Tag: allison miller

A Million Little Things (ABC) pilot preview: So Many Feelings

Written and executive produced by  DJ Nash (Growing Up Fisher, ’til Death). Also produced by Aaron Kaplan (The Chi, Life In Pieces, American Housewife, Secrets & Lies) & Dana Honor (9JKL, Me Myself And I). Directed by James Griffiths (The Mayor, Blackish, Episodes). For ABC, ABC Studios & Kapital Entertainment. 58 pages. 10/01/2018 Draft.

Description: ”Friendship isn’t a big thing – it’s a million little things,”. A group of friends, for different reasons and in different ways, are all stuck in their lives, but when one of them dies unexpectedly from suicide, it’s just the wake-up call the others need to finally start living. The group comes together to mourn the loss of their friend and in the process are reminded of how their lives used to be before their secrets…

With David Giuntoli (Grimm, Priviliged), James Roday (Psych, Miss Match), Romany Malco (Weeds, Think Like a Man), Stephanie Szostak (Satisfaction), Allison Miller (13 Reasons Why, Go On, Terra Nova), Anne Son (My Generation), Christina Moses (The Originals, Containment), Christina Ochoa (Valor, Blood Drive, Animal Kingdom), Lizzy Greene… Also Ron Livingston as guest star.

    

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: This Is Us, Thirtysomething, Brothers & Sisters, Parenthood

Likely timeslot: Wednesday at 10 or Thursday at 9

 

There’s simply no words to tell you how enthusiastic I am about A Million Little Things. I’ll try to find some, though. First, we need to go back a year ago when ABC decided not to pick-up to series DJ Nash’s previous project, a comedy pilot called Losing It, about “three misfit adult siblings and their parents who — between divorce, new parenthood, early-onset dementia and let’s just say life — are all losing it in different ways“. An heartbreaking decision but understandable: though the script was good, it was definitely not your typical ABC family comedy, since it was pretty dark, with a cable-feel. Not a good fit. It was hard not to think of This Is Us, especially with Gerald McRaney playing the father and some sort of surprising twist towards the end (spoiler alert: the mother died). But ABC loved it and gave DJ Nash a second chance. It’s this “failure” that gave him the idea and the courage to work on A Million Little Things, 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 declared when the pilot got picked-up. Since then, it’s a clear frontrunner in the 2018 pilot race. And the script does live up to the expectations!

Again, I will quote DJ Nash, he’s the one who describes it the best way since he’s the brilliant mind behind it and I assure you it’s not just PR, it’s true, it’s what I felt too: “It’s an optimistic look at how the loss of a friend is the impetus for the other seven to finally start living, to make a promise to him and to themselves to finally be honest about what’s really going on (…) I know in my own life, my friend’s passing is a constant reminder to keep things in perspective“. There’s something really emotional and profound on the page that I hope will translate on the screen and with the cast they managed to assemble, I have a feeling it will. A Million Little Things could be summed up as “This Is Us with friends”, though it would be unfair to compare them too much. They come from the same place -a little something called heart- and they march to the beat of the same drum but they’re different enough so there’s a place for both in our lives. AMLT is about the power of friendship, the power of belonging to a group in a world where it’s easy to get lonely, to be left alone. People are not talking anymore, they don’t even look at each other on the bus, on the train, on the streets… Those seven realize they need to take care of each other a little bit better, tighter. They simply need to change, which is also the name of the song from Tracy Chapman we’re supposed to hear in the pilot if they got the rights for it.

At first, I was a bit taken aback when I discovered it was mostly about a male friendship. Not that it’s not interesting, but experience proved that shows centered around those rarely work (Men of a certain age, Big Shots, We Are Men…) for some reason. My guess is women are not that fascinated by this type of look behind the curtain -what do men do when we’re not around?- and men are not into soapy character-driven dramas as much as women are. What’s different with A Million Little Things is that those men are not stereotypes, they are modern and self-conscious -though they spend too much time at hockey games if you ask me- they’re multi-dimensional and they don’t avoid their emotions; while the women are not just on the background, they’re not just girlfriends or wives, they have their own stories to tell and their own journeys to live. It’s a bunch of promising characters and we’ll all fall in love with them I’m sure. Even when they’re not nice, even when they’re difficult. But don’t be afraid, they can also be a lot of fun. Let me introduce you to them.

