Tag: fox

FOX’s 20 most exciting projects for 2018/2019 pilot season

The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point.

This pilot season will be very weird for FOX. Why? Because the network as we knew it is about to die. As Disney bought 20th Century FOX Television -among other 21st Century FOX assets- which was their principal content provider with big names attached to it (like Ryan Murphy’s or Seth MacFarlane’s), the network will soon be without any in-house studio. Except if Sony, Lionsgate or god knows what other television studio becomes part of FOX, but it’ll take months before it becomes effective. Since the deal between 21st FOX Television & Disney has yet to be approved, it’s a season of transition and the executives may be very picky about their orders, while they may not be there next year. The more they pick-up 20th Century FOX Television projects, the more money they’re giving to Disney… It’s hard to know what’s really gonna happen so let’s see what they have in store regardless.

FOX is not having a bad year per say, but only their Empire/Star pairing is doing really good business for them. Everything else nagivates between big flops (virtually every comedy including their best hope The Mick, The Exorcist…), little flops (Gotham, Last Man On Earth) and okay performers (Lethal Weapon, Lucifer). Supernatural comedy Ghosted is doing okay on sunday while Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville is compensating its so-so live ratings with important gains on live+7. The Gifted, which was supposed to be their biggest new asset, disappointed and didn’t generate any buzz, despite being part of the X-Men universe, and has yet to be renewed. But with Ryan Murphy’s 911 and the new season of The X-Files coming, they may witness a ratings surge in the new year. Not all is lost… yet!

 

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DRAMAS

 

THE BAD DECISIONS PLAYLIST (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  focuses on 16-year-old Austin, who’s always messing up and then joking his way out of tough spots. The sudden appearance of his allegedly dead father, who happens to be the very-much-alive rock star Shane Tyler, spins his entire world out of orbit. Austin, a talented musician himself, is sucked into his newfound father’s alluring world while he discovers more about himself, his friendships and what it means to have this new modern version of a family.

Why? Is FOX turning into an all-musical network? If they add another music-fueled show to Empire & Star, it will start to look like it. But how can we blame them? It’s currently what works best for them… Writer and producer Lee Daniels is not involved in this one, but there’s still potential, especially if they bet more on the family part than the behind-the-scenes of the music industry. This Is Us lead the way for more family dramas, and this one may have what it takes to be different enough and somehow similar too.

 

BEING JUDGED (20th Century FOX Television)

What? No one likes being judged, least of all Josephine Graves, who is struggling to figure out this thing called life, while balancing her demanding career, social life, and family responsibilities; unfortunately for her, she has to do it all under the biggest, brightest, spotlight because at 27 years old she is the youngest judge in the history of America…

Why? FOX is out of the legal drama business for quite some time now. This project may be a interesting way in, though it doesn’t sound particularly original. But hey, as we’ve been proven multiple times the past few years, the simpler ideas can often lead to the best shows. Look at The Good Doctor and This is Us… If Being Judged has an Ally McBeal vibe to it, it’s a yes! Plus, we’re still waiting for women-led dramas on the network…

 

EAST OF HOPE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? set in an All-American working class town which centers around two families divided by a past event, and reconnected by blood; both tie their hopes and dreams to the high school basketball team, which they see as their ticket to a better life…

Why? Other than being musical shows imagined by Lee Daniels, Empire & Star have something else in common: they’re about black people coming from a poor environment trying to get better lives. That’s also the case with East of Hope but with basketball in the background. And guess who’s producing? Yes, Lee Daniels again! No-brainer, right?

 

KENTUCKY BLOOD (ABC Studios / 20th Century FOX Television)

What? Inspired by the revelation that the recipe for Jack Daniels whiskey was developed by a slave, Kentucky Blood is a heartland, family drama set in the bourbon business about deep, family secrets bubbling up to the surface. It follows two families intertwined by a complex history and a secret epic romance between two star-crossed lovers. One white. One black. A perfect storm of circumstance brings them back into each others lives as business partners, changing the old dynamic between them and disrupting their families lives.

Why? Am I the only one thinking it’s a bit odd FOX haven’t tried another big soap since Empire? If there’s a network that is in the best place to launch one right now, it’s FOX. This one is particularly interesting for multiple reasons : the setting, the “Romeo & Juliet” vibe, the multiracial love story… but it will need to be modern to work because the pitch sounds a bit old. I’m wondering why ABC didn’t keep it for themselves honestly.

 

MIDNIGHT LAWYER (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about a lawyer who gets his clients out of trouble they get into after dark. He used to live the NYC after-hours life and now he’s always striving to save people the way he saved himself – but this business comes with temptation…

Why? Another legal drama but this time with this particularity: it starts after dark and ends right before dawn. Is it enough to make it special? It will also need a good central character and as it is written here, we can imagine another anti-hero à la Dr House. Is this type of character a thing of the past now? Maybe. But it should be given a chance, just in case.

