the door for her to see and talk to the dead, who are seeking help for unresolved problems, whether she likes it or not…

With Harriet Dyer (Love Child, No Activity), Yusuf Gatewood (The Originals)…

 

You’ll like it if you already like: Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Unforgettable…

Likely timeslot: Dumping ground friday, midseason sunday…

 

I almost didn’t write this preview for two main reasons. First, nobody cares about this project. I’m wasting my time, you’re wasting yours by reading what I have to say about it (thanks anyway! Keep reading now you’re there!) and everybody involved in this, from NBC to the actors, are kinda wasting their time too. But at least they’re getting paid! Second, do I really have anything to say about it? I mean, the logline is quite telling. Also, it’s announced as a “clairvoyance crime drama”. Not sexy or promising. And sadly, there’s no hidden treasure between those lines. In Between Lives is a lazy project that looks exactly as it sounds: BO-RING. It will probably be watchable and NBC might feel like there’s an audience for it but nowadays, when you make a procedural, you need a hook. A hook that’s new. And if In Between lives has one -which is debatable- it is NOT new.

Heard of a show called Medium? Well, it’s more or less the same story, and the creator worked on it by the way. It’s impossible no to think of Ghost Whisperer also. And Unforgettable that we already all… have totally forgotten! But without Patricia Arquette, who was a huge draw and who improved the material by her talent and charisma. Or Jennifer Love Hewitt. Or Poppy Montgomery. Both are not incredible actresses frankly but people love them. And their names helped selling the shows overseas, where they thrived. I have no idea who this Harriet Dyer is -she’s australian and a newcomer- and she may be great, but it would need her to be greater than great to save the day. It’s not a heroine you want to spend time with. Not because she’s mean but because she’s bland and unfunny. Her official description is “a lovely young woman”. For sure, Cassie wouldn’t hurt a fly and she’s cute. But we definitely need more than this in 2018. The show is written by a woman and directed by a woman. You would think they’d offer us a character that’s different, multi-dimensional, but other than her “power”, she’s not. Yes, she’s haunted by hallucinations of vicious crimes, both past and present, and it makes her kinda dark. What else? I’m really sorry for you, girl. But I don’t think I care. Nor that I should.

The two cops from the LAPD that she “works” for have a cool dynamic. They’re buddies you know, though they don’t really know each other yet since it’s the first day of their partnership, but here again they have nothing special going for them. One has a secret : the woman he loves is in a coma. Well… The case of the week takes 90% of the script and it’s about the murder of a young woman that seems connected to another case from the 80s. It’s all about delving deeper into the psychology of the killer but it’s no MINDHUNTER. Truthfully, the investigation part is okay-ish, it doesn’t ask you to think, it gives you everything on a platter. And I’m sure you can enjoy it on a cold winter day, between two naps – if you get the chance not to fall asleep during the episode of course. It’s funny because I noticed that the characters are always having a cup of coffee in every scene. Starbucks is mentioned. Maybe it’s product placement or just an obsession from the writer, I don’t know. But I wanted a coffee badly in the end. So I guess it worked. And it’s quite clever when you think about it: you really need coffee to survive this if you’re not into procedural crime dramas. Maybe even if you are.

In Between Lives is yet another attempt from NBC to offer a procedural crime drama -with a supernatural twist- that could potentially work internationally and make money without costing too much. But with no original hook, no star, no ambition and no fun, it’s more of a snoozefest. They’d better bet on more original concepts that would at least make them look courageous and relevant. Making the same shows as in the 90s & 00s is not the solution.