Tag: alyssa milano

Charmed 2018 (The CW) pilot preview: Is the #STOPCHARMEDREBOOT movement worth the trouble?

Written and executive produced by Jennie Snyder Urman (Jane The Virgin, Emily Owens, MD, 90210, Gilmore Girls), Jessica O’Toole & Amy Rardin (Jane The Virgin, Selfie, The Carrie Diaries, Greek). Based on the 90’s hit series from Aaron Spelling. Also produced by Ben Silverman (Jane The Virgin, No Tomorrow, The Office, Ugly Betty). Directed by Brad Silberling (Jane The Virgin, Dynasty, Reign, Casper, A Series of Unfortunate Events). For The CW & CBS Television Studios. 61 pages. 2nd Revised Network Draft. 2/27/2018.

Description: Three sisters in a college town discover they are witches right after their mother died in mysterious circumstances. Between vanquishing supernatural demons, tearing down the patriarchy and maintaining familial bonds, a witch’s work is never done. Mel, Maggie & Macy will learn it the hard way…

With Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station, The Breaks, Nip/Tuck), Sarah Jaffery (Shades Of Blue, Disney’s The Descendants, Wayward Pines), Madeleine Mantock (Into The Badlands, The Tomorrow People), Rupert Evans (The Man In The High Castle), Ser’Darius Blain (Jane By Design, Jumanji), Charlie Gillepsie, Ellen Tamaki

  

Ever since The CW announced they were working on a Charmed reboot back in january 2017 -we were first to break the news and it was a prequel at the time, which is no longer the case- many outraged fans of the original show expressed their discontent -let’s call it like that- around the globe, while the actresses had some harsh words about it on their respective social media accounts. One year later, the network proceeded with a pilot pick-up anyway, that unleashed hell on earth. Original star Holly Marie Combs unloaded a magical amount of tweets to shade CBS -which owns the rights- like this one:

And she went on and on… In the meantime, a group of hardcore fans launched a Twitter campaign called #StopCharmedReboot, hoping it would discourage The CW but so far it didn’t work, as expected: new actresses were hired to play the three new incarnations of the story and a shooting date has been set (it starts march 19 in Vancouver). The movement is still going strong, with people airing their grievances every day but let’s be honest: unless the network is not happy with the finished product AT ALL, it’s gonna get picked-up to series, it’s gonna air next fall, it will get big streaming deals, it will be successfully sold internationally and even the most infuriated fans will take a look at it no matter what they say. The truth is: in the era of peak TV it’s getting harder and harder for your show to get some attention, that’s why there are so many reboots and sequels, and all this fuss about Charmed is helping it more than anything else; any press is still good press, right? If I had one advice to give to people who don’t want this show to work: STOP. TALKING. ABOUT. IT. Indifference is the strongest force in this universe! Right after The Power of Three, of course.

Without any further ado, I’m gonna tell you what I think of this pilot script. But first, just know I wasn’t a huge fan of the original show, I didn’t watch the entire thing, I never considered it as a must-see and I never understood why it was so popular and why it still is. But I have nothing but respect for a show that was able to please such a devoted and vibrant fanbase all around the world. It’s rare and precious. Also, what will follow is MY opinion only, from a business perspective more than anything else. Is it a promising script? Does it have the potential to become a hit for The CW? That’s what I’m interested in. Feel free to comment but please be respectful!

Back when the pilot was picked up in january, the network described it as “a fierce, funny, feminist reboot”, which was understood by many people as a provocation implying that the original show was not fierce, funny and feminist. Well, things have change, time has passed. What was feminist in the early 2000s -“girl power” and everything- looks a bit soft and cheesy nowadays. It was a first step. An important one. Charmed was a good example of female empowerment for little girls but it was no Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I don’t mean to belittle what was accomplished but let’s not rewrite history either. It was not groundbreaking. More than a decade later, in a world with the #MeToo movement -Rose McGowan is a huge part of it and it’s no coincidence- and shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, a straight follow-up wouldn’t have made a lot of sense. We can’t blame the new writers and producers for wanting to be timely. Their goal is to appeal to a new generation -with younger characters- and address the most pressing issues women face nowadays (the “case of the week” part is about a professor who’s a predator). So let me rephrase it: the Charmed reboot is fiercier, funnier and more feminist than the original show. I’m not sure it sounds better but you’ll have to deal with it! That being said, the script tries way too hard to look “woke”. More subtlety wouldn’t have hurt anyone. They’re clearly making a statement here, let’s just hope they relax a little after the pilot, not making it too heavy all the time.

