Tag: for justice

The 10 pilots that didn’t make it but were worth it!

None of the pilots I was really really rooting for were passed on (except the first three I’m gonna talk to you about in a minute but I knew they were hard sells so I expected it). Quantico, my favorite script of the year, a no-brainer for ABC, was picked up (and the trailer didn’t disappoint). Same goes with Original Sin, now called The Family, Blindspot, Oil (aka Boom), Game Of Silence, Life In Pieces, The Catch, The Grinder, The Player & Lucifer. My top 10. But among my worst 5, Rush Hour, Rosewood & Hearbreaker were ordered (and I predict them a dark future). Thank God, Unveiled & Warrior didn’t make it at NBC!

 

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1. THE BROAD SQUAD (ABC)

In 1978, the graduating class of Boston’s first female patrol officers was dubbed “The Broad Squad” by the local press. Eileen, Molly, Joanne & Lisa arrived at a tumultuous time in Boston’s history, marked by corruption within the police force and a heightened organized crime presence in the city. Navigating rival neighborhoods as well as the conflicting attitudes toward them from everyone, they find themselves tested both on and off duty.

A period drama is always a hard sell on a network and ABC surely remembers Pan Am failed not so long ago. The Broad Squad had the advantage to take place in a precinct, and when police is involved on a TV project, it always helps. But it’s not your straight crime-solving procedural, it’s a female character-driven drama, heavy serialized, that is both entertaining and intelligent and tells a lot about how things evolved since then. The cast was great (Lauren Ambrose, Rutina Wesley, Charlotte Spencer, Cody Horn). It was that close to be ordered (Runner was also very much in contention until the very end). ABC is allegedly considering a redevelopment for next season. Let’s hope so!  There’s a little work to do to make the male characters more interesting and the female ones maybe more appealing to the masses.

 

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2. LFE (CBS)

Joe, Ryan, Chelsi, Trevor Mae & Anj are New York City’s wildest, brilliant and most promising doctors. As they start their second year of residency in the city’s most prestigious hospital, they attempt to balance their god complexes with their humanity. Julie, their den mother, give them guidance in their lives and share with them the relationship she wishes she had with her own children…

The medical drama battle at CBS couldn’t have ended differently. I knew from the get-go, even before reading the scripts, that Code Black would always have the hedge over LFE. Not because Code Black seemed better -and it turns out it was not on the page- but because it was a better fit with the network. LFE was more cable-y, more ambitious, more modern, more stylized and would have appealed to a younger audience. Code Black has a respectable chance to become something. LFE was too much of a wild card for CBS. They hesitated a lot but ultimately a miracle didn’t happen. Since it was produced by CBS Television Studios (that doesn’t sell outside CBS & The CW) it was deadly dead when it didn’t get picked up.

 

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3. DELORES & JERMAINE (ABC)

Jermaine is a millennial with big ideas, but very little drive. When he has no other choice but to move in with his estranged grandmother Delores, a strict, football-loving, former DC cop, he brings his youthful enthusiasm into her life as much as she helps him grow up thanks to her old-school parenting methods. Soon enough they’ll become inseparable…

Loved this script because I laughed out loud while reading it and having the great Whoopi Goldberg in the cast was certainly a big advantage. I wanted to believe it was possible ABC gave it a try but the truth is, with so little place to offer for multicamera comedies, and with Last Man Standing as the only companion, Dolores & Jermaine was not the most natural fit. Dr Ken was and it’s the one which was ordered in the end (and it looks pretty good too). ABC Studios tries to sell it elsewhere but I don’t really see where it could land. Plus this is not a good year for comedies. No other network is looking for more.

 

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4. STUDIO CITY (FOX)

After her alcoholic mother totally lost it, Catalina Evans, 17, is sent to L.A to live with her songwriter father and her stepfamily. What she thought would be an easier life doesn’t turn out exactly the way it should when she discovers her dad is a drug dealer to the stars and haven’t sell a single song for years. With her own dreams of stardom in mind, she starts her new life full of hope and songs to give…

The OC meets Shameless US is the most surprising no-go of this pilot season! Studio City was more than a strong contender, it was red-hot and it looked like a sure thing until the end, especially since its musical component would have fit well with phenomenon Empire. Why FOX didn’t give it the thumb up? It’s safe to assume they wanted to order only one Warner Bros. pilot Vs. all the 20th Century FOX Television they had. So it was either Lucifer or Studio City. I’m a big fan of the first one so I can’t blame them to have made that choice. But still, it’s hard to understand and it’s a missed opportunity. But maybe not for so long. FOX insists that the show is still in contention for midseason (but they already said that for Cabot College and Sober Companion last year… and we’re still waiting). We’ll see…

 

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5. STRANGE CALLS (NBC)

An affable but down on his luck young police officer is transferred to a rural town where — with the help of a peculiar, elderly night watchman — he starts to realize the town has a bizarre supernatural underbelly.

