Tag: charlaine harris

Redliners (NBC) pilot preview: Spy Teachers

Written and produced by Shaun Cassidy (Blue Bloods, Cover Me, Invasion) & Kelly Sue DeConnick (Emerald City). Executive produced by David Janollari (Midnight Texas, Six Feet Under). Based on “Small Kingdoms” by Charlaine Harris (True BloodMidnight Texas). For Universal Television & David Janollari Entertainment. Directed by Jason Ensler (Red Band Society, Hart of Dixie, Franklin & Bash, Cult). 61 pages. Network Draft. 01/14/17.

Description: Anne DeWitt &  Holt Halsey, a pair of former operatives, get reactivated and drawn into a larger conspiracy while attempting to maintain their undercover lives as teachers in a high-school…

With Hannah Ware (Betrayal, Boss, Hitman: Agent 47, Shame), Jerod Haynes (First Date, Empire), Greg Germann (Ally McBeal, Once Upon a Time), Alan Powell, Jenny Wade (Hand of God, Reaper), Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy), Rodney To (Rosewood, Wilfred, Parks And Recreation), Quinn Shephard (Hostages)…

You’ll like if you already like: The Americans, Undercovers, Allegiance…

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10


While reading Redliners, I couldn’t help wondering how the producers managed to sell to NBC the concept of this show, which is an improbable mashup between a high-school drama and an espionage series. I mean… I’m totally open to fresh takes, new approaches on old genre, but those two just don’t work together. Imagine The Americans  & Glee were the same series… It sounds wrong, right? Well then imagine Undercovers, an NBC espionage show produced by J.J. Abrams a few years ago, mixed with Chicago School, the 5th Dick Wolf series of the Chicago Franchise that doesn’t exist yet. It’s just terrible. That’s what’s Redliners is. I did some digging to understand what was behind this and here’s what I found:
David Janollari, who produces the project, is NBC President Bob Greenblatt ex-partner (professionally!). Say no more…

If I’m being totally honest, this pilot script is not that bad overall and the mashup may have worked well with a better writing. It feels like it was rushed. The official description sent to the medias billed it as “in the tone of Mr & Mrs Smith, Redliners mixes humor, romance and espionage”. It’s not a lie. That’s the intention. But it’s never really funny, the romance part is very light and the espionage story, which is the main genre the show belongs to, is wobbly, foggy and ultimately boring once you don’t care anymore (which happens pretty quickly). It’s adapted from a short story written by Charlaine Harris and that’s how it feels: short. Of course, they did their best to expand the original material so it could become a series but it’s hard to imagine a future for the show. By the way, what is it with Charlaine Harris’ work? True Blood was a strange and addictive series I give you that; Texas, Midnight, which is coming this summer to NBC, is a lighter True Blood that leaves you puzzled at best; and now they’re digging into her short stories… Not everything should be adapted!

But let’s go back to those Redliners who spend half their time running from or against bad guys and the time they’re left by educating teenagers. Our heroine is Anne DeWitt, a fiercely intelligent, formidably lethal, charmingly mysterious force of nature. One of Anne’s many secrets is that she is an ex-teacher/trainer in the fine art of assassination for a security firm known as The Service. Holt Halsey is an FBI agent posing as a basketball coach at Anne’s college. Holt initially was sent in to monitor and “protect” Anne, with the Bureau hoping she might be a lure to draw out a shared enemy. But over time, he has come to care deeply for the players on his team. And as you can guess, he cares deeply about her too. These descriptions make them sound like more interesting than they really are on paper. Maybe the actors can give them more depth but let’s just say they weren’t top choices. And they don’t look like teachers, or spies. There’s a larger conspiracy behind all of this of course, the kind that will probably get way too complicated after a few episodes.

Redliners tries its best to turn a weird idea into a good one, but they should have tried harder or just forget it. NBC doesn’t need this, we don’t need this, can we just act like it never happened? If somehow it’s on the air next year, expect a flop. They won’t be able to market such a concept effectively. It just doesn’t work.

Midnight, Texas (NBC) pilot preview: True Blood, without the sex & the fun

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Created and executive produced by Monica Owusu-Breen (Charmed, Alias, Brothers & Sisters, Fringe, Agents of SHIELD). Based on Charlaine Harris (True Blood). Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Game of Silence, Under The Dome, Unforgettable). Also executive produced by David Janollari (Six Feet Under). For NBC & Universal Television. 58 pages.

