Tag: cbs

CBS 2017-2018 Schedule [+ THOUGHTS]

MONDAY

8- First weeks THE BIG BANG THEORY / 9JKL

then KEVIN CAN WAIT / 9JKL

9- First weeks KEVIN CAN WAIT / ME, MYSELF AND I

then ME, MYSELF AND I / SUPERIOR DONUTS

10- SCORPION

TUESDAY

8- NCIS

9- BULL

10- NCIS: NEW ORLEANS

WEDNESDAY

8- SURVIVOR

9- SEAL TEAM

10- CRIMINAL MINDS

THURSDAY

8- THE BIG BANG THEORY / YOUNG SHELDON

9- MOM / LIFE IN PIECES

10- S.W.A.T.

 

FRIDAY

8- MACGYVER

9- HAWAII 5-0

10- BLUE BLOODS

SUNDAY

8- WISDOM OF THE CROWD

9- NCIS: LOS ANGELES

10- MADAM SECRETARY

MIDSEASON

MAN WITH A PLAN / INSTINCT / BY THE BOOK / ELEMENTARY / CODE BLACK

 

What’s good?

  • Slotting Young Sheldon behind the mothership is the best way to go for a first season. If it works, they’ll have plenty of time to move it to monday. The special preview in september while the show only starts in november is stupid though.
  • Keeping both tuesday and friday intact seems legit.
  • Finally moving Criminal Minds at 10 is the right way to go. Not work an 9pm slot anymore.

What’s bad?

  • S.W.A.T. on the thursday 10pm death slot seems stupid. They had the chance for a hit with this one, wednesday at 9 was the evident place for it. Now, it can only do okay. They only co-produce it. Maybe that’s why…
  • Is Navy SEAL the right fit with between Survivor & Criminal Minds? I’m surprised. But they 100% own it…
  • Wisdom of the Crowd on sunday at 8? Once again, they stuck a weak show between two stronger ones. The strategy is smart. Tragic in a way. But smart.

CBS | 2017/2018 – Fantasy Schedule

Those are predictions based on feelings and CBS final schedule may end up very differently! It will be announced on Wednesday. Stay tuned and until then, enjoy the read!

RENEWED

NCIS | NCIS: LA | NCIS: NEW ORLEANS | CRIMINAL MINDS | HAWAII FIVE-O | BLUE BLOODS | ELEMENTARY | MADAM SECRETARY | CODE BLACK | BULL | MACGYVER

THE BIG BANG THEORY | MOM | LIFE IN PIECES | KEVIN CAN WAIT | MAN WITH A PLAN | SUPERIOR DONUTS

ORDERED

S.W.A.T. | INSTINCT | NAVY SEAL | WISDOM OF THE CROWD

YOUNG SHELDON | 9JKL | ME, MYSELF AND I | BY THE BOOK

Your grandpa network is dying, slowly but surely. CBS just had a rough year with more and more hits showing their age and new shows that flopped right out of the gate. Bull & MacGyver are the exceptions but it doesn’t feel like they’ll be there for the next 10 years: they’re already weak. CBS needs to go out of their comfort zone, take bigger risks and reflect America as how it really is (not juste male and white). Spoiler alert: that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. The new series they picked all sound very boring and generic… But let’s see how they could schedule them, ‘cos that’s their strength…

MONDAYS

First weeks – THE BIG BANG THEORY / KEVIN CAN WAIT

Then – KEVIN CAN WAIT / MAN WITH A PLAN

9JKL / SUPERIOR DONUTS

SCORPION

Unless CBS decides to make some unexpected moves within their comedy blocks like ABC just did, they’ll probably want to play it safe. Giving one more boost to Kevin Can Wait when football is on thursday, using once again The Big Bang Theory, certainly wouldn’t hurt. As a hallo effect, it will help new comedy 9JKL in the first weeks of its run. Then Man With a Plan can come back, paired with Kevin. They won’t do miracles but they only make sense together. Superior Donuts can move at 9.30 now 2 Broke Girls is sadly gone…

TUESDAYS

NCIS

BULL

NCIS: NEW ORLEANS

Keeping Tuesday as it is now is the best thing they can do if they want Bull to survive. Moved to another night or a later timeslot, it might very well collapse. They don’t want that. Too soon.

WEDNESDAYS

SURVIVOR

S.W.A.T.