Eddie (David Giuntoli) is the former front man of a local band turned music teacher and stay-at-home dad. His marriage is in trouble, and although he loves being a dad, he wonders what his life would have been like had he made different choices. He may be ready to take a big risk and leave his wife… for another woman he’s having an affair with. There’s a Netflix’s Friends From College vibe here, but it’s less cynical and more importantly: they didn’t meet at college! Then there’s Gary (James Roday), who is known for his deflective humor, a habit of sleeping with everyone, and complete control over his emotions. He’s in remission after battling a breast cancer and may want to take a chance at love. He’s both irritating and cute. Rome (Romany Malco) is a depressed but very successful commercial director. Not quite the gig he went to film school for, he longs to be doing something more important than making stupid commercials. He’s in a happy marriage but his wife knows nothing about his darker side. Also, he’s black. And it’s important because depression in the black comunity is even more taboo. Finally, there’s Jon (Ron Livingston), who appears to have it all: good looks, a beautiful family, and a successful career. But he takes his own life in the opening by jumping out of a window for reasons everyone has a hard time to understand. Don’t expect a Desperate Housewives‘ kind of mystery, but there’s certainly soapy elements in the DNA of the show, with a big reveals at the end of the pilot to make sure you’ll come back, including one shocker. And Jon’s suicide is still very much a question mark.

It’s the women’s turn now. Delilah (Stephanie Szostak) is Jon’s wife, who pushes through after his death for the sake of her children. She’s admirable and I love her already.  Katherine (Anne Son) is Eddie’s wife, who was once the fun one in the group but now is the boring mom to a son she loves while juggling being the parent she wants to be with her very successful law career. She’ll be harder to love but it’s the type of character that could become fascinating after a while if she’s not labeled as “the bitchy one”. Regina (Christina Moses) is a talented chef with dreams of opening her own restaurant one day. She is living proof that there’s nothing stronger in this world than a determined woman. She’s married to Rome and he’ll need her more than ever. Finally, there’s Maggie (Allison Miller) who is amazing and comfortable in her own skin. She’s a therapist and her career and her life are focused on the emotional. She might be the one for Gary. But there’s something about her he doesn’t know yet… The scenes between the guys are cool but the scenes between the girls are even cooler. Most of the pilot is happening during Jon’s funeral, or right before and after, and there are flashbacks to tell us how they met. And a great speech. And much more.

A Million Little Things may or may not become the next This Is Us ratings-wise. It may or may not become the next best thing. But let me tell you it’s a good medecine, a great therapy a lot of us need and to which we could become addicted. It’s the kind of show that makes you realize you should be living your life at the fullest while you can. It’s the kind of show that makes your heart jumps a little, your eyes cry a little… Ultimately, it gives you a million different feelings. I don’t know about you but that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a television show. So please be part of our lives, AMLT

 

Salamander (ABC) pilot preview: Your conspiracy thriller from the 2000s

Written and produced by Andre Nemec (Zoo, Ninja Turtles, October Road, Alias), Jeff Pinkner (Zoo, Fringe, Lost, Alias), Josh Appelbaum (Zoo, Alias) & Scott Rosenberg (Zoo, High Fidelity, Gone in Sixty Seconds). Based on 2012 Belgian series. Directed by Gary Fleder (Kingdom, Beauty and the Beast, October Road, Kiss the Girls). For ABC Studios, Midnight Radio, Beta Films & Keshet Studios. 58 pages. Network Draft. 01/20/2017.