 

MIXTAPE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? drama that looks at a disparate group of interconnected people in contemporary Los Angeles through the lens of the music that defines who they are…

Why? Busy Quantico creator Josh Safran -he works on three pilots at the same time- is back to its musical roots after his stint on the second season of Smash that didn’t end well. Mixtape is reminiscent of critical darling La La Land, which is a good thing I guess. The worrying part is “a disparate group of interconnected people” because this type of concept rarely works on television. Remember Six Degrees or even Heroes. It’s really hard to sustain and it may not do well on a network. But it’s definitely intriguing.

 

OFF-SITE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about a former “chaos agent” for the CIA who’s recruited by a UN investigator to help recover a missing artifact that surprisingly contains clues to a mythical reservoir said to be overflowing with an incredibly rare and immensely valuable fossil fuel, instantly igniting a pulse-pounding chase across the desert

Why? Adventure dramas are rare on television, probably because it’s a very hard thing to do, it needs big budget, but I’m always hoping for a good one. Maybe Off-Site will be it… Len Wiseman (Sleepy Hollow, APB, Lucifer) is involved as writer, director and executive producer. I’m not sure it’s a good thing though.

 

PROXY (20th Century FOX Television)

What? centered on a technology that allows online followers to live voyeuristically through the experiences of hedonistic young “Proxies” on a remote island paradise…

Why? John Francis Daley (Bones) is behind this very interesting sci-fi project developed by Anonymous Content (Mr Robot, True Detective, 13 Reasons Why…). It may not be such a good fit with a network but since that’s where it is at this time, let’s just cross our fingers so we get the chance to see it from our own eyes.

 

SURVEILLANCE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? A lens into the least understood organization in the United States the NSA. Its a high stakes, serialized, character-driven political thriller set in a world we really haven’t seen before all through the eyes of our hero and the NSAs secret keeper Madeline Yardley.

Why? The NSA storylines were not the best part of The Good Wife, and a spin-off about this world would not have worked, but I still think there’s a show to do about the NSA and it’s the only one in this pilot season that I know of. Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) is involved as producer, which reassures me. That being said, there’s a reason why it’s “the least understood organization”: it’s always very complex and can easily become boring…

 

UNTITLED LAVENDER & ULIN PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television)

What? After twenty years of marriage, a couple try to reignite their passion and strengthen their family by starting over in paradise on earth: Hawaii; they move their two teenage kids to the island of tourist fantasies, but the reality of paradise is not all sun, surf, and sex on the beach – dark family secrets, a complicated social structure they don’t understand, old mistakes, and messy new relationships threaten to tear the Campbell family apart, even as they struggle to find their way back to each other

Why? As a big supporter of family dramas, I find this one particularly interesting thanks to the Hawaii setting and the culture attached to it. Escapism and emotion, that’s a really good plan, isn’t it? If it’s as good as Alexander Payne’s movie The Descendants, we have a winner! But let’s not set the bar too high already…

 

UNTITLED L.A. WOMEN PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television)

What? Longtime friends Reza, June, Amelia, and Indie who have climbed to the top of the Hollywood ladder together as a lawyer, an actress, a writer-producer, and an entrepreneur. It all looks pretty enviable from the outside, and they all enjoy the many perks of their high-flying lifestyles – but there’s no such thing as having it all, at least not all at the same time. Each of them has made significant sacrifices to get where they are. When a face from their past resurfaces in the pilot, they have to confront some ugly buried secrets and protect their lives from being destroyed.

Why? Eva Longoria can’t get over Desperate Housewives after Devious Maids apparently, with this project that she’s producing that takes one aspect of it -4 women friends- to another environment: Hollywood! It’s timely, especially if those women are confronted to very bad men like Harvey Weinstein and so many others… There’s potential, as long as it’s not just another funny dramedy with cartoonesque characters that are mostly here to make us laugh and cry easily. Make it a profound feminist soap or don’t do it at all.

 

VICTORY (20th Century FOX Television)

What? set in the world of competitive gospel choirs which tells the inspirational story of a prodigal son and a group of forgotten young people who must rise above their personal hardships to save a church and heal a broken community through the power of song

Why? Well… Yeah, of course it’s from Lee Daniels again. What can I say? He certainly has deep obsessions and Victory is exactly what we could expect from him, no surprise here. But I can’t help thinking that this gospel choirs idea is good and it’s something that could touch people’s hearts as long as it’s not too preachy. Gospel is empowering and an amazing thing to witness in a church, if you get the chance. Would it work on a weekly basis? Yeah, if the community the characters form is well-defined and relatable, not on the “bigger-than-life” side.

