Author: Lulla

Valor (The CW) pilot preview: Flying Under The Radar

Written and produced by Kyle Jarrow (Lost Generation). Executive produced by Bill Haber (Beauty and the Beast, Rizzoli & Isles) & Anna Fricke (Everwood, Men In Trees, Wayward Pines). Directed by Michael M. Robin (The Closer, Major Crimes, Rizzoli & Isles, Nip/Tuck). For CBS Television Studios, Ostar Productions & Jaworowski Productions. 61 pages. Draft 02/14/17.

Description: The boundaries between military discipline and human desire are tested on a U.S. Army base that houses an elite unit of helicopter pilots trained to perform clandestine international and domestic missions. A failed mission involving one of the first female pilots in the unit ultimately uncovers layers of personal and government/military secrets and leads to the rescue of a group of MIA soldiers…

With Christina Ochoa (Blood Drive, Matador, Animal Kingdom), Matt Barr (Sleepy Hollow, Hellcats, Harper’s Island), Charlie Barnett (Secrets & Lies, Chicago Fire), Melissa Roxburgh (Arrow, Supernatural), Corbin Reid (How To Get Away With Murder), W. Tre Davis (Shades of Blue), Nigel Thach (American Dreams), Mac Brandt (Kingdom, Colony)…

 

 

You’ll like it if you already like: The Unit, Quantico.

Likely timeslot: None.

 

Every year, there are two or three pilots that I have a really hard time reading until the last page because they’re so boring (and a hard time writing on it subsequently…). And my little experience proved me that a boring script always turns into a boring pilot, no matter what the director or the actors do. The only fact that The CW picked-up Valor to pilot is a mystery. It doesn’t fit with their line-up, it doesn’t correspond to what the majority of their viewers are looking for and well, it’s just not good enough to be granted one in my opinion, especially when you only pick six! So what happened? Still trying to figure this one out.

No big names are attached, unless Beauty & The Beast producer Bill Hader is considered as one at the young-skewing network. And no big The CW star used to make it more appealing. Here’s the only reason I found: the network president Mark Pedowitz has been looking to launch a military-themed series for a long time. Three years ago, he picked up Navy base pilot Company Town (which was slightly better) and he’s the one who launched Army Wives back when he ran ABC Studios. It still doesn’t explain why he thinks it’s a good idea, but at least there’s that. I don’t feel like there are so many military drama amateurs out there but we found one.

Valor is not a soap hidden behind a military drama, in case you were wondering or even hoping. It really is a military drama, heavily serialized, with some unconvincing soap elements and a conspiracy at the center. If you replace the military part with the FBI or the CIA, you get Quantico. Except Quantico‘s pilot script was a thing of beauty in terms of efficiency. Valor‘s can’t compare. Like Quantico, the drama unfolds in the present as well as in flashbacks, which is not a good sign since that’s what killed the ABC show (though it’s not really dead as of now). Honestly, it’s already hard to care about the events happening in the present, so caring about the past is like a suicide mission. Add to the mix a season-long plan about the rescue of a group of MIA soldiers and you get a way too complicated show for an audience who’s not even remotely interested in the first place. No OMG moments to wake you up. No sexy scenes to distract you. Unless you’re really fond of action scenes -there are plenty of it- and a chopper lover, you’re in for a snoozefest.

Valor only has one good thing going for it in fact: its female perspective on a world mostly dominated by men. It centers on Nora, an intense and driven junior Army pilot who is a member of the Night Raiders special ops unit. And though I didn’t fall in love with the character, I still find her interesting and unusual for a female lead. She is partnered with the more experienced Gallo, an aging hipster, and together they fly choppers in and out of the hottest hot spots in the world (but in the show expect the world to look like Atlanta and its surroundings all the time). They share a secret that must never come to the attention of the Army. It is linked to a botched mission in Somalia that left a pair of American servicemen in enemy hands. Even if I wanted to tell you more, I couldn’t. Was too bored to understand what was happening. The other characters are bland. I don’t remember one clearly.

