Category: Script Previews

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.

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

Also known as Bellevue. 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…

Cagney & Lacey (CBS) pilot preview: Stuck in the 80s

Pilot “Smile” written and executive produced by Bridget Carpenter (11.22.63, Westworld, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood). Based on the iconic 1980s police procedural by Barbara Avedon & Barbara Corday. Directed by Rosemary Rodriguez (The Good Wife, Jessica Jones). For CBSCBS Television Studios & MGM Television. 62 pages.

Description: LAPD Homicide dectectives Christine Cagney & Monique Lacey are partners and close friends who solve crimes with experience, street smarts, and team work. They investigate a different murder each week hoping to bring victims and survivors closure while keeping the streets of L.A. safe…

With Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy, Everwood, Mad Men), Michelle Hurd (Lethal Weapon, Blindspot, Daredevil), Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible I, II, III, IV, Pulp Fiction)…

 

You’ll like if you already like: Any CBS cop show.

Likely timeslot: Where there’s a hole in the schedule

 

The original Cagney & Lacey that ran from 1982 to 1988 and won multiple awards -including 2 “Best Drama” Emmy- never became as iconic as other buddy cop shows from the same time period like Starsky & Hutch, Miami Vice or The Streets of San Francisco, at least on the international market. How come? Maybe because it was not about men. There has not been any successful equivalent since then, apart from Rizzoli & Isles I think. Things are about to change, finally, with a slew of pilots starring female cops. CBS also has Chiefs -and they probably won’t pick-up both- while NBC has the Bad Boys spin-off I already talked you about (HERE). For some reason, they all take place in Los Angeles. Is it because of the blue sky making them look like lighter fares? The original Cagney & Lacey was set in New York. Like ABC’s The Finest, also in the running this year. While reading this script, I thought a lot about ABC’s pilot The Trustee, that was not ordered to series last year. My review (HERE) was called “Cagney & Lacey New Generation”, and it was before we knew a reboot would be in the works. In fact, we learned about it the day they picked up the pilot, never before. Anyway, The Trustee was a superior script despite its flaws because it was really modern, different and also funnier. 2018 Cagney & Lacey‘s is lazy and gives the impression that nothing really changed since the 1980s. And when I look at CBS schedule, sometimes I feel the same…

What CBS could have done -but it was probably too much to ask- was to course correct what happened the first year of the original show. Hear this story: Cagney was originally played by actress Meg Foster but she was fired at the end of the first season because CBS deemed her too aggressive and too likely to be perceived as a lesbian by the viewers. Yeah, they really did that! She was then replaced by Sharon Gless who was asked to play Cagney as a more conventionally “feminine” character and a more “high-class”, snobbish woman from wealthy parents. This is sad. It would have been bold if, 35 years later, the new Cagney reverted back to how she was originally conceived and… what if she were a proud lesbian? I know. Crazy. As soon as she appears in the script, she’s described as stylish, feminine and we’re given the important detail that “She NEVER wears cheap shoes”. She’s also messy, headstrong and single. I’m sorry but it feels like a missed opportunity to me… Anyway, the great news is that Lacey is now a black woman and that’s probably CBS’s way of saying “We’re diverse now”. 10 years after the other networks. Never too late, hum? Monique is polished, cool and married. And also very feminine, don’t worry. When we meet her she wears a dress and stack-heel boots. It’s funny -or a big problem?- but Sarah Drew & Michelle Hurd don’t seem to correspond to their characters’ descriptions. So there are two solutions: either they were forced to reconceive the characters a little bit so they fit better, or the actresses will need to go out of their comfort zone to play them.

For some reasons, there’s no real balance between Cagney & Lacey in terms of screen time and character’s exposition. We don’t learn a lot about Lacey’s personal life though we meet her husband briefly, but on the other hand we already know a ton of things on Cagney, especially since there are several flashbacks from 15 years ago about when her twin brother Clinton died. And we meet her father, an alcoholic retired cop still haunted by the death of his son; while we learn about her mother we haven’t met yet who’s “the rich one” since she remarried. The relationship between our two heroines deviate from the original show for two main reasons. They are not the same age: Cagney is in her thirties, Lacey in her fourties. And they don’t have the same experience at all since Cagney is only a homicide detective for 2 years. She’s still learning. Lacey is her mentor, and that’s her who investigated Cagney’s brother’s murder back then but the case is still unsolved to this day. That gives us hope for a serialized story at some point and it makes their relationship more complex. The rest of the pilot is all about the case of the week, that reminds them both of Clinton: the murder of Kyle, a 19-year old black man. Lacey has a son about the same age, we’re told. And that’s where it’s lazy. Can’t say the investigation is boring but nothing stands out. It’s very classical with no surprise along the way and even though there are some funny dialogues here and there, it’s never really fun. “Expected” is what defines it best. You know… CBS.

The feminist underlying text which was already present in the original show is still there to some extant -and I’m not refering to the fact that Lacey listens to Beyoncé’s Run The World (Girls) in the cold open, though you can’t be more obvious than that- inside the office, Cagney and Lacey battle sexism when the men around them constantly ask each of them to smile. Both detectives refuse and point out that male officers are never asked to smile, empowering the other female cops in the office. It’s not much and I fear the show will never really go further than that but well, not every show with women at the center has to be woke after all. Other than that, the writer tries to make it look cool and modern with desperate moves like putting Coldplay’s Trouble when there’s actually some trouble and Sam Smith’s One Last Song towards the end. No subtlety allowed. Also, there’s a police officer talking about The Crown and later someone’s refering to The Handmaid’s Tale. Like “look how modern and pop we are”. Ugh! That’s not it. My last concern is about the number of secondary characters. We’re introduced to so many Cagney & Lacey’s colleagues… It’s exhausting. You don’t remember any in the end, especially since they come with no description other than if they’re male or female. They’ll have plenty of time to make them exist later, hopefully.

Cagney & Lacey’s reboot could have been a stepping stone for CBS in the way they portray women characters in their shows, with more complexity and diversity, embracing modernity, but instead they decided to stay stuck in the 20th century with the same old tropes. They want to make you believe it’s different but it’s not. Who are they kidding exactly? It’s just another cop show, a smooth production with no ambition. 

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.