 

FOX is also developing a small screen take on James Cameron’s 1994 feature True Lies about a super-spy whose family discovers his real job, by McG; a new anthological take on the 24 franchise which would center on a female prosecutor who uncovers a legal conspiracy and has to work against the clock to save a death row inmate facing imminent execution whom she had helped prosecute but may be innocent; a retelling of the King Lear story produced by Milo Ventimiglia called Cordelia; a sequel to the 1970s David Carradine-led TV series Kung-Fu produced by Greg Berlanti (?!); more Lee Daniels projects; The Nice Girls, a contemporary gender flipped TV series based on Shane Black’s 2016 feature film The Nice Guys, about two very different PIs; many cop show…

 

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COMEDIES

COOL KIDS (20th Century FOX Television) – picked up to pilot

What?  about three guy friends in a retirement community who are the top dogs until they’re blown out of the water by the newest member of the community, a female rebel who’s ready to challenge their place – it’s high school with 70 somethings…

Why? I like old people having existential crisis and also a lof of fun in the process. If it can be as good as The Golden Girls or Grace and Frankie, I’m in. If it’s as shitty as FOX last attempt Dads: definitely out!

MS. PAT (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  the story of a most unlikely suburban mom; her hustle and entrepreneurial spirit were forged on the mean streets of Atlanta, but she now finds herself in conservative middle America alongside her loving husband and two distinct sets of kids raised under very different circumstances

Why? Redeveloped leftover from last year – Empire‘s Lee Daniels & Brian Grazer are behind this family comedy project that could be great if Ms. Pat is as hilarious a character as Cookie. I don’t know a thing about stand-up comedian Patricia Williams who’s attached to play the role but I feel very confident about this one.

 

MURDERTOWN (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  about a New York radio journalist who, after a career-ending gaffe, returns to her hometown in Cape Cod and takes a job at the local newspaper, hoping to uncover a headline-grabbing true crime story that will get her back in the spotlight…

Why? It could have been the pitch of a drama but since it’s a comedy, we can expect a true-crime parody in the vein of Trial & Error or American Vandal. There’s still time but not so much before this type of projects become outdated so it’s now or never, FOX.

 

ONE HIT WENDY (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about Wendy, a one-hit wonder who peaked at 18, who tries to guide her talented niece, Jordan, through the music industry and keep her from making the same mistakes she made… 

Why? If FOX develops so many music-fueled dramas, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t try it on the comedy-side too. This one sounds like the best of the crowd and it has one advantage: Julianne Hough, a popular judge from Dancing With The Stars -who won twice the competition before getting the gig- is attached for the lead role.

 

RESERVATIONS (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about a Native American family that trades their impoverished reservation for Los Angeles, a move inspired by the dreams of a 14-year-old boy to live in Hollywood

Why? Yet another family comedy but with an original angle. It makes me think of the best part of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Jacqueline and her native american parents. Curious to see how funny this cultural clash can play out.

 

REVIVAL (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  about Elliot, formerly the little kid from a beloved ’80s family sitcom and now living a normal life, who reluctantly gets sucked back into the show’s revival with his old TV family

Why? These days, with so many revivals on the air –Roseanne, Fuller House– this fake-family comedy from TV is simply genius! And the good news is Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off The Boat, Don’t Trust the B) is producing. I want it badly!

 

SPACEBOUND (Jackal Prod)

What? about an alien who goes on an intergalactic coffee run and finds herself stranded on “the worst planet in the universe”: Earth; a group of eccentric friends takes her in and she discovers she might actually be the most functional person in the world

Why? Similar projects are developped every year or so, I won’t tell you it’s incredibly original but instead of a 3rd Planet From The Sun reboot -that is not in the cards at this time- or worst an Alf one, why not?

 

STEP STRANGERS (Warner Bros. Television)

What? about five 20-something adults who are forced to become step-siblings after their overbearing divorced mother and oblivious widower father meet on a singles cruise and fall in love

Why? Elizabeth Banks is producing this one. I kinda like the premise. Think it’s like Happy Endings but if they were suddenly all brothers and sisters! Did I convince you? I just convinced myself.

 

What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!

FOX 2017-2018 Schedule [+ THOUGHTS]

 

MONDAY

8- LUCIFER

9- THE GIFTED

TUESDAY

8- LETHAL WEAPON

9- THE MICK / BROOKLYN NINE-NINE

WEDNESDAY

8- EMPIRE

9- STAR

THURSDAY

8- GOTHAM

9- THE ORVILLE

FRIDAY

8- HELL’S KITCHEN

9- THE EXORCIST

SUNDAY

8- THE SIMPSONS / GHOSTED

9- FAMILY GUY / LAST MAN ON EARTH

MIDSEASON

911 – THE X-FILES – THE RESIDENT – LA TO VEGAS – NEW GIRL…

 

What’s good?

