Tag: abc

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…

The Greatest American Hero (ABC) pilot preview: Who run the world? Girls!

Written and executive produced by Rachna Fruchbom (Fresh Off The Boat, Parks And Recreation). Also produced by Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off The Boat, Don’t Trust the B****, American Dad!), Tawnia McKiernan (Supergirl, Criminal Minds) & Mandy Summers. Directed by Christine Gernon (Speechless, Gavin & Stacey, The Kennedys). Based on the Stephen J. Cannell show from the 80s. For ABC20th Century FOX TelevisionABC Studios & Fierce Baby. 37 pages. Revised Network Draft 01/22/18.

Desciption: around Meera, a 30-year-old woman from Cleveland who loves tequila and karaoke and has spent her life searching and failing to find meaning, much to the chagrin of her traditional Indian-American family. An inexplicable event occurs that will change the course of Meera’s life forever: she is entrusted with a super suit to protect the planet. Meera may have finally found purpose, but the world has never been in more unreliable hands…

With Hannah Simone (New Girl), Humphrey Ker, George Wendt (Cheers), Gia Sandhu (The Indian Detective), Zenobia Shroff (The Affair, The Big Sick), Shoniqua Shandai (Nobodies), Ellie Reed (Girlboss)

  

I’m not very familiar with the original series The Greatest American Hero from the 80s, but I know it only lasted 3 seasons and 45 episodes on ABC from 1981 to 1983, that it was a 45-minute dramedy, that the theme song “Believe it or not” was very popular -and they intend to keep it in the new version- and that it was about Ralph Hinkley (played by William Katt), a Los Angeles public school substitute teacher suddenly granted superhuman abilities in order to save the world. Before ABC ordered a pilot for this female-centric reboot turned into a 22-minute single-cam comedy, FOX developed a more straight-forward and faithful version last year with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, both of whom wrote and directed The Lego Movie, that didn’t make it. And now that I’ve read this script from the Fresh Off The Boat team, I can’t help thinking it was more on brand with FOX than it is with ABC. But FOX already has a similar-themed okay performer in Ghosted. Maybe that’s why they didn’t keep it for themselves.

The Greatest American Hero has all the best intentions, it’s modern and exactly what we need right now in a world where women are getting their power back, and that’s partly why I liked it despite an overall lack of laughing-out-loud moments (contrary to other hilarious scripts they have in store –Steps & Single Parents to name a few- and that I’ll talk to you about later). It’s definitely feminist, not only because the superhero is a woman, though there are not so many out there right now (Supergirl, Jessica Jones and that’s pretty much it), also because Meera’s close family only consists of her mother Leena and her rival and younger sister Mona since the father died quite a long time ago; there’s a particular bond here, quite emotional. And just in case you didn’t realize it: the show is powered by an all-female team of writer, director and producers. It’s rare, even maybe unprecedented! Also very important: it’s about an indian-american family, which is trendy this year -CBS also has sitcom Pandas In New York for example- a community we don’t get to explore a lot on television compared to african-americans or latinos. Still, they exist and they should be represented too. It’s a cool thing this show didn’t stop at having a female superhero and went for more diversity. ABC has always been good at it and proves it again with this promising project.

There’s a “but” though. The mix between comedy and fantasy is always hard to achieve. I’m not a big fan of Ghosted but we can say they succeeded. On the page, I was not convinced. It depends a lot on the directing and on the quality of the special effects. Reading this script, there were moments when I thought “this won’t translate on screen, it will look ugly and ridiculous” and other moments when I thought “this might look fun and credible”. To be more precise, when in the first scene Meera is confronted to an UFO with only voices of aliens talking to her, it’s hard not to find that cheap and outdated. Whether they can pull that off anyway is a question mark for now. But when Meera talks to Ralph -yes, they’d like William Katt to voice this character- which is an artificial intelligence that helps her in her missions -think Janet in The Good Place– it works on the page and it adds a little something that makes it cooler. But maybe it won’t translate. Who knows at this point? So it’s always risky but it’s not a reason not to give it a chance. They are brave enough to try.

