Tag: bill lawrence

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…

Life Sentence (The CW) pilot preview: Pretty Little Cutie Pies

Written and produced by Erin Cardillo & Rich Keith (Significant Mother, Fuller House). Executive produced by Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town, Undateable) & Jeff Ingold (Ground Floor, Undateable). Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (Riverdale, Beyond, Adaline, Celeste & Jesse Forever). 61 pages. Network Draft Revised 01/11/2017. For Warner Bros. Television & Doozer Entertainment.

Description: When Stella, a young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer finds out that she’s not dying after all, she has to learn to live with the choices she made when she decided to “live like she was dying.” She then discover her family has been lying to her for the past ten years so she doesn’t worry. Now, she has every reason to worry…

With Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars, Privileged), Jayson Blair (Whiplash, Young & Hungy, The New Normal), Dylan Walsh (Nip/Tuck, Unforgettable), Gillian Vigman (New Girl, Suburgatory), Brooke Lyons (The Affair, iZombie, 2 Broke Girls), Elliot Knight (American Gothic, Sinbad, Once Upon a Time)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Jane The Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Life Unexpected…

First there was Jane The Virgin. Then came Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Now there’s No Tomorrow (which doesn’t have much of a future ironically). Despite underwhelming ratings -but rave reviews and rare prizes for the network- those hour-long dramedies are very much alive, as if The CW wanted to apologize for all their superhero shows -there will be 5 next year if Black Lightning is ordered to series!- by balancing them with lighter fares targeting millenial women. Before reading the script, I expected Life Sentence to be yet another romantic comedy with charming and colorful leads. It turned out the leads are charming and sometimes colorful but it is not that romantic. Though it can be. There are clichés about Paris and Amsterdam after all. But it’s mostly about a quirky, messy, relatable, instantly appealing family from Portland that we could enjoy spending a few years with.

First of all, let me introduce you to all of them. Stella, our heroine and narrator, is a 25 year-old decisive, strong woman, with a wry, sometimes morbid, sense of humor. She’s a cutie pie. I’m not a Pretty Little Liars fan but I feel like casting Lucy Hale in the starring role is the best thing that could have happenned to the project. She’s certainly capable and she does have fans that will sample the show. Wes is Stella’s husband, a cool guy’s guy. Paul is Stella’s father, a solid rock who rarely shows his feelings. Ida is Stella’s mother, a kind and emotional 55 year-old woman who owns a cheese shop called… Brie Yourself. Elizabeth is Stella’s older sister, an aspiring writer with a family of her own to take care of. Aiden is Stella’s older brother, an immature womanizer who still lives with his parents at 28. There’s also Dr Helena Chang, Stella’s awkward oncologist and the closest she has to a best friend; and Poppy, Ida’s best friend who has become an aunt for Stella and her brother and sister. We get to meet all of them through the pilot and have a pretty good idea of who they are… or more precisely: who they want Stella to believe they are and who they really are. And it’s already a hell of a ride! And they’re never irritating, which is kind of a miracle.

Life Sentence is funny. But discreetly. Without a red light warning sign saying “Be ready, we’re gonna be funny in 3,2,1…”. It’s funny because the characters are -and hopefully the actors too- because the dialogues are sharp and smart, and probably because the writers and the producers wrote for comedies before. It shows. It’s touching without being cheesy, especially thanks to the heroine’s voice-over that could be compared to the narrator’s in Jane The Virgin, though she’s not breaking the fourth wall. And it has potential to go on for years. As long as the characters are good, and I don’t want to repeat myself but they are, everything’s gonna be fine. You want to know their secrets? Here’s one [SPOILER ALERT!]: Ida wants to divorce Paul for years. And you know why? Because she doesn’t love him anymore, yes. But mostly because she’s in love with a woman. And this woman is… Poppy! It is this type of show. The situations can be far-fetched, there’s too much going on, but the emotions feel real.

