Tag: abc

Grand Hotel (ABC) pilot preview: One More Lazy Soap

Written and executive produced by Brian Tanen (Atypical, Devious Maids, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty). Based on spanish series Gran Hotel. Also produced by Eva Longoria (Devious Maids, Telenovela, John Wick), Ben Spector (Telenovela, Wedding Band), Oliver Bachert & Christian Gockel (Velvet). Directed by  Ken Olin (This Is Us, Brothers & Sisters, Alias, Thirtysomething). For ABC, ABC Studios, UnveliEVAble Entertainment & Beta Film. 64 pages. Draft 1/17/2018.

Description: The Riviera Grand hotel is a famed Miami Beach establishment, filled with beautiful people masking dark and explosive family secrets. The hotel’s façade of perfection begins to crumble on the night of a fateful hurricane when a woman mysteriously disappears after a heated dispute with the charming hotel owner…

With Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids, Without a Trace, Rush Hour 2), Demian Bichir (Weeds, The Bridge US, The Hateful Eight, Machete Kills), Chris Warren (The Fosters), Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Game The Steve Harvey Show), Shalim Ortiz (Magic City, Heroes), Bryan Craig (Valor, General Hospital), Denyse Tontz (The Fosters, Incorporated), Justina Adorno (Seven Seconds), Lincoln Younes (Love Child, Home And Away), Anne Winters (13 Reasons Why, The Fosters), Feliz Ramirez

 

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Devious Maids, Ugly Betty, Revenge…

Likely timeslot: sunday at 8 or 9, or wednesday at 10

 

I got excited by this Grand Hotel project, based on the spanish hit series, like 10 minutes when Roselyn Sanchez and then Demian Bichir were cast in the two most prominent roles of the ensemble. Roselyn Sanchez was just hilarious in Devious Maids & Demian Bichir is a really good actor with a wide range of acting. That was reassuring. And then they kept on casting young actors and actresses mostly based on their looks, I suppose. Which is fine if you’re doing a daytime soap, I guess. But not when you want to make a great primetime soap, with a strong comedic aspect, which will obviously be compared to Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty or Devious Maids. And those became iconic thanks to their solid writing and their skilled cast, not just because the women were sexy in their dresses and the men hot with their abs out. So maybe they’re really beautiful AND talented, BUT this script is weak and I don’t think they will be able to save it.

Look, I’m a sucker for good soaps. I was raised by Amanda Woodward on Melrose Place! So what I’m gonna tell you is not coming from someone who doesn’t like the genre and doesn’t unsterdand it. I really do. But ABC just can’t put this on their schedule and hope for a miracle. It’s just not gonna work. If they didn’t keep Devious Maids for themselves back in the days and sent it to Lifetime, it was for a (good) reason. There was like zero chance it worked for them. I was frustrated at the time but ultimately I got it. And actually, we can’t even say it really worked for Lifetime either, as great as it was. Ratings for the first season were okay but then it fell quickly. Grand Hotel is really lazy, rarely funny and it lacks so many things to make it appealing, starting by characters you can care about, that I don’t see how ABC could even consider a series order. But hey, maybe it’s just me… Of course, there’s the international appeal because Gran Hotel was a success all over the world but I suspect it was for the most part because it was a period soap set in 1906. Like a lighter Downton Abbey of some sort. But here, and I get why ABC did it, it’s set in the present days. The upstairs/downstairs aspect has disappeared and it’s mostly about the family that owns the hotel, the people who work for them and the guests are not that important overall. Making it more like a traditional family soap kinda makes sense so the american audience will feel more comfortable with it, but it looses its charm along the way and nothing really makes it distinctive. I didn’t like the new Dynasty‘s pilot either. But then it got better. So who knows? But it doesn’t work for The CW. Why would this for ABC?

Gonzalo Cardena, the owner of the hotel -who decided to sell it- is decribed as “one of those people who can talk to anyone and make them feel like fast friends; he has built himself up from nothing and will do anything to keep what he has”. Well, that’s a waste of Demian Bichir. Of course, he’s worth better than that but most of all, his character doesn’t come out as charming to me; it’s just an uninteresting and coward man. It would have been fun if he were a really bad guy, even a cliché of a bad guy, but so far in this pilot he’s just nothing much. Then there’s Gigi Cardena, his second wife “impossibly stylish with a flair for excess, unapologetically fabulous but never frivolous, smart, cunning and fiercely loyal to her twin daughters”. Well, this is a dreamy description but the reality is far less exciting. I’m pretty sure Roselyn Sanchez can improve the writing by her comic genius, but the problem is: Gigi’s not a fun bitch; she’s not even a very bad bitch. She’s just a bitch. Like a bitch in a bad ABC Family/Freeform drama. A WASTE! The only character that I like is Mrs P., the no-nonsense staff manager, tough on the outside -with great lines- and lovely on the inside. That’s a character you want to follow. All the others are just bland. Not nasty enough to be fun, not nice enough to be loveable. They’re just right in the middle of nowhere.