So what about Meera? She’s the black sheep of the family, she’s a hot mess, still single at 30 -which is a huge problem in an indian-american family- she drinks too much, and she’s done nothing especially significant in her career while her younger sister is already a successful doctor. In a few words: she’s a loser. Or so she thinks. Of course, that’s the type of character you can only side with, even when she keeps on taking the wrong decisions. Her trajectory is already quite predictable as the whole pilot is to be honest, but there’s a comfort in it that works most of the time. It’s a superhero show at the core and it always works the same way, man or woman, WASP or indian. That’s the ugly truth.

Other characters in the show kinda work, whether it’s her mother and sister who are funny on occasions, or her colleagues at work, especially her boss Bob Rice (there’s a bit of workplace comedy in there). But what works the most is the association between Meera and Max, a newly hired manager at Meera’s marketing company who helps her make the transition into her superhero life, undercover of course. He’s also in his thirties and he’s gay (so no love story between them, which is a relief). The way he comes out to her is quite funny. Meera’s first mission is not particularly interesting and it does not give a real idea of what subsequent episodes will look like and most importantly, we don’t know why the aliens chose her to save the world and what does it mean exactly. We’ll have to wait to get answers, which is fair game. Part of the fun will be about discovering her new abilities and powers, which should go from super strength to super speed and eveything in between like X-ray vision and telekinesis. Oh yeah, I didn’t tell you but she lost the manual!

The Greatest American Hero is probably ABC’s riskier comedy pilot script this season, also the most ambitious and unusual. It’s off-brand, though they tried to make it more about family than the original show was so it fits better. Part-superhero show, part-workplace comedy, part-family comedy, it wants to be everything and it fails at being convincing on every aspect. But it’s promising nonetheless and may be worth a shot.

The Rookie (ABC) pilot preview: Richard Castle is dead, give a warm welcome to John Nolan!

Written and executive produced by Alexi Hawley (Castle, Body Of Proof, The Unusuals). Also produced by Mark Gordon (Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Quantico, Designated Survivor), Nathan Fillion, Michelle Chapman & Jon Steinberg. Directed by Liz Friedlander (The Following, Stalker, Conviction). For ABC Studios & The Mark Gordon Company. 61 pages. Revised Network Draft 1/21/18.

Description: John Nolan is the oldest rookie in the LAPD.  At an age where most are at the peak of their career, Nolan cast aside his comfortable, small town life and moved to L.A. to pursue his dream of being a cop. Now, surrounded by rookies twenty years his junior and ruthless training officers , Nolan must navigate the dangerous, humorous and unpredictable world of a “young” cop, determined to make his second shot at life count…

With Nathan Fillion (Castle, Desperate Housewives, Buffy, Firefly), Afton Williamson (The Night Of, Banshee, The Breaks), Melissa O’Neil (Dark Matter, Rogue), Eric Winter (Witches of East End, Brothers & Sisters, The Mentalist), Richard T. Jones (Amy, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Criminal Minds), Alyssa Diaz (Ray Donovan, Zoo, Army Wives), Mercedes Mason (Fear The Walking Dead)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Castle, Rookie Blue, The Good Doctor, 9-1-1…

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10, Tuesday at 10, Wednesday at 10 – wherever

 

This pilot season, ABC has one big obsession: their next crime drama hit! It’s been almost two years now that Castle is gone and no replacement has been found yet. (#RIPConviction) What better way to do so than hiring back Castle last showrunner Alexi Hawley & ex-Castle star Nathan Fillion? Seems almost too easy, right? They ordered The Rookie straight-to-series in a competitive situation with no script ready yet, just those names and a big producer attached they’re used to work with: Mark Gordon. It happened the same way for Designated Survivor not so long ago, with mixed results. It’s always a risky move but they got lucky this time: it’s a convincing one, totally on brand with the Alphabet network, as a light fare they’re craving for right now. And it’s the kind of show that they could put in any slot, it’d have a real chance to find its audience. From where we are now -far from the may upfronts- it already looks like a winner to me.

