Tag: abc

The Trustee (ABC) pilot preview: Cagney & Lacey New Generation

Written and produced by Jay Scherick & David Ronn (The Smurfs 1 & 2, Zookeeper, Spin City). Directed by Michael Engler (Notorious, The Big C, 30 Rock, Party of Five). Executive produced by Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect) & Max Handelman. From Warner Bros. Television & Brownstone Productions. 63 pages. 01/25/17.

Description:  Eliza Radley, a driven but stubborn detective, finds unlikely help from her precinct’s trustee, Amanda Jones, a larger than life ex-con finishing out her prison sentence doing menial tasks for the police department. Though these two have completely opposing views on crime and punishment, a highly entertaining and successful partnership is born to clean the streets of San Francisco… and basically help each other through life!

With Meaghan Rath (Being Human US, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, Banshee), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black, Doubt), Michael Cudlitz (SouthLAnd, The Walking Dead), Lance Gross (Sleepy Hollow, House of Payne), David Warshofsky, Berto Colon (Orange is the New Black), Tim Kang (The Mentalist), L. Scott Caldwell (Lost, How to Get Away With Murder)…

  

You’ll like it if you already like: Lethal Weapon, Starsky & Hutch, Cagney & Lacey

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10 or Wednsday at 10

Pilot season is more than just excitement, hope, fear and disappointment. It’s also about… mathematics. Let me do the maths for you. ABC picked-up 11 drama pilots. 7 of them are produced by ABC Studios. Meaning 4 of them are not produced in-house. 2 are from Sony Pictures Television (Doomsday and The Good Doctor) and 2 are from Warner Bros. Television (Deception and The Trustee). Historically, Warner Bros. Television refuses to co-produce. Sony Television accepts it, but not always. Last year, ABC ordered to series 1 Warner Bros. Television-produced project (Time After Time) and one Sony Television-produced show (Notorious), that ABC Studios joined as co-producer. What’s gonna happen this year? They will presumably take one of each again. Unless there’s a surprise. But if there’s one, it will come from Sony, not Warner, because of the co-production thing. Why am I telling you all this? Because Deception and The Trustee are naturally pit against each other this pilot season and it’s a shame. ABC could use both in those troubled times. I feel like Deception has the upper-hand for many reasons (read the preview HERE) but The Trustee shouldn’t be counted out of the race yet.

The truth is, The Trustee would have been a perfect match for FOX to put it with Lethal Weapon. Both are buddy cop dramedies that do a really great job at making you laugh and have some fun during 42 precious minutes of your time. This is not an easy achievement. And network television definitely need more of those. On ABC, it’s a show harder to envision and to schedule but having two women as leads certainly help. And the fact that both are black with one being a transgender woman makes it an important show suddenly. It would be the first time ever that a transgender woman would play a (co)lead on a TV show. It’s amazing. Just for the symbol, I very much want The Trustee to be ordered to series and be treated as what it is: a stepping stone. Is it a deserving contender? I’ll get to it in a moment, don’t worry. Let’s just take a minute to admire ABC for what they’re trying to do here. They tested a lot of actresses and they went for Laverne Cox as soon as she got available (when CBS pulled the plug on Doubt). One important information: she’s NOT playing a transgender woman here (as of now at least). Which is another step in the right direction. Okay, she’s playing another ex-con, wearing the orange jumpsuit like in Orange is the New Black. But it’s too soon to talk about typecasting, right?

The Trustee pilot script is flawed in my opinion and probably not as efficient as Lethal Weapon‘s was but they don’t exactly work the same way and well… The Trustee is not based on a proven feature film hit franchise. There’s more groundwork to do and an entire world to build. Buddy cop shows were very popular in the 70s & the 80s on TV before cinema took a stab at it. The tropes are there, which is not a bad thing. People need to feel comfortable, especially since they already have to accept that they’re not watching two males but two ballsy females. We’re in 2017, it shouldn’t be a problem in theory, but I can’t find recent examples. There was Cagney & Lacey between 1981 and 1988 and nothing successful -or even tried to be honest- before Rizzoli & Isles… in 2010 and which just ended. And it was not exactly a buddy cop show. Anyway. You see. So yeah, it starts and ends with a car chase (a Lincoln Sedan if you really want to know). There are cartoonish very bad guys (who trade Guatemalan girls for money). There are lazy and mysogynistic cops… Everything you’d expect with this genre but with a modern feel.