When you look at what NBC ordered on the comedy department, there is on one side latina fueled Hot and Bothered and Superstore, and on the other side multicamera comedies People are talking and Crowded. Most of them will only debut at midseason and won’t get much of a chance to shine on a network that decided it was about time they find a drama hit. Strange Calls clearly was the odd man out. It’s really fun, but it’s a supernatural comedy, it’s quirky. What to pair it with? Maybe NBC found the right solution but a little too late: they’re working on making it a 42 minutes dramedy, and pairing it with Grimm would make a lot of sense. But I’m not sold on the idea honestly if it means adding a procedural element to the mix. It would lose what made it different.

 

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6. FOR JUSTICE (CBS)

Natalia Chappel, an FBI agent who works in the Criminal Section of the Department of Civil Rights Division investigating crimes based on civil rights violations across the country, finds herself caught between the radical family she was born into and the professional family she has chosen…

It was reportedly a CBS President Les Moonves’ favorite. But it was not enough to get the precious order to series so it seems. CBS passed on the opportunity to be relevant to the world we are living in, because that’s what this show was meant to be. It was smart and important. The cast was great (Anika Noni Rose! Please Shonda give her a show already!) and the pilot was directed by Selma‘s Ava DuVernay. They clearly made a mistake here, but to be fair it wasn’t right with their objectives this year: attract younger viewers with pop-corn fares. It’s just the opposite of that. But why ordering it in the first place then? Maybe Supergirl & Limitless were enough. They could have found a place for For Justice if they really wanted to…

 

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7.  SNEAKY PETE (CBS)

Marius, a thirty-something con man, upon leaving prison, takes cover from his past by assuming the identity of a cellmate. “Sneaky Pete” then hides out from his debtors while working for his new “family’s” bail bond business. There he uses his considerable charm and criminal prowess to take down bad guys far worse than himself, partnering with a female “cousin” who has her suspicions about his real motives

Not a pop-corn fare either. Not shiny and beautiful. Procedural but with no police involved. If ordered, I’m sure Sneaky Pete would have gotten the Battle Creek treatment: no promotion and a doomed timeslot. It’s a good thing CBS passed on it, in spite of a huge commitment. Now Sony Pictures Television can sell it to a cable channel where it would have a real chance to find the audience it deserves. They’re actively trying to find it a new home so let’s cross our fingers.

 

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8. CHEVY (ABC)

Two fun and relevant baby boomers are living a selfish retirement until their world is turned upside down when their eldest daughter die. They are suddendly left to raise their grandchildren. If as they say the golden years are starting when the fun begins, then their golden years and the greatest adventure of their life start right now…

Chevy not ordered, that’s another surprise of this pilot season. I really liked the script, that I found funny and sweet, and more importantly it seemed to be a perfect fit with the other comedies ABC already has on the air and distinctive enough not to be just The Middle 2.0 or something. Since ABC decided to keep its Wednesday intact and give The Muppets a try, there was simply not a place for it anywhere on the schedule. And I’m glad ABC chose The Real O’Neals over Chevy! But last year or the year before last year, I’m sure Chevy would have made it. It’s unfair.

 

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9. THE CURSE OF THE FUENTES WOMEN (NBC)

When Salvador, a magical and mysterious young man inexplicably emerges from the ocean during a violent storm, he breathes new passion into the lives of the Fuentes women who own a Cuban restaurant on Miami Beach: the beautiful but lonely Lola, who instantly falls in love with him, her mother Esperanza, who’s losing her mind since she’s been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer, and her troubled daughter Soledad, who’s secretly pregnant. The curse that ruined their lives for so long finally breaks…

Blindspot, The Player, Game Of Silence, Chicago Med, Shades Of Blue… NBC went with very serious dramas this year (but some are entertaining too) while the lighter series are represented by the outdated Heartbreaker. The Curse of the Fuentes Women from Ugly Betty‘s creator was ridiculously fun and hot and really worth a try. I think they made a mistake, but it seems they only do that now. Mistakes. And the same ones over and over again. Their loss! Warner Bros. is trying to sell it elsewhere. Not easy. ABC doesn’t need it and it’s the only place I can see it go.

 

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10. NERD HERD (ABC)

Through a combination of genetics and dynamic home schooling, Kip and Mona Lisa Mitchell find themselves raising extraordinarily intelligent kids. When Kip returns home from the military to be a stay-at-home dad, he experiences firsthand the challenges of parenting kids who have genius IQs but limited life and social skills, especially in the Orange County, where looks is the only religion…

I don’t know what happened with this one. I was really high on it after reading the script and I was pretty sure it was a safe bet. As I already said about Chevy, there was just not enough space for it on the schedule but it seems like it was never considered as having a real shot. Maybe they didn’t find the right actors for the children and ultimately the result was bad because of that. Or it’s something else. That being said, I’m still annoyed by the fact FOX didn’t keep it for themselves (it was 20th Century FOX Television produced). How come they are not able to find one broad comedy for them while they produce Modern Family for ABC or now Life In Pieces for CBS? It doesn’t make sense.