The Rookie works a bit like The Good Doctor initially -which can’t be a bad thing- since John Nolan is put in a similar situation than Shaun Murphy: he’s the odd man out in a place he’s not familiar with where a lot of people don’t want him there for various reasons… so they treat him like shit. Nolan is not autistic and doesn’t have any syndrome that makes him brilliant. He’s just “old”. Old means he may be wiser than his new colleagues twenty years younger than him thanks to his “life experience”, as they say politely. But his age doesn’t prevent him from being fearless and having a bit of fun when needed. His secret weapon? He’s more interested in the people he’s helping than the other rookies who are very much focused on themselves and how they perform. They certainly have to teach him a few things though, and not just about what music he should listen to. The personal story of Nolan is a bit emotional since he’s just been through a divorce while his son has gone to college. He needed to reinvent itself, to pursue his dream and he’s basically telling us that it’s never too late. That’s inspiring and it will strike a chord with the viewers I guess. He’s exactly doing what few people dare in real life. How could you not root for him?

Even though Nolan is at the center of the show, it works mostly as an ensemble -very diverse by the way- with scenes without him. His fellow rookies have their own set of stories and challenges. Lucy Benitez is trying to prove that she can do the job despite people looking down on her for being a woman and Latina, while Jackson West is the son of a high ranking officer following in his family’s footsteps who doesn’t seem to be ready for the high-pressure he’s exposed to. They’re all assigned to a training officer and it’s always a pair of a woman and a man, which is interesting since we don’t get to see very often women teaching men on television. It creates different dynamics. Talia Bishop is a newly promoted training officer whose first assignment is Nolan; Tim Bradford is an overbearing and not nice one paired with Lucy; and Angela is a no nonsense korean american who’s hard on Jackson but it’s just what he needs. They all have tough first days: Nolan sees someone getting killed; Jackson unnecessarily tase a homeless person, Lucy is being tested at every turn by Tim like she can’t be trusted. But don’t worry: it’s mostly a lot of fun. They tease each other all the time, there’s always someone to crack a joke here and there. ABC labels it as “comedic” and they’re not lying.

The Rookie shares some DNA with another hit of this season: FOX’s 9-1-1. Forget Ryan Murphy’s extravaganza, they’re trying to be more realistic and true to what’s really happening in the streets of L.A, though some cases are more spectacular or emotional than others. I don’t know about their exact action perimeter but they can be visiting a poor neighborhood in one scene and Hollywood Boulevard in another. But don’t expect any investigation here. They’re not detectives. They’re cops. And not cops who investigate. They get a call, they drive, they run, they catch the bad guys. It’s a lot of action and adrelanine, it’s fast paced and you never have time to get bored (Fillion will need to get in shape or he’ll look ridiculous). You go from one mission to another, from one team to another; and the last mission of the pilot reunites them all in a grand finale. You get to know the characters through their missions, but also with what’s happening before and after, and when they’re not working. That’s how a few soapy elements are introduced. For example, they avoid the traditional and very Castle-like “partners who are falling in love” since we discover late in the episode that Nolan & Lucy are sleeping together, not Nolan & Talia. We can call it a secret relationship, even if it’s mostly about sex for now. There’s just one thing that I don’t like about this: it’s once again about an older man being with a younger woman. That trope is tiring… But I’m confident they’ll play with it more than just using it since they seem to be determined to make something modern.

