Tag: christine lahti

Controversy (FOX) pilot preview: Another lesser American Crime

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

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

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



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

Likely timeslot: somewhere in midseason

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

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

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

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

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

“The Adversaries” (ABC) pilot preview: The Good Father, The Good Daughter & The Not So Good Wife

Lost, Terry O Quinn as John Locke

Written and produced by David Zabel (ER, Detroit 187, Betrayal, Lucky 7). Co-produced by Tommy Burns (Harry’s Law, The Crazy Ones, ER). Directed by Stephen Cragg (ER, Nashville, Grey’s Anatomy). For ABC & ABC Studios. 53 pages.

Description: For the past few decades, the Hayward family has been as close to a New York City legal dynasty as it gets. This dynasty is put in turmoil when the patriarch, Charlie, is indicted on federal charges and the daughter, Jaime, a star prosecutor, finds herself in a difficult position, stuck between the family she loves and the office she works for. She must decide which side she will fight on…

With Terry O’Quinn (Lost, Alias, 666 Park Avenue, Gang Related, The Stepfather), Kristen Hager (Being Human US, Beach Girls), Christine Lahti (Chicago Hope, Hawaii 5-0, Jack & Bobby), Lenny Platt (How to Get Away With Murder), Christine Evangelista (Kill Point, Chicago Fire, Detroit 187), Enuka Okuma (Rookie Blue, Sue Thomas F.B. Eye)…

rate rate

When we thought we have seen it all in the legal drama genre with the Law & Order franchise and David E. Kelley hit shows Ally McBeal, The Practice & Boston Legal, Damages came out of nowhere and proved us wrong. Then arrived the incredible The Good Wife. And six seasons later, we’re still amazed by the show. How can a new legal drama survive in nowadays’ TV landscape, when Law & OrderThe Practice and The Good Wife set the bar that high? I have no idea, and the networks either. SuitsFranklin & Bash and a few others are just less interesting iterations of what we have already seen. They’re watchable, enjoyable, but not much more. Even E. Kelley himself is struggling (Harry’s Law). The Adversaries is exactly that: not something new, not something bad, not something we’d be willing to really give a chance. And it’s sad. But one day, the next great legal drama will come our way.

The Adversaries is trying to distinguish itself through the family drama perspective, but even that has already been made and it doesn’t make that much of a difference in the end. Yeah, they’re all lawyers in the family, but so what? Page 45, there’s this line: “We have an empathy deficit“. It’s the daughter analyzing why the jury probably won’t side for her father in court. And it’s exactly why the audience won’t like the show either: there’s an empathy deficit for the whole family! They’re rich, they live in beautiful apartments in New York and, wait for it… they’re good people at the same time! They are too good to be true. It would have been very much easier to hate/love them if they were bad people doing very bad thing things. Not all of them, but some of them. But no. It’s the good father, with the good daughters, the good employees and there’s just the mother that may be not that good but she is just keeping a big secret from them and the reason why is probably… to protect them. I don’t think it’s what people are looking for on TV right now.

While reading the pitch, if you thought -like me- the show was about the daughter moving heaven and earth to help her father going out of jail for an entire season, maybe more, then you were wrong. It’s what she does during the whole pilot -plus flirting with another female lawyer, ‘cos she’s a lesbian and that’s great for a female lead!- but she succeeds in the end and she refuses to join her father’s firm. So, the next episodes will consist mostly of the father and the daughter fighting in court against each other. It could quickly become quite boring, redundant, and I fear the family secrets (a mysterious dead son) and the romantic storylines won’t be enough to keep us interested for the long haul, even if Terry O’Quinn & Christine Lahti are great actors that certainly have a great chemistry on screen. They have very funny lines, and in general, the dialogues are really good. There’s a cheesy love song about family right in the middle of the pilot, because the other daughter is a law student and also an artist, and it feels totally out of place.

I really don’t see ABC ordering The Adversaries to series. It will skew old and it doesn’t really fit with the schedule. It’s efficient and pleasant but a little outdated. ABC has bigger fishes to fry than giving it a try.