Are the twists good at least? Nope! You just go from one cliché story to another, and you know exactly how it’s gonna end the moment one of the character appears. Not gonna spoil it just in case ABC picks it up, but let’s just say Danny, the gorgeous new waiter at The Riviera, can’t hide very long why he’s really here, what are his ulterior motives. Devious Maids did similar stories not that long ago with more flavour and cleverness. There’s a wedding happening during this pilot. They had what they needed to make it explosive, crazy… It just falls flat. We had so many weddings in soaps, some very epic, they had to top that at least. They didn’t even try. It’s just one disappointment after another. And I can’t wait to watch the opening sequence happening during a hurricane! I’m pretty sure ABC Studios special effects team will do it justice…

You really need to be a virgin in the soap opera/telenovela world to appreciate Grand Hotel. When you’ve already seen really great ones, it’s just one bad more, and we had many through the years, oh boy! And if you’ve watched something like Jane The Virgin, that plays with the genre to make it more unique and fresher, you can only find this pilot very pale in comparison. If ABC has to choose between Grand Hotel and False Profits, there’s no doubt the latter is a far more interesting option! It has depth and a feel-good vibe, something Grand Hotel lacks among many other things.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

   

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

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9, Wednesday at 10

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Love (ABC) pilot preview: Cheesy Magic in New Orleans

Written and executive produced by Michael Cooney (Identity, 6 Souls). Also produced by Kim Moses (Gone, Conviction, Ghost Whisperer) & Ian Sander (Ghost Whisperer, Profiler, I’ll Fly Away). Directed by John Dahl (Kill Me Again, The Looming Tower, Ray Donovan, Justified). For ABCABC Studios & Sander Moses Productions. 59 pages. Revised Network Draft. 1/20/2018.

Description: Five years ago, Hope Castille, a journalist, lost the love of her life, Charlie, also a journalist, in a tragic car accident. Now she is finally ready to move on and has found a new love, Gabriel Dumaine, mayoral candidate and member or the Dumaine family, a historically important family in New Orleans. But when Hope gets a call from Charlie, her whole world is shaken as she is drawn into the underground world of magic in New Orleans…

With Lex Scott Davis (Training Day), Luke Arnold (Black Sails, Glitch), Ethan Peck (10 Things I Hate About You), Jon Ecker (Queen of the South, Narcos), Rachel Skarsten (Reign, Lost Girl), Wolé Parks (Devious Maids, The Vampire Diaries), Chloe Wepper (Liv & Maddie), Isabella Russo

 

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Once Upon A Time, Witches of East End, Revenge…

Likely timeslot : Sundays at 8 (but nowhere to be found is even better)

 

This was a great read, people! A really great read. I devoured it like crazy… and laughed so really hard. It’s like the equivalent of a great page-turner, that you know is, in fact, very bad. You can’t help reading it but a voice in your head tells you “bad bad bad” in a loop. Great read, bad pilot. For Love is quite something. To be honest, it’s not like I expected much from it. Since the logline I knew. I knew they ordered it for bad reasons. Those reasons are still mysterious to me, though. Because I can’t even imagine there was not at least one better and more worthy pilot script than For Love in development. What’s with Michael Cooney exactly? It’s his third pilot pick-up at ABC after Runner in 2015 and Spark in 2016. And well, those two were not great either, but way better than For Love. I don’t want to make any assumptions but there is something really bizarre here… They probably saw it as a potential Once Upon A Time successor. But do they really need one for a show that is currently doing horrendous ratings on friday night? I don’t think so. Let it die and don’t even try to replicate its distant success.

