Tag: doomsday

The Doomsday Project (ABC) pilot preview: Think Scorpion, but bigger and smarter

Created and produced by Mark Bianculli & VJ Boyd. Executive produced by Carol Mendelsohn (CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, Melrose Place, Providence) & Julie Weitz (Game of Silence). Directed by Joachim Roaning (Marco Polo, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales). For Sony Pictures Television, Carol Mendelsohn Productions, Pernomium Pictures & Signal Hill Productions. 61 pages. Draft 01/20/17.

Description: In the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. government institutes a secret think tank featuring the most creative minds in science and entertainment that is tasked with dreaming up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. Because the hypothetical ideas are deemed extremely dangerous, the list is sealed and the program shut down. But when a catastrophe occurs that’s ripped from the pages of the missing doomsday book, the team is brought back years later to prevent the disasters of their own making…

With Claire Holt (The Vampire Diaries, Aquarius, H2O), Rachelle Lefevre (Under The Dome, What About Brian, Twilight), Taye Diggs (Private Practice, Murder in the First, Empire), Jack Davenport (Smash, FlashForward, Pirates of the Caribbean), Dan Byrd (Cougar Town, Aliens in America, Easy A), Rochelle Aytes (Mistresses, Criminal Minds, The Forgotten), Justin Chatwin (Shameless US, American Gothic, Dragonball Evolution)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Quantico, The Blacklist, Scorpion, Designated Survivor

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10, Tuesday at 10.

Remember last year when I entitled my review of MacGyver “And you thought Scorpion was stupid?“. This time it’s the opposite. The Doomsday Project shares a bit of DNA with both the CBS shows -it’s about preventing disasters from happening- but the stakes are higher than ever and all is done with an incredible sense of build-up and efficiency, with characters that you can only care about. Doomsday falls in the big-idea original drama concepts category that the broadcast networks were heavily pursuing this season but have been in short supply. ABC got the project in a three-network bidding by giving it a pilot production commitment that has a series penalty behind it. Meaning: there’s a big chance it gets ordered in may. It was compared to Designated Survivor in some articles, which is the only new ABC drama that looks like a hit this year, but they don’t have so many things in common. For starters, The Doomsday Project is a heavily-serialized procedural.

I’m in awe of the writers’ capacity to deliver so many informations and establishing so many characters in only a few pages. It reminded me of Quantico‘s pilot script in that way. It’s not an easy story to tell and easy concept to sell -the pitch is a bit of a headscratcher- and somehow they did it smoothly. It starts in the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta that some of you may remember from the season 1 of The Walking Dead. The first disaster is about a deadly disease called Marburg that is stolen by four men in tailor made hazmat suits. We’ll discover later that they are planning to unleash it at the MET through the ventilating system during a private opera played for the biggest American Pharma companies. There’s a lot of action going on through the pilot, it’s always fast-paced, but the best part is happening in the last act with our characters being on the spot. It’s a great reward after watching them talking and arguing on and on in The Hub, a high-tech three level room with giant plasma screens everywhere, described as “a war-room from the future”. At some point, it makes you a little bit claustrophobic being there all the time, even when you’re not (claustrophobic).

I know what you may think right now: it sounds heavy and not funny at all. Well yes, it’s heavy -I mean, the whole world could collapse because of the disease- BUT it’s funny! You won’t laugh out loud like a crazy person, but you’ll appreciate the humor, skillfully exuded through the characters’ conversations. They all know each other very well, they have a common past, so they never hesitate to poke fun at each other and most of the time that’s how we learn more about every one of them. That’s a smart way to promise backstories, kept for later. Of course, they all have secrets. Some of them are already exposed. Others will have to wait. And as you can guess with this type of story, there’s a huge conspiracy behind. I’m always very cautious about that: it rarely works for the long haul. At least, this one sounds it could, if the writers are as brilliant as the characters and gave it a lot of thinking before jumping into the project.