The whole Mel character, the middle sister who’s a passionate feminist and an outspoken activist -with the ability to freeze time- sounds a little too cliché, especially when you add the fact that she’s a lesbian. Hear me out: it’s great there’s a lesbian sister in the show, that’s one of the reasons why this version is modern. BUT it might have been more interesting to give the feminist attribute to another character, so we don’t fall into the usual “feminists are homosexuals (who hate men)” trap. Still, she’s probably the most interesting character here; after the family tragedy, she becomes angry and violent, she loses her way, she loses her girlfriend too -Nico, who’s a detective in Hilltowne- so she adds darkness to a show that’s not light-hearted. Maybe that’s the biggest difference with the original Charmed: it can be funny because the dialogues are sometimes great and inspired -and we recognize the Jane The Virgin team here- but it’s pretty gloomy overall. The family manor is right in the middle of frightening woods, not in a sunny street of San Francisco. The opening sequence leans towards the horrific genre, with jump scares, fog, crows, murder of crows even… Same goes for the end with a Ouija board in the attic, and whisperings… A totally different atmosphere that is closer to Buffy, Riverdale or American Horror Story than good ol’ Charmed.

The younger sister, Maggie, is the complete opposite of Mel. She’s 18, your typical millenial girl who’s worried about her social identity -too bad for her, she can hear other people’s thoughts- and she’s not happy at all to discover that she’s a witch. She has a wry sense of humor and she’s part of a sorority that will probably play a major role in the subsequent episodes, between the mean girls she wants to be friends with and the weird guys that are lurking around her. She will probably become a fan favorite. Last but not least, the older sister who didn’t know she had sisters until recently: Macy, a “science nerd” in her late 20s with a Ph.D. in quantum physics. She’s moving with her boyfriend named Galvin to Hilltowne to do lab work. She possesses the power of telekinesis. Her love story is already totally boring and I’m not sure Gavin will stick around much longer. Finally, there’s Harry, the girls’ “devilishly handsome” advisor, refered to as a “whitelighter” like Leo was, who adds a lot of humor and eccentricity whenever he appears. Think Eliot in The Magicians. But he’s not exactly who he says he is…

You’re probably wondering if the Book of Shadows is still part of the story and the answer is yes. The Power of Three? Yes, of course. Are the Halliwell sisters part of the story or even refered to? Not at all. I don’t think they will ever exist in this version. It’s not a sequel. If the overall tone is darker, they kept most of the original show’s premice. They’re still the most powerful witches ever known, destined to protect both innocents and the world at large from demons and other devil creatures. They didn’t lie: it really is an update of the same concept with characters that are more diverse. It’s not just using the show’s name and popularity to do something totally different. It’s fast-paced, with transitions throughout that consist of three quick cuts which are in fact small slices of each women’s stories. Think How To Get Away Murder. They do something similar. I find it irritating on paper here and it doesn’t add much but why the hell not after all… We’re promised monsters of the week cases as well as ongoing stories about the witches’ love lives while the bigger picture is probably kept for later, once they will be familiar with their powers.

The Charmed fans will be pissed to read this but this pilot script is pretty decent. It’s not an insult to the original though they’re doing like The Halliwells never existed (and some might find that insulting, I get it). It’s modern and as feminist as they claimed, though subtlety is not their strong suit. The characters have things to say and stories to tell that should be heard in those troubled times. In other words, it’s not revolutionary in any way but it’s not the trainwreck haters would like it to be and there’s really nothing to rally against. Ignore it, don’t watch it, just let it be. There are more important battles worth fighting for. 

CBS 2016/2017 Comedy Pilots ranked

CBS-logo-2011

This past season was, once again, not a great year for CBS’ comedy department with new entries not doing so well. Life In Pieces seems to work only because it follows The Big Bang Theory, and still manage to lose a big chunk of its viewers anyway. A move next year could prove very problematic, but it’s a slot wasted for a show that’s not even produced in-house… Angel From Hell was, as expected, cancelled after a few airings. Mike & Molly was sentenced to death for unknown reasons, even though it was at least a utility player. Second season of The Odd Couple, which should never have been ordered, was kept all season long and will finally start airing on April. Meaning it’s basically already cancelled. Mom is doing fine, thank God. And 2 Broke Girls is okay, despite multiple moves on the schedule.

Whatever they decide to renew or cancel in the end, very few slots are available for new comedies. The race will be tough. But “fortunately”, most of their comedy pilots don’t look promising on paper (and the worst one is a straight-to-series order, ugh). Decisions shouldn’t be that hard to make. They took mostly multicamera comedies -they finally understood!- but there’s still some single-camera left. Let’s take a look!

  1. SUPERIOR DONUTS (CBS Television Studios)

rate rate rate rateFollows the relationship between the owner of a donut shop, his new young employee and their patrons in a gentrifying neighborhood of Chicago… With Jermaine FowlerBrian d’Arcy James, David Koechner, Sarah Stiles…

This is the only comedy pilot script at CBS that I liked. A lot. It’s not only very funny, it’s also insightful and it really fits with their actual line-up. I totally see it sandwiched between Mom & 2 Broke Girls, or after The Big Bang Theory. And I feel like Jermaine Fowler can become huge in the next few years. I’m not sure about Brian d’Arcy James though. Didn’t know he could be that funny. For me, it’s a sure bet. Plus, it is directed by sitcom superstar James Burrows.

