Tag: greg berlanti

Prodigal Son (FOX) pilot preview: “The Surgeon” will see you now

SERIES TITLE: Prodigal Son
NETWORK: FOX
GENRE: Crime Drama

LOGLINE: Malcolm Bright knows how killers think, how their minds work. Why? His father was one of the worst — a notorious serial killer called “The Surgeon.” That’s why Bright is the best criminal psychologist around; murder is the family business. He will use his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve crimes and stop killers, all while dealing with a manipulative mother, annoyingly normal sister, a homicidal father still looking to bond with his prodigal son, and his own constantly evolving neuroses…

Pilot Cast: Tom Payne (The Walking Dead, Luck), Michael Sheen (Masters Of Sex, Good Omens, The Good Fight), Bellamy Young (Scandal, Criminal Minds, Dirty Sexy Money), Lou Diamond Phillips (Longmire, Stargate Universe), Aurora Perrineau (When They See Us), Frank Harts (The Path, The Leftovers), Keiko Agena (The First, 13 Reasons Why), Halston Sage (The Orville)…

Series Creators: Chris Fedak (Chuck, Deception, Forever) & Sam Sklaver (American Housewife, Deception). 
Pilot Director: Lee Toland Krieger (Riverdale, You, Celeste & Jesse Forever).
Producers: Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Chris Fedak & Sam Sklaver.

Studios: Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions.

Ever wonder how TV executives wade through the dozens of pilot scripts they’re pitched each year? They have staff script readers, who provide what’s called “Script Coverage,” an executive summary and a recommendation for each script. Now you too can preview some of the season’s most buzzed about pilots and find out whether we’d recommend them for pickup. Note that all opinions are our own, and all plot, casting and other creative details described here are subject to change.

 

  

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: The Blacklist, The Following, The Mentalist, Deception, Forever, Lucifer, Criminal Minds…

Likely Timeslot: It’s hard to predict what New FOX gonna look like at this point. But it could pair fairly well with 9-1-1 on monday.

 

WRITTEN BY: Chris Fedak & Sam Sklaver.

PAGECOUNT: 58 pages.

DRAFT: Revised Network draft 1/14/19

 

BACKGROUND: Believe it or not, mega-producer Greg Berlanti only has three pilots in the running this season! The CW’s Batwoman, The CW’s Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene & FOX’s Prodigal Son. It would be a lot for any other producer in town who’s not Dick Wolf, Ryan Murphy or Shonda Rhimes, but for him it’s very little. He still has many shows in production (close to 15!) and probably more coming on the future WarnerMedia streaming platform. Regarding Prodigal Son, we’re in a territory he knows well after Blindspot & Deception: something that has the ambition to be a fresh take on a crime franchise with a provocative and outrageous lead character and a comedic tone. Others did it well too, and before him, with The Mentalist, Castle, The Blacklist or even gone-too-soon Forever. Is this trend, like many others on the networks, is dying? Outside of their international sales potential, they tend to underachieve in their US first run ratings. Very few procedurals were picked up to pilot this time around, compared to previous years. Still, FOX will try their luck!

Berlanti was able to assemble quite an impressive cast, starting with Michael Sheen and Bellamy Young, while the lead had to be recast after the table read. Iron Fist‘s Finn Jones was the first choice, it was a straight offer and his deal closed on the eve of the pilot’s table read. Seeing him embodying Malcolm Bright for the first time, the producers realized that he was not a good fit with the character (it was pretty obvious!), which led to his quick demise. Tom Payne, who had tested for the role previously, was finally chosen down to the wire.

 

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: In 1998, DR. MARTIN WHITLY –THE SURGEON, is arrested for murder as his wife, daughter and son, MALCOLM, watch. In 2019, MALCOLM BRIGHT (30’s), is now an FBI agent, who tracks down serials killers. After he punches a sheriff in Tennessee while on a case, he is let go. When he goes back home to NYC, DETECTIVE GIL MARTINEZ (60’s) hires Malcolm to work alongside his team to find a killer who is mimicking his father’s murders. Malcolm works alongside Gil, DETECTIVE DANI COFFER (20s), and DETECTIVE JT TARMEL (30s) to figure out who is killing women who frequent sex dungeons, which Malcolm guessed by the bruising on the victims arms. AINSLEY, Malcolm’s younger sister and a TV News Reporter blackmails Malcolm in to dinner with their mother. JESSICA (50’s), Malcolm and Ainsley’s mother, begs Ainsley not to include Malcolm in her coverage of The Surgeon’s copycat. Malcolm visits his father, to figures out who could have gotten access to his drawing to copy his methods. Martin’s drawing were stole from his room when they rebuilt his cell…