Does the duet work? Yes it does, really. And that’s the most important thing. They don’t exactly follow the usual distinct formula with one straight-laced stickler for protocol and one unpredictable loose cannon since they kinda are both loose cannons but not in the same way. On one hand, Eliza Radley is fearless and stubborn and has unorthodox methods. Just the fact that she decides to use Amanda, who’s not a detective AT ALL, in a mission proves it. And she has a complicated personal life since her partner and lover died. She has a fuck buddy though, who’s not very happy with the situation. On the other hand, Amanda is a high energy woman who knows everything about the street and conning people, that’s how she ended up in prison. She’s horny as hell now that she’s out. Her mother died when she was young, her troubled sister and her were raised by their grandmother. Both are lonely and they’ll clearly become friends rather sooner than later. There’s a welcome poignancy added to the mix through their backgrounds. At the end of the pilot, we can only root for them. We want more of their amazing partnership. We want them to catch the bad guys and kick their asses. It’s as simple as that. Chemistry between the leads will be the key.

The Trustee works as a nice a ride in The streets of San Francisco, between Starsky & Hutch and Cagney & Lacey new generation. You don’t really care about the investigation as long as you’re having fun. And you do. It’s not earth-shattering in any way but it definitely shakes things up in the buddy cop genre show, making it more modern, diverse and feminist. Trust me.

The Good Doctor (ABC) pilot preview: Meet House’s spiritual prodigal son

Written and produced by David Shore (House, Sneaky Pete, Law & Order). Based on Park Jae-bum’s South Korean series Goot Dakteo. Excutive produced by Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii 5-0), Erin Gunn (Battle Creek, Houdini and Doyle), Lindsay GoffmanSebastian Dong Hun Lee (Dramaworld) & David Kim. Directed by Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Baywatch, The Goldbergs, Sneaky Pete). For Sony Pictures Television, Shore Z & 3 AD. 62 pages. 3rd Network Draft. 1/13/17.

Description: Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon with Savant syndrome, is recruited into the pediatric surgical unit of a prestigious hospital in Santa Fe. Although he has the mentality of a 10 year old, he has the amazing ability of 3D visualisation of the human anatomy and the memory of everything he reads. But can a person who doesn’t have the ability to relate to people actually save their lives and be considered as a “good doctor”? Shaun has six months to prove it…

With Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel, August Rush, Arthur & the Invisibles, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Antonia Thomas (Misfits, Lovesick), Nicholas Gonzalez (Pretty Little Liars, Sleepy Hollow, Melrose Place 2009, Resurrection Blvd.), Hill Harper (CSI New York, Limitless, Homeland, Covert Affairs), Richard Schiff (The West Wing, The Affair), Beau Garrett (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), Irene Keng (Harry’s Law), Chuku Modu (Snatch)…

 

   

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

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10, Wednesday at 10 or Sunday at 9.

 

I have to be perfectly honest, I considered The Good Doctor as a weak contender and a low priority for a spot in ABC’s schedule next year for four main reasons: 1/ Because of this uninspired and so generic title (we already have The Good Fight & The Good Place by the way) 2/ Because it’s the adaptation of a Korean hit (I have nothing against Korean series but they’re not appealing to me at all) 3/ Because of the concept, that seems standard and tired (he’s a genius but he’s really bad with people) 4/ Because I tend to think ABC doesn’t need any new medical drama as long as Grey’s Anatomy is alive and well (and it is). But that was before Freddie Highmore got cast in the lead role and before I read the script, that really took me by surprise and moved me more than I could have imagined. Now, I feel like there could be a hit hiding in there. On paper, it looks like one. What will it take to become one? As always: a good timeslot, an efficient promotion and a bit of luck.

