Tag: connie nielsen

F.B.I. (CBS) pilot preview: Dick Wolf By The Book

Written and executive produced by Craig Turk (The Good Wife, Private Practice, Boston Legal). Also produced by Dick Wolf (Law & Order, SVU, Truee Crime, Chicago Fire, PD, Med, Justice), Peter Jankowski & Arthur W. Forney. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Millenium, Under The Dome, Mr Robot, Midnight, Texas). For NBCUniversal TelevisionCBS Television Studios & Wolf Films. 60 pages. Network Draft. 1/22/18.

Description: the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, alongside relatively young agents Maggie Bell & Otilio Abramah “OA” Casillas, and the emotional toll cases have on their relationships and personal lives…

With Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue, Van Helsing, Reaper), Zeeko Zaki (24 Legacy, Valor, Six), Jeremy Sisto (Ice, The Returned, Suburgarory, Law & Order, Six Feet Under), Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman Boss, The Following, Gladiator), Ebonée Noel (Wrecked, Still Star-Crossed)…

  

You’ll Like It You Already Like: Any straight police procedural show.

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10 (one of the few slots available where there’s no Dick Wolf show on NBC)

 

No, it’s not a typo in the article’s title: this show produced by Dick Wolf is really for CBS! F.B.I. will be Wolf’s first drama series to launch on a network other than NBC in 15 years, since the 2003 Dragnet reboot on ABC that didn’t last long. So what happened? The project was originally developed at NBC but with Wolf’s Chicago franchise expanding, taking 3 hours in the schedule, plus veteran Law & Order:SVU still alive and new iteration Law & Order True Crime coming, there was simply not slot available for it in NBC’s slate of procedurals. So it made sense for him to look to expand his brand elsewhere and CBS was the logical first destination since the eye network is known for its crime procedurals. NBC will still get some money out of it anyway since Universal is co-producing F.B.I. with CBS. The only downside here is that they won’t be able to crossover the show with Chicago PD (or any other), something they probably would have done on NBC. CBS was so happy to get a Wolf show that they ordered it straight-to-series with a 13-episode commitment, without any writer attached and of course any script ready. Former The Good Wife executive producer Craig Turk was then recommended for the job by CBS, being one of the top drama writers on CBS TV Studios’ roster. And here we are!

So, F.B.I… Could they find a more generic title than this? It sums up the whole concept of the show, really. In that regard, it is perfect. Though they could have added “: New York“, cos’ knowing both Wolf and CBS, if it works for them, we will get the Los Angeles & Miami versions sooner or later! There’s a definitive lack of ambition, as the logline can attest, and it’s a choice. It’s not like they were trying to make something crazy original and they totally failed in the end. No, they were just aiming at a simple, straight-forward crime procedural since the beginning. No fat. But is it a smart move in 2018? Don’t you need a hook, even in a procedural, to bring interest? I think the reasoning behind is quite easy: Dick Wolf is a brand, and people who love his brand don’t want anything that would deviate from it. No high-concept. No strange consultant. No magic. So Wolf is bringing exactly what people are supposedly looking for from him. And from CBS. Haters gonna hate. Lovers gonna love! I don’t consider myself as a hater of Dick’s work but I can’t say that I’m a fan either. I always find his shows bland and F.B.I. kinda is too. It’s never really about the characters. It’s about the case of the week and the investigation. And sometimes, when there’s a little time left, they throw us crumbs of information about the investigators’ private lives. Like a well-deserved reward. That’s what happens here. When the pilot ends, we know one thing about every principal character. Which is already a lot I guess from such a show.

That being said, F.B.I. is as efficient as a procedural can get and it’s fast-paced. The situation is quickly set. The investigation starts two pages in. You’re given twists and cliffhangers every 8-10 minutes or so. You get a proper conclusion in the last two pages. Nothing’s left to your imagination. And it’s done. Again: no fat. There’s still some kind of ambition though, I was lying earlier. The case they chose to tackle is quite strong and heavy. Terrorism. In New York. Nothing original here either. But bombs explode, buildings collapse. It’s gonna cost a lot of money! So it starts with two bombs detonating at a working-class South Bronx apartment complex, injuring many and killing a local 7-year old boy. It’s quite horrifying, so you’re either hooked or disgusted. And then it’s the whole city that’s under a major bomb threat. Another one is found at a community center and our agents are in the constant fear of a new one exploding anywhere. The stakes are high. It must be impressive for people who never saw any of 24, Homeland or more recently Quantico. For the others, it’s business as usual. But once again, it’s well made and once you’re in, you just stay. Unless you’re not into cellphone melted on a guy’s burnt leg and other digusting things like that. Will they be able, budget-wise, to go as big in every episode? Probably not. It’s gonna become quieter I guess. Once the dust settles, they will have to be careful not to enter the boring zone…

The characters are instantly working, maybe because we meet them right into the action, and then they never sleep, never quit. You have Maggie Bell -skilled, intellectual, emotional- hard not to like, the real heroine here; Otilio Abraham “OA” Casillas -former undercover DEA operative, instinctual, grizzled- very typical; Jubal Valentine, an experienced agent who thrives on stress -and adds a hint of humor-; Kristen Yessayen, a highly intelligent analyst; Ian Lentz, a forensic technology expert; and finally Ellen Toy, the deeply respected boss, who’s elegant, cultured, disarmingly direct and impossible to intimidate. Love her already. It’s a really good team on paper and the actors they chose, especially Jeremy Sisto and Connie Nielsen, are always great. Again, F.B.I. is very low-key on the character’s private lives and doesn’t introduced any serialized elements. At some point, Maggie says : “I eat dinner with Kristen in the office most nights and neither of us have a personal life to talk about.” We’ve been warned! We’re not in Shondaland, we’re in Dickland. Oopsie. Wolfland sounds better!