What big concept shows lack of in general is strong characters. The Doomsday Project doesn’t have this problem. They’re all intriguing. Some are likable, others are not, but it’s okay. They don’t have to be as long as they’re interesting. And they are. And they really work as a group. ABC managed to assemble a solid cast with familiar faces. Kayla (Claire Holt) is the newest member of the Doomsday project. Considered the best cyber security analyst in the country, she’s efficient, irreverent, and not particularly interested in making friends. I love her already. And you’ll see, she even more important than expected. Faye (Rachelle Lefevre) is the whip-smart and shrewd Deputy Director of Homeland Security who is at the helm when the Doomsday team reassembled. Coldly pragmatic, she initially has little reverence for her assemblage of geniuses but during the course of the first mission, she develops a growing respect for the team. She’s an enigma. We have three very strong women at the center if you add Dr. Elle (Rochelle Aytes), a renowned physicist, MD and author, notable for her ability to popularize science, “making complex ideas disgestible for the masses”. It will help when things will get too complicated for us.

She was married once with the handsome and confident Dr. Davis (Taye Diggs), an engineer and architect, formerly the youngest-ever head of disaster prevention for FEMA. Fastidious, with expensive taste in clothes, he’s not fond of forays into the field. Warren (Jack Davenport) is a well-known intellectual playwright turned middle-brow action screenwriter. He is imaginative and creative and sees the world like a story which helps him think like (and even empathize with) the enemy. You remember his character in Smash? Same kind of asshole. Then there’s Nate Hensley (Dan Byrd), the younger one. He became rich as a professional analyst and is the founder of The New Oracle, a website that is devoted to predicting politics, sports and stock trading. He can hedge any bet and predict any outcome. Also, he’s gay. Finally, there’s Chris Wyatt, a Navy SEAL instructor. He’s the muscles of the team but also a brilliant mind: he’s specialized in military strategy. And yes, women and men are all very sexy in this show and there’s no reason to complain about it.

The Doomsday Project is one of the most ambitious project of this pilot season, but we all know high-concept shows are always those that burst into flames first. ABC needs to be careful here, especially since Quantico proved that their viewers may not be interested in this type of stories. How could they resist though? If the finished pilot is as solid as the script is, it has to be tried… 

PILOT WHISPERER: New edition #PilotSeason

First published on December, 07

2017 pilot season officially started yesterday when ABC ordered political comedy pilot Libby & Malcolm starring Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance as we reported 3 weeks ago. Other comedies are nearing pilot orders while deals are being worked out.

 

At ABC, the next one on the list is Rapper Mayor / Untitled City Mayor Project, that could be descrided as a comedic version of hit Designated Survivor. It is about Courtney Rose, a talented but struggling hip-hop artist, who runs for mayor to promote his mixtape – and wins. The guy is a quitenssential optimistic, a dreamer through and through. He’s the coolest, most fun dude in town, and if you don’t believe it, just ask him and he’ll tell you… It’s created by Jeremy Bronson, writer and producer on The Mindy Project and Speechless, and produced by Jamie Tarses (Happy Endings) for ABC Studios. The casting for the leading man is underway. PICKED-UP

The multicamera comedy project Documenting Love, sort of a Mad About You new generation has a pilot production commitment, as well as thriller drama Doomsday from Sony Pictures Television about a secret think tank featuring the most creative minds in science and entertainment that is tasked with dreaming up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. PICKED-UP  DTLA, about a celebrity choreographer who must fight to protect her status, family, business and secrets, is heating up. The Untitled Marc Cherry drama with Reba McEntire is already ordered to pilot.