 

BONUS : CHEERLEADER DEATH SQUAD (The CW)

A disgraced CIA agent-turned-teacher at an elite Washington D.C. prep school realizes that his students have high-level access through personal connections. So 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.

The surprising order of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, originally set up at Showtime, is probably what doomed the Marc Cherry’s show in the end, whereas it seemed like a sure thing for a longtime. I haven’t read it so I won’t elaborate on it but among the DC Comics’ series it would have been a fun breath of fresh air…

CBS | 2015/2016 Pilot Season: The Best & Worst

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Before CBS reveals its new schedule next Wednesday, here’s the best & worst of their pilot season ! Just my humble opinion.

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DRAMAS

1. LFE – Officially Dead

“Shares some DNA with Grey’s Anatomy but just the right amount. The resident characters are fresh and a lot of fun (…) It feels cable-y, not network-y. That’s why I don’t think CBS will go for it. And that’s sad, ‘cos it’s the best.” Full preview here

2. FOR JUSTICE – Officially Dead

“No other pilot this season resonates more with what’s happening right now in the United States than For Justice (…)  I wish it were less academical, more serialized too, funnier maybe because it’s deadly serious for the most part, but for what it brings to the table in terms of debate and diversity, without being too sanctimonious, it has to go to series.” Full preview here

3. CODE BLACK – Ordered to series

“Honestly, the script is a page-turner, I was hooked! But it also felt a lot like an high-octane episode of Grey’s Anatomy (…) Code Black is not new, and not particularly modern either (…) lacks a sense of humor.” Full preview here

4. SNEAKY PETE – Officially Dead

“this show imagined by David Shore & Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston doesn’t try to be all shiny and beautiful. It’s not as dark and dirty, but it’s not your smooth cop show with sexy people investigating and/or dying (…) The pilot’s one is kind of funny and action-packed and sets up an efficient template that could work for years.” Full preview here

5. LIMITLESS – Ordered to series

“it’s a police procedural in the end, but with a greater mythology and a science-fiction twist that helps making it special (…) I didn’t fall in love with Limitless but I recognize the script has great qualities and there’s an evident potential here. It may even be a better TV show than a movie.” Full preview here

6. DOUBT – Officially Dead

” Doubt has been created by two ex-writers and producers of Grey’s Anatomy, and it shows. Doubt is soapy (…) Doubt is your classical legal drama with two prominent cases dealt with in the pilot episode. They are not particularly original but they do the job efficiently (…) a decent but shy show developed by/for the wrong network.” Full preview here

7. RUSH HOUR – Ordered to series

It’s exactly what you think it is. What you expect is what you get. It’s funny, for those who like that kind of humor (…) The first Rush Hour movie came out in 1998! You can’t make the same shit as a TV series almost 20 years later and expect the same result and the same welcome from the audience.” Full preview here

 

Not reviewed: SUPERGIRL – Ordered to series

Not reviewed: CRIMINAL MINDS: BEYOND BORDERS – Ordered to series

 

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COMEDIES

1. LIFE IN PIECES – Ordered to series

“an uneven but quite good script… but for a show launched 6 years ago, before Modern Family arrives. CBS has definitely found something that looks like a hit, with a terrific cast, but in my opinion, they missed an opportunity to be relevant about diversity. It was the perfect vehicle for it.” Full preview here

2. AMY FROM HELL – Ordered to series

“Not as profound as Mom, not as funny as 2 Broke Girls, but surely an interesting take on women-centric sitcoms. But why isn’t it a multicamera?! Didn’t find the pilot great but I feek like there’s a real potential behind. It could become a must-see, and the fact that the unlikely pair is played by Jane Lynch & Maggie Lawson makes it a safer bet.”

3. UNTITLED O’SHANNON & WARREN PROJECT – Officially Dead

“Very much in the vein of How I Met Your Mother -with Adam Brody playing some sort of cuter version of Ted Mosby, still hopelessly romantic- it takes place at three different times of the characters’s lives, so it’s a real challenge, one that I would like CBS to risk. They need something like this for the younger demo. And it’s funny too, by the way” 

4. SUPER CLYDE – Officially Dead

“Quite liked the first version. Quite satisfied with the second one, even though I didn’t feel like there was such an improvement (and we lose the sister character that I found great). Still doesn’t think Greg Garcia’s style fits with CBS’s but if they are willing to give it a chance with this new cast that looks more attractive, then try it!”