Which network will have the biggest and noisiest military drama? Certainly not The CW! Valor is a weak contender, flying under the radar, ans has very little chance to be ordered to series anyway. Those who are interested by this type of shows are more likely to give a chance to For God And Country at NBC or CBS’ Navy Seal Drama. 

The Crossing (ABC) pilot preview: The show that desperately wanted to be Lost…

Written and produced by Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie (Scream, Revenge, Criminal Minds, The Event, Vanished, Surface). Also executive produced by Jason Reed (Ninja Turtles, National Treasure, Prince of Persia). Directed by Rob Bowman (Castle, The X-Files, Parker Lewis). For ABC Studios, Jason T. Reed Productions & Dworkin & Beattie Productions. 63 pages. 2nd revised network draft. 12/27/16.

Description: Refugees from a war torn country start showing up to seek asylum in a small East Coast fishing town. Only the country these people are from is America and the war they are fleeing is 250 years in the future. Jude Miller, the local sheriff with a troubled past, Emma Peralta, a federal agent, and Rae, a mother in search of her missing refugee daughter, drive this allegory with a surprising conspiracy at the center…

With Steve Zahn (Mad Dogs US, Treme), Sandrine Holt (24, House of Cards, MacGyver), Simone Kessell (Terra Nova), Jay Karnes (The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Tyrant), Grant Harvey (The Secret Life of the American Teenager), Rick Gomez (Justified, What About Brian, Band of Brothers),  Kelley Missal (One Life to Live), Rob CampbellJohn D’LeoTommy Bastow

  

You’ll like it if you already like: LostThe 4400, The Event, V, Invasion

Likely timeslot: Midseason. Sunday at 8 or 9 or Tuesday at 10.

 

Remember 2004 when ABC launched the same season Desperate HousewivesGrey’s Anatomy & Lost? 13 years later -gosh, we’re getting so old!- the alphabet network wants badly to recreate the magic with three pilots that are supposed to be in the same vein. While Bluegrass/Blood Red is written by Marc Cherry & Black’s Law is produced by Shonda Rhimes’ company, The Crossing is NOT coming from J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse sadly but from Jason Reed, a former Disney executive-turned-producer -it helps!- and Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie, who were behind MTV’s Scream and a handful of failed high-concept dramas like Surface or The Event. Sorry, but it doesn’t bode well for the project, though I can see why ABC is considering it may fill the gap left for Lost. As Disney Media Distribution put it in a recent presentation: “It’s a character-driven piece in a world we know and these are characters we can connect with. This is a show we are convinced international audiences will love“. It certainly does have an appeal but it’s too bad it’s not that great and revolutionary on paper…

Back in 2004 -what a year!- South Park released an episode about people from the future who travel back over 1000 years looking for work. It’s was a thinly veiled allegory for Mexican immigration, with the residents happy to hire the time immigrants to perform household tasks at cheap rates until their own jobs are taken away. Was it the inspiration? The creators will probably never say. In 2017, the topic of immigration is still huge around the world, between Donald Trump who wants to build a wall and refugees who drown in the mediterranean sea. The Crossing couldn’t be more timely. And that’s probably the most important reason why ABC ordered the pilot in the first place. And the most important reason why I’m a bit sad it’s not as good as I wanted it to be. The opening scene looks impressive and is kind of a shock: a hundred of people at least struggling, drowning deep beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, some of them swimming towards the light, towards life. And I’d say it stays good and gripping for about 30 pages. But then I got a little bit bored and I thought to myself that it looked exactly like the kind of high-concept series that automatically bombed sooner or later for the past decade. Except Lost.