Life Sentence is a delightful, funny, soapy, certainly not preachy, breath of fresh air, that may not be as inventive as Jane The Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are, but there’s a lot to like in there, especially for those who want more family dramedies on TV. Can it be a huge success for The CW? Probably not. Can it win awards? I doubt it. Can it charm the hell out of the audience? Oh yeah, it will!

“Rush Hour” (CBS) pilot preview: Run the other way!

RUSHHOUR

Written & produced by Bill Lawrence (Spin City, Scrubs, Cougar Town, Undateable) & Black McCormick (King of the Hill, Cougar Town). Co-produced by Jeff Ingold (Undateable, Ground Floor), Brett Ratner (Rush HourHorrible BossesPrison Break) & Arthur Sarkissian (Rush Hour) Directed by John Turteltaub (Ninja Kids, Rasta Rockett, National Treasure, Jericho). For CBS, Warner Bros. Television & Doozer.

Description: Lee, a stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer is assigned to a case in Los Angeles, where he’s forced to work with James Carter, a cocky black LAPD officer who has no interest in a partner…

With Justin Hires (21 Jump Street), Jon Foo (Tekken, Extraction, Bjankok Renaissance), Aimee Garcia (Dexter, Trauma), Page Kennedy (Weeds, Backstrom, Desperate Housewives, Blue Mountain State), Jessika Van (Awkward, The Messengers)…

rate

Initially, I held my nose while reading the first pages of Rush Hour‘s pilot script, ‘cos the whole idea of a reboot smelled bad from the get go. But then I couldn’t do it anymore ‘cos my eyes were closing as my brain was instinctively looking for a safer place. I won’t bullshit you: I had a very hard time finishing it and I may have jumped a few pages in the process. Rush Hour as a movie was not my thing. It was safe to assume it still wouldn’t be my thing as a TV series. I wanted to take a look at it anyway, ‘cos you never know. I can promise you now that if CBS orders it to series, I won’t watch a minute of it. Not because it’s bad. It’s not. Not really. Okay, it is. I think. But what do I know? Because IT’S NOT MY FUCKING THING. It’s the same for you: if the movies made you laugh, even just a little bit, try it: you never know. But if it didn’t, don’t even bother. It’s a waste of time.

Honestly, I have no desire to write a long article about it. I don’t even know what to say. There’s no need to tell you what it is about -the pitch up above says it all- or to give you further details. It’s exactly what you think it is. What you expect is what you get. It’s funny, for those who like that kind of humor (and I’m not judging you in any way when writing this). Me? I hated it. I thought the character of detective James Carter was a pain in the ass. He never stops talking. He always has a joke to crack. He’s a big joke himself. He couldn’t care less about his job. Or so it seems. He got on my nerves pretty quickly and I felt the same way about him until the end. But I’m pretty sure a lot of people will like him very much. His partner, Lee, is boring for half the pilot. The fact that he pretends that he can’t speak english doesn’t help. Once he stops hiding it, he gets a little bit more interesting. He can be funny too, cynical. That’s the kind of humor I enjoy more. But it’s sooo conventional. It doesn’t sound fresh at all. Of course, you get a lot of action: choppers, explosions, gun-fires, a little bit of fighting ninja style… I don’t know what we can expect from the cast, but they don’t seem very charismatic. CBS wanted Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings, New Girl) for the lead. It turned out he prefered to be jobless than accepting the offer. He would have made a great pair with John Cho. I don’t know if he was approached. With them, I think I would have been able to give it a fair chance.

The first Rush Hour movie came out in 1998! You can’t make the same shit as a TV series almost 20 years later and expect the same result and the same welcome from the audience. As entertaining as it may be, and as tempting as it is for CBS to pick it up to series -and prove for once they can also have minorities for their leads, after every other networks did- I don’t think it’s a good move for them. And they don’t even produce it themselves so they won’t make that much money out of it even if it does well internationally. Scorpion & Hawaii 5-0 are enough in this department. Hopefully, like the Beverly Hills Cop reboot they made two years ago, they’ll stop in time.