Tag: desperate housewives

Bluegrass/Blood Red (ABC) pilot preview: Desperate Cop in soapy smalltown America

Written and produced by Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, The Golden Girls). Also produced by Reba McEntre, Sabrina Wind (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Reba), Mindy Schultheis & Michael Hanel (Malibu Country, Reba, Rita Rocks). Directed by Michael Offer (How to Get Away With Murder, Longmire). 54 Pages. 2nd revised network draft (01/05/17). For ABC Studios, Cherry-Wind Productions & Acme Productions.

Description: Ruby Adair, the sheriff of colorful small town Oxblood, Kentucky, finds her red state outlook challenged when Tag Fayad, a young FBI special agent of Middle Eastern descent is sent to help her solve a horrific crime that happened during the 4th of July parade. Together they form an uneasy alliance as Ruby takes Tag behind the lace curtains of this southern gothic community to meet an assortment of bizarre characters, each with a secret of their own…

With Reba McEntire (Reba, Malibu Country, Tremors), Jack Coleman (Heroes, Scandal, The Office, Dynasty), Amanda Detmer (What About Brian, Private Practice), Ryan McPartlin (Chuck, Devious Maids), Ben Esler (Hell On Weels), Emily Rose (Haven, ER, Graceland), Natalie Hall (Star-Crossed, All My Children), Saidah Ekulona (Impastor)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, True Blood

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9 (the old Desperate Housewives slot) or Monday at 10 (right after old-skewing Dancing With the Stars).

 

Desperate situations call for desperate measures. And in their drama department, ABC is in a desperate situation. They found no new hit this season, except Designated Survivor that is doing okay, while older dramas that are not Grey’s Anatomy are dying. So they asked Marc Cherry, one of their last hit maker, responsible for the rise and fall of the iconic Desperate Housewives, to give them something. Anything. And here we are.

I am thrilled to be coming back home to ABC. What makes it all the sweeter is Reba McEntire is coming with me. And we can’t wait to share with our fans this wonderful Southern Gothic soap opera we’ve been cooking up for them” Cherry said in an official statement. I find it amusing that he considers having fans of his own. Reba McEntire has fans. Of course, she’s a legendary country music star (who wants to be an actress too for some reason). But Marc Cherry? I’m not sure. I mean, there are fans of Desperate Housewives all over the world. There must have fans of Devious Maids too. I am one of them. Don’t judge me. But fans of him? Anyway. It’s just PR after all. So, will those said fans be happy with his new project? Possibly. But not as much as they would have anticipated I’m afraid.

The first question I ask myself when I’m finished reading a pilot script from a renowned writer is not was it good or not but would it have been picked-up if it was not written by this particular talent that has a value for obvious marketing reasons (“from the writer that brought you Desperate Housewives“)? In this case, Marc Cherry has such a special voice that there is no doubt it’s him and there is no doubt it would have been picked up even written by someone else or written by a young and unproven Marc Cherry. Even though it’s clearly not his best work, it’s exactly what ABC needs: something heavily serialized but with a crime and an investigation at the center since there’s still a craving for this kind of shows; something fun and soapy, but not too dark since ABC had too many of those the past few years; and finally something that has the potential to stay on the air for years to come since you know, it’s a business.

Plus, it is believed to be part of the network’s push for more programming that reflects Middle America. On this, I’m not really sold. Yes, it is set in the traditionally Republican state of Kentucky -as both Marc Cherry and Reba McEntire are proud Republicans- but those people living in Oxblood are way too quirky for real americans to recognize themselves in them, apart, maybe, in our heroine and her family. For example, there’s the character of Miss Bo. She will probably be the funniest part of the show. But she runs the local brothel with “the ugliest whores in Kentucky”. I don’t think my mother or yours will recognize themselves in her. Except if your mother is “a Madam”. And that’s okay. I’m also thinking about the Winemiller sisters, black and colorful church ladies. They run a Bed & Breakfast and they talk a lot. Often at the same time. Not your regular neighbours. But anyway, that’s where the fun is. That’s Marc Cherry at his best. Bitchy comments, dialogues to die for. He still got it, my friends. If they find the right cast, magic will happen.

