Tag: david nutter

Deception (ABC) pilot preview: A Spectacular Show that Works like Magic!

Written and produced by Chris Fedak (Chuck, Forever, Legends of Tomorrow). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Blindspot, The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow…), Martin Gero (Blindspot, The LA Complex, Stargate Atlantis), Sarah Schechter (Riverdale, The Flash, Arrow) & David Kwong (Blindspot, Now You See Me). Directed by David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Shameless US, The Mentalist, The Flash, Arrow). For Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions. 6 pages. Draft 1/08/2017.

Description: When the career of superstar magician Cameron Black is ruined by scandal, he has only one place to turn to practice his art of deception, illusion, and influence — the FBI. He’ll become the world’s first consulting illusionist, helping the government solve crimes that defy explanation, and trap criminals and spies by using deception, even if it means breaking the rules and pissing off everyone around him, including his partner Kay Daniels, a take-charge, hard-working special agent you don’t fool easily…

With Jack Cutmore-Scott (Kingsman, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life), Hilfenesh Hadera (Show Me a Hero, Billions, Baywatch), Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break, Telenovela, Chase), Lenora Crichlow (Being Human, Sugar Rush), Vinnie Jones (Arrow, Galavant), Justin Chon



You’ll like it if you already like: Castle, Chuck, Forever, Lucifer, Blindspot

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10.

Ladies and gentlemen, Greg Berlanti did it again! Deception was one of the two drama projects he sold to ABC this year as a producer and I have to admit I rooted for the other one (Criminal about an hedonistic con man and his ragtag team of criminals who must complete an ongoing series of missions to clear their names and steal an unknown number of long-forgotten relics that could change the fate of the world). Imagine my disappointment. I can see yours. There’s 80% chance you rolled your eyes while reading Deception‘s description and I honestly did the same. So believe me or not, the pilot script is impressive and now I totally understand why ABC fell for it. I’ll try to explain and convince you it’s not the same type of crime/consultant show we’ve been served for years. Except, it kinda is. But better, faster, stronger.

The biggest difficulty with Deception was to make it believable. And they do somehow. I’m the first to be surprised but it is what it is. In what world would the FBI need a magician to help them? Of course, it would never happen in ours. Can you imagine David Copperfield stopping terrorists thanks to a magic trick? Laughable. The real magician here must be the writer Chris Fedak then. He did a really good job from start to finish, not only by making it believable but also by making it incredibly fresh and enjoyable. The opening sequence is a spectacular and dangerous magic trick inspired by Harry Houdini, of the great magicians, that starts in a giant Las Vegas theather and end up… in Time Square, New York! He has to free himself from chains while blindfolded in a cage two hundred feets above the stage. How is that even possible? There’s an explanation. And I intend to keep it a secret. But you’ll know and it may blow your mind and disappoint you at the same time.

There’s a note at the beginning of the script explaining that all the tricks and deceptions on the show are actually possible. A real magician could perform those illusions. And it has to be noted that David Kwong, puzzle creator and magician consultant for the movie Now You See Me, serves as an executive producer. They are not taking it lightly. So yeah, magic is a big big part of the show and those scenes look incredible on paper. With Warner Bros. Television behind, I’m not worried: it will look great on screen too. Budget-wise, they won’t be able to perform such things every week. The pilot set the bar high -especially with the disappearance of a plane into thin air- but I’m pretty sure they can also do great with less money. Plus, there’s all sorts of magic and of course, Cameron Black knows it all.

It’s that kind of character. He’s pretentious, borderline but he’s damn funny, handsome and charming (look at Jack Cutmore-Scott’s face!). Nobody can resist him. Like Lucifer, for example. They could be twin. You’re not gonna be surprised if I tell you his partner is a woman and that she hates him as much as she likes him. They’re poised to fall in love sooner or later. That’s how those procedural crime shows work. People need romance. But there’s more. Cameron has a backstory, involving his father and his brother, as well as a nenemis who wants to kill him. A mysterious woman illusionist that is apparently even greater than he is and who’s ready to play a cat and mouse game. Strong serialized elements are always welcome. By the way, Cameron doesn’t do it all by himself. He has a team. And all of them add flavours to the show, especially Dina, his witty producer and makeup genius, and Gunter, his Viking-type technician. The ensemble really works. Dialogues are great. Chris Fedak worked on Chuck. They’re similar tonally.