Why did ABC pick up so many crime drama pilots when they already have straight-to-series The Rookie? Of course, you can never be 100% sure a promising script will turn into a good pilot and then become a hit, they know better than that, but it’s not that hard to see that the Nathan Fillion-starrer has all it takes to become one. It’s fresh, funny and actiony, with characters you instantly care about. So I’ll start my new series of “pilot preview” articles with a bold prediction: The Rookie is ABC’s next international hit!

ABC’s 20 most exciting projects for 2018/2019 pilot season

The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point. 

 

ABC had two priorities this fall: The Good Doctor and the comedy duo Blackish/The Mayor. The Good Doctor became the new drama hit of the season, on live ratings and also delayed viewings with rare numbers these days for a 10pm slot, while Blackish lost some steam and The Mayor flopped despite good reviews. They have every reason to be both happy and sad. Other new fall entries Ten Days in the Valley, Marvel’s Inhumans and Kevin (Pobably) Saves The World did terrible, as expected, while the friday night block where Once Upon a Time and Agents of SHIELD are now paired is a black hole. TGIT is doing okay, with Grey’s Anatomy still being an incredible beast in its 14th season. The wednesday comedy block has had better days but still does solid business, despite a weakened Speechless. Designated Survivor and How To Get Away With Murder are struggling but managed to keep their heads out of the water.

Pretty much every new show with big or moderated potential were kept for a midseason lauch, to bank on the Oscars’ usual big promotion push and the American Idol revival that may or may not do great for ABC. The kind of big bet where you can be rewarded tremendously or lose a lot. We’ll see. The Grey’s Anatomy firefighter spin-off as well as the Roseanne‘s return are the two shows with the biggest chance to work, while Deception, The Crossing and comedy Alex, Inc. are given a satisfying shot with good scheduling. But then again, if American Idol is a flop, it will be harder for them to survive. For The People and comedy Splitting Up Together are given death slots, while the third season of Quantico will mostly air in the summer.

Next season will be crucial for the Alphabet Network for many reasons. First because they won’t have The Middle and Scandal which are both in their final seasons right now. Also because Modern Family should end in may 2019, with no spin-off in sight at this time. And since Shonda Rhimes has signed an exclusive deal with Netflix, she won’t be there to launch new buzzy dramas. President Channing Dungey made it clear she wanted to focus more on light procedural dramas like The Good Doctor & Deception. Let’s see if their development season reflects that:

 

DRAMAS

ADULT BEHAVIOR (ABC Studios)

What? described as a sexy, multi-generational, comedic drama” inspired by Russell T Davies’s U.K. entries “Cucumber” and “Banana”

Why? Anyone who saw Cucumber and Banana, which are excellent shows by the way, will have a hard time picturing such a series on network television in America. The UK series was groundbreaking and racy. What this very short pitch doesn’t say it’s that it is about the LGBTQ community. At least the original was. Will this version be opened to heterosexuals too? I wouldn’t mind, as long as it’s not gay-washed. I don’t think ABC would but who knows? Oh and by the way, it’s produced by Shonda Rhimes. In fact, since she left ABC Studios for Netflix a few months ago, it’s her last show in development at ABC. Which means they may want to pick it up no matter what, to make sure they have more Shonda one more year. It’s The Catch/Wonder Woman writer Allan Heinberg who’s adapting. I’m very curious to see how it will turn out, though honestly, it’d be better on Netflix. If ABC doesn’t go with it, maybe Shonda will bring it with her…

 

AFTERLIFE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? A small mid-20th century social-service-style office is a waystation for the souls of the recently deceased, where they are processed before entering their personal heaven – a single happy memory re-experienced for eternity. Every Monday, a new group of recently deceased people check in, and the “social workers” in the lodge explain their situation. Once the newly-dead have identified their happiest memories, workers design and replicate each person’s chosen memory, which is staged and filmed. At the end of the week, the recently deceased watch the films of their recreated happiest memories in a screening room. As soon as each person sees his or her own memory, he or she vanishes to whatever state of existence lies beyond and takes only that single memory with them. 

