Tag: demetrius grosse

For God And Country (NBC) pilot preview: NBC’s National Anthem

Written and produced by Dean Georgaris (Paycheck, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life). Executive produced by Avi Nir (Homeland, Tyrant), Peter Traugott (Samantha Who?) and Rachel Kaplan (Manhattan Love Story, Do No Harm). Directed by Brad Anderson (Frequency, Forever, Fringe, The Call). For Universal Television & Keshet Studios. 64 pages. Revised Network Polish. 01/17/17.

Description: An heart pounding look into the complex world of our bravest military heroes who make personal sacrifices while executing the most challenging and dangerous missions behind enemy lines. The ISA-Special Operations Group, led by commander Michael Dalton, and a team of surveillance analysts who uncover and interpret threats, supervised by Deputy Director Patricia Campbell, will do whatever it takes to make sure no foreign nation gets away with harming Americans…

With Mike Vogel (Under the Dome, Pan Am, Bates Motel), Anne Heche (Dig, Men In Trees, Hung, Volcano, Six Days Seven Nights), Natacha Karam, Demetrius Grosse (Westworld, Banshee, Justified), Noah Mills, Hadi Tabbal, Sofia Pernas (Jane The Virgin, The Young and the Restless)

  

You’ll like if you already like: Homeland, The Unit, JAG…

Likely timeslot : Tuesday at 10, Midseason sundays…

For God And Country. No, it’s not a joke. That’s really the title of this NBC military drama pilot. It’s unsubtle, overly direct, the more on-the-nose title ever created. It doesn’t leave a room for any possible doubt: this is a patriotic show, specifically designed for a Post-Trump America and blue-collar audiences. But let’s be clear, it’s the huge success of Eastwood’s feature film American Sniper that triggered the ongoing push from the networks to get more programs featuring military heroes. Not the Agent Orange/Bratman/Cinnamon Hitler POTUS. While USA Network’s Shooter launched successfully and will come back next summer, 4 other pilots are sharing a military DNA this season: Behind Enemy Lines at FOX, an Untitled NAVY Seal Drama at CBS, Valor at The CW & comedy Charlie Foxtrot at ABC. Let’s just hope only 1 or 2 get a series pick-up during the upfronts. For God and Country -Man, I will never get used to it!- is already a clear favorite at NBC. And I can see why. And I’ll try to explain.

The truth is, this is an edge-of-your-seat pilot that could be compared to the most successful action-oriented episodes of Homeland. I wanted to hate this script but despite myself, I got hooked quickly and couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Unless the director screws things up, it’s gonna be epic. The 5 characters from the operations group are always in action: moving, hiding, shooting, fighting… They don’t talk a lot. And when they do, it’s not particularly impressive. It’s hard to tell who they really are deep inside. Consequently, it’ll take time to get to know them and possibly appreciate them. So far, they are just like machines. But they have potential. And SPOILER ALERT: you shouldn’t get too attached to them, because it is revealed in a flashforward at the beginning of the episode that one of them will die during one of the 23 missions they’ll complete on their nine months deployment. Smart way to help the viewers’ go through an entire season of the show, which is bound to be highly procedural by the way, with tiny serialized elements about their personal lives.

Michael Dalton (played by Mike Vogel) is your typical team leader, your perfect and stunningly beautiful war hero, meaning he’s a bit boring. Juice is the team’s computer and communications expert and all-around tech badass, “a lethal MacGyver”. I let you draw your own conclusion. Joseph J McGuire is the team’s medic who is the quickest to violence and fond of mixed martial arts and… J.K. Rowling. He’s a bit of an asshole honestly. I guess they needed one, to make it real. But he has a sense of humor. He made me think of Lost‘s Sawyer in a way. Then there’s Amir. Before joining Dalton’s team, he spent nearly six years as a lone wolf penetration agent in ISIS, which makes him the most interesting character so far an he goes through a lot during the pilot. And finally, there’s Jaz, one of the few women in the world to make it through the U.S. Army Ranger School. She’s a sniper now, which makes her the second most interesting character of the show. And as the only woman of the team, the most likely to survive the season.

The characters from the Defense Intelligence Agency are less mobile, stuck in their bureau, but they talk a lot instead. They are the ones who make difficult decisions, who strategize. Their leader Patricia Campbell has not much to do with Carrie Matheson sadly, and there’s no Saul Berenson either, but their scenes are intense nonetheless, and I’m convinced Anne Heche is capable of adding extra-life to her too calm and always in control role. There’s an overall lack of emotion, which is a shame for that kind of show who wants to go straight to the viewers’ hearts, but the rescue mission of the pilot is the most emotional thing in there. It’s about a surgeon kidnapped in Syria and her husband waiting for some reassuring news in DC. In fact, I think we get to know more about them than any other characters. And I don’t see it as a good thing. But we’re invested in their story at least.

So is it this patriotic? Yes. But it’s easy to go with the flow and enjoy the show for what it is first and foremost: a military thriller. If you’re not fond of arms, you might get irritated from time to time. They loooove their weapons. And the writer makes sure we get it. But different point of views about war are represented, especially through Juice, who’s a muslim, and McGuire, who’s clearly a Trump soldier. They talk about it. It’s furtive and not really deep, but at least it means the show tries to lauch a conversation. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m still laughing from the ridiculous opening sequence. Dalton yells to a bomb maker: “It doesn’t matter where you hide. If you hurt us, we will find you“. Cut to black and the title appears on the screen. TOO MUCH.

