Tag: cbs

History Of Them (CBS) pilot preview: How My Parents Met

Written and executive produced by Gloria Calderon Kellett (One Day at a Time, How I Met Your Mother, Devious Maids). Also produced by Marc Provissiero. Directed by Pamela Fryman (One Day at a Time, How I Met Your Mother, Frasier). For Sony Pictures Television, CBS Television Studios, Glo Nation & Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment. 56 pages. Network Draft 12/29/17.

Description: how two friends, Luna and Adam, fell in love, narrated by their future daughter, using the couple’s social media from present-day (Instagram/Twitter/Facebook) as a guide. Smart and spunky Luna runs a successful Latinx food truck business with her parents. Despite this, she struggles with what she wants and doesn’t feel like a fully-fledged grown up yet. She wants to find love and figure out who she is separate from her very tight-knit family, and her journey will be full of bumps and bruises as she navigates the rest of her twenties…

With Ana Villafañe (South Beach), Brett Dier (Jane The Virgin, The LA Complex), Caitlin McGee, Lisa Vidal (Being Mary Jane, Rosewood, The Event), Felix Solis (Ten Days in the Valley), Amit Shah (Crashing UK, The Smoke), Christopher Powell (Empire)…

 

   

You’ll like it if you already like: How I Met Your Mother, One Day at a Time, Jane The Virgin

Likely timeslot: monday or thursday paired with The Big Bang Theory or Young Sheldon at 8.30.

Just in case you didn’t notice, there’s still no How I Met Your Dad/Father series in sight, on CBS or anywhere else. Last time we heard of the project -August ’17- a new writer was hired by 20th Century FOX Television for a brand-new take after the first two failed stabs and apparently nothing good came out of it since no pilot pick up happened. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is debatable but Sony & CBS found a solution: they cooked their own unofficial HIMYM spin-off! It wouldn’t be fair to reduce History Of Them to this though, but we’re clearly in the same romcom-with-a-twist territory, and both the writer and the director worked on the show. It’s no coincidence. CBS seems to be very high on it. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t find a sweet spot on next fall schedule!

So yeah, it’s once again a complicated and often thwarted love story except it’s not narrated by one of the protagonists but by their daughter from the future. To whom? Maybe to her own children, who knows? Or maybe it doesn’t even matter. For what? Maybe because the grand parents died and it’s her way to tell them who they were? But then again, maybe it doesn’t even matter. Maybe it’s just about telling the story to us, viewers, for no particular reason but to entertain and move us. Television, you know. I feel like -but it’s too soon to tell- that the plan with History Of Them is to keep it simpler than How I Met Your Mother, with less detours and twists and turns. Unless it’s a huge success and they need to find a way to make it last 9 years. Probably because of the backlash the series finale had to endure. Also because things have changed and people are looking for straightforward tales, so it seems. Also, it’s very diverse which is, on CBS, a revolution!

In this first episode, it’s more about meeting the group than planting seeds for the future storylines. We’re just told it was not easy for those two to make it happen and we get a good picture why: friends and family got in the way; also our damn connected world where everything is always more complicated than it should be (the use of social media is probably less gadgety than it looks). The biggest difference with HIMYM is that the heroine’s family -and maybe the others’ later on- is a big part of the show. By the way, the title “History of Them” refers to the couple, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it referred to latin immigrants too. From the co-creator of the excellent One Day At A Time, it wouldn’t come as a shock. It’s a story of love and integration, and it’s universal. You can find here the same kindness, the same benevolence as in the Netflix sitcom. The parents are incredibly cute and nice. But don’t worry, it’s also very funny, especially thanks to the friends’ characters, like Luna’s nerdy male best friend Vikram or her crazy female best friend Skylar. Also, there’s Isaac, the Barney of the show, described as an “impossibly handsome millionaire with confidente to match”. Not the best part, if you ask me. But you need a character like that, I guess. He makes the others go out of their comfort zone. We all need a friend like that.

History Of Them definitely has a How I Met Your Mother vibe, but it brings something more to the table -authenticity? simplicity?- and hopefully people will go beyond the initial rejection reaction to give it a chance. Plus, it’s exactly the type of comedy CBS needs right now, that will appeal to the millenials. They can’t avoid the fact that The Big Bang Theory is gone soon…

CBS’s 15 most exciting projects for 2018/2019 pilot season

The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point. 

I’m getting tired of saying the same things about CBS every year and I could do a simple copy-paste: the Eye network is losing more and more viewers every season, especially the younger ones, and do nothing about it. They repeat the same mistakes over and over again and it shows now. Once the best network at the scheduling game, they became the worst. NCIS on the drama side, The Big Bang Theory on the comedy side and Survivor on the unscripted side can’t hide all the flops or semi-flops all around.