 

COMMENTS: Every pilot season, there’s one or two very well-crafted procedural pilot scripts you know their network will bet on. Prodigal Son is this year’s Blindspot, Lucifer, Forever, Deception and Whiskey Cavalier which were all produced by Warner Bros. Television by the way. It can’t be a coincidence. They definitely know how to make those. And writer Chris Fedak is one of the best in this department, with Matt Miller & Martin Gero. But as I said before, no matter how well it’s done, you can’t make similar shows year after year and expect the same results. People are not stupid and they know when they’re offered something that was entirely built for them based on their previous favorites. And they don’t like that. Nobody likes to be considered predictable. Prodigal Son has this cynical ambition and it’s hard not to see it to concentrate on the result only. So yeah, it’s good. But the impression of déjà vu is quite high.

What could save it from being dumped after one rendez-vous with the audience is the characters. The four leads work both individually and all together. And with those actors, that should be a real pleasure to watch. The fact that they form a very special family makes it distinctive from previous similar offers. Let’s start with Malcolm Bright. He’s intelligent but also deeply damaged. He has a self-deprecating sense of humor, he’s a narcissist of course but he also has a surprising level of compassion. In other words: he’s not Gregory House. But he’s very much like Henry Morgan, Patrick Jane and Cameron Black. And the writers don’t forget to mention that he’s handsome as hell. You’ll get your shirtless scene, don’t worry. What’s interesting about him is that he’s not so confident. He gives to others the impression he is, but on the inside he’s a big mess. It’s hard not to like him honestly.

On the other hand, you have his father, Martin Whitly, an intelligent, wealthy and charismatic man, who also happens to be a predatory sociopath who murdered more than 20 people. Who wouldn’t want to see Michael Sheen in that role? As seen through flashbacks, Martin once was a devoted family man and successful cardiothoracic surgeon with high-profile patients. For that reason, he still has great connections despite being in prison for more than 10 years. His cell is impressive and luxurious. It just doesn’t make sense, but Prodigal Son never really tries to be realistic. Martin is fascinating, but I wouldn’t say it’s an innovative character. He’s similar to The Blacklist‘s Raymond Reddington and even closer to The Following‘s Ryan Hardy, remember… The scenes between Malcolm and Martin are strong and will sell the show, but after a few episodes, I’m not sure their association will bring something new to the table. Unless they serialize it more by revealing Martin is manipulating his son and he’s behind most of the crimes happening out there… It’s obvious but it’s the only right way to go.

Jessica, Malcolm’s mother and Martin’s wife, is less present but everytime she appears, it’s a pleasure. She’s an elegant WASPy New Yorker who wields sarcasm like a samurai sword. She taught Malcom well. As the wife of a serial killer, she is a disgraced member of high society, but she refuses to hide from her truth and she wishes her son would follow suit. So far, he doesn’t. It’s a role made for Bellamy Young. I would have loved to see her in a very different role -too bad ABC didn’t order False Profits last year- but at least we know she will perfect here. Her daughter, Ainsley, who’s Malcolm’s younger sister, is a successful TV journalist with a good sense of humor. More normal(ish) than him, they have a good relationship but she’s an emotional spark plug. She’s promising too.

What about the investigation, you’re probably asking? It’s a special one since it’s about a Whitly’s copycat. The easiest way to raise the stakes. Well. It works smoothly, it’s fast-paced, it’s pretty dark and surprising in terms of setting since it embarks us in the BDSM world, and more precisely in a sex dungeon. It’s a bit unusual, especially for a pilot, and it goes far beyond what I expected, like when Malcolm has to fight with a dominatrix. It could be a lot of fun, it could be ridiculous, depending on how it’s directed. It’s constantly over-the-top, which is both good news and bad news. The good news is you never get bored, the bad news is you’re rolling your eyes a lot. But you might like it. So there are heads in jars, a bomb threat and a hand amputation while the “patient” is totally awake, among other exciting things. Wjat about romance, you’re probably asking too? That’s probably the most surprising thing in this pilot: there is NONE! We’re so used to the sexy partnerings in those shows that it almost seems like a risk not to feature one. It’ll probably come later, but for now there is just one flirtatious scene when Malcom meets Edrisa, a slightly off-center medical examiner who’s very responsive to his charm.