I have two main concerns, even three: I don’t feel like the concept can sustain very long and we’re not given enough reasons to believe there’s a rich mythology behind; I’m not very keen on the characters’ initial portrayals, they sound cliché and bland; and I can’t imagine Steve Zahn & Sandrine Holt as the new Matthew Fox & Evangeline Lilly. I mean… This cast is one of the less attractive ABC assembled this year. I know Steve Zahn was one of the most sough-after actor of pilot season -dunno why- but Sandrine Holt seems to be a second thought, and all the others are unknown. Not sure they’re charismatic enough. I’d like to be proven wrong though. Not that they are asked a lot either. Zahn could add humor to his character that lacks it on paper. He plays a boy next door sheriff with a mysterious past, who has a child to take care of since his divorce. Holt is a federal customs agent who is all business. Heavily skeptical of the refugees’ story and the concept of time travel, she nonetheless is sympathetic enough to find the truth since she’s an immigrant herself. From the secondary characters, none really stand out at this point.

But let’s go back to the concept, which is ambitious when you’re pitching it but doesn’t seem to be that much once the dust settles. Time travel is not something that worked this year (Timeless, Time After Time and Making History are all flops at various degrees) and conspiracies are always hard to keep interesting for multiple seasons. They start big and they tend to get too complicated progressively until viewers lose interest and disappear. What’s interesting though, it’s that everything the refugees say about their journey and their past life -not much actually- isn’t illustrated with images. Meaning they could totally be lying to the authorities. We’re never quite sure they are good people, or if their intentions are good. It’s frustrating and confusing but the uncertainty gives a reason to stay a little bit longer. This plus the cliffhanger that does the job it’s asked for. In the end, you’re left with the feeling that you’ve already watched that show before. Maybe it was The 4400 or V or Invasion. Replace the word “refugees” with “aliens” and you get the picture.

The Crossing is not strong and ambitious enough to be granted the right to think of itself as a possible successor to Lost. It’s timely and entertaining, family-friendly and somewhat appealing, but it doesn’t look like a game-changer for ABC. More like an honest little show that will get lost in the ratings rather sooner than later and that will ultimately drown.

Rise -aka Drama High- (NBC) pilot preview: Glee for emotionally open grown-ups, This Is Us style

Written and produced by Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Bosto Public). Inspired by a true story. Based on Michael Sokolove‘s book. Executive produced by Michelle Lee (The Path, Pure Genius, About a Boy), Flody Suarez (8 simples Rules…) & Jeffrey Seller (Hamilton, Rent). Directed by Mike Cahill. For Universal Television & True Jack Productions. 54 pages. 2nd revised network draft. 01/30/17.

Description: The story of Lou Volpe, a litterature teacher in his forties in a Pennsylvania high school, who is appointed by the principal to take over and modernize the theater program that is dying. He chooses the provocative and emotional rock musical Spring Awakening –about teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality in late-19th-century Germany- as their first production. A choice that won’t be without consequences for the students and their families in this “Americana” town…

With Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother, Mercy Street), Rosie Perez (Search Party, Lipstick Jungle), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), Marley Shelton (The Lottery, Eleventh Hour), Amy Forsyth (Defiance, The Path), Casey Johnson, Rarmian Newton (The Family), Shannon Purser (Stranger Things, Riverdale), Damon J. Gillespie, Shirley Rumierk, Joe Tippett, Ted Sutherland, Taylor Richardson

    

You’ll like if you already like: Glee, Smash, Friday Night Lights, This Is Us, Parenthood

Likely timeslot: Tuesday at 9 or 10 paired with This Is Us

There’s a question that is still haunting me six months later: why did This Is Us become such a success on NBC while Parenthood, which was very much in the same vein and even better, never got real traction during six years? There are multiple theories like Milo Ventimiglia’s ass in the trailer. Or the fact that the twists made all the difference. Mine is simpler: it came out with a perfect timing. The right show in the right place at the right time. And for the first time, fabulous writer Jason Katims, who was behind Parenthood but also Friday Night Lights and more recently Pure Genius, may have created the right show in the right place at the right time. Supposedly paired with This Is Us and not very far from The Voice, Rise has every chance to become a hit. And it deserves to. That’s the best script I’ve read this season so far (with comedy Libby & Malcolm at ABC which happens to be very timely too). It’s emotional, delicate and rich.