  • Tuesday night feels very coherent with compatible shows. Lethal Weapon needed to move from Empire‘s shadow. They were never a good fit.
  • Using Empire as a lead-in should have been done last year. But it’s not too late, even if the show is not as strong anymore. Pairing Star with it is an evidence. Thank God they realized it.

What’s bad ?

  • That’s a weird thing to do to use both Lucifer and Gotham as lead-ins while they treated them shit the whole past year. Plus, The Gifted seemed like a better option at 8, since it’s family-friendly. It could have self started.
  • The Orville against This Is Us? Well, why not? The problem is not there. The problem is that they never should have ordered The Orville. It has FLOP written all over it…

 

FOX | 2017/2018 – Fantasy Schedule

Those are predictions based on feelings and FOX final schedule may end up very differently! It will be announced on Monday. Stay tuned and until then, enjoy the read!

 

RENEWED

THE X-FILES | EMPIRE | GOTHAM | LUCIFER | STAR | LETHAL WEAPON | THE EXORCIST

THE SIMPSONS | FAMILY GUY | BOB’S BURGERS | NEW GIRL | BROOKLYN NINE-NINE | LAST MAN ON EARTH | THE MICK

ORDERED

THE ORVILLE | GIFTED | THE RESIDENT | 911

LA TO VEGAS | GHOSTED

While FOX is in a really tough spot with only declining Empire as a bright light, it’s hard to make a schedule that you can be happy with and proud of. Too many shows that went fractional this season were renewed and the new options don’t look very strong. So whatever happens, FOX is in deep shit. And since they will probaby do an even worse schedule than mine, let’s just say what follows is not a prediction or a wish, just a desperate move…

MONDAYS

THE GIFTED

LUCIFER

With The X-Files probably not ready for fall because of a late August shooting, The Gifted is the only show that seems to be able to give new life to monday night. They could pair it with Gotham but I chose Lucifer for two main reasons: stability -it’s its current slot- and compatibility. I expect The Gifted to be family friendly and lighter than Gotham.

TUESDAYS

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE / LA TO VEGAS

THE ORVILLE

FOX should keep New Girl‘s last season -which is rumored to be only 8 episodes- as a filler and try to bank a little bit more on Brooklyn Nine-Nine that could launch a new compatible comedy. LA To Vegas can be considered as a workplace comedy too, since it’s taking place in a airplane and tells the story of the crew and their passengers. Seth MacFarlane’s one-hour sci-fi dramedy The Orville has to air somewhere and Scream Queens‘s previous slot seems to be ready to welcome it. The ratings will probably be ugly but then again, it HAS TO air somewhere right?

WEDNESDAYS

STAR

EMPIRE

While keeping Lethal Weapon at 8 would make sense, finally pairing Star & Empire is the best way to go if FOX wants a full season of Star and to use Lethal Weapon as a launchpad somewhere else. If they’re still serious about an Empire spin-off, it could take over during the hiatus.

THURSDAYS

LETHAL WEAPON

THE RESIDENT

I know what you’re thinking : pairing Lethal Weapon & The Resident doesn’t look smart and logical, even more considering the fact that The Resident will have to launch against This Is Us on NBC. And you’re right. BUT honestly, where else FOX can launch the show? Tuesday could have been an option… I’m not sure I can defend this move, other than by saying that I think FOX thinks The Resident will skew more male than medical dramas usually do so the pairing would somehow make sense in that way. Plus, they’re both in the dark humor business. Another possible scenario: they keep it for midseason and put an unscripted fare there like Hell’s Kitchen. Anyway, I put my money on The Resident cancellation after a possibly shortened run.

FRIDAYS

GOTHAM

THE EXORCIST

The fact that The Exorcist has been renewed is overwhelming enough so thinking of moving it to another night is plain crazy. Gotham seems less and less a priority for FOX, especially since they don’t own it, and they have quite an impressive record to let shows they don’t really want anymore die on friday night. Here’s their next victim!

SUNDAYS

THE SIMPSONS / GHOSTED

FAMILY GUY / LAST MAN ON EARTH

Quirky Ghosted will probably end up there with The Simpsons. Like they did with other quirky entries Son of Zorn & Making History this season (with bad results).

MIDSEASON

THE X-FILES & not yet ordered THE PASSAGE could make a great pair on monday for 10 weeks while The Gifted -if it’s still alive- and Lucifer go on a hiatus.

The new Ryan Murphy show 911 could take over The Orville slot once the first season is done.

THE MICK could go back behind The Simpsons for a while. Or be paired with NEW GIRL again for a few weeks on tuesday.

More new shows should be ordered until then since FOX is rumored to pick-up a new batch of pilots to shoot this summer.