.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Prodigal Son is a by-the-book dark comedic procedural like we’ve seen many before, but it manages to have a distinctive charm based on its characters and its family-driven plot. It’s poised to be considered by critics and a portion of the audience as something way too over-the-top and unrealistic but another portion and the international buyers might find it attractive enough to give it a chance. While New FOX is trying to understand what it is and where they stand, this project seems like a no-brainer, a safe bet. 

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[  ] PASS
 ] CONSIDER
X ] RECOMMEND

God Friended Me (CBS) pilot preview: God Whisperer

Written and executive produced by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt (Gotham, Hawaii 5-0, Gotham). Also produced by Greg Berlanti (Eli Stone, The Flash, Supergirl, Brothers & Sisters), Sarah Schechter (Blindspot, Riverdale, Black LIghtning) & Marcos Siega. Directed by Marcos Siega (The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Time After Time). For CBS, Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions. 60 pages. Revised Network Draft. 1/8/2018

Description: an outspoken atheist’s life is turned upside down when he is “friended” by God on Facebook. Unwittingly, he becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him…

With Brandon Michael Hall (The Mayor, Search Party), Javicia Leslie, Suraj Sharma (Homeland), Joe Morton (Scandal, Eureka, Speed, Paycheck), Violett Beane (The Flash, The Resident, The Leftovers)…

  

Gosh. Does anyone know at CBS that ABC carried a show called Kevin (Probably) Saves The World (also known as The Gospel of Kevin) that flopped hard all season long? Because God Friended Me is pretty similar to it, in a more traditional CBS fashion, and there’s very little chance it works either, unless a miracle happens. Kudos to CBS for having at least one pilot that is not a cop/detective drama, though. The “funny” thing is the lead role has been given to Brandon Michael Hall, who just comes off another ABC flop, the comedy The Mayor (which is not officially canceled by the way, wink wink). It’s weird. I thought Greg Berlanti, who’s producing, knew better. It’s not a bad pilot, and it’s not a bad actor, it’s just a bad omen in every way possible.

God Friended Me sounds like a good concept that shouldn’t have become an actual TV show. Yeah, the very idea that an outspoken atheist gets “friended” by God on Facebook is fun and original, and oh so ironic. But where do you go from there? The writers chose the boring, easy path: they made it a procedural -CBS likes to call it a light one-hour moral procedural- where our hero helps people by becoming some kind of God whisperer. And yeah, sometimes you think of Ghost Whisperer. They kinda work the same way, though police is not involved here. There’s no investigation, per say. “God” instantly sends Miles a friend suggestion for a complete stranger named John Dove (you got it? John Doe/John Dove – so fun!) Miles immediately bumps in to John, who is chasing after his ex-girlfriend who just broke up with him. Devastated by the break up, John tries to kill himself, but Miles saves him. Then Miles gets a new friend suggestion for another stranger named Cara Weiss… Long story short: the purpose was to reunite and reconcile a daughter -Cara- with her long-lost mother, who abandoned her when she was little. And when Cara is hit by a car, it’s John Dove who saves her, he happens to be a doctor. It’s all about coincidences, which are not because you know: God.

I get how they can create new stories every week but I doubt there’s a big enough audience that will eagerly wait for the next episode. The cliffhanger is a bit weak, though it points toward a more serialized storyline involving a successful high school friend of Miles’ that is working on a top secret project called “Faith Initiative”. He may or may not be behind the God account. There are also some romantic comedy vibes with Miles and Cara probably having a love relationship sooner or later. She’s determined to stay by his sides and help him in his adventures. She’s not just the case of the week, she’s also the leading lady of God Friended Me. And there’s the family side of things, since Miles is the son of an accomplished reverend who hates that he’s an atheist and that he has a podcast to talk about it every damn week. So their relationship is dead, despite his sister’s best efforts to patch things up between them. Ali is a bright, compassionate and opinionated young woman who’s working on her PhD in psychology. She’s always in Miles’ corner to provide encouragement and honest insight. Miles also has a best pal, Rakesh, who’s also his co-worker and video game enthusiast, coder and sometimes hacker. Because every CBS shows requires a hacker now!