The pitch sounds like Glee and it’s probably Rise‘s biggest weakness from a marketing point of view. The feeling of “been there, done that” won’t be easy to erase from potential viewers’ minds. It’s a leap of faith, clearly. But honestly, whatever is your opinion on Glee -mine is not flattering- we’re very from it from the overall tone to the characters’ stories. Glee was a funny, entertaining, sometimes poignant show, which main goal was to give a litteral voice to characters rarely seen on TV. An enjoyable mess that outstayed its welcome, I’d add. Rise is an entirely different beast. By the way, it’s not exactly a musical high-school drama soap, as it could be described. It is mostly set in a high-school, there’s a bit of music in it -but not that much- and there are soap elements, that’s true, but to me it’s a realistic drama above all and the story of a working-class town and the families that live there. Like Friday Night Lights was not really a drama about football. Stanton, Pennsylvania, is like Dillon, Texas: a struggling but picturesque town with diners, churches, clapboard houses, american flags everywhere…

What NBC could and should insist on is the fact it’s based on a formidable true story, the one of Lou Volpe, a ground-breaking high school drama teacher who ran for 44 years the renowned drama program at Harry S Truman High School in Levittown, a low-income town in Pennsylvania, as chronicled in the book Drama High, written by one of his students, Michael Sokolove. And the fact that Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez, producers of Tony-Award-Winning hip-hop musical Hamilton, are associated with the project says a lot about how important Rise could become, as a cultural phenomenon and a stepping stone in this new era of television where networks want to reflect middle-America as how it really is. These days, people want real situations, real emotions, as This Is Us just proved.

Among the principal characters, aside from Lou Volpe and his family -he’s married and a father of three children- there is Lilette, a half Puerto Rican half Irish teenage girl, and her hot mess of a mother, a waitress sexually harassed by her boss; Robbie, an African-American stud, whose mother is in late stages of muscular disease; Simon, a Christian closeted young gay man, whose younger sister is in a wheelchair; Gwen, the theather’s queen bee whose parents are on the verge of divorce; Maashous, a mysterious foster kid who’s living secretly at the school… Don’t worry, Lou has his own Sue Sylvester: Tracey Wolfe, the high energy with a no-holds-barred mouth current Drama School teacher and a former high school theater person, who’s really funny and adds a welcome lightness to the ensemble.

Behind every student character, there’s a difficult, sometimes really sad but ordinary family story and a talent ready to explode with so many things to say through songs. We don’t get many informations about every one of them in the pilot but in the end we want to spend more time at their sides to understand who they really are and why they feel so familiar, how much we share with them… and hear more of their singing voices. Jason Katims is so good at portraying people without making them clichés. It’s impressive and admirable. This pilot is not about big twists or OMG moments or crazy laughs or huge performances. It’s about setting the stage for the season to come, introducing the characters and bringing them together towards this theater program that will change their life. There is so much potential and so many stories to tell starting from here. It couldn’t have been more promising and exciting than that.

Rise is probably one of the best things that will happen to us in a few months on television, believe me. It’s the promise of an exceptional show that will resonate with America and hopefully the whole world, that will bring people together. It will make us laugh and cry, and sing and dance, as long as we’re emotionally open and ready for it… Rise will make us all very happy. And that’s the most beautiful thing to do.

The Resident (FOX) pilot preview: Mean Doctors

Written and produced by Amy Holden Jones (Mystic Pizza, Indecent Proposal, Beethoven, Black Box), Hayley Schore (Code Black, Black Box) & Roshan Sethi (Code Black, Black Box). Executive produced by David Boorstein (Ice), Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, Equalizer, The Magnificent Seven) & Oly Obst (The Mick, Black Box). Directed by Phillip Noyce (Revenge, Salt, Bone Collector, Patriot Games). For 20th Century FOX Television, Fuqua Films & 3 Arts Entertainment. 56 pages. 01/11/17.