Comedy Start Up starring Zach Braff is inching closer to a pick-up PICKED-UP, as well as Splitting Up Together produced by Ellen De Generes  PICKED-UP and Charlie Foxtrot from Aaron Kaplan PICKED-UP. A not-yet-announced project starring basketball player Jalen Rose, Jalen vs Everybody, and written by Nahnatchka Khan, is heating up. PICKED-UP

 

At CBS, the Untitled Chris Distefano Hybrid Comedy Project is heating up. Written and produced by How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays & Craig Thomas. Inspired by comedian Chris Distefano’s life story, the hybrid project is centered on Izzy and Chris, two 20-somethings who are raising their newborn daughter and merging their loud families – one Puerto Rican, one Italian… PICKED-UP

Me, Myself and I is also on the map. The single-camera comedy which examines one man’s life over a 50-year span, somewhat in the vein of movie Boyhood, has a put pilot. PICKED-UP And of course, the order for The Big Bang Theory spin-off Sheldon is just a formality. UPDATE: World Wide Webbs, a comedy about a family who became rich and famous thank to their daily video blogs, is on tracks for an order.

On the drama side, quirky cop show Magnolia Springs about a sheriff and his teenage son solving crimes in a small city is gearing up towards a pick-up, casting is underway. Firewall, a new procedural from Mentalist creator, is also hot. Luc Besson’s Hunch, about a LAPD detective who begrudgingly teams up with a celebrity psychic who, unfortunately, is also his ex-wife, should get the nod soon; as well as Justin Lin’s SWAT,  a reboot of the 1970s series billed as an intense, action-packed procedural following an African-American SWAT lieutenant torn between loyalty to the streets and duty to his fellow officers. PICKED-UP

 

At NBC, while Amy Poehler’s off-cyle pilot The Baby starring Seann William Scott will shoot in a few days, the Untitled Kourtney Kang Comedy produced by Fresh Off The Boat creator Nahnatchka Khan is red hot. It explores what it’s like to grow up as the only girl in the only mixed race family in the suburbs of Philadelphia, dealing with real-world issues like race and gender while never losing focus of her life goal… to become a Laker Girl like her idol, Paula Abdul. PICKED-UP

In the drama department, the peacock has medical drama Salvation directed by Paul Haggis awaiting green light. It is billed as the first real-time hospital “extreme event” show, capturing the life-and-death choices nurses, PA’s and other front-line caregivers make as they struggle to provide care and triage. PICKED-UP Legal drama Blood Defense, based on Marcia Clark’s book about a relentless criminal attorney, is red hot for a pick-up, as well as Family Honor, from Matt Reeves, a police procedural told through the eyes of four diverse foster sisters. The Last Policeman is close to a pick-up. It follows a detective in New Hampshire during the final years of civilization as a catastrophe-level asteroid hurtles toward the planet. Heavy serialized legal drama Flight Risk from John Wells is also considered. Drama High, an high-school drama with musical elements written and produced by Jason Katims (Parenthood) with Hamilton producers Jeffrey Seller & Flody Suarez is red hot. PICKED-UP Last drama pilot order at NBC should go to Redliners, adapted from Charlaine Harris’ short stories, that mixes romance and espionnage about a pair of former spies living in suburbia who are reactivated when a failed hit on one of them leaves the assassin dead. PICKED-UP

 

At FOX, DC’s Black Lightning is almost a done deal PICKED-UP AT THE CW, as is Matt Nix’s untitled family superhero drama at Marvel in the X-Men Universe PICKED-UP. The network is just waiting for the final pilot script. Dr House creator David Shore could be back at FOX with an untitled project about a professional spy who teams up with an enterprising civilian to solve cases here and abroad. Control, by Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joyce, is heating up.

Comedy Thin Ice from New Girl creator is already ordered to pilot. Other comedy heating up is Turned On, directed by Paul Feig, about a brilliant but awkward engineer who creates an android who spirals out of control… The Untitled Wresting Comedy produced by Dwayne Johnson, Will Ferrell & Adam McKay, is also very much on the map.

 

At The CW the Charmed reboot seems to be a priority. Searchers pilot from The 100 creator Jason Rothenberg & Greg Berlanti is a sure thing, with a shooting expected to take place in South Africa. PICKED-UP Transience produced by Ian Somerhalder, is heating up, as well as LA Demonic for Warner Bros.

 

More to come…