What do you think? Feel free to comment!

FOX 2017/2018 Comedy Pilots ranked

FOX had a really rough year, both with their dramas and their comedies. Hybrid entry Son of Zorn started well initially but ended in bad shape; a renewal is not expected. Making History is doing terrible numbers since it started; a renewal is out of reach. Then there’s The Mick that FOX really loved and pushed with airings at special times. It definitely helped though its pairing with New Girl limited its potential on tuesday since the Zooey Deschanel-starrer has outstayed its welcome for quite some time but could defy the odds one more time with a final season; it’s still considered as a cash machine for 20th Century FOX Television. Brooklyn Nine-Nine moved a lot on the schedule once again and miraculously didn’t lose too much strenghth in the process; it should be back. Finally, high-concept comedy Last Man On Earth couldn’t compete on sunday night with depressing ratings; it could go either way for this one but I bet on a renewal. It leaves us animated comedies The Simpsons and Family Guy. They’re both suffering but they’re still stronger than most of FOX slate. Can a miracle happen next year with a breakout comedy hit? With this weak surrounding, it’s gonna be hard, even next to impossible, but you never know… Here’s what they have in store:

 

  1. THIN ICE (20th Century FOX Television)

    A woman reclaims her dreams when she finds herself at the end of the earth – in Antarctica – surrounded by a group of brilliant misfits… With Bridgit Mendler, Ian Harding, Isaiah Whitlock Jr, Jane Curtin…

It’d be easy to describe Thin Ice as New Girl in Antarctica but like it or not, that’s what it initially is. It starts the same way -sad lonely girl entering a new world full of men who are mostly childish- but creator of both shows Liz Meriwether slowly goes into another direction until we end up with something that has more to do with workplace comedies like Parks and Recreation or The Mindy Project. It seems fresh -no pun intended- and those characters are really good at convincing you to stay there a little longer, as the heroine experiences. There are way too many though. It’s not revolutionary but it makes you happy for a while. Now, can a studio lot in Los Angeles really look like Antarctica? I have my doubts. They can’t afford to shoot on location every week I guess…

 


2. TYPE A (20th Century FOX Television)

    A group of consultants are hand-picked to do the dirty work most professionals can’t handle: layoffs, downsizing, generally delivering horrible news. To everyone else, they’re the enemy – to each other, they’re family. With Eva LongoriaDavid Hornsby, Ken Marino, Kyle Bornheimer, Andy Richter…

Type A may be the contrary of Thin Ice: it’s so cynical about today’s world that it doesn’t make you happy. BUT it’s funny. Really funny. The dialogues are just superb. And those actors can’t screw it up. It’s definitely edgier than most network television comedies, it can get pretty vulgar, and I think that’s beautiful! FOX is the best place for it, no questions asked. I can already see it on the schedule, probably next to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Those two would make a great pair. And that’s good news for Eva Longoria: it’s way better than Telenovela. She’s not THE star of the show, she’s one of the stars of the show and it’s better this way. Her character is hilarious. And she’s only asked what she does best: playing a witty bitch. Can’t wait!

 

 

3. LAX > VEGAS (20th Century FOX Television)

   About a group of underdogs trying to find their place in the world who all share the same goal: to come back a winner in the casino of life. Set on the Friday night flight from LAX to Vegas and the returning flight on Sunday. With Dylan McDermott, Ed Weeks, Olivia Macklin, Kim Matula…

Before reading the pilot script, I was 100% sure that it wouldn’t work. Who would want to spend 22 minutes each week in an airplane? Because just so you know, that’s where it’s set let’s say… 95% of the time! Well, the answer is: me. And you too probably. They made a pretty convincing case. Thanks to the principal characters -we want to know more about them- mostly and the promise that we’ll get to meet new passengers every week with their own set of stories and problems. At some point, I told myself: why nobody tried a comedy like this before, it’s a great idea? Well, maybe it has been tried but the projects didn’t see the light of day. Not a huge fan of the cast though. Will they live up to the expectations?

 

4. LINDA FROM HR (20th Century FOX Television)

   All it takes is one bad decision to throw Linda from HR’s monotonous, unfulfilled life into an exciting but dangerous tailspin of balancing work life, home life and a secret that could unravel everything. With Lauren Graham, Michael Landes, Zachary Knighton…

This pilot is batshit crazy, my friends! I’m not surprised the great Lauren Graham wanted to be part of it. It has been described as a comedic version of Mr Robot and I have to admit it’s pretty accurate. You never know where it’s going. It’s getting darker and crazier as the story progresses and you’re left with the sentiment you’ve just read something incredibly weird. And you want to watch more. The problem is:  the script needs a little more work and it’s not a network comedy AT ALL. It can’t work on FOX and it’s heavily serialized. I think FX or TBS should try to get it if FOX passes on. Or maybe a streaming platform? Hulu? Netflix? Those are the places where Linda from HR can be totally herself, without worrying about anything.