Description: Devon Pravesh, an idealistic young doctor begins his first day under the supervision of Conrad Hawkins, a tough, brilliant senior resident who pulls the curtain back on all of the good and evil in modern day medicine. Lives may be saved or lost, but expectations will always be shattered…

With Manish Dayal (The Hundred-Foot Journey, Halt and Catch Fire, 90210), Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife, Gilmore Girls, Young Americans), Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, I, Robot, The River), Emily VanCamp (Revenge, Brothers & Sisters, Everwood, Captain America), Shaunette Renée (Billions), Valerie Cruz (The Following, Nip/Tuck Off The Map), Tasie Lawrence (House of Anubis)…

 

 

You’ll like if you already like: Grey’s Anatomy, Code Black

Likely timeslot: Is there even one for it?

 

I don’t want to be rude against the writers of this pilot but it’s gonna be hard. I don’t know much about Amy Holden Jones; she wrote movies that were popular in the 90s but not very good in my opinion. Since then… she got money out of the Beethoven sequels that she didn’t write herself and decided to enter the TV world in 2014 starting with ABC failed medical soap Black Box. She’s back with another medical fare, co-written with people who works for Code Black. I have to say I’m impressed: she did kid movies, summer movies, horror movies, thriller movies, romance movies… and now medical shows. What a queen! But sorry, The Resident (aka Kings County) is not her best work. Not at all. It lacks a vision, credibility and subtlety. And some more. But good news for her: the other medical pilot FOX ordered fell apart and they don’t have many other choices. Plus, they attracted quite a sexy and diverse cast. So there’s a real chance it ends up on our screens next year… and gets cancelled pretty quickly?

I’m sorry but a pilot starting with doctors taking pictures of the beer can-sized dick of a patient -refered as “giant meat popsicle” by a nurse-during an operation is quite overwhelming. And the fact that it’s never questionned or punished by the 4 or 5 people who are there including the chief of surgery, as if it’s okay doing such a terrible thing sounds horrible to me (not saying that’s what the writers think of course). Oh, I know. Those things happen in real life. But still? And it’s not just this. Later in the script, our young fresh doctor Devon is asked by his supervisor Conrad to shove his finger up a patient’s ass. It’s a bit harsh for a first medical case but why not? The problem is Conrad doesn’t care about the patient, treats him like shit because he doesn’t speak english, he doesn’t even want Devon to tell him what he’s about to perform on him, which is once again very rude. And he makes vulgar comments about how tight his rectum is. He ends up leaving Devon there, his finger’s still in, not knowing what to do and even realizing that the act was in fact not necessary… I know what they wanted to do there: setting a light tone, making us laugh a bit but they failed miserably. It’s awkward and crass. Not funny at all.

The writers are obviously obssessed with the idea that The Resident is not your typical medical drama. And quite frankly, it’s not that different. They make Conrad say to Devon: “You grew up watching all those white coats saving lives on TV. That magical ER where nobody ever dies, CPR always works, patients are all angels, doctors are gods.” Do you really know what you’re talking about? Have you ever watched a medical show? This description doesn’t fit with what I saw. People die on ER or Grey’s Anatomy. CPR doesn’t always work (though maybe it works more often on TV that in real life, I give you that). And patients are not always angels.  And well, doctors may feel like gods but it always turns out that they’re not. Anyway. The whole script is built in opposition to network medical shows and what they are supposed to be in their minds.? They are apparently thinking that what they’re doing is earth-shattering. Spoiler alert: it’s not. It made me think of Code Black, which was all about realness initially. It’s hard to make something new in that genre but destroying what has been made before with nasty comments doesn’t make you look good. Just pretentious and mean. Especially when you don’t live up to the expectations you set yourself.