Their comedy line-up on monday is horrendous, both creatively and ratings-wise. It looks so old-fashioned. Kevin Can Wait holds the fort the best he can but it’s not enough: Man With a Plan and Superior Donuts are already dead in their second seasons while new entries Me, Myself and I & 9JKL are already cancelled in everyone’s mind. Sunday is not the prestige night it once was when The Good Wife was still around: NCIS Los Angeles is doing okay business, but Madam Secretary is dying while Wisdom of the crowd, the worst series of the year, is leaving soon. It’s becoming a syndication farm like friday. Isn’t CBS a giant syndication farm anyway?

It wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were able to create strong new shows, here to stay on the air for a long time. But Bull, Navy SEAL, MacGyver or SWAT are young shows that are already very weak and they’ll soon become a burden, unless CBS accepts the fact that’s the best they can do right now and drag them for years to come with abysmal numbers. Older shows like Criminal Minds, NCIS New Orleans, Blue Bloods or Hawaii 5-0 still have some life in them but at some point not so far away, they will have to go. Thursday is looking better this year thanks to Young Sheldon, which is a really big success, and it helps Mom and Life In Pieces stay at decent levels.

My best advice to them is still the same as least year and the year before: they need to rejuvenate their dramas and comedies by bringing more diversity. In their casts with more people of colour, more women at the center, more gay/bi/transgender characters with stories of their own. Avoid the same old white man temptation they’re always falling for. That’s the best way to be relevant again and attract the millenials before old people die and no one watch the network anymore.  In other words: they need to stop playing it safe and embrace modernity once and for all like the others do. Their development slate looks once again very weak but let’s see what they have:

 

DRAMAS

CHIEFS (Sony Pictures Televsion / CBS Television Studios)

What? about the professional and personal lives of three driven, successful, but very different women who are each Chiefs of Police of their own precincts in L.A. County; they band together to create a task force to catch a dangerous serial killer…

Why? Is it a dream or is this project exactly what CBS avoids to do usually? There is not one, not two but three women at the center AND a pitch that suggets that it would not -only- be a procedural but a serialized cop show! Sorry for the ironic tone but all of those things make it hard to believe they’d give it a chance. Let’s cross our fingers and pray! It has a pilot production commitment so it makes it a real serious candidate for a pick-up…

 

FAMILY BUSINESS (CBS Television Studios)

What? a multi-generational CIA spy family show told through the eyes of its youngest generation: three adult siblings – who all struggle with rivalry, secrets, and making their mark in the Intelligence Community…

Why? What’s the best way for CBS to bank on the family trend without losing its identity? This! This kind of pitch comes back every year and I remember vivdly the Boomerang one at FOX a few years ago, starring Felicity Huffman, it was unique and great. It was rejected for reasons unknown. If they can do something in the same vein, that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a bit of comedy, that’d be great! You know, something more modern and entertaining than Blue Bloods… Barbara Hall (Madam Secretary, Judging Amy) is the creator.

 

MURDER (Warner Bros. Television)

What?  takes the audience inside the emotional journey of an investigation, allowing them to discern the truth and judge the suspects’ guilt or innocence for themselves; each episode serves as a standalone story and describes the events leading to and immediately after a murder has taken place…

Why? This drama is based on a BBC true crime anthology series that I never heard of before. It would be a good complement to the other CBS cop or action shows, that have a tendency to care very little for the victims’ and suspects’ journey and are all about the investigation and the detectives. Here, the focus is different. It could become boring after a few episodes though and since they don’t produce it in-house it will be treated like shit. Maybe it would be best taken care of somewhere else…

 

TRIDENT (CBS Television Studios)

What? centers on a mysterious death aboard an American nuclear submarine that tests the mettle of the crew, the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA and causes a crisis that threatens to expose a conspiracy that could trigger World War III

Why? Probably the only ambitious project CBS has in store this year. It sounds more like one of their summer treats (Zoo, Salvation) and maybe that’s where it will end up -and it would be the sign that it’s not very good- but for the time being, let’s be optimistic. It’s a thrilling idea from people who worked on Fringe, Star Trek Discovery and well… Scorpion and Limitless too.

 

UNTITLED CARRIE GOLDBERG PROJECT (Sony Pictures Television / CBS Television Studios)

What? based on the life of attorney Carrie Goldberg, a young lawyer in Brooklyn who, after enduring vicious online and offline attacks herself, opens her own firm to place herself and her team on the front lines of defending victims of crimes in the age of the Internet where the law hasn’t yet caught up with technology

Why? The word “technology” in a pitch makes me afraid these days. Pure Genius, APB & Wisdom of the Crowd (two of them were on CBS…) all flopped with similar ideas. The difference here is that it’s not about using new technology to solve crimes but defending people who were victims of technology, and it sounds way more interesting. But won’t the case look all the same at some point? That’s my main concern. It will need to rely on the charm of the main character and her collaborators, and not just cases, a little soap too, which is not CBS’s strongest suit.

 

UNTITLED GALL & GERO PROJECT (Warner Bros. Television)

What?  revolves around five multi-racial adopted siblings who fight for justice in the courtroom amid wildly different legal careers as they delve into the mystery of a family tragedy that exposes the sins of their father

Why? In what world would 5 brothers & sisters, even adopted, all make a career in the law? I mean… at least one would be the black sheep and do something else entirely, right? It starts as something totally unbelievable BUT the fact that they are not all lawyers could fuel interesting interactions and battles. Plus, it’s produced by Greg Berlanti and he knows how to make a good family drama (Brothers & Sisters, Everwood) so I want to believe in it no matter what.