I was expecting a “medical dramedy soap” but it turned out The Good Doctor is a real medical drama. It has soap elements, it’s true, though ABC seems to have tone them down in their version compared to the Korean one. They changed the end for example, that probably looked inapropriate. Shaun and one of his female colleagues were getting very close, already. Too soon! They’ll get there at some point of course, but they have time (especially if they’re looking for 22-episode seasons). But to give us a Grey’s Anatomy feel anyway, there’s a scene where two characters are making out in the room where the residents are supposed to take a nap, not fuck. Allergics to Shondaland, fear not: it’s not the kind of show where everybody is sleeping around. It has comedic elements too but nothing that will make you laugh out loud. They’re not agressively looking for big funny moments. It’s more subtle than that. A few lines, some situations. A fine balance to make it not too heavy. Because heavy it is, most of the time.

If you’re looking for a “real” medical drama, The Good Doctor is for you. Writer David Shore knows his subject, his 8 seasons of House certainly helped, though he’s a former lawyer, not a former doctor. And it shows. Medicine is raw in the show. The first case involves a little boy who gets hit by a huge glass-covered commercial sign that falls on him at the airport. Shaun happens to be there and does his best to save him while the crowd is watching him. Remember he’s autistic. It’s a double challenge for him. He has no tools and no help. It’s an action-packed and intense teaser that will leave you breathless and begging for more. Medicine is nerdy too in the show. Of course, Shaun is kind of a nerd because of his condition and “savant syndrom” (which is a real thing in case you’re wondering). But Shore has also decided to add something that is not in the original show apparently, what he calls “pop-up medecine”. It’s a card that appears on the screen which is an image from Shaun’s memory. It’s here to provide us information about his current medical though-processes. I’m not totally sold on the idea, I’m not sure it’s necessary, but why not? As long as it doesn’t scare people off… After all, it worked on House with the human body’s 3D internal views.

But let’s get to the best part: the characters. That’s how you recognize a good series. What can be more important than that? They don’t all get the same amount of screentime and they don’t all get to show their potential but they really work as a group and they all have their “moment”. Shaun, as the central character, is in most of the scenes, almost everything revolves around him and his arrival in the hopistal -which doesn’t make everyone happy in the board- but it’s still an ensemble show. There are poignant flashbacks about our awkward but so touching hero during his childhood with his family that are deeply emotional and could leave you in tears. I’m pretty sure Freddie Highmore can do that. He is really talented, as he proved constantly in Bates Motel. To sum up: his father was violent, his mother abandoned him and his brother is no longer with him. Shaun makes a beautiful speech towards the end of the pilot that is heartbreaking. Plus, he forged a special relationship with the president of the hospital, Dr Ira Glassman, the one who helped him get the job, that goes way way back. It’s some kind of mentor for him and those two together should make great television. Remember House and Wilson. Or Cristina and Burke. Or Meredith and Richard. He also has a special connection with Claire Browne, another brilliant young doctor, and there’s a lot of potential there too. Shaun quickly finds his nemesis, Dr. Neil Melendez, the boss of the surgical residents at the hospital. This part comes off as a little forced though, but you will want more anyway.

There’s an urgency and an intensity in The Good Doctor that makes it an efficient and appealing medical drama. It doesn’t really revolutionize the genre but it keeps it fresh and straight-forward. What makes it distinctive is its unlikely hero and all the emotions that he makes you feel just by being him. Can ABC resist to a show they can heavily advertise as “the next great medical drama brought to you by the creator of House“? I don’t think so.

The Gospel of Kevin (ABC) pilot preview: Oh Lord, that’s a weird show!

Written and produced by Michelle Fazekas & Tara Butters (Agent Carter, Resurrection, Dollhouse). Also executive produced by Robert Atwood. Directed by Paul McGuigan (Victor Frankenstein, Designated Survivor, The Family, Devious Maids). For ABC Studios and Fazekas & Butters Productions. 69 pages. Studio Draft. 01/12/17.