For God and Country is an intense military series that has every chance to resonate with americans right now by playing an ambiguous game that consists of pleasing the republicans without infuriating democrats. Unless people want something more radical. It seems to belong more to CBS than to NBC but there’s definitely an audience looking for this and they’ll find it wherever. There’s a real potential to make something powerful out of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if NBC puts it behind This Is Us next year, though they’re very different tonally. 

“Game Of Silence” (NBC) pilot preview: when NBC goes dark(er)…

DAVIDL

Written & produced by David Hudgins (Everwood, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights). Based on Turkish series Suskunlar. Co-produced by Carol Mendelsohn (CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York, CSI Cyber, Melrose Place), Julie Weitz, Tariq Jalil & Timur Savci (Suskunlar). Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Millenium, Dead Man Down, Under The Dome, Unforgettable). For NBC, Sony Pictures Television, Intrigue Entertainment, Carol Mendelsohn Productions & TIMS Productions. 65 pages.

Description: Jackson, Gil, Tony, Scrub… They were just four little boys from Dalton, Georgia. They were bound to each other as brothers. One day, they made a childish mistake. It was an accident that came at a high cost and their lives would never be the same again. They took an oath to never tell a single soul about what happened, they were going to keep this a secret until the end of their days. But keeping this burden was not going to be an easy task. Twenty five years have passed since that unfortunate day. Jackson is now a rising attorney on the brink of success but he could lose his perfectly crafted life when his long lost childhood friends threaten to expose this dark secret from their violent past…

With David Lyons (The Cape, Revolution, ER), Michael Raymond-James (True Blood, Terriers, Once Upon A Time), Bre Blair, Demetrius Grosse (Justified, Banshee), Conor O’Farrell (CSI, Medium), Larenz Tate (House of Lies, Rescue Me), Claire van der Boom (Hawaii 5-0), Deidrie Henry (The Riches)…

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Wow. After three months of pilot scripts reading, I have to say I’m a little fed up with the thriller dramas. Before the pickups started we were all about “it’s the year of medical drama” but in fact, the real tendency is the thriller. I don’t really know where it comes from (The Following?) but here they are, all over every network, especially at NBC & ABC. And all over the place story-wise, sometimes. We can’t say Allegiance or Odyssey did great, just to name a few. But don’t be scared. It didn’t cloud my judgement about Game of Silence. I just had to get it off my chest once and for all. That being said, the problem with the thriller dramas is it’s hard making 22 episodes out of it when it’s the network’s goal or even imagining going beyond one season. And that’s what I fear here: we could have a great first 13-episode season because the concept is strong and the pilot hooks you up, but then? What happens? We’ll have plenty of time to discuss it later if it goes to series but still. You can’t ignore the menacing cloud up there…

What I like about Game of Silence it’s the fact that there’s not a great and mysterious conspiracy behind the events that are happening. Or anything supernatural/sci-fi. The characters brought it upon themselves. They made a mistake a long time ago and now they suffer the consequences. The show tries to unfold on a human scale, with some sort of psychological narration thanks to Jackson’s voice-over, wrapping the story in nostalgia, sorrow and regrets. The numerous flashbacks telling their youth are sweet at first, filled with light and hope, then they become darker and darker, to the point it gets painful. They all spent six months in a refarmatory for teens, that’s when things started to go bad, very bad. Some guys beat the crap out of them, they were even raped! All of them. At the same time. I have to admit I was a little shocked. I didn’t expect that, especially on a network. We don’t really see it. But we realize it. And the reason why they promised to each other they won’t talk about it, ever, to anyone, is because of shame. And it has repercussions in their adult life. One character has an intimacy problem. With his own wife! They’re all very damaged. That’s why even when they do something stupid, out of rage, we can’t really blame them. But it’s not easy loving them either. I’m telling you that after reading the whole script, knowing all the facts. But while reading it, sometimes I just thought these morons were wasting my time.

Game of Silence has a little soapy element, with a love triangle that goes way way back. Jackson was in love with a girl, they were together for a long time before he abandoned her and his friends to live a better life in Atlanta. But now she’s with one of them. And him, he is about to get married. Classical but the show needed just that. Sadly, the writer couldn’t help himself putting big bad guys linked to drug-trafficking and so on right in the middle of the story and it begins to irritate me, after The Affair and Bloodline played that card already. That’s not what we’re interested in. It’s just a way to gain time. I just hope they won’t focus too much on it. There’s a political aspect to the story too, surrounding some of Atlanta’s biggest names. It’s a little bit more exciting and it’s not just gaining time, this time. It’s really important. One of the men who rape them is now an important figure of the city. And they won’t let him get away with it…

Game Of Silence is one of the three thriller dramas NBC ordered to pilot this year, with Blindspot and The Player. They are all very different and they could all go to series but this one is probably the hardest to sell on this network. Not only because it’s the darkest, with less action and more psychology -which is definitely a good thing- but because it’s heavily serialized with just one little procedural element since the hero is a lawyer and he has a case in the pilot, as he will probably deal with other ones in subsequent episodes. Game of Silence is cable-y and finding the audience it deserves won’t be easy. Hoping it won’t be silenced after four or five episodes, I wish it good luck!