5. THE HALF OF IT – Has a shot

“Too classical, but that may be its force. It’s the only multicamera worth a try at CBS this season. And it works mostly.” 

6. HAPPY LIFE – Officially Dead

“Didn’t like it first, the Joe character was just too happy for my taste, but it’s the secondary characters that made it work somehow along the way. Pretty pleased that I’ve read it in the end, but not sure I would have watched it.

7. UNTITLED TOMMY JOHNAGIN PROJECT – Officially Dead

“Generic, didn’t make me laugh once… No need to say more!”

 

Not read: TAXI-22 (2015 version) – Officially Dead

 

What pilots are you rooting for?

“For Justice” (CBS) pilot preview: “Scandal” at the Deparment of Justice, with a “Cold Case” feel

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Written & produced by René Balcer (Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Jo). Based on James Patterson’s novel The Thomas Berryman Number. Co-produced by Robert De Niro (NYC 22), James Patterson, Jane Rosenthal, Leopoldo Gout, Berry Welsh & Bill Robins. Directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma). For CBS Television Studios, James Patterson Entertainment & Tribeca Productions. 64 pages.

Description: Natalia Chappel, an FBI agent who works in the Criminal Section of the Department of Civil Rights Division investigating crimes based on civil rights violations across the country, finds herself caught between the radical family she was born into and the professional family she has chosen…

With Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls, The Good Wife, Private PracticeN°1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), Shawn Hatosy (SouthLAnd, Reckless), Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show, Cosby, Do No Harm), Tim Blake Nelson (Lincoln, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, O’Brother), Rachel Boston (American Dreams, Witches of East End), Leonardo NamMario Van Peebles as guest star.

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No other pilot this season resonates more with what’s happening right now in the United States than For Justice. The Ferguson scandal, the riots in Baltimore… you have inevitably heard of them in the news. Television has the responsibilty and even the duty to reflect the society we live in, not only entertain. For Justice manages to do both, somehow. I wish it were less academical, more serialized too, funnier maybe because it’s deadly serious for the most part, but for what it brings to the table in terms of debate and diversity, without being too sanctimonious, it has to go to series. CBS would be crazy to pass on the opportunity to be that relevant and it’s not like it was that different from what they are used to. It’s just smarter.

In a way, it reminded me a lot of Cold Case. It was a beautiful and important show which already dealt with some of the same subjects For Justice is tackling with great depth. Though our heroes are from the Department of Justice, the show is more a detective drama than a legal one. It’s no surprise it comes from René Balcer, used to handle this type of “two shows in one” situation, working on the Law & Order franchise over two decades. Then he did the horrible terrible disgraceful french series Jo with Jean Reno. But let’s just forget it. We all make mistakes. And we all need to eat. At the helm, Ava DuVernay was the most obvious choice since she was nominated for an Oscar this year for her movie Selma which chronicled Mathin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march starting in the city of Selma. Then, Anika Noni Rose as the lead is just the perfect choice. I always thought Shonda Rhimes would give her a show after her guest stint on Private Practice. Maybe she was offered How To Get Away With Murder? Anyway, you probably don’t know her but she’s just fantastic. If the show goes to series, I wouln’t be surprised she gets a nomatination at the next Emmy Awards & Golden Globes. That’s how good she is.

It’s through her character that there’s a Scandal feel to the show. Natalia Chappel is like Olivia Pope: she’s a hard-working woman, smarter than everybody she encounters, who always finds the right words to express whatever she wanna say to whoever she wants to convince. Her personal story is not that different either. Her relationship with her father is highly complicated: she haven’t seen him for decades, since he left for Cuba after being an active member in a Ku Kux Klan-like organization. And he’s back in the pilot! So, of course, it means something for her to be part of the Civil Rights Division of the Government. And her colleagues all have their very own personal reasons too, especially her new partner Jess Kearney (Shawn Hatosy). In terms of rhythm, it has nothing to do with Scandal, though. The first investigation tells the story of a small town’s police officer who is suspected to have killed the new -Black- mayor and covered it as a hate crime. It’s totally inspired by Ferguson. The exciting stuff is coming from the serialized part of the show, linked to Natalie Chappel. She is the target of terrorist threats and someone they’re not able to locate sends her menacing texts. A game of cat and mouse is starting and it probably has everything to do with her father and the Klan…

With its strong female perspective, For Justice would be the perfect bridge between political Madam Secretary and legal The Good Wife on “prestige Sunday nights”, without forgetting cult news magazine 60 Minutes is broadcasted earlier in the evening. It’s old-skewing but it doesn’t seem to be that big of a problem for CBS, at least there. I don’t know how many seasons they can make out of it but civil rights violations can be of all sorts. Give it a series order CBS, for justice.