Nothing’s subttle in the show but the worst is the characters’ portraits. Devon is way too kind and innocent. But at least he’s a breath of fresh air in this hospital full of mean doctors doing bad things. Conrad is the biggest dick of them all. Remember Cary Agos in The Good Wife? Matt Czuchry is basically playing the same character, but nastier. He’s a bastard with everyone and on top of that, he objectifies women all the time: nurses, physical therapists, even patients that he locates on Tinder, and Nicolette, who’s kind of his fuck friend. She’s played by Emily VanCamp and let me tell you this is the worst choice of her career. She couldn’t find better, really? Going from leading lady in Revenge to a secondary poorly written character in this is sad. Just so she doesn’t get humiliated I don’t want to it to see the light of day. Another character that is just plain stupid: the chief of surgery I told you about earlier. Dr Bell kills a patient in the opening sequence. And we learn along the way that he has a bad habit of doing that. He’s negligent and simply not a good surgeon. But he keeps his position somehow… There are more tolerable characters, and even some with potential like Dr Okafor, a bad ass Nigerian rising surgical star. But in the middle of this mess, it’s hard to root for them.

The Resident is like a medical drama penned by (bad) sitcom writers. Imagine if Grey’s Anatomy was in the hands of the Two and a Half Men people. It’s ridiculous, distasteful and manichaean. It’s a sad attempt to aim at men, who are not really found of medical dramas in general, with mostly antiheroes characters that are just impossible to like. That being said, there’s a rhythm and an efficiency that could make it easy to watch and I can see some people loving it for what it is: dumb entertainment.

Perfect Citizen (CBS) pilot preview: The Good Whistleblower

Written and executive produced by Craig Turk (The Good Wife, Boston Legal, Private Practice). Directed by Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy, Pitch, NYPD Blue, Cold Case). For CBS Television Studios & Thinking Hat Productions. 65 pages. Second Network Draft. 01/17/17.

Description:  After his involvement as a whistleblower in an international scandal, Deck Parsons, the former general counsel for the NSA embarks on a new career at a storied law firm in Boston where his daughter works. Once there, he must face the reality that half the country thinks he’s our greatest patriot, the other half thinks he’s a traitor and so do his colleagues and clients…

With Noah Wyle (ER, Falling Skies, The Librarian), Kristin Chenoweth (The West Wing, Glee, Pushing Daisies), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Mr Robot, Glee), Lenny Platt (How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico), Adrienne Warren, Stephanie Szostack (Satisfaction), Shanley Caswell (NCIS New Orleans)…

   

You’ll like if you already like: The Good Wife, The Good Fight, Damages

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9

 

Quick résumé of Craig Turk, a writer you may not know: he’s a former attorney, he got hist first writer job at Boston Legal, then worked with Shonda Rhimes on Private Practive, and he joined The Good Wife in 2012, originally as a consulting producer and later as an executive producer. He even emerged as a trusted number 2 and heir apparent to creators Robert and Michelle King, tipped to succeed them as showrunner should the series had continued beyond seven seasons. Which thankfully didn’t happen. He could have joined the spin–off The Good Fight but he prefered creating his own stuff for CBS Television Studios where he is under an overall deal. And here we are. Perfect Citizen looks like a solid legal drama, which is not surprising; but the more I read the pilot script the more I was under the impression it was a carbon copy of The Good Wife. Take it as both a compliment and a warning.

The Good Wife is undoubtedly one of the greatest legal dramas ever made. Period. It was really strong for a longtime and even though I’m not a big supporter of the last two more political seasons, it was still incredible. 5-6 episodes in, The Good Fight is also a strong and even important show. Do we need another series in the same vein right now? It may be too soon. Perfect Citizen is not a lesser The Good Wife. It has a ton of potential. And The Good Wife was not the greatest from the get go. They needed a few episodes to get their groove on. With The Good Wife paving the way, Perfect Citizen starts big using the same plot devices in a similar environment with different characters but characters who would have fit perfectly at Lockhart/Gardner. Since it’s written the same way, the only person that may give the show a distinctive feel is the director. Paris Barclay never worked on The Good Wife or any other legal drama. He’s mostly known for his directing on Sons of Anarchy, a very different series obviously. I’m hopeful he will add something, his own thing, to the mix.