Description: After a failed suicide attempt, Kevin, a cluelessly self-serving jerk on a dangerous path to despair, is going home to stay with his widowed twin sister and niece for a time, only to be met with a crisis that presents itself very real in the person of Yvette, a warrior for God, whose job is to guide Kevin back to the road of righteousness, and make him understand his mission in this life: saving the world…

With Jason Ritter (Girls, Parenthood, The Event, Grafity Falls, Joan of Arcadia), JoAnna Garcia (Once Upon A Time, Privileged, Reba), Cristela Alonzo (Cristela), J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD, Raising the Bar, Angel), Dustin Ybarra

  

You’ll like it if you already like: The 4400, Eli Stone, Joan of Arcadia, The Event

Likely timeslot: Tuesday at 10, summer spot…

 

This year, ABC is all about DRAMEDIES. 7 pilots out of 11 are to various degrees. There’s the action one (Unit Zero), the medical one (The Good Doctor), the crime procedural one (Deception)… and there’s the fantasy one : The Gospel of Kevin. President Channing Dungey stated she wanted new shows that both reflect Middle America and entertain like Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty or Brothers & Sisters did. Those were successes for the network and it makes sense wanting to go back to it, even more if you consider the fact that they have a really strong comedy brand right now and that it’s easier to mix comedies with dramedies than with heavy dark dramas. But I feel like with The Gospel of Kevin, we’re sadly more on the Men in Trees / Eli Stone territory : dramedies that showed up around the same time but didn’t get the same traction for some reason. Some would say that they were not as good. I don’t agree with that. I had a soft spot for them I confess. I’d say they were a little too original and quirky to be appreciated by a larger crowd. Especially Eli Stone, that was ahead of its time with its flashforwards and ambition.

Like Eli, Kevin, played by Jason Ritter -I have a soft spot for him too, let’s call it like that and move on- is a strange man who seems to be on the verge of getting crazy. On one hand, there was Eli, who had visions of George Michael -his “personal Jesus”- singing for him, as well as of his coworkers who burst into songs for no reason. It was about a divine mission he had to accomplish, which had something to with well… saving the world. It was supposed to be because of a brain tumor, though the show ended before we got to know the whole truth. On the other hand, here comes our Kevin, who has visions of a black woman who tells him she has been sent by God to help him accomplish his mission, which also is saving the world. She’s like a guardian angel to him but not in a preachy Touched by an Angel way, thank God. She’s a funny woman. He’s an awkard boyish man. They are both a little crazy and making a mess wherever they go. It’s a pleasure to spend time with this duet. The dynamics between Kevin and his difficult teenager niece Reese, who hates him initially, also works a lot. Plus it’s sweet to watch them getting closer. Those are the perks of the show and the parts that make me hopeful it can be good.

But there are the fantasy elements and the conspiracy behind that puzzle me and make me less hopeful. The pilot starts in Iceland, where a huge impact crater has been found, “the size of a foobtall field and as deep as a lake”. We never go back to it during the rest of the script, which leaves it as a mistery for now. And then there’s this night when Kevin is at his sister’s with Reese and a rock, that is supposed to be a meteor, fall from the sky on a field nearby. Insane as he is, he decides to touch the damn thing and take it back with him. That’s when his visions start. A whole part of the rest of the night has disappeared from his memory, though Reese and surveillance cameras have witnessed his disturbed behavior. The morning after, the meteor has disappeared too. Those scenes could turn out very silly if not executed well.

So what’s happening exactly? We don’t know yet. Is it aliens? Is it God? Is it the beginning of the apocalypse? We’re not left with many clues honestly, though we get some answers along the way thanks to Yvette. Are we supposed to care? I’d say yes, since the characters are pretty interesting. But do we feel like there’s an incredible plan and a fascinating story behind? Not really. Oh and you know what? Kevin’s sister Amy is a “civilian weapons analyst”, who worked with the Pentagon and the CIA before. OF COURSE. It brings the story towards another direction, more serious and real, that I’m not fond of. It’s like there are two different shows there. A funny one and an almost boring one. It seems impossible to make them match naturally. It probably wants to be too many things at the same time. It wants to be thrilling, and funny, and quirky, and touching, and it also wants to be taken seriously.