Why? It sounds like a very positive concept for a Black Mirror episode. It’s a beautiful, feel-good idea. I don’t see how it would work on a weekly basis without becoming boring very soon, unless the system starts to go wrong at some point but we probably shouldn’t count on it. So I’m on the fence with Afterlife but there’s a part of me who thinks there may be an audience for it. Plus, it’s one of the few projects produced by 20th Century FOX Television that ABC has in store, so maybe they’d want to give it a chance…

 

BLACK WIDOWS (Sony Pictures Television)

What? about three wives and best friends trapped in abusive marriages to husbands who all work at the same company; when all three husbands die in a mysterious explosion during a group vacation, the wives are pulled into a spiral of lies and crime

Why? I have my eyes on this project for a few years now. It’s CBS that got it the first time and they didn’t pick it up to pilot. A good thing probably: they wouldn’t have known what to do with it. On the contrary, ABC is the best place for it so I’m happy they snatched it, with Leonardo DiCaprio now as producer. Hope it will help it get an order. It’s not exactly a light drama, but they should keep a few darker ones too. With three diverse and strong actresses, it could turn out very well. It’d be their own Big Little Lies.

 

FLIGHT 410 (ABC Studios)

What?  after a commercial flight vanishes over the Atlantic Ocean, a disgraced journalist whose wife was on the plane is driven to solve the mystery as he leads an unconventional group with other family members left behind

Why? It would be “fun” if both NCB & ABC ordered to pilot their “Lost in reverse” dramas. May the best win! But since Lost was an ABC show, I’d prefer this one to survive pilot season and succeed on the air. It’s hard to tell which one is the most promising though… Flight 410 doesn’t have Robert Zemeckis or any big name attached to it. Other than that, we’ll have to wait and see. It would be cool if Carlton Cuse, who signed a rich overdeal with ABC Studios, came on board!

 

GET CHRISTIE LOVE (Universal Television & Lionsgate)

What? Christie Love, an African American, female CIA agent, leads a highly trained elite ops unit. Beautiful and charismatic, Christie transforms into whoever she needs to be in order to get the job done especially when it’s down to the wire and the stakes are life and death…

Why? With Scandal ending, ABC is looking for a new drama with a strong black female character at the center and they already chose the great Kylie Bunbury (Pitch) to star. Meaning it’s a sure thing, at least for a pilot order. Get Christie Love is based on a cult 1974-75 blaxploitation-themed TV movie/series so I’m hoping it won’t only be about dangerous missions and weekly investigations but that it will also have things to say about being a young black woman in America today. Something that some other shows did but mostly on cable or streaming (Insecure, She’s Gotta Have It…).

 

HARMONY (ABC Studios)

What? set in the town of Harmony, NY, where residents have the most unique dialect in the world: they sing their feelings and dance their emotions; when a brutal murder rocks this thriving tourist destination, a repressed detective must return to the musical town he left as a teen – to solve the crime and confront the ghosts that have haunted him since he fled.

Why? I know a lot of people think this concept is shitty and that it would never work. It resembles one of ABC’s biggest flop ever: Cop Rock in the 90s. That show was ahead of its time in my opinion and I think the audience would be more open to something similiar these days. That being said, it would have to be very very well-made to work. As a big Eli Stone fan, I want it bad, so sorry if I’m biased! One thing we can all agree on: it’d be a nice way to spin the usual boring cop show…

 

MAVERICKS (ABC Studios)

What? about the cut-throat world of the start-up gold rush, where three young entrepreneurs share this obsession with greatness in an elite shared workspace known as “The Forge”; a hotbed of competition and sexual tension where no one is safe from elimination

Why? And now, let’s welcome a start-up version of Grey’s Anatomy (or Quantico)! That’s a bit how it sounds like and it’s a good thing I think. That’s a show millenials would watch it it’s any good. Competion, sex, money, fresh faces… I’m in!