 

5. GHOSTED (20th Century FOX Television)

   A cynical skeptic and a genius “true believer” in the paranormal are recruited by The Bureau Underground to look into the rampant “unexplained” activity in Los Angeles – all while uncovering a larger mystery that could threaten the existence of the human race. With Adam Scott, Craig Robinson, Ally Walker…

Maybe it’s just me but this paranormal comedy that wants to be a funny The X-Files is less funny than the funniest episodes of The X-Files. That being said, I didn’t find the script bad or anything, I just didn’t laugh as much as I thought. There is no reason to worry: with this concept, this cast and the fact that it’s produced in-house, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be ordered to series. I’m even surprised they didn’t go for a straight-to-series order. Maybe just in case the Adam Scott/Craig Robinson duet didn’t work. Looking forward to it anyway. It’s very much in FOX alley.

 

6. AMY’S BROTHER (Warner Bros. Television)

   About an unconventional family that is formed when a successful type-A man and his estranged sister, plus her two children, find themselves not only back in one another’s lives but also living under one roof. With Michael Urie, Annie Mumolo

Have you watched The Mick? Haven’t watched myself the entire first season yet but it’s a good one. Sadly for Amy’s Brother. Because the story is pretty much the same in reverse -an uptight guy has to take care of his crazy family suddenly- with different characters and a less irreverent tone. It’s probably the cutest FOX comedy pilot of the year but cute doesn’t always win. The kids don’t have much to do and the principal character played by Michael Urie is too cliché. Not the “gay cliché” but the “uptight guy cliché”. We’ve already seen that a thousand times. Since it’s not produced in house, I’d say it doesn’t stand a chance to get ordered anyway.

 

 

 

 

Behind Enemy Lines (FOX) Vs Navy SEALs Drama (CBS) pilot previews: Big Guns

Written and executive produced by Nikki Toscano (Revenge, 24: Legacy, Bates Motel, Shades of Blue). Based on Jim & John Thomas‘ movie script. Executive produced by John Davis (The Blacklist, Timeless, Predator, I, Robot), John Fox (The Blacklist, The Player, Dr Ken, Joy), Wyck Godfrey (Twilight, Maze Runner, Revenge, Rosewood) & Marty Bowen. Directed by McG (Lethal Weapon, Supernatural, Chuck, The OC). For 20th Century FOX Television, Temple Hill Entertainment & Davis Entertainment. 60 pages. Revised Network Draft. 01/21/2017.

Description:  A group of U.S. soldiers find themselves trapped behind enemy lines in Ukraine. The multi-perspective narrative closely follows our soldiers on the ground, and the officers and service men and women on a nearby aircraft carrier, along with intelligence officers in DC as they attempt to bring our heroes home safely and under the radar…

With Marg Helgenberger (CSI, Intelligence, Under The Dome, China Beach), BJ Britt (UnREAL, Being Mary Jane, Pitch, Agents of SHIELD), Benito Martinez (American Crime, The Shield, Sons of Anarchy), Colm Feore (24, House of Cards, Revolution), Gabriel Chavarria, Willa Fitzgerald (Scream, Royal Pains), Melia Kreiling (Tyrant), Dylan Bruno (Numb3rs)…

   

Written and produced by Benjamin Cavell (Justified, Homeland, Sneaky Pete). Executive produced by Ed Redlich (Unforgettable, Without a Trace), Sarah Timberman & Carl Beverly (Elementary, Unforgettable, Justified, The Odd Couple). Directed by Christopher Chulack (ER, Third Watch, Shameless US, Animal Kingdom). For CBS Television Studios & Timberman/Beverly Productions. 70 pages. Revised Studio Draft. 01/23/17.

Description: The lives of the elite Navy SEALs as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous, high stakes missions our country can ask…

With David Boreanaz (Bones, Angel, Buffy), Max Thieriot (Bates Motel, Texas Rising), Neil Brown Jr. (Insecure, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), A.J. Buckley (CSI: New York, Justified, Pure), Jessica Paré (Mad Men, Jack & Bobby), Toni Trucks (Franklin & Bash)…

  

You may wonder why this pilot season virtually every network has a pilot about military in the running. To understand, you have to go back to 2015 when Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper crushed expectations at the box -office with more than $340 000 000. It took time to reflect on TV as always -development is what it is- and it’s USA Network which was the first to go last winter with Shooter starring Ryan Phillippe doing solid business for them, then Six on History. If you add Trump’s presidency to the mix and an urgent need to reflect blue-collar, everyday Americans better, here’s why networks are all about America’s heroes in the military. With For God and Country at NBC already on the verge of getting picked-up to series according to Deadline -and it’s arguably the best of the crowd- there’s little chance every one of them gets a greenlight in two weeks. While Valor at The CW looks like a dark horse to me, ABC wisely chose to make a military comedy, not a drama (Charlie Foxtrot) to stand out from the crowd. But this one’s not very good. There are two choices left: Behind Enemy Lines at FOX & the Untitled Navy SEALS drama at CBS. Both are serious options but only one looks like a winner on paper.