CRIMINAL MINDS

Criminal Minds should have been moved to 10 last year. It’s not strong enough to launch anything new and CBS just can’t leave fractional Code Black there one more year. It’s time to do the right thing. S.W.A.T., led by ex Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore, needs a fair chance and it can only grab it at 9. Plus, the action-packed procedural would fit well behind Survivor.

THURSDAYS

THE BIG BANG THEORY / YOUNG SHELDON

MOM / LIFE IN PIECES

INSTINCT

At first, I thought CBS should move Code Black to thursday at 10. And then, I realized that they’d better launch a new show there during fall. Castle-like Instinct is a good option after the comedies. If it doesn’t work, Code Black can always take the slot later. About Young Sheldon, I can see it leading monday night next year bur first, CBS needs to do everything in their power so it becomes a success.

FRIDAYS

MACGYVER

HAWAII FIVE-O

BLUE BLOODS

Well. No need to change anything.

SUNDAYS

NCIS: LOS ANGELES

NAVY SEAL

MADAM SECRETARY

The David Boreanaz-led drama would fit well on this conservative sunday night between news magazine 60 Minutes and Madam Secretary (which is very weak by the way). There’s NCIS: Los Angeles in the middle and that’s a good thing. They’re not that different tonally, though the Navy SEAL drama is a little more serious.

MIDSEASON

ELEMENTARY could very well be dumped on saturday night, since it’s only been renewed for syndication purposes.

WIDSDOM OF THE CROWD is the usual spring show that will fail miserably, wherever they put it.

Comedies BY THE BOOK and ME, MYSELF AND I may very well end up on summer if both fall new entries work.

CBS 2017/2018 Comedy Pilots ranked

Will CBS ever find a suitable comedy to follow The Big Bang Theory on thursday? After so many attempts with very different shows, including Joel McHale-starrer The Great Indoors this year that failed, they have found what looks like the best solution: a Big Bang Theory spin-off! And they didn’t even take the easy road since it’s a prequel about Young Sheldon, single-camera style. It’s already said to be in the vein of Malcolm in the Middle. We’ll see what happens and it’s not even confirmed that the show will air after the mothership at this point. They could also use it to re-energize their monday line-up which is far from impressive, losing viewers every half-hour. Kevin Can Wait proved to be a somewhat strong starting point but Man With a Plan is doing just okay right behind and Superior Donuts is not the hit they hoped for. Meanwhile, 2 Broke Girls is in limbo and could very well come back in midseason or not not come back at all. Remember it’s not produced in-house but a Warner Bros. big asset. Is a move on TBS possible? The Odd Couple is not officially cancelled yet but there’s no hope for it and The Great Indoors should join it. Mom and Life In Pieces are already renewed. The eye network should be able to launch 2 to 3 new comedies next year. Here are the contenders:

 

 

  1. HANNAH ROYCE’S QUESTIONABLE CHOICES (Sony Pictures Television/CBS Television Studios)

    The story of a woman who has made some interesting choices throughout her life – namely, having three different kids with three different men – but all have led her to having a very unique, loving, blended family. With  Alice Eve, Kyle Howard, James Earl, Tyler Labine, Michael Boatman…

This one’s simply the cutest! There’s no shame and certainly no harm doing a real feel-good family comedy, that is both diverse and modern. Exactly what the actual CBS sitcoms are not. And it’s told through the point of a view of a woman, which is another thing the usual CBS sitcom rarely dives in. Kevin Can Wait & Man With a Plan are really old comedies compared to this one. It’s not exactly revolutionnary to be honest but I thought a lot of Mom, Hannah being very close Anna Faris’ Christy, and that’s obviously a compliment. The workplace part of the show doesn’t totally work, but it reminded me of One Day at a Time, and that’s another compliment. So yeah, once CBS has changed the title, this sitcom has a great potential and a fighting chance.

 

2. DISTEFANO (Sony Pictures Television)

     Izzy and Chris, two 20-somethings are raising their newborn daughter and merging their loud families – one Puerto Rican, one Italian. With Chris Distefano, Dianne Guerrero, Annie Potts…

With such an easy and overused premice, Distefano does eveything you can expect but How I Met Your Mother‘s style since it’s written by Carter Bays & Craig Thomas, the creators of the long-running show. So we get flashbacks and flashforwards and it’s not shot in front of a live audience though it looks like any multicamera comedy. They’re not playing it too safe. It gets cute and smart many times and it knows how to be subtle when it wants to. The voice-over adds a little something that makes it even more relevant, young parents will love it for that. It’s not a sure bet and I’m not certain comedian Chris Distefano is such a big draw for the audience but it’s worth a chance.