In case you’re wondering, Cherry isn’t offering here a celebration of Donald Trump and his digusting ideas, especially about immigration. But I had my doubts while I was reading the teaser. A brown-skinned woman that is supposed to be a terrorist after she plowed into crowd during a 4th of July parade, killing people (it reminded me of the Nice attack during Bastille Day last summer, which was probably his inspiration)… a detective who is described (in bold letters) as “Middle eastern decent”… but without revealing too much, it’s not what you think. It’s about looking beyond the appearrances for both the townspeople and the stranger coming to town. Like Cherry did with Desperate Housewives and even a bit with Devious Maids: there are no good or bad people in the end, there are only crazy people. It’s not life, it’s soap. And it’s not deep but it’s irreverent.

What I’m less fond of in the show is the investigation part. It’s not used as a distraction from time to time. It’s at the center of it all. And it’s Marc Cherry. The ones in Desperate Housewives were always kinda ridiculous. I’m afraid it’s still the case. It’s not yet, but it could become quickly. Especially if there are planning 22-episode seasons. Just don’t expect The Killing. Thankfully, the dynamic between Ruby and Tag looks different than what we’re used to. It’s not about them falling in love in the near future. She’s 55 (Reba is 61 but she has a “good” surgeon). He’s in his thirties. Well, it would be bold to make them fall in love but I don’t feel like it’s in the cards. It’s more of a mother/son relationship and I don’t recall such a duet in crime dramas. She’s a tough woman with a temper (who has every reason to be angry – her ex-husband Deke is now married to her ex-best friend, plus her junkie daughter left, leaving her 7 year-old son behind); he’s a sex-addict and rude and vegan FBI agent who doesn’t believe in love, monogamy or marriage. Definitely an interesting pair.

I don’t know if it’s because Twin Peaks is coming back or because networks suddenly remembered that America is not only made of big overcrowded cities, but quirky little towns are back in the game this year (Riverdale is another example) and the Marc Cherry Project is apparently ABC’s way of saying: “Middle America, we heard you. Let’s have some fun together!”. Fun, there is. It’s an exciting soap a little more grounded than usual mixed with a crime drama, that has enough potential to be considered as a frontrunner in this pilot season. It isn’t revolutionnary. It won’t be a game-changer show for the network but it could turn into a solid performer that will primarily resonate with older viewers (it lacks teenager/ young adult characters so far). 

Riverdale (The CW) pilot preview: THE teen soap of the late 2010s?

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Pilot “Chapter One: The River’s Edge” written and executive produced by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Looking, Glee, Big Love). Based on characters appearing in Archie Comics publications. Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (The Age of Adaline, Celeste & Jesse Forever). Also executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Blindspot, Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Brothers & Sisters, Everwood, Dawson’s Creek), Jon Goldwater (Sabrina: secrets of a teenage witch) & Sarah Schechter (Blindspot, Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow). For The CW, Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions. 60 pages.

Description: Archie, Betty, Veronica and their friends and enemies and parents, explore the surreality of small-town life – the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade. The whole town is shaken when the mysterious disappearance of a teenager turns into a murder case…

With KJ Apa as Archie, Lili Reinhart (Surviving Jack, The Kings of Summer) as Betty, Camila Mendes as Veronica, Cole Sprouse (The Suite Life of Zach & Cody) as Jughead Jones, Casey Cott as Kevin Keller, Madelaine Petsch as Cherry, Ashleigh Murray as Josy, Luke Perry (90210, Oz, Jeremiah) as Fred, Madchen Amick (Twin Peaks, Damages, Witches of East End) as Alice, Marisol Nichols (Teen Wolf, GCB, 24, Resurrection Blvd.) as Hermione, Sarah Habel (Rush, Underemployed) as Geraldine, Ross Butler as Reggie…

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The early 90s had Beverly Hills, 90210, the first teen soap, the late 90s had Dawson’s Creek, the early 2000s had One Tree HillThe OC, the late 2000s had Gossip Girl. The early 2010s had Pretty Little Liars & Glee. And what about the late 2010s? Where is THE teen soap for the new generation? If everything goes as planned, it will be Riverdale and if there is one project this pilot season that is a 100% sure thing, this is it. Because it’s a very popular, really powerful, beloved property (I know a lot of you were waiting for this preview in particular for a long time). Archie Comics exist since 1941. It never went out of style and a new version is published since 2015. 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the series! Because it’s produced by Greg Berlanti and he has an incredible track record at The CW. Because they did an extensive search to find the right incarnations for the characters. Because the promotion has already started with sexy pictures of KJ Apa playing Archie Andrews on the set flooding the internet. So now the whole process has been set into motion. Riverdale, 8pm on Mondays starting next fall?