 


2. MY TIME/YOUR TIME (Sony Pictures Television / CBS Television Studios)

rate rate rate  chronicles the relationship of Marla & Wade, a young couple as they begin dating long distance through Skype. One is in New York, the other in Los Angeles… With Jane Levy, Nicholas Braun, Izzie Steele…

Yet another dramedy about millenials looking for love. Okay, it’s not original but it is something networks have a hard time to find, something that feels true and fresh and fun and melancholic… It’s appealing, honest, really cute…

Read the full preview

 

3. WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND (Warner Bros. Television)

rate rate rate two 40-something parents who were wild and reckless teenagers now face their worst nightmare—raising three teenagers of their own… With Jason Lee, Alyssa Milano, Matt Murray, Tia Mowry…

Single-camera comedy. Ouch. If they can only take one, this is the one! It’s a bit too classical to be honest, it doesn’t tell anything new about parenting, but it’s a strong vehicle for Lee & Milano, who already played a married couple in My Name is Earl. They have chemistry. They can do great. The script is a little rough around the edges, but it mostly works and the kid characters really do exist. ABC could have generated this one. It just lacks the thing that would make it really special.

 


4. THE KICKER (Universal Television)

rate rate rate  an oddball athlete drives family, friends and strangers insane after he unexpectedly finds himself cut from his professional football team… With Geoff StultsDavid Spade, Joanna Garcia Swisher…

The Tina Fey / 30 Rock team came up with an efficient, pretty funny pilot, whose only real fault is too rely so much on its star that if Geoff Stults is not the right one after all, it will probably fail miserably. The character is so annonying that if the actor doesn’t have the charm required, the pilot could quickly turn into something unwatchable. I’m pretty condident though. Too bad it’s not produced in-house and it has almost the same pitch as Kevin Can Wait (see below)…

 

5. REAL GOOD PEOPLE (CBS Television Studios)

rate rate rate centers on a conservative, small-town family from Texas who is forced to reconcile their family values when they discover their children’s lives are less than perfect… With Nick Zano, Lenora Chrichlow, David Keith, Julie White…

I am moderately convinced by the script, but I feel like this family has a real potential and the cast is capable of turning it into something better than it is on the page, but it’s certainly not special. Remember The Millers? I fear it gets the same destiny (the creator wrote multiple episodes for it)…

 

6. FURST BORN (CBS Television Studios)

rate rate about a wife and mother who learns she was adopted and that her birth parents are a flamboyant but loving family of drag-racers… With Poppy Montgomery, Katey Sagal, John Carroll Lynch, Swoosie Kurtz…

Stellar cast! Really. But damn, why is it so unfunny most of the time? I didn’t laugh a lot. It’s not complicated: you got a few good characters -the two set of grandparents- and all the others, who are boring as hell. Dunno if Poppy Montgomery can deliver in a comedy -it would be her first- but I feel like it’s meant to be another Life In Pieces (and it’s also a single-cam): good cast wasted in a mediocre comedy. Magic can still happen…

 


7. I’M NOT YOUR FRIEND (CBS Television Studios)

rate rate a contractor learns that raising his kids is more challenging than expected when his wife goes back to work and he has to take care of the little monsters by himself all day long… With Matt Le Blanc, Jenna Fischer, Diana Maria Riva…

Bad vehicle for Matt Le Blanc returning to network comedy. He deserved better after 5 years of the excellent Episodes. Clearly, he’s not our friend Joey anymore.

Read the full preview

 

8. THE GREAT INDOORS (CBS Television Studios)

rate rate an adventure reporter must adapt to the times when he becomes the boss to a group of millennials in the digital department of the magazine… With Joel McHale, Chris Williams, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Stephen Fry…

I have NO IDEA why Joel McHale accepted this (and why CBS ordered it in the first place). How come a show about millenials can be so cliché and outdated? Didn’t laugh once. It just ends up being unfunny and unrealistic for the most part. From someone who comes from Community, it makes no sense. And I don’t think he will be able to improve the material.

 

9. KEVIN CAN WAIT (Sony Pictures Television) – Ordered to series

rate  a newly retired police officer looks forward to spending more quality time with his wife and three kids… only to discover he faces much tougher challenges at home than he ever did on the streets. With Kevin JamesErinn Hayes, Taylor Spreitler, Ryan Cartwright…

It’s never funny. Same old jokes that don’t work anymore. No diversity. Kevin Can Wait is more outdated than The King of Queens was at the time! It’s just not possible airing this in 2016. It could have been tacky in a sweet and nostalgic way. But it’s just tacky as… shitty tacky.

Read the full preview