The Gospel of Kevin is a leap of faith for ABC. It’s exciting on paper but it will require a lot of work, and talent and creativity from all the parts involved to end up on the schedule; and a miracle and lots of prayers not to become a flop. It’s a perfect vehicle for Jason Ritter though, and I wish him all the best, but a heavy serialized fantasy dramedy? I’m not sure it’s even a thing. It’s weird and people don’t like weird.

Deception (ABC) pilot preview: A Spectacular Show that Works like Magic!

Written and produced by Chris Fedak (Chuck, Forever, Legends of Tomorrow). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Blindspot, The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow…), Martin Gero (Blindspot, The LA Complex, Stargate Atlantis), Sarah Schechter (Riverdale, The Flash, Arrow) & David Kwong (Blindspot, Now You See Me). Directed by David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Shameless US, The Mentalist, The Flash, Arrow). For Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions. 6 pages. Draft 1/08/2017.

Description: When the career of superstar magician Cameron Black is ruined by scandal, he has only one place to turn to practice his art of deception, illusion, and influence — the FBI. He’ll become the world’s first consulting illusionist, helping the government solve crimes that defy explanation, and trap criminals and spies by using deception, even if it means breaking the rules and pissing off everyone around him, including his partner Kay Daniels, a take-charge, hard-working special agent you don’t fool easily…

With Jack Cutmore-Scott (Kingsman, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life), Hilfenesh Hadera (Show Me a Hero, Billions, Baywatch), Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break, Telenovela, Chase), Lenora Crichlow (Being Human, Sugar Rush), Vinnie Jones (Arrow, Galavant), Justin Chon

 

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Castle, Chuck, Forever, Lucifer, Blindspot

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10.

Ladies and gentlemen, Greg Berlanti did it again! Deception was one of the two drama projects he sold to ABC this year as a producer and I have to admit I rooted for the other one (Criminal about an hedonistic con man and his ragtag team of criminals who must complete an ongoing series of missions to clear their names and steal an unknown number of long-forgotten relics that could change the fate of the world). Imagine my disappointment. I can see yours. There’s 80% chance you rolled your eyes while reading Deception‘s description and I honestly did the same. So believe me or not, the pilot script is impressive and now I totally understand why ABC fell for it. I’ll try to explain and convince you it’s not the same type of crime/consultant show we’ve been served for years. Except, it kinda is. But better, faster, stronger.

The biggest difficulty with Deception was to make it believable. And they do somehow. I’m the first to be surprised but it is what it is. In what world would the FBI need a magician to help them? Of course, it would never happen in ours. Can you imagine David Copperfield stopping terrorists thanks to a magic trick? Laughable. The real magician here must be the writer Chris Fedak then. He did a really good job from start to finish, not only by making it believable but also by making it incredibly fresh and enjoyable. The opening sequence is a spectacular and dangerous magic trick inspired by Harry Houdini, of the great magicians, that starts in a giant Las Vegas theather and end up… in Time Square, New York! He has to free himself from chains while blindfolded in a cage two hundred feets above the stage. How is that even possible? There’s an explanation. And I intend to keep it a secret. But you’ll know and it may blow your mind and disappoint you at the same time.

There’s a note at the beginning of the script explaining that all the tricks and deceptions on the show are actually possible. A real magician could perform those illusions. And it has to be noted that David Kwong, puzzle creator and magician consultant for the movie Now You See Me, serves as an executive producer. They are not taking it lightly. So yeah, magic is a big big part of the show and those scenes look incredible on paper. With Warner Bros. Television behind, I’m not worried: it will look great on screen too. Budget-wise, they won’t be able to perform such things every week. The pilot set the bar high -especially with the disappearance of a plane into thin air- but I’m pretty sure they can also do great with less money. Plus, there’s all sorts of magic and of course, Cameron Black knows it all.

