Tag: anthony edwards

Controversy (FOX) pilot preview: Another lesser American Crime

Written and produced by Sheldon Turner (In The Air, X-Men First Class). Executive produced by Jennifer Klein (Pearl Harbor), Judy Smith (Scandal, Braindead) & Charlie Gogolak (Kyle XY). Directed by John Requa & Glenn Ficarra (This Is Us, Patriot, Bad Santa, Focus, I Love You Phillip Morris). For 20th Century FOX Television, Zaftig Films, Smith & Company & Vendetta Productions. 60 pages. 01/28/17.

Description: The Junior Counsel of a prestigious Illinois university must deal with an out-of-control scandal when a young co-ed accuses several star football players of sexual assault. From the football coaches and boosters who wield outsize influence, to a university administration under siege, the series explores the type of high-profile controversy all-too familiar on today’s college campuses, as well as the corrosive, dangerous nature of institutional power…

With Austin Stowell (Whiplash, Public Morals), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife, The Fall, Blindspot), Anthony Edwards (ER, Top Gun, Zodiac), Christine Lahti (Chicago Hope, Jack & Bobby, Hawaii 5-0), Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones, The Kings of Summer), Saycon Sengbloh (Scandal), Vince NappoGriffin Freeman

 

  

You’ll like if you already like: American Crime, American Crime Story, Shots Fired

Likely timeslot: somewhere in midseason

In a few days, FOX will start airing event series Shots Fired, which I’m not a big supporter of, mainly because it’s kind of a rip off of the first season of American Crime without what’s making this show so great and important. It’s a decent attempt to make something compelling and meaningful out of a very hot topic -police shootings- but it’s never brilliant despite its incredible cast. Too soapy probably (You can still read the preview HERE). I’m not sold on Controversy either, for some of the same reasons and a few others. But FOX is certainly hoping Controversy will be their next Shots Fired, if Shots Fired (paired with Empire) becomes successful. It does have a real shot. They share the same respectable ambition. Controversy has not been announced as a miniseries, so they can explore other controversial subjects in subsequent seasons I guess…

This first installment is about college rape, a timely topic that was already tackled on… the second season of American Crime. Brilliantly. With fierceness. Why do FOX keep on following the steps of the ABC series? I’m not sure. But they’ll argue they do it very differently and I can’t say otherwise. Sadly, it’s not as gripping and it doesn’t come out as subtle and intimate. Sometimes, it’s just too spectacular for me. Starting the show with a flashforward then going back to the hours that led to the night of the crime is not a narrative tool that should be used there in my opinion. I understand they want their show to be efficient and as mainstream as possible, but they lose the emotion in the middle of this well-oiled machine. It lacks authenticity for me. And since most of the multiple characters, including the victim, don’t seem to be very reliable and well-meaning persons, I had a hard time connecting with them. But there’s a complexity that suggests it wouldn’t be fair to jump to any conclusions after only one episode. It is obviously thought as a whole and this pilot works more like an introduction to a short season than an episode that wants to give you a promise for months and years to come. And I’m pretty sure FOX will want to air the first two episodes back to back.

The most engaging character here is not the victim (sadly) or the possible culprit(s) but Jourdan Price, a crisis management consultant brought in to help with the scandal. It takes time before she appears but the show really starts with her arrival for me. Knowing that Archie Panjabi would play her certainly helped, I have to admit. What’s interesting is the show is produced by Judy Smith, the real-life top crisis-management consultant who inspired Scandal‘s Olivia Pope. It doesn’t mean Price is also based on Smith, but she did work on a number of high-profile clients, including universities. It’s reassuring. The show may be a faithful depiction of what really happens when such an horrible thing happen on college campuses, way too often apparently. But at the same time, there are soapy and conspirationist elements that show the writer Sheldon Turner is more interested in the twists and turns than in the emotional depth. And that’s a shame. But This Is Us‘ directors in charge of the pilot could add what’s missing in the script.

I’m also very curious to understand why Turner chose to adopt the Junior Counsel of the university’s point of view, which was not the case initially as the first description suggests it was supposed to be Price’s. Matt Kincaid seems to be a white-privileged golden boy, a bit pretentious, the kind of character that is not easy to like in general but who still looks like the usual leading man on a network show. Is it because he’s handsome, great to watch and that’s an easier sell? That may be the reason why and I’d like to be proven wrong. I hope there is more to him than just that and that it’s not a decision taken out of fear to make sure that FOX audience would tune in. I mean… Is there a FOX show with a female lead? Nope…

Is Controversy a quality show or a tepid impersonation of a quality show? I don’t have the answer yet. I just know it’s not a masterpiece but it has the potential to be at least a good entertainment. But one thing’s for sure: FOX will put it on their schedule next year no matter what. It’s not their best shot at a hit but it’s a project that is able to start a conversation on an important matter. They want their American Crime. They want to be in that game. They want awards recognition too. We’ll see if this effort is enough. 