I don’t want to sound obsessed by The Good Wife -though I might be- but I just want to tell you how much Perfect Citizen is the same kind of beast. Of course, there’s the fact that they chose an ex-ER alumn to play the lead in both cases. It also starts with a scandal -of a different nature- and put the principal character, Deck Parsons, in the spotlight. Alicia Florrick was not responsible for what happened to her. Deck is. Not entirely, but still. Like her, he has to go back to work as a lawyer in a firm where he has ties. Will Gardner was Alicia’s old friend since law school and a powerful man in Chicago. Here, Paul, one of the partners, is Deck’s best friend since law school, a powerful ally and Boston power broker. And then there’s Jessica Hellsbury played by the brilliant Kristin Chenoweth. She’s the heartbeat of the firm and got her name on the door by outworking and out thinking the Ivy Leaguers. She’s different from Diane Lockhart if you look at the details but she has the same kind of personality and she gets the same respect from her colleagues. Honestly, I could go on and on. Deck has an assistant, Ingrid, who’s his Kalinda. There’s Felix Reyes, the self-proclaimed “Alpha Associate” at the firm. As charming, brilliant, ambitious and pretentious as a certain Cary Agos. And there’s a strong family element to the show since Deck’s daughter is part of the firm while his brother “Buddy” is in the picture too. It may lacks a clear love interest but there are possibilities.

The case of the first episode -there’s only one- is very much a tell of nowadays with a telecom giant named TwoTwig which doesn’t want to give the personal informations they have on the whereabouts and communications of a missing 18 year-old girl to the lawyers. It’s efficient and absorbing. The courtroom scenes are captivating. That’s what the show is aiming for: stories that are political, controversial, that say a lot about the society we’re living in, about our governments, about the lack of privacy due to new technologies, but that never forget they’re about people, living and breathing men and women like you and me. Deck Parsons is the “perfect” Edward Snowden-like character to vehicle those big ideas and views about the world. Of course, the show itself is political and there’s one villain introduced in the very first minutes: Attorney General Fran Davids. She was a good friend of Deck until he commited what she considers as treason. Now they’re bitter enemies. That’s the main serialized story we’re offered for now. And it’s exciting.

Perfect Citizen could have been called The Good Whistleblower. It’s following the steps of The Good Wife with an impressing precision and an indeniable talent. It’s not a game-changer legal drama and it doesn’t sound like a future mega-hit for CBS but critics will love it and people who love high-end television series will have a ball.

#PilotSeason by the numbers, the genres, the genders & the studios [2017 Edition]

BY THE NUMBERS

ALL DRAMA & COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED IN 2017


ALL PILOTS & STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDERED BY YEARS


ALL DRAMA PILOTS ORDERED BY YEARS & BY NETWORKS  
 

DRAMA & COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED BY YEARS

 

ALL DRAMA & COMEDY STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDERED BY NETWORKS & YEARS

While the era of so-called Peak TV is in full force, the Big Five have ordered less drama and comedy pilots than last year and the years before. They are 76 in 2017, they were 86 in 2016 and 95 in 2014 ! In the details, ABC is on par with last year (even though they have a very strong comedy brand and don’t need much more), as well as CBS & The CW. But NBC ordered way less, simply because they needed less with a schedule already full and the Olympics coming in 2018. They went from 13 comedy pilots in 2016 to only 8 this year. They still have a hard time creating their comedy brand but they finally have a few comedies to stick with (Superstore, The Good Place), plus the return of Will & Grace for a short season. In the meantime, FOX picked-up less drama pilots (with one now shooting off season and other one pushed), meaning they will probably ordered most of them to series if they want new things to launch next season. They have one straight-to-series order: Orville. Will the networks order less shows during the upfronts? Doesn’t seem likely, though the fact that failing series are rarely pulled off the air nowadays doesn’t leave much space for new things. As usual, some of them will be pushed to summer with a lesser chance to shine.