ABC needed a new Castle badly. They may have found it. And for real this time. It’s not produced in-house but it’s everything they could hope for. It may look like a by-the-book procedural cop show sometimes, it certainly is familiar, structured like many others that came before, but it’s irresistibly fun and inventive, impressive even, and never boring. Magic happened on paper. Let’s hope it will make it out alive from pilot season!

Ghost (The CW) pilot preview: Might as well be called The Conjuring new generation


Created and executive produced by Kevin Williamson (The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer). Directed by David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Containment, The Flash, Arrow, Smallville…). Also executive produced by Lauren Wagner (Stalker, The Following). For The CW, Warner Bros. Television & Outerbanks Entertainment. 58 pages.

Description: In New Orleans, a young woman seeks help from a parapsychologist when she begins to experience paranormal phenomena after she almost died on a car crash one year before. Only to discover he may be a fake one. Together, they embark on an investigation inside a house that is supposed to be haunted…

With Megan West (How to Get Away With Murder), Matt Passmore (The Glades, Satisfaction, Underbelly), Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl, Complications, Kingdom)…

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If you read my review of Time After Time (still here), you already know all the love and admiration I have for Kevin Williamson. Clearly, Ghost is not his best work. It might even be one of his worst. But he’s THAT good that even one of his worst script is not that bad after all. I get why The CW ordered the pilot, though I’m not sure it would be a good idea to pick it up to series. Can people be that interested in a drama dealing with ghosts and haunted houses every week? I’m not sure. Yes, there was Ghost Whisperer, but it was a police procedural before anything else. It’s not the case here. It could get boring very fast, except if they decide to tackle other kind of supernatural activities at some point. But then, they would lose what makes it special, different. And I don’t see it having 22 episodes per season. It looks very much like a midseason entry, at best. Or it would be perfect for a summer run, but The CW doesn’t do that a lot so far.

Honestly, it’s a tough script to judge on paper. It’s based on suspense, fear. It’s written like a horror movie and Williamson, Scream’s creator, knows a thing or two in that department obviously. But he’s way better when there are serial killers involved. I’m still looking for the thrills. The quality of the final product is highly dependent on the director’s vision and execution anyway. Who happens to be David Nutter here. He’s the Kevin Williamson of the drama pilots’ directors. Everytime he directs one –every year– it’s ordered to series. So there’s every reason to be confident. If the frightening scenes don’t work though, then the whole series is a deadman walking.

It’s very much like The Conjuring in fact, but less efficient and instead of having investigators in their fifties, they are much younger and sexier. Because we’re on The CW. We can’t blame them for that. It’s already a tough sell as it is not to add more difficulties. I’m not a fan of the cast by the way. Matt Passmore is a good actor, but I have a hard time finding Jessica Szohr a good enough co-lead. it’s hard to tell about Megan West, as the heroine. So far, she has only played the dead -but alive in flashbacks- Lila in How To Get Away With Murder. But I’m always game for gingers!

Ghost is very character-driven. They all have a difficult and dark past we’re progressively introduced to. But everything about them is desperately predictable, from their reactions to their decisions, as is the progression of the investigation –and the ghost does everything by himself, they don’t have much work to do– and the twist in the end, that I saw coming since the first pages. And I think everybody will. It makes the whole pilot a bit uncomfortable to read. They withhold an information but we’re not that dumb, we know what’s happening. Weird choice.

I’m surprised to read that Ghost is a strong contender at The CW. So far, it’s the less compelling of the crop in my opinion and it doesn’t have any longtime potential. If they can make the pilot work somehow, I don’t see the series going very far. Too many things are missing and there’s no real argument to come back to it…