Description: Ethan Anders, a brilliant but misanthropic engineer, recruits Nora Schaller, a skeptical Homeland Security agent, to help him track a mysterious bank robber whose theft of 66 specific safety deposit boxes, belonging to the elite and powerful, sets in motion a series of blackmails that are linked to a greater conspiracy that is killing people one by one…

With Larenz Tate (Rescue Me, Power, House of Lies, Game of Silence), Allison Miller (Go On, Terra Nova, Incorporated), John Leguizamo (Bloodline, Moulin Rouge, Romeo+Juliet), Elaine Tan (Hand of God), Neil Sandilands (The 100, Hap and Leonard)…

  

You’ll like if you already like: Prison Break, 24, Designated Survivor, Scandal

Likely timeslot: midseason (as a bridge between Designated Survivor season 2A & 2B?)

Welcome back to the early 2000s folks. Salamander, adapted from a belgian series, looks like a script that was lost during this period of time when every network wanted their conspiracy thrillers after 24 & Prison Break broke out. Remember Kidnapped, Vanished or The Nine? Salamander is one of these. They all tended to be appealing on paper based on the concept with their strong hooks and big twists. But at some point, they all had to face reality: it’s hard to pull off conspiracy-themed series on a weekly basis. They became silly and sometimes even unwatchable. And they got cancelled pretty quickly. Salamander is not totally dumb and silly. At least, not yet. But everything that’s happening is unbelievable and overall not that surprising if you watched the shows I pointed out a few lines ago. I would be very surprised if ABC gives it a chance. It looks like one of those pilots that got ordered “just in case”, just to see. And they could’t assemble an attractive cast, like The Crossing, to compensate. Not a good omen either.

As in Prison Break, the relationship between two brothers is at the center of the story and gives an emotional feel to a pilot that’s mostly about plots and twists. But one of them dies in the pilot, paving the way for another, more conventional relationship between our hero, a “normal nerd” and a psychiatrist who works at Homeland Security. They’re supposed to have a strong chemistry -we’ll see if that translates on screen- and the writer insists on it a lot. Way too much. We get it man. In fact, the pilot starts with them having a date. It goes horribly wrong of course. They agree not to see each other again. But you know fate. It’s twisty. 10 pages later they’re in for a big deadly adventure where everyone in New York seem to be dangerous and hiding a terrible secret. We meet so many secondary characters… it’s overwhelming! Between the senator who causes an explosion on a ferry, the man who commits suicide by jumping out of his office’s window, those you just meet in one scene but the writers warn you they will be more important later on… You can feel they have a plan. And they’d better! It’s based on an existing show after all. The way is already paved.

Despite this waterfall of characters, the story is more plot-driven than character-driven, especially when the leads are not on screen, which happens every other scene. For example, you can sense from the get go that the cops who interrogate Ethan Anders after the death of his brother are corrupt and you think they’ll play a bigger role later. Wrong: they end up killing each other. It’s one of those plot twists that give you an instant hard on because it’s exciting and surprising at the exact moment it arrives. And then you think about it and it just don’t make sense. Salamander asks you not to use your brain too much. Some people are good at it. Others just can’t. Your apprecIation of the show may very well depend on it. But above all, it’s a show where you’re clearly told not to get too attached to the characters because most of them are not there for long and that’s a problem for me. It’s hard to care about anything when you’re sent this message. Last thing that troubles me with Salamander is the fact that Ethan is an engineer. It’s way too convenient for the writers. Too easy. He can crack everything. It’s not the first show to do this but it doesn’t make it okay. And about Nora, she’s “just” a psychiatrist at Homeland Security but she has access to everyting. It just doesn’t make sense.

Salamander is not the type of show ABC should bet on though Designated Survivor proved there’s an audience for thrilling conspiracy series on the network when it’s well done. But this show doesn’t have Kiefer Sutherland, nor legs to work for a long time even if the pilot is efficient and action-packed. ABC has way better options to waste a slot on it. Go back where you belong Salamander: to the early 2000s!