 

3. ME, MYSELF AND I (Warner Bros. Television)

    Examines one man’s life over a 50-year span, somewhat in the vein of Boyhood. The show will focus on three distinct periods in his life: as a 14-year-old in 1991, a 40-year-old in present day and a 65-year-old in 2042. With Bobby Moynihan, John Larroquette, Jaleel White, Brian Unger…

Me, Myself and I goes in the high-concept comedy category where CBS is not used to be found in. I had high hopes about this one. It’s impossible not thing about the movie Boyhood and of course, this pilot can’t compare. BUT there’s a lot to like in there anyway, starting with the main character that is both moving and relatable. I wouldn’t say he’s that funny though. I didn’t picture him played by Bobby Moynihan but well, they probably had good reasons to choose him, right? At 14, Alex has to deal with his parents’ divorce; at 40, he discovers his wife is cheating on him; and at 65, he’s almost dying of a heart-attack. It doesn’t sound funny at all but it is. In the end, I’m not sure there’s a solid TV show behind this pilot but I enjoyed the ride.

 

4. 9K, 9J, 9L (CBS Television Studios)

   Inspired by a time in Mark Feuerstein’s adult life when he lived in apartment 9K in the building he grew up in, sandwiched between his parents’ apartment, 9J, and his brother, sister-in-law and their baby’s apartment, 9L, and his attempts to set boundaries with his intrusive but well-meaning family. With Mark Feuerstein, David Walton, Matt Murray, Liza Lapira, Linda Lavin, Elliot Gould…

CBS execs are reportedly very high on this project and it’s almost already on the schedule. I can understand why, though I feel like it’s such a safe bet that it’s not gonna become the hit they’re hoping for. Sometimes, you need to take risks and this pilot doesn’t take any. It knows what it’s doing. It knows where it’s going. And sadly, we do too. It’s terribly predictable. But the cast is great, appealing, and I’m pretty sure the final product will be better than the script is on the page. Then again, remember The Millers or The McCarthys… Pretty much the same story and it got rejected.

 

5. LIVING BIBLICALLY (Warner Bros. Television)

   A modern-day man at a crossroads in his life decides to live according to the Bible. With Jay R. Ferguson, Ian Gomez, Tony Rock, Lindsey Kraft…

Is CBS conservative audience ready to watch a show that openly mocks the Bible? I’d like to say yes, but obviously the answer is no. Living Biblically is not that ferocious and is not made to offend anyone but some people will get offended anyway, especially since the whole show is based on this very idea that nowadays, you just can’t live according to the Bible. The central character will try to prove it’s possible on and on and the pilot shows it can be a funny ride but I can’t help myself thinking there was a better show to make with this same idea, and not with a multicamera format that limits the concept. For me, it’s a pass. But I’d like them to redevelop it for next year, with a different take, a change of format and maybe a new writer?

 

6. REAL TIME (Sony Pictures Television/CBS Television Studios)

   The relationship of two 20-somethings who go from being co-workers on opposite coasts to working in the same office. With Rebecca Rittenhouse, Ryan Hansen, Brett Harrison, Brenda Song, Kristen Johnston…

Hello again, How I Met Your Mother‘s creators! But this time as producers, not as writers. Real Time was first developed last season under the title My Time/Your Time. CBS passed on it but wanted another try and here we are. This version pretty much solved the problem of the first pilot: the main characters meet in real life in this one, they don’t just talk over Skype. But then start a “will they? won’t they?” situation that’s a new problem to take care of for the writers. Because we’ve already seen it a million times and nothing proves this time will be different. It’s hard to picture where the show will go next and apparently that’s a concern CBS has since they’re not sure to keep Ryan Hansen, the male lead, in the cast. Yes, they’re already thinking of tweaking the concept… again. Well, it sounds like something that should not get ordered. It’s way too complicated already!