Anyway, yes, it’s as cheesy as the title suggests. That’s not the only problem, though a big one that makes most of the early dialogues completely ridiculous. Cheesy can be charming and comfy. Look at The Good Doctor, ABC’s new hit. It can be sometimes, but it’s okay. Because you care about the characters and because the writing is solid. Other example: long-running Once Upon A Time again. What saved it even when it became really bad? The Disney brand. The famous characters. The nostalgia. There is nothing that can save For Love. Most of the characters are bland, one-dimensional, even the heroine. She has nothing special going for her. Except she’s a journalist, and I can’t think of a lot of journalist characters on broadcast networks right now. Her best friend is, for now, just her best friend. And nothing else seems to be going on in her own life. Uninteresting. The men are love interests, not much more. The dead one is a perfectly annoying prince charming kind of guy, while the alive one is flavorless. Both come off as corny, silly. Maybe the actors can make them more charismatic but it’s not like they chose them for their acting skills… The bitch? It’s soapy so of course there’s a bitch! Not even her can do magic! She’s not a “good” bitch. She’s certainly not nice but her bitchiness is not funny in action.

There’s one character though that I’m in love with. For all the bad reasons. She’s named Marie Jojo. Which is already funny in itself. She’s a 90 year-old woman, trapped in the body of a 12 year-old. Well, it’s more complicated than that but I won’t bore you with the details. Let’s just say the Dumaines are actually immortal voodoo practitioners who transfer their souls from body to body so they can live forever. They adopted a poor child so Marie Jojo, the matriarch, can still make their lives a living hell every damn day! And I can’t wait to watch her scenes if the pilot gets picked-up. I mean, a 12 year-old talking like a mean grandma must be a precious thing to witness. It has every chance to look totally ridiculous! That’s where all the fun is. That’s how For Love must be watched, I guess. As a very guilty pleasure that even Lifetime or Freeform -and they know a thing or two about shitty shows- would even be ashamed to air. But really, that’s where it should end up just in case ABC Studios think that this jewel needs to exist for real. I know I’m very mean right now and I’m sorry for this. But when I get the chance to review something as bad as For Love, I do it with all my heart… and bile acid.

What else can I tell you? There’s a Russian psychic, a weird guy with a skull levitating by his sides, a whole fake circus coming alive with dragons, fire and eveything as part of a magic trick to scare the heroine. Can’t wait for the OUAT special effects team doing their magic! Rival families, a war which is brewing, our little Hope caught in the middle of all this, not knowing what to do and who to believe. But she keeps on moving “FOR LOVE” of course… I give you one thing, only one thing that I like about this script: its setting. New Orleans is not that much used for television shows. The Originals recently, season 3 of American Horror Story… And it’s too bad because there’s a rich history there to delve into. For Love doesn’t even try. There’s a great sense of the geography of the city, the old part of it, the more recent one. But does it say something about it? No. Not yet at least. One character is a candidate for mayor so there could be a political story to tell too. But honestly, will they ever make something out of it? Probably not. That’s not their subject. Their subject is magic. And their love triangle. And a TV show based on a love triangle can’t be good by the way. Love triangles are okay for a few episodes, maybe a few seasons if you’re inspired (Dawson’s Creek dit it, The Vampire Diaries too). But not an entire show.

I took a long hard look at this script. I read it from the first line to the last. I didn’t skip any. And I decided I didn’t want to be a part of it. AT ALL. Even though I shamelessly enjoyed it sometimes. For Love is ridiculous, simply ridiculous. And ABC isn’t that desperate. Nothing would justify a series order. Nothing! I sound very dramatic but I’m appalled by what I just read. If somehow they pick-it up, then it’s dark magic, voodoo dolls, I don’t know, but not the decision made by someone in his right mind. For the love of God, can someone cast a spell to erase it from ABC’s roster? 

Whiskey Cavalier (ABC) pilot preview: Sexy for the ride

Written and executive produced by Dave Hemingson (How I Met Your Mother, Don’t Trust the B****, The Catch). Also produced by Scott Foley, Bill Lawrence (Life SentenceCougar Town, Scrubs, Spin City) & Jeff Ingold (Rush Hour, Ground Floor, Undateable). Directed by Peter Atencio (Jean-Claude Van Johnson, Key & Peele). For ABC, Warner Bros. Television & Doozer Productions. 60 pages. 3rd Network Draft. 1/12/2018.

Description: the adventures of FBI agent Will Chase (codename: Whiskey Cavalier) who, following an emotional break-up, is assigned to work with CIA operative Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge (codename: Fiery Tribune). Together, they lead an inter-agency team of spies who periodically save the world (and each other) while navigating the rocky roads of friendship, romance and office politics…

With Scott Foley (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, True Blood, The Unit, Scrubs, Felicity), Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, Chuck, Supernatural), Ana Ortiz (Devious Maids, Hung, Ugly Betty), Tyler James Williams (Criminal Minds, The Walking Dead, Everybody Hates Chris), Vir Das

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Mr & Mrs Smith, Castle

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10, Tuesday at 10, Wednesday at 10.