 

A MILLION LITTLE THINGS (KAPITAL Entertainment)

What?  dramedy about a group of friends, 4 women and 4 men, who, for different reasons and in different ways, are all stuck in their lives, but when one of them dies unexpectedly by comitting suicide, it’s just the wake up call the others need to finally start living…

Why? This project is THE project I love the most in this development season. I’d be very very sad if we never hear about it again. The interesting story behind it is that creator DJ Nash did a comedy pilot for ABC last year, called Losin’ It’ -which was pretty good and almost got a series order but was considered too dark to match the rest of the network’s comedy line-up- and it’s this “failure” that gave him the idea and the courage to work on this other one, based on a personal experience. “Sometimes in comedy, you have to apologize for adding drama, which is why I was so thrilled to see ABC’s passion for a drama that has comedy” he said. I have a feeling the “next This Is Us” is hiding here. I already see it paired with The Good Doctor!

 

NEW WORLD (ABC Studios)

What? about two estranged brothers who, after the death of their father, try to reconnect by taking their families on a trip together; but when their boat crashes, the two families find themselves trapped on a deserted island and must battle the elements (and their secrets) to not only survive but to build a life for themselves in this new home

Why? Even though it’s not official, this is clearly a rip-off of the cult novel Swiss Family Robinson! And why not after all… It’s a good premice and you can do a very strong and emotional family drama with such a starting point. One thing I’m wondering though: how long can the island stay deserted before it becomes boring? I mean… unless this family is incestuous, no love stories are possible. And if people actually live on this island, are they called “the others”? Do they whisper in the forest? Are they from the Dharma Initiative? You know where I’m going…

 

THE ROOKIE (ABC Studios) picked-up to series

What? about the oldest rookie in the LAPD: at an age where most are at the peak of their career, Nolan cast aside his comfortable, small town life and moved to L.A. to pursue his dream of being a cop

Why? Without any script to read, ABC ordered this project straight-to-series, with ex-Castle star Nathan Fillion attached to it. The same way it happened with Designated Survivor. I feel like it’s too soon to welcome back the actor on the network, especially on a new cop show -though this time he’s the cop!- but if ABC said no, it would have gone to CBS or NBC probably so they didn’t really had a choice quite frankly. Plus, it fits perfectly with what they’re looking for.

 

TWO CITIES (ABC Studios)

What?  billed as a modern update of Dickens’ novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” set against the backdrop of a society on the verge of revolution, where the tensions between the haves and have-nots has reached a breaking point…

Why? Dystopies are too rare on television in my opinion, especially when you look at all those books that are made. So it may be a little weird to make one based on a novel that was not a dystopy at the time when there is so much material out there just waiting to get adapted, but why not? It’s a strong base to create something great. You can’t do something more timely than that. And The Handmaid’s Tale, which is exceptional, proved that there’s an audience for it. Of course, Two Cities will never be that good. My main concern is: do the Americans want to watch something that will remind them their own society, their terrible president and all those things that are going wrong right now? Not sure.

 

VOWS (Sony Pictures Television)

What? told through the POV of four diverse and interconnected couples [and] explores the whirlwind road to the altar and the profound journey that begins after we say, “I do”

Why? Another This Is Us wannabe that sounds good, especially if there are strong ties between the couples, that they are not just neighbours or something. We could also see it as a drama version of Modern Family… It’s almost suspicious that it hasn’t been tried yet.

 

Among other projects ABC has a legal drama called Big Law produced by Ellen Pompeo; a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice named Elligible from Pretty Little Liars creator I, Marlene King; The French Detective from Luc Besson starring Jean Dujardin about a Parisian detective who moves to New York and joins the NYPD in order to leave his previous life behind and start fresh; the soap Grand Hotel based on a popular spanish series championed by Eva Longoria; an action drama by Felicity Huffman about a New York City public school teacher-turned-FBI agent, Kristy Kottis; a new Ghost Whisperer called Spirited with Laverne Cox playing a fake psychic who realizes she can really communicate with the dead; and finally a comedic espionage show from Bill Lawrence named Whisky Cavalier starring Scott Foley.