It’s that kind of character. He’s pretentious, borderline but he’s damn funny, handsome and charming (look at Jack Cutmore-Scott’s face!). Nobody can resist him. Like Lucifer, for example. They could be twin. You’re not gonna be surprised if I tell you his partner is a woman and that she hates him as much as she likes him. They’re poised to fall in love sooner or later. That’s how those procedural crime shows work. People need romance. But there’s more. Cameron has a backstory, involving his father and his brother, as well as a nenemis who wants to kill him. A mysterious woman illusionist that is apparently even greater than he is and who’s ready to play a cat and mouse game. Strong serialized elements are always welcome. By the way, Cameron doesn’t do it all by himself. He has a team. And all of them add flavours to the show, especially Dina, his witty producer and makeup genius, and Gunter, his Viking-type technician. The ensemble really works. Dialogues are great. Chris Fedak worked on Chuck. They’re similar tonally.

ABC needed a new Castle badly. They may have found it. And for real this time. It’s not produced in-house but it’s everything they could hope for. It may look like a by-the-book procedural cop show sometimes, it certainly is familiar, structured like many others that came before, but it’s irresistibly fun and inventive, impressive even, and never boring. Magic happened on paper. Let’s hope it will make it out alive from pilot season!

Unit Zero (ABC) pilot preview: Revenge of the badass lady nerds

Written and produced by Lindsey Shockley (Blackish, Benched, Trophy Wife). Executive produced by Kenya Barris (Blackish, The Game) & Toni Collette. Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Vince Principals, Kenny Powers). 59 pages. Network 3rd Revised Draft 1/29/17. For ABC Studios.

Description: Jackie Fink, an unassuming CIA engineer and single mom, is chosen to be the leader of a team of CIA underlings who are thrust into the field as first time spies. Each week, this team of zeroes races against the clock to gather intelligence and solve cases of national security. And they succeed partly because no one in their right mind would ever suspect they were spies. Overlooked in the workplace, their invisibility makes them perfect for the most covert missions…

With Toni Collette (Hostages, United States of Tara, Little Miss Sunshine, Muriel’s Wedding), Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital, Transparent), Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals, Devious Maids), Peter Cambor (NCIS Los Angeles, Roadies, Grace and Frankie), Dana Powell (Modern Family, Suburgatory)…

 

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Kingsman, Agent Carter, Scorpion, Quantico… 

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 8 or 9; Tuesday at 10; Wenesday at 10

 

Writer and producer Kenya Barris -who co-created America’s Next Top Model back in the day- is on fire! His comedy Blackish is winning major awards, his comedy pilot Libby & Malcolm starring Felicity Huffman & Courtney B. Vance looks like a sure thing for a series order (read the preview here), a Blackish spin-off is in the works (but I don’t think ABC should move forward with it) and now comes Unit Zero, a hour-long dramedy with Toni Collette he executive produces that looks like another winner… even if it’s about losers. Is the alphabet network, where he is under an overall deal, trying to turn him into their comedic Shonda Rhimes? He has found his own style -making political statement and starting a conversation while being funny- and might have two hours of programming next year. That’s a really good start.

At its core, this show is about outsiders, those of us who don’t fit in. It celebrates everything that’s beautiful about being different” said creator Lindsey Shockley about Unit Zero when the project was sold to ABC last summer. And she’s not lying. That is exactly why I found this pilot script so refreshing, apart from the fact that you don’t stumble upon a show labeled as an action spy dramedy every day. Those characters are instantly endearing and special, starting with our heroine, Jackie Fink, who just gave birth in her forties. And now she’s stuck with the father, who was just a one-night stand she’s not in love with (yet?). She’s a whip smart nerd with an unsinkable spirit and a beautiful mess. She’s perfect for Toni Collette, who already proved in United States of Tara she’s able to play anything and everything with brilliance.