 

7. BROTHERED UP (CBS Television Studios)

   An emotionally guarded African-American cop is partnered with an emotionally available Pakistani cop and they are forced to find a way to connect as they patrol a Detroit neighborhood. With Adhir Kalyan, D.L. Hughley, Merrin Dungey…

Brothered Up is CBS attempt to be more diverse in their comedy department, after Superior Donuts proved them their audience won’t suddenly disappear into thin air if they have a black lead in one of their sitcoms! Too bad this script is the weakest they have in store. It just doesn’t really work as a multicamera comedy. They’re cops. They’re supposed to move a lot. They’re supposed to go outside. But they don’t. They’re in the car. And in their respective homes. And in their car again. Sometimes at the precinct. It will get boring pretty soon. And then there’s this Odd Couple pairing that doesn’t totally work because apart from their origins and their respective moods, they’re not that different. Maybe the chemistry between the actors will make it a more viable option…

 

Higher Ground (CBS) pilot preview: Yet another Olivia Pope wannabe…

Written and produced by Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married). Executive produced by Katie Couric, David Marshall Grant (Brothers & Sisters, Smash, Code Black), Heather Kadin (Scorpion, Limitless, Sleepy Hollow) & Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, Star Trek, Fringe, Alias, Fringe). Directed by Richard Shephard (Girls, Rosewood, Ugly Betty). For CBS Television Studios, Katie Couric Media & Secret Hideout. 67 pages. 04/05/17.

Description: an elite team of investigators for the Northeast Regional U.S. Hate Crimes Unit keeps the peace by solving myriad crimes against humanity while acting locally but thinking of the national repercussions as they confront their own biases… 

With Sharon Leal (Supergirl, Boston Public), Omar Metwally (The Affair, Mr Robot), Grace Rex (The Good Wife, Contagion), Zach Appelman (Sleepy Hollow), Kevin Daniels (Modern Family, Sirens), Brad William Henke (Sneaky Pete, Orange is the new black), Sheaun McKinney (Vice Principals), Kathy Najimy (King of the Hill, Veep, Sister Act)…

 

You’ll like it if you already like: Cold Case, Conviction

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9

Higher Ground may be one of the least buzzy drama pilot this season, if not THE least buzzy, despite the fact that it was being informally described as The Good Wife meets Homicide at the time it was sold to CBS after a bidding war with another network. The description doesn’t fit with what I read. Plus; there’s definitely something about the cast that isn’t working. I like Sharon Leal, she’s a very capable actress, but chosing her for a leading role must not be the best idea CBS had. I guess they weren’t left with many choices though. It requires a black actress in her late thirties, which is one of the most sought-after profile these days. Of course, she needed to be available AND it’s better if the audience is already familiar with her. Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose & Gabrielle Union, among the most recognizable faces, were already taken. It’s sad. For once, CBS really seemed to be trying to be less white males but they are a little late to the party I guess. But who knows? Maybe it’ll be the surprising pick-up of the year!

Anyway, Higher Ground concerns me for two other main reasons apart from the cast: it’s not that good -they have at least four better options- and it doesn’t really look like something people would want to watch for years. Taking a look at a US Hate Crimes Unit can’t be more timely, the effort is deeply appreciated in those troubled times when hate is thriving all over the world. But does it make an innovative TV show? Short answer: not at all. The investigators have two parallel goals: determine whether the case is really a hate crime or something else -in the pilot it’s about a girl who apparently commited suicide, unless she was pushed…- and of course, solve it! So it starts with a different angle than other procedural shows but the methods of investigation are more or less the same -or they feel the same- and the more you get closer to the resolution the less it feels unique. It’s very comparable to ABC’s failed Conviction. The “reopening old cases to make sure the guilty person is really guilty” angle felt fresh somehow but the execution and the pacing felt old-fashioned.

What doesn’t help is the fact that most of the characters are bland and our heroine, Naomi, is just an Olivia Pope wannabe. Oh, like Conviction‘s leading lady! So many common points… She’s a nice gal, her personal story is original and quite creepy -she litteraly ate her twin sister in her mother’s belly- and she’s sleeping with the wrong person. Fear not, it’s not the President of the United States this time! It’s Manhattan South District Attorney. Their relationship is more irritating than anything else. Naomi has a sister -one she didn’t eat- and there’s clearly something wrong with her but we just don’t know yet why and nothing is done so we can care about it. We’re given next to zero elements to elaborate a theory or something. The investigators around all have their very precise, usual roles: the new one who needs to be explained everything, so the viewer catches up at the same time; the funny one; the awkward one; the asshole one… You get the picture.