 

———–

COMEDIES

BLACK DON’T CRACK (ABC Studios)

What? about three former sorority sisters who lost touch after college reunite during a pivotal point in each of their lives and realize that now that they are of a certain age sometimes it’s okay to crack and no one will be there for you like your sisters

Why? Okay, let’s be clear: it’s off-brand for ABC since it’s not a family comedy at all but it’s totally on-brand if you think about ABC dramas. The tittle suggets that it will feature an all-black female cast so putting it behind Blackish could make sense (and could end up as another The Mayor, yeah…). Viola Davis is producing. She might as well keep the project for her and star in it once How To Get Away With Murder is done in one or two years… Alongside Kerry Washington & Octavia Spencer?! Okay, stop. I’m going crazy.

 

BORING, OR (ABC Studios)

What? about a small town with a serial killer on the loose. It follows Jonna, a police officer who is determined to stop the killings while the rest of the townspeople remain dead set on not letting it affect their day-to-day lives

Why? Sounds like something that’d be a better fit with NBC’s brand. Jack Black, who’s done some crazy shit, is producing. Could be their “totally off-brand but fuck it!” pick up of the year, that will end up in the summer with no life support.

 

MOST LIKELY TO (Warner Bros. Television)

What? In high school, Liz Cooney had everything and Markie McQueen had nothing. 20 years later, they’re reunited under the same roof as single moms and unlikely housemates.

Why? ABC has yet to provide a comedy with single parents at the center, whether they are mothers or fathers (Suburgatory is long gone now). Other networks don’t have any either. And I think it’s a problem in a world where single parents are more numerous than ever! If they want to keep on broadening and diversifying their family brand, it might be a good one to do so. It’s produced by Greg Berlanti, who had a good comedy pilot last year in Raised by Wolves that was unfortunately not picked-up.

 

THE JETSONS (Warner Bros. Television)

What? live-action take on the 1960s Hanna-Barbera animated series, a multi-camera sitcom which is set 100 years in the future and looks at America’s favorite future family through a modern filter

Why? ABC is pretty high on this multicamera project produced by Robert Zemeckis, that could fit well with Roseanne if the revival gets another season. Despite being filmed in front of a live studio audience, there are plans to incorporate futuristic visual effects. No brainer.

 

NEIGHBOURS OF NORTH SYCAMORE (Kapital Entertainment)

What? about a millennial couple who buy their first house only to discover they’re living on a block where privacy is a myth, and everyone’s drama plays out 24/7 on the street’s secret Facebook page

Why? A millennial couple? That’d be interesting to have one on ABC for once. But it’d be even greater if they had kids to fit the brand better. At least a very little one… Something in the vein of Desperate Housewives tonally could make miracles for them. It’s produced by the same team as American Housewife, which is good news I guess.

 

THE REAL FAIRY GODMOTHER (Universal Television)

What? about a self-absorbed “real housewife” who learns that she’s descended from a secret order of Fairy Godmothers and has an inescapable destiny to use her magical abilities to help those in need

Why? Okay, it’s a little too crazy. BUT they have Kristin Chenoweth starring! And you can’t say no to Kristin Chenoweth, right? Plus, it would be very Disney of them to order such a project… It could be reallt fun to watch. That’s all I’m saying.

 

SUPER CHALLENGED HEROES (ABC Studios)

What? about the Sharif family, an ordinary Middle Eastern American family with two superhero parents at a time when it’s illegal to be a superhero, so they are forced to save the world in secret

Why? A family of superheroes in the comedy format? ABC doesn’t have that. Or any other network for instance. We have superheroes everywhere, way too many in my opinion, but this concept should be given a try, especially with a Middle Eastern American Family at the center, ‘cos we don’t have this either on the air. There’s an irony in this pitch that I like. It’s a smart way to be timely and send important messages. Plus, Larry Wilmore is behind it.