Of course, Behind Enemy Lines had an advantage from the get go: it’s based on a 2001 movie, loosely based on a true story. But one which received generally negative reviews from critics when it was released. I haven’t seen it but it seems like the team behind the TV show did a good job at keeping what was working on the movie and leaving what didn’t. And it took time apparently. FOX has been high on mounting the project for awhile. They first commissioned a script from a different writer last season with a put pilot commitment. While that one didn’t go to pilot, they kept the concept for redevelopment and they were happy with the second script. I’m happy too and I’m not interested AT ALL with military dramas in general. You know what I like the most about it? It’s a soap. An action-packed one, yes. But it’s the characters and their complicated, troubled relationships, all the conflicts within the three groups we’re introduced to, that keep you interested. There are thrilling moments, for sure, but they wouldn’t work without the rest. It’s heavily serialized. At the end of the pilot, you just realize the mission has just begun and you want to watch more.

While For God and Country is a bit edgy sometimes and really political, Behind Enemy Lines plays it safer, very network-y and clearly doesn’t want to hurt anyone. But my intelligence felt offended from time to time. It lacks subtlety, especially when it comes to the subject of race. Our appealing hero, Ziggy, is latino. By his side during the mission in Ukraine are Jacob, an islamophobic african-american, Reggie, a blue-collar ass with a tender heart and Shia, the first woman accepted into the SEAL Training program who’s muslim, of course. They are all clichés. Their group seems forced, unnatural. Coincidentally, For God and Country has more or less the same set of characters but it works better. The one character I’m in love with is the one played by Marg Helgenberger named Admiral Bobbie Decker. She’s the most powerful woman in the military but she doesn’t act as she owns the place. She’s fierce but fair. She’s a mentor to Ziggy. And she has her own set of personal problems since her boyfriend is the undersecretary of State…

If Behind Enemy Lines feels too easy and on the nose sometimes but could be quite fun to watch, CBS’s Navy SEALs project on the contrary feels a bit foggy and murky, even irritating. David Boreanaz, who replaced Jim Caviezel who left the project over creative differences -not a good omen unless it just means Caviezel is hard to work with- plays Jason, the respected, committed leader of his assault team who’s been through over a dozen deployments, with scars inside and out. I’m sorry but I don’t like him and I think I will never be able to. He’s just very unfriendly and he’s not even funny. It starts -and ends- with him “talking” to a psychologist, or more precisely refusing to talk to a psychologist. This therapy thing feels outdated. We got a lot of those in the 2000s, starting with The Sopranos. Been there, done that. And the other characters are not very attractive either. And in this one, women are mostly comprehensive wives. It’s so CBS of them… But there’s Mandy, a whip-smart CIA analyst driven to rid the world of evil and get the bad guys. No Carrie Mathison vibes, sadly.

There are a lot of flashback scenes that refer to a difficult mission in the Iranian coast that left Jason and his team traumatized. It broke longtime friendships, tore families apart. It’s quite overwhelming. We don’t get much of what is happening quite frankly. But little by little, as we get more informations and as we meet more characters, the picture’s getting clearer and you can see a potential in the show. It’s like a mix between The Unit and Army Wives. A lot of action, a bit of family stuff, a dark tone, not many moments to breathe and smile a little though, and an attempt to offer something more profound than the usual CBS series. It’s not strong enough to be a cable show but maybe a little too heavy for a network. It should have worked with the NCIS franchise but I fear it doesn’t.

Behind Enemy Lines is a well-crafted, probably expensive project, that may not be an easy fit with FOX line-up but could please the audience, both male and female, and offer a distinctive option… But what could doom it is the existence of For God and Country at NBC. Would they take the risk to launch a similar but not as good show in the same period of time? It doesn’t seem to be a real problem for CBS and their Navy SEALs project. This one could have been a no-brainer if it were more crowd-pleasing. And the network may want to choose between this and S.W.A.T., also about a team of super strong men. What if none of them go further? That’s my bet.

Black Lightning (The CW) pilot preview: The most political DC Comics show?