Then there’s Brianna, her fearless (black) best friend, looks tough but hides a lot of pain inside; Azeema, a young foxy Muslim-American college freshman who’s just starting as an intern in the CIA; Midge, an overweight delightful woman in her late fifties who was an olympic biathlete in her youth; and finally the man of the team, Phineas, a tone deaf genius who’s (not so) secretly in love with Jackie who (not so) secretly doesn’t really care. With its female-fueled cast, Unit Zero pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to be a woman in a historically male-dominated field, showing underrepresented voices. And that’s another reason why it’s unusual and enthusiastic.

This character-based procedural with strong serialized elements doesn’t take itself too seriously, constantly deflecting highly dangerous situations with humor. They’re all very funny in their own way and their world is bigger than life, as are their crazy (unrealistic?) high-tech inventions they test in the field. The action scenes are insan. Jackie slaloming through traffic is something I definitely want to see. Especially since she’s wearing a jet-black punk wig, a leather skirt and combat boots so she can be mistaken for a badass hacker called “Lonelyheart”, dominatrix style, right in the middle of Acapulco with a cartel running behind her car.

Everything moves fast and in style. Think the movie Kingsman (with a lesser budget probably). Music plays an important role with classic energetic hits like “Dancing with Myself” by The Donnas in the opening sequence. The whole point of the pilot is to asemble the team after Jackie made a huge mistake her first day back in the office that could threaten her future in the CIA. They all decide to help her. The rest is history! Despite everything that’s happening, the emotions in there are real and it makes the show very complete.

Unit Zero is a joyful and thrilling ride alongside characters you can only root for who will move you, make you laugh hard and think a little. Suddenly, “action spy dramedy” is a thing, a thing that you’ll like and want. Will it be a hit for ABC? It surely looks like one. 

Bluegrass/Blood Red (ABC) pilot preview: Desperate Cop in soapy smalltown America

Written and produced by Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, The Golden Girls). Also produced by Reba McEntre, Sabrina Wind (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Reba), Mindy Schultheis & Michael Hanel (Malibu Country, Reba, Rita Rocks). Directed by Michael Offer (How to Get Away With Murder, Longmire). 54 Pages. 2nd revised network draft (01/05/17). For ABC Studios, Cherry-Wind Productions & Acme Productions.

Description: Ruby Adair, the sheriff of colorful small town Oxblood, Kentucky, finds her red state outlook challenged when Tag Fayad, a young FBI special agent of Middle Eastern descent is sent to help her solve a horrific crime that happened during the 4th of July parade. Together they form an uneasy alliance as Ruby takes Tag behind the lace curtains of this southern gothic community to meet an assortment of bizarre characters, each with a secret of their own…

With Reba McEntire (Reba, Malibu Country, Tremors), Jack Coleman (Heroes, Scandal, The Office, Dynasty), Amanda Detmer (What About Brian, Private Practice), Ryan McPartlin (Chuck, Devious Maids), Ben Esler (Hell On Weels), Emily Rose (Haven, ER, Graceland), Natalie Hall (Star-Crossed, All My Children), Saidah Ekulona (Impastor)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, True Blood

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9 (the old Desperate Housewives slot) or Monday at 10 (right after old-skewing Dancing With the Stars).

 

Desperate situations call for desperate measures. And in their drama department, ABC is in a desperate situation. They found no new hit this season, except Designated Survivor that is doing okay, while older dramas that are not Grey’s Anatomy are dying. So they asked Marc Cherry, one of their last hit maker, responsible for the rise and fall of the iconic Desperate Housewives, to give them something. Anything. And here we are.

I am thrilled to be coming back home to ABC. What makes it all the sweeter is Reba McEntire is coming with me. And we can’t wait to share with our fans this wonderful Southern Gothic soap opera we’ve been cooking up for them” Cherry said in an official statement. I find it amusing that he considers having fans of his own. Reba McEntire has fans. Of course, she’s a legendary country music star (who wants to be an actress too for some reason). But Marc Cherry? I’m not sure. I mean, there are fans of Desperate Housewives all over the world. There must have fans of Devious Maids too. I am one of them. Don’t judge me. But fans of him? Anyway. It’s just PR after all. So, will those said fans be happy with his new project? Possibly. But not as much as they would have anticipated I’m afraid.