God Friended Me is quite a funny show, crazy but not too crazy and a bit cheesy; but it’s mostly predictable, which makes it boring sometimes though it always finds a way to become interesting again. It’s uplifting, or at least it wants me, and that’s certainly the reason why CBS ordered it in the first place since that’s the trend these days. Sadly for them, it’s not gonna be their Good Doctor. But their Kevin Probably, for sure!

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.

Deception (ABC) pilot preview: A Spectacular Show that Works like Magic!

Written and produced by Chris Fedak (Chuck, Forever, Legends of Tomorrow). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Blindspot, The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow…), Martin Gero (Blindspot, The LA Complex, Stargate Atlantis), Sarah Schechter (Riverdale, The Flash, Arrow) & David Kwong (Blindspot, Now You See Me). Directed by David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Shameless US, The Mentalist, The Flash, Arrow). For Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions. 6 pages. Draft 1/08/2017.

Description: When the career of superstar magician Cameron Black is ruined by scandal, he has only one place to turn to practice his art of deception, illusion, and influence — the FBI. He’ll become the world’s first consulting illusionist, helping the government solve crimes that defy explanation, and trap criminals and spies by using deception, even if it means breaking the rules and pissing off everyone around him, including his partner Kay Daniels, a take-charge, hard-working special agent you don’t fool easily…

With Jack Cutmore-Scott (Kingsman, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life), Hilfenesh Hadera (Show Me a Hero, Billions, Baywatch), Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break, Telenovela, Chase), Lenora Crichlow (Being Human, Sugar Rush), Vinnie Jones (Arrow, Galavant), Justin Chon

 

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Castle, Chuck, Forever, Lucifer, Blindspot

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10.

Ladies and gentlemen, Greg Berlanti did it again! Deception was one of the two drama projects he sold to ABC this year as a producer and I have to admit I rooted for the other one (Criminal about an hedonistic con man and his ragtag team of criminals who must complete an ongoing series of missions to clear their names and steal an unknown number of long-forgotten relics that could change the fate of the world). Imagine my disappointment. I can see yours. There’s 80% chance you rolled your eyes while reading Deception‘s description and I honestly did the same. So believe me or not, the pilot script is impressive and now I totally understand why ABC fell for it. I’ll try to explain and convince you it’s not the same type of crime/consultant show we’ve been served for years. Except, it kinda is. But better, faster, stronger.

The biggest difficulty with Deception was to make it believable. And they do somehow. I’m the first to be surprised but it is what it is. In what world would the FBI need a magician to help them? Of course, it would never happen in ours. Can you imagine David Copperfield stopping terrorists thanks to a magic trick? Laughable. The real magician here must be the writer Chris Fedak then. He did a really good job from start to finish, not only by making it believable but also by making it incredibly fresh and enjoyable. The opening sequence is a spectacular and dangerous magic trick inspired by Harry Houdini, of the great magicians, that starts in a giant Las Vegas theather and end up… in Time Square, New York! He has to free himself from chains while blindfolded in a cage two hundred feets above the stage. How is that even possible? There’s an explanation. And I intend to keep it a secret. But you’ll know and it may blow your mind and disappoint you at the same time.

There’s a note at the beginning of the script explaining that all the tricks and deceptions on the show are actually possible. A real magician could perform those illusions. And it has to be noted that David Kwong, puzzle creator and magician consultant for the movie Now You See Me, serves as an executive producer. They are not taking it lightly. So yeah, magic is a big big part of the show and those scenes look incredible on paper. With Warner Bros. Television behind, I’m not worried: it will look great on screen too. Budget-wise, they won’t be able to perform such things every week. The pilot set the bar high -especially with the disappearance of a plane into thin air- but I’m pretty sure they can also do great with less money. Plus, there’s all sorts of magic and of course, Cameron Black knows it all.