 

UNTITLED ROB SUDDUTH PROJECT (ABC Studios)

What? about a man who, along with his husband and son, moves back in with his Mexican-American family in the heart of Texas, where he struggles to navigate his family’s deep-rooted traditions

Why? Since The New Normal failed on NBC, networks develop family comedies around a gay couple every year but they never go beyond the script stage, as if they were afraid. Maybe it’s time to try again? After all, Cam & Mitchell from Modern Family may soon be gone… It’s important to keep on showing gay couples founding a family on TV.

 

ABC also have a straight-to-series multicam sitcom starring Alec Baldwin as stuck-in-his-ways, opinionated, fading TV star who moves in with his progressive daughter, her girlfriend and the child they are raising together; a female version of The Greatest American Hero from Fresh Off The Boat creator starring a 30-year-old Indian-American woman; Bright Futures from Kenya Barris (Blackish, Grownish) about  a group of friends who are stumbling through the transition from the clueless, immature 20-somethings they are now, to the successful professionals they have the potential to be; a comedy based on the life of Indian actress and global icon Madhuri Dixit, produced by Quantico star Priyanka Chopra; and White Dave, from Gabrielle Union & Lebron James about a young African-American teenager, who has grown up in an all-white suburb, and suddenly moves to an all-black neighborhood when his mom remarries.

 

What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!

 

ABC 2017-2018 Schedule [+ THOUGHTS]

MONDAY

8- DANCING WITH THE STARS

9- DANCING WITH THE STARS

10- THE GOOD DOCTOR

TUESDAY

8- THE MIDDLE / FRESH OFF THE BOAT

9- BLACKISH / THE MAYOR

10- THE GOSPEL OF KEVIN

WEDNESDAY

8- THE GOLDBERGS / SPEECHLESS

9- MODERN FAMILY / AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE

10- DESIGNATED SURVIVOR

THURSDAY

8- GREY’S ANATOMY

9- SCANDAL

10- HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER


FRIDAY

8- ONCE UPON A  TIME

9- MARVEL’S INHUMANS

10- 20/20

SUNDAY

8- TO TELL THE TRUTH

9- THE SHARK TANK

10- 10 DAYS IN THE VALLEY

MIDSEASON

 QUANTICO / AGENTS OF SHIELD / FOR THE PEOPLE / THE CROSSING / DECEPTION / SPLITTING UP TOGETHER / ALEX, INC.

What’s good?

  • All the moves within the comedy blocks are quite unexpected but they’re smart. Fresh Off The Beat will finally get the chance to show all its potential with a decent lead-in, American Housewife will be able to get stronger behind Modern Family, and Blackish -already sold in syndication- should be fine there.
  • Even though Deception looked like the best option to air behind Dancing With the Stars, The Good Doctor is the second best choice and it’s a good thing it airs in the fall. It’s ABC’s best shot at drama success right now. Very hopeful with this one.
  • Keeping the TGIT intact against NBC’s “Must See TV” is the right move.

What’s bad?

  • ABC basically gives up on sunday until American Idol arrives in spring. I think they could and should have fought a little bit more. That being said, moving The Shark Tank there makes sense as well as moving family-friendly fares Once Upon A Time, Marvel’s Inhumans and later on Agents Of SHIELD on friday. It won’t do well but it’s not gonna look as bad as it did on sunday.
  • The Gospel of Kevin on tuesday at 10? It’s gonna be uuuuuugly. I don’t think the show really had a chance anyway but here? Oh God…
  • Three new dramas premiering in spring? Plus two new comedies… That’s a lot. It’s a pity for Deception and Alex, Inc. They have potential but they probably won’t get the treatment they deserve…