Higher Ground is DOA to me. Dead On Arrival. It’s tired, unambitious and unneccessary. CBS had a pilot on the same theme a few years ago, For Justice, starring Anika Noni Rose and directed by Ava DuVernay. It was not perfect but way better. They made a mistake not picking it up at the time. This uninspired version can’t make up for it. 

S.W.A.T. (CBS) pilot preview: The Shemar Moore Show

Written and produced by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (CSI: New York, SouthLAnd, Sleepy Hollow). Based on the 1975 TV series. Executive produced by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, Scorpion, Star Trek Beyond), Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit, Timeless, The Get Down), Marney Hochman (Mad Dogs, Terriers, The Shield), Pavun Shetty (New Girl), Danielle Woodrow (Scorpion) Neal H. Moritz (Prison Break, Fast & Furious, I Am Legend, S.W.A.T.) & Shemar Moore. Directed by Justin Lin. For Sony Pictures Television, CBS Television Studios, MiddKid Prods, Original Films & Perfect Storm Entertainment. 53 pages. Final Shooting Draft. 04/17/17.

Description: Daniel ‘Hondo’ Harrelson, a locally born and bred S.W.A.T. lieutenant, is torn between loyalty to the streets and duty to his fellow officers when he’s tasked to run a highly-trained unit that is the last stop for solving crimes in Los Angeles…

With Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds, The Young and the Restless), Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted, Desperate Housewives, The Inside), Lina Esco (Kingdom, Flaked), Kenny Johnson (The Shield, Bates Motel, Secrets & Lies, Sons of Anarchy), Stephanie Sigman (Narcos, American Crime, The Bridge US), Peter Onorati (The Goodfellas, Civil Wars), Alex Russell (Chronicle)…

  

You’ll like it if you already like: Hawaii 5-0, Scorpion, Criminal Minds, Lethal Weapon

Likely timeslot: Wednesday at 9 or 10

 

In comparison to the previous pilot season, reboots didn’t score this many pilot pick-ups. Cheers to that! You can count them on one hand: Behind Enemy Lines at FOX, Dynasty at The CW and S.W.A.T. at CBS. S.W.A.T. is even the reboot of a (failed) reboot since it’s inspired by the 2003 Sony movie of the same name -which starred starred Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez & LL Cool J. and grossed $207 million at the worldwide box office, which isn’t that great- that was based on the short-lived 1975 TV series produced by Aaron Spelling! The theme song of the show was probably more famous than the show itself: it only lasted 2 seasons (37 episodes) on ABC. The project with 100 executive producers received a pilot production commitment from CBS with series penalty behind it. Meaning it would have to really stink not to land on the schedule in less than two weeks now. And it doesn’t stink on paper, though it smells like sweat and male hormones. Oh and if you’re wondering before we start, S.W.A.T. stands for Special Weapons And Tactics.

CBS may have found a smart strategy to attract their viewers towards shows they may not have been attracted to in the first place: they use one of the stars of one of their long-running drama series to topline a new one. That’s what happened with Bull last year, a legal show tailor-made for Michael Weatherly when he decided to left NCIS. And it worked. Bull is not a huge success but it would have had less of a chance of success without Weatherly in the starring role and the NCIS lead-in. They’re doing it again with S.W.A.T. which is toplined by Shemar Moore, who starred in Criminal Minds for 11 years. It has yet to be seen if CBS will slot it around his previous show though but his Criminal Minds fans will check this out, that’s for sure. He will be perfectly fine in this and CBS is the right home for it.

Harrelson is a character who exudes calmness -and sexiness- but who’s always ready for action and has all the ability to become a leader: he’s just not happy with the political reason he just became one. His mentor has been fired after a burr and he’s chosen to replace him, partly because he’s black and knows better than his colleagues the people who live in the streets where they operate, while the “Black Lives Matter” movement is in full force in Los Angeles and the whole country. S.W.A.T. wants to be timely and seems to have found the best way to be. The writing is not particularly sharp and subtle but at least it’s not just about big guns and action, though in the end it mostly is. It’s not described as an intense, action-packed, procedural for no reason.