It’s that kind of character. He’s pretentious, borderline but he’s damn funny, handsome and charming (look at Jack Cutmore-Scott’s face!). Nobody can resist him. Like Lucifer, for example. They could be twin. You’re not gonna be surprised if I tell you his partner is a woman and that she hates him as much as she likes him. They’re poised to fall in love sooner or later. That’s how those procedural crime shows work. People need romance. But there’s more. Cameron has a backstory, involving his father and his brother, as well as a nenemis who wants to kill him. A mysterious woman illusionist that is apparently even greater than he is and who’s ready to play a cat and mouse game. Strong serialized elements are always welcome. By the way, Cameron doesn’t do it all by himself. He has a team. And all of them add flavours to the show, especially Dina, his witty producer and makeup genius, and Gunter, his Viking-type technician. The ensemble really works. Dialogues are great. Chris Fedak worked on Chuck. They’re similar tonally.

ABC needed a new Castle badly. They may have found it. And for real this time. It’s not produced in-house but it’s everything they could hope for. It may look like a by-the-book procedural cop show sometimes, it certainly is familiar, structured like many others that came before, but it’s irresistibly fun and inventive, impressive even, and never boring. Magic happened on paper. Let’s hope it will make it out alive from pilot season!

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

riverdale

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…

rate rate rate rate

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!

UPDATED: Is “Supergirl” in great danger at CBS? Here’s where we stand…

Melissa-Benoist-Supergirl-1

THIRD AND FINAL UPDATE : The show is now officially ordered to series at CBS !

SECOND UPDATE: Things are looking good for “Supergirl” now, with a series order definitely on the table. CBS president Nina Tassler reportedly “loved it”. Conflicting rumours tend to prove though CBS really doesn’t what to do with it. Some say it might end up in the summer (2016), with companion shows like “Under The Dome”, which would make sense. But others say Sunday at 8 is discussed… 

UPDATE: According to Variety Supergirl is too expensive for the CW and is seen more profitable for CBS. The show has “a good chance to go to series“. Stay tuned!

What’s happening with the Supergirl TV show? In spite of its series commitment at CBS, it may never see the light of day… 

Is it Wonder Woman all over again? Superheroins definitely have a hard time flying on their own, both on cinema and television. Some sort of curse as every project developed goes to trash at some point. This time it’s Supergirl who’s facing difficulties at CBS. As the series order seemed like a sure thing when the pilot was announced in January, backed up by a series commitment, it’s less and less a sure thing now. In their last “Primetime Pilot Panic Early Buzz“, Deadline qualifies it as appearing to be “a contender“. That doesn’t sound good actually. It means, at least, CBS is not that satisfied with it, after the extensive post-production it required. Or at best, they like it but less than other pilots. It’s a tight race and they may have to make a very tough call.

Of course, there’s always the solution to make room for it on sister network The CW (like they did with Ringer a few years ago, originally set up at CBS), especially as it seems a better fit since the beginning. But does CW really has room for it? With Arrow, The Flash and the upcoming spin-off due for midseason, plus virtually all their other shows renewed (at the exception of Hart of Dixie and probably late entry The Messengers) and 4 pilot contenders, things are complicated. The show could be abandoned, pure and simple.

So what might have happened?

Bad script. I have it on good authority that the script is firmly kept under wraps at the moment with very few people authorized to read it. There was presumably a lot of rewrites at last minute and they may even have to reshoot scenes if the show is finally ordered to series. It’s not totally uncommon for high profile projects but it can’t be a good sign either.

Bad Buzz. When CBS decided to show how the new Supergirl‘s costume looked like in a picture sent to the press, the comments from both journalists and people were not very kind, to say the least. Not only about the costume itself but also about Melissa Benoist who, it has to be said, lacks charisma. Since people were not that interested in the show in the first place, bad buzz won’t help…

Bad screenings. Even if it’s too soon to have real informations about how the pilot was received in the inside of the network -especially considering the fact that the official screenings phase has not started yet- they may not have liked what they’ve seen so far through rough cuts. That doesn’t mean the final product won’t satisfy them, even though the real test is with the panel audience…

Now, we’ll have to wait a few days to know more. CBS upfronts are on May, 13 and we should hear more rumours until then. One thing’s for sure: Supergirl is an important asset for Warner Bros. Television, it has a great appeal internationally, so if CBS really doesn’t want it and The CW can’t shelter it, they’ll probably try to shop it elsewhere. Supergirl is not deat YET!

Show’s description: Born on the planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El escaped amid its destruction years ago. Since arriving on Earth, she’s been hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin. But now at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and become the hero she was destined to be.

SEE ALL CBS PILOTS ORDERED