Drew (CBS) pilot preview: Nancy is back, older, smarter, sexier and more boring than ever!

Sarah-Shahi-Backgrounds

Gotcha Day“. Created by Joan Rater & Tony Phelan (Grey’s Anatomy, Madam Secretary). Based on Edward Stratemeyer. Directed by Marc Webb (Limitless, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, 500 Days of Summer). Executive produced by Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Harvey Milk, Big Fish), Nick Nantell, Joan Rater & Tony Phelan. For CBS, CBS Television Studios & The Dan Jinks Company. 60 pages.

Description: Now in her 30s, Nancy Grace is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world and grieving the death of her best friend…

With Sarah Shahi (Person Of Interest, Life, Fairly Legal, The L Word), Anthony Edwards (ER, Zodiac, Top Gun), Vanessa Ferlito (24, Graceland, Grindhouse), Steve Kazee (Shameless US), Felix Solis (The Following, The Good Wife), Debra Monk (Grey’s Anatomy, Damages)…

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I’m not very familiar with the iconic Nancy Drew character -never read any book, never seen any movie or series about her- but I’m pretty sure that what CBS is doing with this version is wrong and not respectful to the spirit of the original idea. What made it fresh and different at the time was that the heroine was a 16-year-old teenage girl solving mysteries. Not a big boy. Not an older woman. Not a professional. Veronica Mars before Veronica Mars. That was the whole point! CBS Television Studios could have turned the cult property into a nice little CW show while keeping the character as a child. But instead, they decided to make of her a 30-year-old detective. Like we already had a million over the years. Sad to say Nancy Drew is not fresh and different anymore. She’s just one more smart cop investigating crimes in New York. Does CBS need her? Not really. Do we? Certainly not! Then why bother?

The first scene of the pilot is exactly what we don’t want to see in detective dramas anymore. How to turn off your TV in 30 seconds. Nancy is driving a Uber -it’s her a job since she left the NYPD- and starts analyzing every detail coming from her client’s look and clothing, just to pass the time and because clearly she can’t help it. In a minute, she’s able to tell her whole story, just because of a stain on her shirt (I’m not kidding). This know-it-all attitude, from The Mentalist to Dr House and recently useless addition Rosewood, has had its day. It’s just irritating now. Not funny anymore. Especially when there’s nothing else to get our teeth into. At least, Lucifer is fucking Lucifer, the Devil! The hero of Forever was immortal. That’s something! But Nancy? Just a sad and angry woman who lost her best friend, Bess -same as in the books, at least they kept the characters- six months ago and who can’t stop thinking about her ever since (the same as Unforgettable‘s heroine with her sister). The girl wrote a suicide note but Nancy is convinced its a fake, that she was murdered. Long story short: she investigates about her suspicious death the whole episode, with the help of her other best friend, George, a lesbian who also happens to be a cop. Of course. And in the end, spoiler alert… they crack the case. How surprising! So now, Nancy is not so sad anymore and she’s even ready to go back to the precinct. Meaning: the next episodes will be even more boring than the first one! You’ve been warned.

The first act is really painful to read. The writers use the laziest way to introduce the story and the characters. Writing for dummies. That’s what it is. I can’t even say it’s efficient. Because it’s not. Who likes watching two people saying things they already know to each other so the viewers can be on the same page? Who likes watching a character saying out loud what we all very well understood, just to make sure we’re not lost because maybe we’re stupid? The other acts are not particularly better but at least they’re a little less predictable. Overall, the investigation is full of plot holes and nonsense. I’m not good at solving mysteries but Nancy didn’t impress me much. Even the dialogues are lazy. Okay, from time to time there is a funny line or a good joke. But the parts where George says “like we learned at the academy” (to underline the fact that she’s a by-the-book cop, contrary to Nancy) or Nance asks “Do I sound like a crazy person?” (as if there was any doubt about it, yes she does!) get excruciating at some point. Plus, everybody in Nancy’s entourage is very practical when you look at it: her father is a lawyer; her ex is a journalist and George’s girlfriend is a doctor. Meaning she will ask for their help every time she needs to. That doesn’t make her a good detective. Just a lucky girl. And where did the feminism of the books go? Still looking for it…

You know what could save Drew from the complete disaster it’s meant to be according to the pilot script? Sarah Shahi! People love her since Person Of Interest (and some of us since Life). It’s true, she’s great. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, she can be funny and badass. She doesn’t really feel like Nancy Drew, at least the idea we have of her, but I’m sure she can do a decent job even with such a poor material. That what she already did with USA’s legal drama Facing Kate a few years ago, actually. But will it be enough? Drew belongs to Lifetime or Hallmark Channel, not to CBS. And the young demo will never watch this. Nancy Drew was a big inspiration for many writers, many shows they created, now she’s obsolete and should stay where she belongs: in our memories. Next year, CBS will probably try to revive “The Famous Five“…