It starts with a high-octane chase of about 8 pages; there’s a car chase later of course; and some other chases until the end. It’s exhausting honestly but if you came for it, you’ll definitely be happy. The moments when they’re not running somewhere and catching bad guys are to be cherished. That’s when they talk -not only one-liners to make us laugh a little right in the middle of the action, because you know, they’re cool too- and become more than muscles. Though those talks often happen when they’re training, boxing or… making love. Women and gay men should get their weekly shirtless scenes so they’re not watching the show for nothing. They will even get a bit of soapy storylines thanks to one of the few female characters in there who happens to both Harrelson’s boss and… lover! And it’s against the rules… Drama!

S.W.A.T. is very much about Moore’s character -he’s in every scene- but other members of the team still manage to emerge, especially the new guy, Jim Street. He’s cocky, living on the edge and has earned himself a reputation as a loose cannon in his previous job (think Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon). I think it’s the 56th character who fits that description this season, but he’s still the most interesting one in there. There’s also David “Deacon” Kay, the second in command, who I like only because he’s played by Jay Harrington and I like Jay Harrington a lot. And let’s talk about Chris, who’s the only woman of the team. Well… I’d like to describe her to you in details but we don’t know much about her yet, sadly. I think they should have focused on her a little bit more. It would have lessen this impression that S.W.A.T is all about the men. I forgot to tell you about the case of the week. But… it’s just a case of the week, who really cares?

S.W.A.T. is not as light and fun as Lethal Weapon –of the rare stands out of this past season- and can’t be considered as ballsy but it’s doing the job it’s asked for, which is being very actiony, trying to be timely and most of all being the best vehicle possible for Shemar Moore’s skills. It’s a slam dunk for CBS. 

Behind Enemy Lines (FOX) Vs Navy SEALs Drama (CBS) pilot previews: Big Guns

Written and executive produced by Nikki Toscano (Revenge, 24: Legacy, Bates Motel, Shades of Blue). Based on Jim & John Thomas‘ movie script. Executive produced by John Davis (The Blacklist, Timeless, Predator, I, Robot), John Fox (The Blacklist, The Player, Dr Ken, Joy), Wyck Godfrey (Twilight, Maze Runner, Revenge, Rosewood) & Marty Bowen. Directed by McG (Lethal Weapon, Supernatural, Chuck, The OC). For 20th Century FOX Television, Temple Hill Entertainment & Davis Entertainment. 60 pages. Revised Network Draft. 01/21/2017.

Description:  A group of U.S. soldiers find themselves trapped behind enemy lines in Ukraine. The multi-perspective narrative closely follows our soldiers on the ground, and the officers and service men and women on a nearby aircraft carrier, along with intelligence officers in DC as they attempt to bring our heroes home safely and under the radar…

With Marg Helgenberger (CSI, Intelligence, Under The Dome, China Beach), BJ Britt (UnREAL, Being Mary Jane, Pitch, Agents of SHIELD), Benito Martinez (American Crime, The Shield, Sons of Anarchy), Colm Feore (24, House of Cards, Revolution), Gabriel Chavarria, Willa Fitzgerald (Scream, Royal Pains), Melia Kreiling (Tyrant), Dylan Bruno (Numb3rs)…

   

Written and produced by Benjamin Cavell (Justified, Homeland, Sneaky Pete). Executive produced by Ed Redlich (Unforgettable, Without a Trace), Sarah Timberman & Carl Beverly (Elementary, Unforgettable, Justified, The Odd Couple). Directed by Christopher Chulack (ER, Third Watch, Shameless US, Animal Kingdom). For CBS Television Studios & Timberman/Beverly Productions. 70 pages. Revised Studio Draft. 01/23/17.

Description: The lives of the elite Navy SEALs as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous, high stakes missions our country can ask…

With David Boreanaz (Bones, Angel, Buffy), Max Thieriot (Bates Motel, Texas Rising), Neil Brown Jr. (Insecure, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), A.J. Buckley (CSI: New York, Justified, Pure), Jessica Paré (Mad Men, Jack & Bobby), Toni Trucks (Franklin & Bash)…

  

You may wonder why this pilot season virtually every network has a pilot about military in the running. To understand, you have to go back to 2015 when Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper crushed expectations at the box -office with more than $340 000 000. It took time to reflect on TV as always -development is what it is- and it’s USA Network which was the first to go last winter with Shooter starring Ryan Phillippe doing solid business for them, then Six on History. If you add Trump’s presidency to the mix and an urgent need to reflect blue-collar, everyday Americans better, here’s why networks are all about America’s heroes in the military. With For God and Country at NBC already on the verge of getting picked-up to series according to Deadline -and it’s arguably the best of the crowd- there’s little chance every one of them gets a greenlight in two weeks. While Valor at The CW looks like a dark horse to me, ABC wisely chose to make a military comedy, not a drama (Charlie Foxtrot) to stand out from the crowd. But this one’s not very good. There are two choices left: Behind Enemy Lines at FOX & the Untitled Navy SEALS drama at CBS. Both are serious options but only one looks like a winner on paper.