 

WHISTLEBLOWER (CBS Television Studios)

What? about a former whistleblower who lost everything – career, family, reputation – when he stood up against a conglomerate to expose wrongdoing; he now runs a firm dedicated to exposing wrongdoers while protecting those who have the courage to stand up for what’s right

Why? Last year, CBS passed on a similar pilot, Perfect Citizen starring Noah Wyle, and it was a good one. They prefered Widsom of the crowd and Navy SEAL to it, well… This time, it’s not written by someone from The Good Wife, but it’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It’s worrying when you look at what he worked on recently, but the idea is still interesting and I hope they manage to make something good out of it.

 

After ABC last year, CBS is now developing a Magnum, PI reboot from their expert Peter Lenkov, who’s already responsible for Hawaii 5-0‘s and MacGyver‘s, but of course this one won’t be female centric; a small screen take on James Ellroy’s noir L.A. Confidential that is not a good fit at all with prude CBS, plus it’s a period drama set in the 1950s; and F.B.I, already ordered to series, about the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, produced by… Dick Wolf, for the first time in years not on NBC.

 

———————-

COMEDIES

CLASS ACTION (CBS Television Studios)

What? about a law student looking for the easy way out who gets more than he bargained for when he finds himself in a class where he and an eclectic group of fellow law students are required to argue actual cases in court

Why? It sounds a bit like a comedic version of How To Get Away With Murder, without the actual murders. And I kinda like it. A workplace comedy with aspiring lawyers sounds like something that could attract millenials, if there is no battle between the old generation and the new one (like there was in the terrible The Great Indoors).

 

DADS & DAUGHTERS ((CBS Television Studios)

What? about a reserved math teacher with Midwestern values and an outgoing personal trainer who must bite the bullet and move in together rather than splitting their daughters up when their common ex-wife heads to prison for credit card fraud

Why? Is it me or does it sound a lot like Two and half-men? The premise is totally different but it should end up exactly the same: two straight men raising kids together while the mother is away. Oh and Jon Cryer is attached to star! What a coincidence… Why did I pick it up then? Because it looks like a multicam that could work for them and they badly need one.

 

HISTORY OF THEM (Sony Pictures Television / CBS Television Studios)

What? a multi-cultural romantic comedy about how two friends fell in love, narrated by their future daughter, using the couple’s social media from present-day as a guide

Why? This project is CBS trying to modernize How I Met Your Mother (could have been named How My Parents Met) and we can’t blame them. Apart from The Big Bang Theory, it’s their last big success in the genre. I’m very optimistic about the outcome since it’s written by Netflix’s One Day at a Time creator Gloria Calderon Kellet and produced and directed by Pam Fryman, who did every HIMYM episodes.

 

I MOM SO HARD (Warner Bros. Television)

What? follows two moms who show how their friendship gets them through being wives and mothers

Why? This one is written by three women! Yeah, you read it right. It’s a rarity. One of them is Michelle Nader, who was an executive producer on gone-too-soon 2 Broke Girls. It’s based on the popular web series of the same name with creators/stars Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley reprising their roles. CBS desperately needs something like this on their lineup: fresh feminine faces.

 

LADDER 54 (CBS Television Studios)

What?  about a big-city firehouse: stuck there for long shifts, a crew of firefighters eat, sleep, live, laugh and fight with each other, their relationships made more intense by the fact that at any moment, they’ll be risking their lives for one another

Why? Between Chicago Fire, 911 and the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, there may be enough firefighters on TV but none of them are a straight comedies so maybe there’s a place for it anyway. The popular Cedric the Entertainer -who looks nothing like a firefighter- is attached to star.

 

PERFECT 10 (Warner Bros. Television)

What?  about a group of former high school classmates who become indispensable parts of each other’s lives after reconnecting at their 10-year reunion

Why? Some of you may remember CBS sitcom The Class from 10 years ago. The network cancelled it after one season because of poor performances but it was really good and even getting better and better. I hope this Perfect 10 with the same idea will be some kind of revenge!

 

QUALITY OF LIFE (CBS Television Studios)

What? set at a family-run funeral home, tackling life through the unique perspective that growing up in a funeral home gives you

Why? Jamie Lee Curtis is attached to star in this comedic Six Feet Under that sounds like something different, both funny and touching, that could do well around Young Sheldon & Mom. Those three could save monday paired all together!

 

WELCOME TO MAINE (CBS Television Studios)

What?  about a ninth-generation Maine family and a recent immigrant – believed to be a Syrian refugee – and his daughter who all must learn to embrace change when they share the same workplace in a tiny rural town

Why? Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl, Raising Hope, Yes Dear) is behind this project, which is a good reason to give it a chance. It would help bring some diversity to the network on a timely subject in the Trump Era, with a more liberated voice.

 

What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!

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.