 

Whiskey Cavalier is entering the pilot race with a big advantage: its cast. And these days, when most of the biggest names are more tempted to work for a streaming platform like Netflix or Amazon instead of a good ol’ broadcast network, it’s already a victory! And not a small one. Hottie and goodie Scott Foley became some sort of household name thanks to his roles on Grey’s Anatomy and then Scandal and he’s worth a shot as a leading man. The whole project was built around him by the way, he was attached to star from the get go. Lauren Cohan was one of the most sought-after actresses of this pilot season, being a fan favorite from the most watched TV show out there -you probably recognized The Walking Dead– and from the dozen of projects she received, that’s the one she chose. It’s quite telling. Together, they make an attractive pair. Let’s just hope they have chemistry. The cast also includes Tyler James Williams. Even though his appearance on The Walking Dead was shorter than Cohan’s, it’s still someone people can identify and he’s here for his comedic skills. Last but not least: Ana Ortiz, who’s a sweet addition; the kind of actress you’re always happy to have back on your screen, even in a small part. And not a small part it is here. Now, the question is: does the script live up to the cast?

I’d like to give you a simple answer but sorry, it will be a bit more complicated than that. The thing is, Whiskey Cavalier is far from inventing or even re-inventing the wheel. It could have been made 5, 10, 15 and even 30 years ago. But it will probably look better today. You won’t see there anything you haven’t already seen before, probably more on the big screen than on television though. It’s more movies that come to mind when you think about light action fare. But there’s also a dynamic that TV knows by heart, and its viewers too: the “will they? won’t they” situation created when two sexy people who hate each other at first sight are asked to work together against their will and slowly fall in love. I don’t see how Whiskey Cavalier could escape this trope and I don’t even think that’s something they’d want. They know it’s gonna happen sooner or later. We know it too. That’s part of the fun. But maybe there will be a love triangle to spice things up a little bit. Yes, another trope where two women are fighting for the same guy… I don’t want to to sound too cynical: ratings have proven time and time again that that’s what the audience want, as long as it’s well-made. And I have a feeling this one will be.

The pilot’s most obvious strength is that it never takes itself too seriously. The writer knows he’s not doing The Bourne Identity. He’s not trying to. He makes his own little thing that could become something big if lightning strikes. The script is as efficient as a script can be on a broadcast network. The action scenes are promising, it’s always going fast, constantly moving from one place to another. It starts in Paris, it goes to Moscow and New York, and it ends up in Reims (a little city in France). It’s constantly funny, playful, exciting. Maybe a little exhausting too. All the characters have a great sense of humor but not the same kind. I mean, it starts with Will Chase (Foley) singing Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in his pajamas. It sets the tone. Will & Francesca tease each other all the time; and Tyler James Williams’ character Edgar Standish -who’s one of the bad guys when we meet him, or so we think- is simply hilarious as the jittery genius who has enough super-secret informations to get him bought off, imprisoned or killed by a dozen governments. While we’re here for the fun and we get plenty, the main plot stays interesting all along, with enough twists and turns -not too predictable or complicated- to keep us happy.

You probably got it now, Whiskey Cavalier is a procedural action dramedy and the pilot’s main goal is to assemble the inter-agency team. Will & Francesca will be helped permanently by Edgar, Ana Ortiz’ Susan Sampson, who’s the FBI’s top behavioral scientist and also Will’s best friend; and Rutger, CIA’s quartermaster and Francesca’s friend. They work from an apartment since their missions are top-secret, even for the others at the FBI & the CIA. Expect a bit of workplace comedy in there. Their missions can send them anywhere on the planet. I didn’t tell you much about our two heroes but all there is to know so far is in the logline. We’re not given a lot of details about their past, just a few hints. And that’s all we need for now. I have one concern about them: their cat and mouse game in the pilot works very well, since they’re enemies and they’re not exactly looking for the same thing, but will it be as fun when they’ll have to work side by side, not against each other but together? I really hope so! Towards the end, Rutger asks Susan: “You think it’ll always be like that?” and she answers: “I hope so!“. We all do!

Take Castle, change the “police” part by an “espionage” part, bet on the jokes, step on the gas, improve the budget, put on sexy clothes and you get Whiskey Cavalier! With a strong script, an attractive cast and an upbeat tone, this is a very serious contender at ABC, a damn fun ride. I don’t know if this is what people want but it certainly what the alphabet network thinks people want right now. They may be onto something…