The first thing that came to my mind while reading the pilot script was: gosh, it looks an awful lot like Dawson’s Creek. Apart from the fact that this is my reference, the teen soap of my teenage years, the love triangle at the center of the story -‘cos of course there is one- is exactly the same. The only difference is Dawson was not popular at all. Archie is. He’s a football player and an artist, he writes music. Sweet and smart Betty is in love with him for a longtime and he doesn’t want to see it even though it’s obvious for everyone else. Dawson & Joey all over again. Confident and silver-tongued Veronica, determined to become a good person, arrives in Riverdale from New York, like Jen, and shakes things up a little bit. But let’s be honest: Kevin Williamson, Dawson’s Creek‘s creator, probably read Archie comics and it inspired him the idea of the show, mixed with his own life story. And I’m discovering it almost 20 years later…

The other show that I thought of instantly is Desperate Housewives. Because of the atmosphere, the use of the voice-over (performed by the character of philosophically bent heartthrob Jughead Jones), this idea of a town where nothing is like what it seems on the surface, and the murder mystery that starts in the opening sequence and that will probably be used as the common thread of the season. The Blossom Twins, Jason and Cheryl, hated by the whole town because of their manipulative and pretentious attitude, had a boat accident on the 4th of July. Except it was not an accident. And weeks later, while Cherry is alive and well, Jason’s decomposed corpse is found on the edge of the river. There is a ton of possible culprits. And Archie knows some things. He was there when it all happened… The tone of the show is very similar to Marc Cherry’s. It’s fun, colorful, full of twists and turns, punchlines, bigger than life characters, but also dark and twisted stories, involving the teenagers but also their parents and teachers, who went to school together many years ago and share their own secrets and rancors.

Riverdale is said to be “subversive”, that’s how The CW presents it, and I don’t really agree with that. And they should not insist on it or people will get disappointed. The pilot is really efficient, exciting, promising, but subsersive? I mean… It would have been in the 90s and it certainly was when it came out in the 1940s! But in the 2010s? Okay, Archie fucks his teacher. Sorry but Pacey already did in Dawson’s Creek. Kevin Keller is a popular openly gay student. He meets boys/men on Grindr. It’s very modern, but not revolutionnary. Plus, at least in the pilot, he says he does but we don’t see him doing it. So that doesn’t really count for me. Sorry. Honestly, I don’t see what else can be billed as “subversive” in there. Riverdale is full of references (to Hunger Games, Beyoncé…) and can be irreverent sometimes but that’s all and it’s okay. Glee amateurs should be happy to know that there is music in the show, thanks to Archie, who sings, but also Josie and the Pussycats, the girls band of the school. You’ll also find the usual codes and clichés of teen soaps with the cheerleaders (Betty & Veronica are on the team), the giant bitch who’s the captain (Cheryl), the football team and their testosteroned locker room…

Riverdale is timeless. This modernized, energized, darkened and respectful version has everything it needs to become another success for The CW & Greg Berlanti, hoping it won’t just be critical. The absence of vampires, zombies or superheroes is a real breath of fresh air. Teen soaps are not dead after all, and coming back to the roots of the genre is the right way to go. Teens and millenials should be hooked. Welcome to Riverdale, bitches!

“Cheerleader Death Squad”: The CW orders a pilot for the new Marc Cherry show!

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The CW just ordered its 4th pilot of the season: the much-anticipated Cheerleader Death Squad by Desperate Housewives & Devious Maids creator Marc Cherry…

Marc Cherry wrote the script of this project with Dan Truly (Law & Order: SVU, Blue Bloods) and Neal Baer (Under The Dome, ER). They all executive produce with Sabrina Wind, Cherry’s partner, for CBS Television Studios. The spy show is described as Heathers meets Alias, and will probably feature strong female characters in a light and funny atmosphere in spite of the quite serious pitch. It centers on a disgraced CIA agent-turned-teacher at an elite Washington, D.C. prep school. When he realizes that his students have high-level access through personal connections, he trains a select few to be his eyes and ears into the world of international espionage and help him earn his way back into the agency… It’s still a little hard to connect the provocative title with the story. Cherry developped another project this season, a reinvention of classical The Phantom Of The Opera for ABC, but so far it has not been picked up to pilot and probably won’t be since ABC’s slate is already full.

SEE ALL CW’S PILOTS ORDERED SO FAR