Tag: grace rex

Higher Ground (CBS) pilot preview: Yet another Olivia Pope wannabe…

Written and produced by Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married). Executive produced by Katie Couric, David Marshall Grant (Brothers & Sisters, Smash, Code Black), Heather Kadin (Scorpion, Limitless, Sleepy Hollow) & Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, Star Trek, Fringe, Alias, Fringe). Directed by Richard Shephard (Girls, Rosewood, Ugly Betty). For CBS Television Studios, Katie Couric Media & Secret Hideout. 67 pages. 04/05/17.

Description: an elite team of investigators for the Northeast Regional U.S. Hate Crimes Unit keeps the peace by solving myriad crimes against humanity while acting locally but thinking of the national repercussions as they confront their own biases… 

With Sharon Leal (Supergirl, Boston Public), Omar Metwally (The Affair, Mr Robot), Grace Rex (The Good Wife, Contagion), Zach Appelman (Sleepy Hollow), Kevin Daniels (Modern Family, Sirens), Brad William Henke (Sneaky Pete, Orange is the new black), Sheaun McKinney (Vice Principals), Kathy Najimy (King of the Hill, Veep, Sister Act)…

 

You’ll like it if you already like: Cold Case, Conviction

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9

Higher Ground may be one of the least buzzy drama pilot this season, if not THE least buzzy, despite the fact that it was being informally described as The Good Wife meets Homicide at the time it was sold to CBS after a bidding war with another network. The description doesn’t fit with what I read. Plus; there’s definitely something about the cast that isn’t working. I like Sharon Leal, she’s a very capable actress, but chosing her for a leading role must not be the best idea CBS had. I guess they weren’t left with many choices though. It requires a black actress in her late thirties, which is one of the most sought-after profile these days. Of course, she needed to be available AND it’s better if the audience is already familiar with her. Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose & Gabrielle Union, among the most recognizable faces, were already taken. It’s sad. For once, CBS really seemed to be trying to be less white males but they are a little late to the party I guess. But who knows? Maybe it’ll be the surprising pick-up of the year!

Anyway, Higher Ground concerns me for two other main reasons apart from the cast: it’s not that good -they have at least four better options- and it doesn’t really look like something people would want to watch for years. Taking a look at a US Hate Crimes Unit can’t be more timely, the effort is deeply appreciated in those troubled times when hate is thriving all over the world. But does it make an innovative TV show? Short answer: not at all. The investigators have two parallel goals: determine whether the case is really a hate crime or something else -in the pilot it’s about a girl who apparently commited suicide, unless she was pushed…- and of course, solve it! So it starts with a different angle than other procedural shows but the methods of investigation are more or less the same -or they feel the same- and the more you get closer to the resolution the less it feels unique. It’s very comparable to ABC’s failed Conviction. The “reopening old cases to make sure the guilty person is really guilty” angle felt fresh somehow but the execution and the pacing felt old-fashioned.

What doesn’t help is the fact that most of the characters are bland and our heroine, Naomi, is just an Olivia Pope wannabe. Oh, like Conviction‘s leading lady! So many common points… She’s a nice gal, her personal story is original and quite creepy -she litteraly ate her twin sister in her mother’s belly- and she’s sleeping with the wrong person. Fear not, it’s not the President of the United States this time! It’s Manhattan South District Attorney. Their relationship is more irritating than anything else. Naomi has a sister -one she didn’t eat- and there’s clearly something wrong with her but we just don’t know yet why and nothing is done so we can care about it. We’re given next to zero elements to elaborate a theory or something. The investigators around all have their very precise, usual roles: the new one who needs to be explained everything, so the viewer catches up at the same time; the funny one; the awkward one; the asshole one… You get the picture.

Higher Ground is DOA to me. Dead On Arrival. It’s tired, unambitious and unneccessary. CBS had a pilot on the same theme a few years ago, For Justice, starring Anika Noni Rose and directed by Ava DuVernay. It was not perfect but way better. They made a mistake not picking it up at the time. This uninspired version can’t make up for it. 

The Get (CBS) pilot preview: This is not fake News!

Written and produced by Bridget Carpenter (11.22.63, Westworld, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood). Directed by James Strong (Broadchurch, Doctor Who). For CBS Television Studios. 60 pages. Clean Draft.

Description: A team of tireless Internet journalists from the website The Get pursue and expose stories of injustice using their unconventional investigative techniques in today’s anything-goes world of reporting…

With Amy Brenneman (The Leftovers, Reign, Private Practice, Amy), Brad Garrett (Fargo, ‘Til Death, Everybody Loves Raymond), Emayatzy Corinealdi (Hand of God, Roots), Jeananne Goossen (The Night Shift, The Following), Alex Fitzalan, Michael Rady (UnREAL, Jane The Virgin, Swingtown), Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black, Rock, Camelot)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: The Newsroom, The Good Wife…

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9, Wednesday at 10


When CBS picked-up The Get a few weeks ago, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. I’m hoping for a network drama about journalism for years. There were a few projects in the past–among them two produced by Shonda Rhimes, Correspondents & Inside the Box– but none of them ever went to series. And of course there was HBO’s The Newsroom written by Aaron Sorkin, which was half-baked but mostly good. It’s a head-scratcher quite frankly. It’s such a perfect workplace to make a great drama (or a great soap)! What are the producers waiting for exactly? Since journalism is in danger these days (a serious study said recently that newspaper reporter is the “worst job”), more than ever in this new political environment, it’d be important to have such a show on the air. The Get may not be the ideal version of it, it’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it’s definitely something I’d watch on a weekly basis, though obviously a series order looks like a long shot.

The Get is the title of the show, but it also refers to the website inside the show. Three of the most important journalists of the team are women, which looks like a real statement from the writer, Bridget Carpenter. Meet first the steeled and determined Ellen (played by the excellent Amy Brenneman), who has been known to push boundaries in order to find the truth. She has a backstory about her father, who works for the LAPD. Then there’s Noelle, a fearless journalist who never backs down from a story she cares about. In the pilot, she works on a case of a woman who fakes pregnancies in order to get money from desperate couples who are looking to adopt a baby. Finally, there’s Isa, the senior producer at The Get and a tech-savvy researcher. They are joined by a fresh face, Alex, a young man who was a discreet and observant intern until he found THE story that got him a regular job; and their boss, Bill (played by Brad Garrett), a hardworking reporter who has spent his life working up to the position of executive producer.

It’s a really promising and functional group on paper. They are instantly likable without playing it nice all the time. Plus, they have more than their The Get’s stories to tell, things more personal that will help serialize the show a little bit if it’s ordered to series. Until then, the pilot is mostly procedural, with two cases tackled with energy and fearlessness. It’s efficient, captivating and inspirational. They often operate undercover with hidden cameras, which could give a different atmosphere to the series visually. Think Person of Interest for example. But let’s be real: in the end, it works exactly like a cop show with detectives replaced by journalists. They help solve a case AND make a great story of their own. I feel like they could become more ambitious later, add layers, maybe with more serialized cases over multiple episodes, but in order to convince CBS, they’d better start straight and simple. They clearly have more cards to play over time. 

The Get is not exactly an innovative offer from CBS since it works like many of their cop shows but without cops. That being said it’s different and timely enough to warrant a series order. It gives a little bit of hope and a sense of justice that we desperately need. Plus, it shows that journalism can be important, IS important when it’s more than rumors, gossips and fake news.