Of course, Behind Enemy Lines had an advantage from the get go: it’s based on a 2001 movie, loosely based on a true story. But one which received generally negative reviews from critics when it was released. I haven’t seen it but it seems like the team behind the TV show did a good job at keeping what was working on the movie and leaving what didn’t. And it took time apparently. FOX has been high on mounting the project for awhile. They first commissioned a script from a different writer last season with a put pilot commitment. While that one didn’t go to pilot, they kept the concept for redevelopment and they were happy with the second script. I’m happy too and I’m not interested AT ALL with military dramas in general. You know what I like the most about it? It’s a soap. An action-packed one, yes. But it’s the characters and their complicated, troubled relationships, all the conflicts within the three groups we’re introduced to, that keep you interested. There are thrilling moments, for sure, but they wouldn’t work without the rest. It’s heavily serialized. At the end of the pilot, you just realize the mission has just begun and you want to watch more.

While For God and Country is a bit edgy sometimes and really political, Behind Enemy Lines plays it safer, very network-y and clearly doesn’t want to hurt anyone. But my intelligence felt offended from time to time. It lacks subtlety, especially when it comes to the subject of race. Our appealing hero, Ziggy, is latino. By his side during the mission in Ukraine are Jacob, an islamophobic african-american, Reggie, a blue-collar ass with a tender heart and Shia, the first woman accepted into the SEAL Training program who’s muslim, of course. They are all clichés. Their group seems forced, unnatural. Coincidentally, For God and Country has more or less the same set of characters but it works better. The one character I’m in love with is the one played by Marg Helgenberger named Admiral Bobbie Decker. She’s the most powerful woman in the military but she doesn’t act as she owns the place. She’s fierce but fair. She’s a mentor to Ziggy. And she has her own set of personal problems since her boyfriend is the undersecretary of State…

If Behind Enemy Lines feels too easy and on the nose sometimes but could be quite fun to watch, CBS’s Navy SEALs project on the contrary feels a bit foggy and murky, even irritating. David Boreanaz, who replaced Jim Caviezel who left the project over creative differences -not a good omen unless it just means Caviezel is hard to work with- plays Jason, the respected, committed leader of his assault team who’s been through over a dozen deployments, with scars inside and out. I’m sorry but I don’t like him and I think I will never be able to. He’s just very unfriendly and he’s not even funny. It starts -and ends- with him “talking” to a psychologist, or more precisely refusing to talk to a psychologist. This therapy thing feels outdated. We got a lot of those in the 2000s, starting with The Sopranos. Been there, done that. And the other characters are not very attractive either. And in this one, women are mostly comprehensive wives. It’s so CBS of them… But there’s Mandy, a whip-smart CIA analyst driven to rid the world of evil and get the bad guys. No Carrie Mathison vibes, sadly.

There are a lot of flashback scenes that refer to a difficult mission in the Iranian coast that left Jason and his team traumatized. It broke longtime friendships, tore families apart. It’s quite overwhelming. We don’t get much of what is happening quite frankly. But little by little, as we get more informations and as we meet more characters, the picture’s getting clearer and you can see a potential in the show. It’s like a mix between The Unit and Army Wives. A lot of action, a bit of family stuff, a dark tone, not many moments to breathe and smile a little though, and an attempt to offer something more profound than the usual CBS series. It’s not strong enough to be a cable show but maybe a little too heavy for a network. It should have worked with the NCIS franchise but I fear it doesn’t.

Behind Enemy Lines is a well-crafted, probably expensive project, that may not be an easy fit with FOX line-up but could please the audience, both male and female, and offer a distinctive option… But what could doom it is the existence of For God and Country at NBC. Would they take the risk to launch a similar but not as good show in the same period of time? It doesn’t seem to be a real problem for CBS and their Navy SEALs project. This one could have been a no-brainer if it were more crowd-pleasing. And the network may want to choose between this and S.W.A.T., also about a team of super strong men. What if none of them go further? That’s my bet.