Description: Midnight, Texas, a remote town where your neighbor could be a vampire, a witch, a werewolf, and even an angel. Mystery, horror and romance combine to both enthrall and frighten any outsiders who decide to venture into this unusual place. Like the new man in town, Manfred Bernado, a psychic hoping to start anew but the ghosts of his past and those of the town won’t let him rest…

With François Arnaud (The Borgias, Blindspot), Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black, Arrow, Heroes Reborn), Arielle Kebbel (Life Unexpected, The Vampire Diaries, Ballers, 90210), Sarah Ramos (Parenthood, American Dreams), Jason Lewis (Sex & The City, Charmed, Brothers & Sisters) Kellee Stewart (My Boys, The Soul Man), Parisa Fitz-Henley (Jessica Jones), Yul Vasquez (Magic City, Treme)…

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Can you believe Grimm is on the air for 5 years already? I would never have bet on this one. At some point this season, it was clear the supernatural procedural was poised to find an end soon. But despite meh ratings on fridays, NBC just decided to give it a 6th season –mostly for syndication purposes since they fully own it– possibly the last and possibly reduced to 13 episodes. Nothing’s set in stone right now. What it means for supernatural pilot Midnight, Texas, clearly an underdog from the get go, is: either it’s incredibly good and NBC takes a chance on it, hoping it becomes their next Grimm; either it’s doomed and at the very best they send it to sister-cable network SyFy, where it would fit perfectly. And the second solution may be for the best. Because it’s not “incredibly good” on the page. It’s okay.

When you adapt a story from Charlaine Harris, whose True Blood series was a hit in libraries and on HBO, you expect three things: lots of sex; lots of fun; lots of creepiness. I’m sorry to tell you Midnight, Texas has nearly none of this. Let’s start with the sex. It’s pretty simple: we’re not on HBO or other cable outlets. On NBC, you just can’t have the same amount of sex scenes and they certainly can’t be as graphic as they were in True Blood, with a lot of gentlemen’s very fine asses, perky boobs, orgies and raw fuck. In this pilot, we follow the arrival of Manfred Bernado in Midnight. As sexy as he is supposed to be, he’s not fucking every women of the town yet. He quickly finds his Sookie though, a charming, timid, innocent lady called Creek. She’s a waitress. Like Sookie. In the only diner/bar in town, like Sookie. He’s not a vampire like Bill, neither a monster. But he’s a dark man too, with many secrets. He’s tortured because of his visions, because ghosts can litteraly jump under his skin, invade his brain. So their relationship is similar to Bill & Sookie. And it was not the best part of True Blood. There are other romances, and a tiny bit of sex thanks to them but really, don’t expect that from Midnight, Texas. That’s too bad. They assembled a very sexy cast! It will get frustrating. You’ve been warned!

Told you it lacked fun. Let me be clear about that: when you’re doing a show where there is a psychic, a vampire, an angel, a werewolf, a witch and a talking cat (yes, a talking cat like in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch!), the least you can do is having fun with all this. Like True Blood did. Like Supernatural does for 12 years. This pilot is way too serious in my opinion. You get an occasional joke and the character of the vampire is clearly designed to be the funny/cynical one –as always, hum– but he can’t do all the heavy lifting by himself. He needs help and he doesn’t get it. That’s something that can be worked on though. They can add more humor in subsequent episodes…

Regarding the creepiness, apart from the ghosts, it’s very soft. No horror. There are strange and horrible things supposed to happen. We’re teased about them but we don’t see them yet. We’re told the town of Midnight has been built where the veil between the living and dead is the thinnest. It explains why supernatural creatures decided to live there, together. At peace. At least until a murder happened and caused the attention of the media. ‘cos of course there’s a murder in the middle of this… What did you expect? There was a serial killer in True Blood season one too. Charlaine Harris tends to tell the same story all over again anyway… There is the exact same atmosphere in Bon Temps and in Midnight. It’s reassuring in a way. But we’ve already been there, haven’t we?

Midnight, Texas is simply a network version of True Blood, a cousin of Grimm, which doesn’t take any risks and leaves us mostly indifferent even though there’s a bunch of interesting relationships and a lot of stories to tell starting from here. Not an incredible pilot, but potential nonetheless. If you have never seen True Blood, maybe you can tolerate it. NBC has way better and/or safer pilots to bet on this year. Except if they’re planning a summer run or a midseason start after Grimm ends, if Grimm ends.