F.B.I. is your go-to procedural, Dick Wolf by the book product. It’s exactly what you expect from him. It fits perfectly with CBS actual line-up and might be the beginning of a lucrative franchise… unless viewers are looking for something else these days, in the era of peak TV. It will probably skew old, even though most of the characters are young, but it’s CBS best chance at success next year, it seems. Go Dick, do your thing!

“Unveiled” (NBC) pilot preview: “Touched by an Angel” all over again

unveiled

Written & produced by John Sakmar & Kerry Lenhart (Boston Public, Make it or Break it). Co-produced by Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel, The Bible, A.D. The Bible Continues,The Dovekeepers) & Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, The Shark Tank, The Apprentice, The Bible). For NBC, Universal Television & Lightworks Media. 65 pages.

Description: An ensemble of flawed guardian angels intervene in the lives of those who find themselves facing crisis in an attempt to restore their faith and, often, save their lives. Beyond the veil, a space between Heaven and Earth, two brother angels, Hunter and Lucas, good and evil, are waging war against each other…

With Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: Blood and Sand, The Flash), Connie Nielsen (Boss, The Following, The Good Wife), Will Kemp (Van Helsing, The Great Fire), Dana Davis (Heroes, The Nine, Franklin & Bash), Stephan James (Selma, Degrassi, The LA Complex), Mouzam Makkar

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Dear readers, don’t be fooled by the stunning lady (Connie Nielsen) and the beautiful men (Liam McIntyre & Will Kemp) in the picture up above. They may play angels and they may be very good at it -let’s just hope time won’t tell- but they’re working for very dark forces that need to be stopped as soon as possible. I’m talking about Roma Downey & Mark Burnett, husband & wife, who are trying to turn TV into a giant church. They produced The Bible for History, which was a tremendous success, then the follow-up entitled A.D. The Bible Continues which is coming to NBC in a couple of weeks (we’ll see if it works as much), plus another religious mini-series for CBS called The Dovekeepers, and they’re now responsible for this drama pilot which, in my opinion, should never be revealed to the public. I don’t deny there is a big audience for something like Unveiled, but my problem with it is not the message that it’s carrying -that I don’t approve but have nothing but respect for- it’s the show in itself. You just can’t do something like this in 2015. You just can’t, for Christ’s sake!

Let’s go back to the year 1994. Then started on CBS a show called Touched by an Angel, starring… oh oh… a certain Roma Downey as Monica, a guardian angel who is tasked with bringing guidance and messages from God to various people who are at a crossroads in their lives. Basically, the same story as Unveiled, except here it’s an ensemble show with multiple angels who may not be as joyous and positive as Monica and her friends. The thing is, Touched by an Angel was huge: it lasted 9 seasons, 211 episodes; it even gave birth to a spin-off called Promised Land. It peaked during season 4 as the 5th most watched shows of 1997, behind Friends, ER, Veronica’s Closet and the Sunday Night Football! So it totally makes sense that NBC and Roma Downey thought it might be a good idea to revive the show, but without using the same name or the exact same story. One sure thing: if it’s ordered to series, whenever NBC put it on the schedule (Sundays in spring?), it will skew old, very old. TV has changed and nobody wants to see that anymore. The Bible is epic and you learn things while watching it. Unveiled is just dumb and you learn nothing.

During the opening, a girl in a wedding dress cries her eyes out on a beach, praying for her “Adam” to be safe. Which is a ridiculous image. And then the whole episode tells you the story of poor Adam, through the eyes of our guardian angels, especially one for whom it’s the first day on duty. There’s a second story, with an old man who’s about to commit suicide in front of his wife. In the end, you discover the stories are connected and that’s about the only surprise of the pilot. The rest is exactly what you expect from this kind of show: cliché dialogues, uninspired declarations of love, smooth characters you want to slap in the face… And the perspective of meeting new ones every week made me wanna cry my eyes out like a girl in a wedding dress on a beach. Or drown myself into the ocean directly. About the guardian angels, let’s just say they’re all very kind and mysterious, not funny one second, too buzzy doing good to give anything that could make us care about them. And there’s a lot of sky. A lot of light. A lot of sun. A lot of water. A lot of “ethereal” music. It’s heaven on earth, mostly Los Angeles, California. But the pilot is shot in Vancouver in March, meaning there won’t be that much of light and sun. In the very end, there’s an hint of Spartacus/Game Of Thrones with a sword fight, but no blood. It comes out of nowhere but I guess it’s their way of saying: look how modern we are! Well it’s an epic fail, guys.

Sorry Father. Forgive me for I have sinned. But these awful things needed to be said loud and clear. Unveiled should never ever see the light of day. Not on a network. Not in 2015. Not in real life! And I can assure I will pray for it everyday until the Upfronts week. Hear me out.