BY THE GENRES

In 2016, legal drama pilots were back, probably because The Good Wife was ending and the networks felt like there was a hole to fill in that department. It didn’t result in many orders though. During this year’s development season, both CBS & NBC bet heavily on legal projects but very few got the greenlight as you can see: only three, including Shondaland’s Black’s Law. Medical dramas are on par with 2016: The Good Doctor at ABC, Shelter at NBC, The Resident and The Beast at FOX. CBS doesn’t have one this year, while Code Black is in danger again and Pure Genius likely cancelled. Cop shows/Detective dramas are also on par, with CBS having less than usual and ABC having more than usual.

The action and thriller pilots have exploded and it’s partly due to this year’s crave for military shows in the Post-Trump era: For God & Country at NBC, Behind Enemy Lines at FOX, Navy SEAL at CBS & Valor at The CW. There are more fantasy & sci-fi pilots in 2017, which doesn’t really make sense since the time-travel shows launched this year all failed to various degrees. No time travel this time, no horror either, but virtual reality (Reverie at NBC), monsters (Searchers at The CW), mutants (Gifted at FOX), vampires (The Passage at FOX) and The Inhumans from Marvel at ABC.

As expected between the successes of Empire & This Is Us, drama soaps are back in the game but we can’t really talk about a trend yet. Maybe next year. The CW is rebooting Dynasty & is trying a family dramedy (Life Sentence); ABC asked Marc Cherry back with mystery soap Bluegrass/Blood Red; while NBC needs something to pair This Is Us with so Good Girls and Rise look like the perfect candidates.


COMEDY FORMATS BY NETWORKS


COMEDY FORMATS BY YEARS

CBS is still looking for a success in the single-camera comedy department and may have found one with Young Sheldon, a prequel spin-off of The Big Bang Theory. Most of the other pick-ups are for multicamera comedies except Real Life from How I Met Your Mother creators which is an hybrid. At NBC, there’s only one multicamera pilot (Relatively Happy) while they have straight-to-series new season of Will & Grace. Pairing them seems to be the best option… For the first time in years, ABC has 3 multicamera pilots, while Last Man Standing and Dr Ken don’t seem to be in immediate danger. Is the network aiming for an expansion on fridays? FOX is going full single-camera comedies, as they should.

BY THE GENDERS

It’s getting better! Male creators are still in vast majority but women writers got more pick-ups than usual, especially at The CW. FOX has also improved, while ABC & NBC are on par with previous years -they always did better than the others- and CBS is still the black sheep with only 3 pilots overall (two dramas, one comedy) written by females. Please not the numbers for female and male directors are not yet available but we’re heading towards a dramatic fall after a one-year rise.

In 2016, more pilots than usual were centered around women characters, except at FOX where there was not a single one; and at CBS which didn’t order the few they had in store to series, except Katherine Heigl’s Doubt. This year, there are slightly less female-led shows & also less ensemble shows. It means there are more male-lead shows, especially in the comedy department.

BY THE STUDIOS

With networks ordering almost exclusively pilots produced in-house now, Warner Bros. Television & Sony Pictures Television had a harder time getting pick-ups in 2016 but they were stronger than ever on the cable side. This year, Sony went more agressively and has doubled their pilot pick-ups while Warner Bros. has the exact same number. Every other studios are down since the overall number of pick-ups is down itself. ABC is the most generous network with 10 pilots from outside studios among the 24 ordered, while FOX only has one pilot not-produced in house among their 13!

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#PILOTSEASON BY THE CITIES

#PILOTSEASON BY THE CALENDAR

Graphics by @_PIAIR