Written and produced by Mara Brock Ali & Salim Akil (Being Mary Jane, The Game, Girlfriends, Moesha). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Supergirl, Riverdale, Brothers & Sisters) & Sarah Schechter ((Arrow, Blindspot, Legends of Tomorrow). Based on the characters created by Tony Isabella & Trevor Von Eeden. Directed by Salim Akil. For Warner Bros. Television, Berlanti Productions, Akil Productions & DC Comics. 60 pages. Writer’s 2nd Draft. 01/05/2017. (Based on the script written for FOX)

Description: Jefferson Pierce hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago but with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he is pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning…

With Cress Williams (Heart of Dixie, Code Black, Friday Night Lights, Prison Break), Nafessa Wiliams (Twin Peaks 2017, Code Black, One Life to Live), China Anne McClain (Descendants, House of Payne), Christine Adams (Feed the Beast, Agents of SHIELD, Terra Nova)…

  

You’ll like if you already: Shows of the DC Universe

Likely Timeslot: Monday at 9, Tuesday at 9, Thursday at 8.


A lot of you were waiting for this preview to come. The devil in me wanted it to be the last The CW pilot I give a look at. Just to build the tension. And also because I’m not a big DC fan so it’s not really my priority. Before delving into it, let me tell you the young-skewing network has a bit of a situation here. Their CBS produced-pilot are weak, especially Valor and Dynasty, while Insatiable is kinda good but a wild card. In the meantime, the Warner Bros. pilots are all strong possibilities, with family dramedy Life Sentence an exciting one (and a personal favorite), Searchers an ambitious option and Black Lightning looking like a no-brainer for obvious reasons. The problem is the network won’t be able –in theory though- to pick-up only WB pilots since it is co-own by CBS. So which one will have to go? The suspense is already killing me.

Before reading Black Lightning, I had the feeling it may not live up to the expectations, explaining why FOX decided to not proceed with a pilot order. Some of you may not know the project first landed at FOX in September following a multiple-network bidding war but had to move when they realized –a little too late- that they were already the home of two DC Comics shows (Gotham and Lucifer), with Marvel’s X-Men drama Gifted looking good for a series order. That was too many superheroes and mutants for them, apparently. The CW saved Black Lightning last minute like they did with the second season of Supergirl and Riverdale, which was also set up at FOX initially. Now that I have read the pilot script, I can say FOX made a very bad decision (especially when you look at what they ordered instead) and The CW made the right call by saving it. It’s not the best thing I’ve read this year but it’s a good one for sure.

Black Lightning would have looked good on FOX surrounded by Empire or Lethal Weapon. The three of them deal with family. Differently. But still. It’s not a show about Jefferson Pierce, it’s a show about the Pierce’s family. The daughters characters are featured prominently in this first hour. They are the most interesting ones and without them, the show would hardly fit with The CW line-up. Jennifer, the youngest, is an independent, outspoken scholar-athlete with a wild streak of her own, who defines herself as a feminist and has a tendency to get into trouble; while Anissa is a passionate and quick-witted lesbian twenty-something who balances the demands of medical school with her job teaching part-time at her father’s school. Oh yeah, it’s a bit of a school drama too since Jefferson is the principal of the Garfield high-school in a poor neighbourhood of Los Angeles and most of the action happens there. And for those, like me, who are not familiar with the DC Universe, those two are meant to become superheroes as their father: respectively Thunder and Lightning. There’s already a hint of it in the pilot.

Jennifer and Anissa have a mother; Jefferson and her are separated, she has another man in her life for quite some time but he still believes she’ll come back. She’s the main reason why he stopped being Black Lightning. She knows his secret identity. As does his mentor, an old man named Gambi who creates his new costume (of course, there’s the inevitable scene of every superhero show where he put it for the first time). Depending on the chemistry between the actors, there’s a big potential with these two strong relationships. The pilot has its own villain, who’s part of a larger story, the one of a local gang called the One Hundred who wants to recruit Jennifer. And yeah, Jefferson will do everything in his power to stop them. Expect this part of the show to be serialized with the gang coming back from time to time.

There is no mystery left around Jefferson Pierce when the pilot ends. We get to know through flashbacks, Arrow-style, how he got his powers in the first place, what he did with them –mostly good things- and why he hung up the suit. It’s never boring, but never very surprising either. His story is more or less the same as every other superheroes of this earth. What makes it different and timely is the fact that it’s the first black superhero on network television (the other one being Luke Cage on Netflix). And of course, it’s not a little detail. The pilot deals with police brutality –Jefferson is checked by the police twice and it’s not a walk in the park- and the message the writers –who are black and husband and wife- want to send to the new generation of African-american is that it’s time to harness and release their power by becoming their own superheroes. It’s an important thing to do in those troubled times.

Black Lightning is probably the most family friendly and political DC Comics show so far. It follows very closely, even too closely, the usual steps of a superhero series and adds some substance to the mix. An entertaining hour of television that is not just one more DC Comics show on The CW.