The first question I ask myself when I’m finished reading a pilot script from a renowned writer is not was it good or not but would it have been picked-up if it was not written by this particular talent that has a value for obvious marketing reasons (“from the writer that brought you Desperate Housewives“)? In this case, Marc Cherry has such a special voice that there is no doubt it’s him and there is no doubt it would have been picked up even written by someone else or written by a young and unproven Marc Cherry. Even though it’s clearly not his best work, it’s exactly what ABC needs: something heavily serialized but with a crime and an investigation at the center since there’s still a craving for this kind of shows; something fun and soapy, but not too dark since ABC had too many of those the past few years; and finally something that has the potential to stay on the air for years to come since you know, it’s a business.

Plus, it is believed to be part of the network’s push for more programming that reflects Middle America. On this, I’m not really sold. Yes, it is set in the traditionally Republican state of Kentucky -as both Marc Cherry and Reba McEntire are proud Republicans- but those people living in Oxblood are way too quirky for real americans to recognize themselves in them, apart, maybe, in our heroine and her family. For example, there’s the character of Miss Bo. She will probably be the funniest part of the show. But she runs the local brothel with “the ugliest whores in Kentucky”. I don’t think my mother or yours will recognize themselves in her. Except if your mother is “a Madam”. And that’s okay. I’m also thinking about the Winemiller sisters, black and colorful church ladies. They run a Bed & Breakfast and they talk a lot. Often at the same time. Not your regular neighbours. But anyway, that’s where the fun is. That’s Marc Cherry at his best. Bitchy comments, dialogues to die for. He still got it, my friends. If they find the right cast, magic will happen.

In case you’re wondering, Cherry isn’t offering here a celebration of Donald Trump and his digusting ideas, especially about immigration. But I had my doubts while I was reading the teaser. A brown-skinned woman that is supposed to be a terrorist after she plowed into crowd during a 4th of July parade, killing people (it reminded me of the Nice attack during Bastille Day last summer, which was probably his inspiration)… a detective who is described (in bold letters) as “Middle eastern decent”… but without revealing too much, it’s not what you think. It’s about looking beyond the appearrances for both the townspeople and the stranger coming to town. Like Cherry did with Desperate Housewives and even a bit with Devious Maids: there are no good or bad people in the end, there are only crazy people. It’s not life, it’s soap. And it’s not deep but it’s irreverent.

What I’m less fond of in the show is the investigation part. It’s not used as a distraction from time to time. It’s at the center of it all. And it’s Marc Cherry. The ones in Desperate Housewives were always kinda ridiculous. I’m afraid it’s still the case. It’s not yet, but it could become quickly. Especially if there are planning 22-episode seasons. Just don’t expect The Killing. Thankfully, the dynamic between Ruby and Tag looks different than what we’re used to. It’s not about them falling in love in the near future. She’s 55 (Reba is 61 but she has a “good” surgeon). He’s in his thirties. Well, it would be bold to make them fall in love but I don’t feel like it’s in the cards. It’s more of a mother/son relationship and I don’t recall such a duet in crime dramas. She’s a tough woman with a temper (who has every reason to be angry – her ex-husband Deke is now married to her ex-best friend, plus her junkie daughter left, leaving her 7 year-old son behind); he’s a sex-addict and rude and vegan FBI agent who doesn’t believe in love, monogamy or marriage. Definitely an interesting pair.

I don’t know if it’s because Twin Peaks is coming back or because networks suddenly remembered that America is not only made of big overcrowded cities, but quirky little towns are back in the game this year (Riverdale is another example) and the Marc Cherry Project is apparently ABC’s way of saying: “Middle America, we heard you. Let’s have some fun together!”. Fun, there is. It’s an exciting soap a little more grounded than usual mixed with a crime drama, that has enough potential to be considered as a frontrunner in this pilot season. It isn’t revolutionnary. It won’t be a game-changer show for the network but it could turn into a solid performer that will primarily resonate with older viewers (it lacks teenager/ young adult characters so far).