Tag: jeanine mason

Roswell (The CW) pilot preview: Back In Town

Written and executive produced by Carina Adly MacKenzie (The Originals). Based on 90s hit series & Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. Also produced by Kevin Kelly Brown (Roswell, Flesh and bone, Seven Seconds), Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds) Justin Falvey & Darryl Frank (Bull, The Americans, Falling Skies, Extant, Under The Dome). Directed by Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Kyle XY). For The CWWarner Bros. Television, Amblin Television & Bender Brown Productions. 60 pages. Network Revisions Draft. 1/12/18.

Description: After reluctantly returning to her tourist-trap hometown of Roswell, NM, Liz Ortecho, the daughter of undocumented immigrants, discovers a shocking truth about her teenage crush who is now a police officer: he’s an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life. She protects his secret as the two reconnect and begin to investigate his origins, but when a violent attack and long-standing government cover-up point to a greater alien presence on Earth, the politics of fear and hatred threaten to expose him and destroy their deepening romance…

With Jeanine Mason (Grey’s Anatomy, Bunheads), Nathan Parsons (Once Upon A Time, The Originals, True Blood), Michael Vlamis, Lily Cowles (Braindead), Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries, Cane), Tyler Blackburn (Pretty Little Liars, Ravenswood), Heather Hemmens (If Loving You is Wrong, Hellcats), Trevor St John (Containment), Karan Oberoi (Notorious)…

   

As much as I despise this trend of rebooting everything for no good creative reason, some of them make sense and Roswell falls exactly in this category. We don’t NEED a Roswell reboot, per say. Even The CW doesn’t really need it. They’ll already have the Charmed one and we could argue one new reboot a year is already enough. BUT the thing is: Roswell was a good show 15 years ago, that never found the success it deserved. It only lasted 3 seasons and it never became a cult favorite like Dawson’s Creek, Buffy or other contemporaries. Giving the concept a second chance somehow is a desirable idea. And what this script is doing is kinda miraculous: it improves the original show. By making the characters slightly older, they transformed the fantasy teen drama into a more adult property that’s still relevant today. Yeah, we’re not into aliens today like we were in the 90s but among all those vampires and zombies, they’re almost like a breath of fresh air (from space)! And the subject of society feeding on the politics of fear and hatred obviously resonates with post-Trump America.

Kevin Kelly Brown, who was an executive producer on the original series, is the link that connects the two Roswell incarnations. Besides him, it’s a whole new producing team. Meaning no Jason Katims no more. He was the creator of the show and he did Friday Night Lights, Parenthood & Rise since then. It’s sad he’s not part of it, I’m pretty sure he would have been precious there. Even though the show is still based on the “Roswell High” book series, our characters are in their late twenties and don’t go to school anymore, except for the traditional 10 year high school reunion that happens the week-end Liz returns to her Roswell hometown. You want to know the reason why she left? It’s something that’s revealed step by step in the script but I’ll tell you the whole truth anyway since they drag the revelations for too long in my opinion: her sister Rosa died, killing two others in a drunken car accident while she was in high school. And Max was involved in her death -the details are kept under wraps for now- though he never told Liz about it. Pretty quickly after her arrival, people shoot up her father’s diner, fatally hitting her, and that’s when Max uses his alien powers to resurrect her. Now she knows the truth about him, their romance is back full force! When the reboot was ordered, the articles insisted a lot on “the immigration twist” of this version but the fact that Liz has had undocumented parents doesn’t play any role in the pilot. It’s just something that’s said. We’ll see if they plan on delving into it later. The parallel with the aliens’ own trajectory could be illuminating. By the way, I love the scenes between Liz and her father. They’re very emotional.

So Liz is not very different than the one we knew in the 90s, except she became a jaded biomedical researcher. Max is now a dedicated Roswell police officer and a natural born leader. His sister Isobel is married to a man she doesn’t love anymore; she wasn’t meant for small-town life, but she lives it with all the grace and enthusiasm she can muster. Michael is a troubled but brilliant young man, who survived a violent childhood and now is secretly driven to find a way to escape Earth and the humans who have failed him to return to a mysterious home he’s never known. Meanwhile, Maria, Liz’s fun, free-spirited former best friend and social media maven is oblivious to the realities of Roswell. And in this version, she’s not romantically involved with Michael and probably never will be for a very good reason! Michael is gay. And it’s not the only twist… He’s a man of many secrets: he’s in a hidden relationship with… Alex! Yeah, more precisely Sgt. Alex Manes, who returned home from the Middle East after experiencing his fair share of psychological and physical trauma. He aims to adhere to his father’s expectations, abandoning his dreams and the possibility of a future with the man he loves… Well, that’s how you make once a bit weak characters relevant! And let’s not forget Kyle Valentin, Liz’s other ex, the popular son of the town sheriff -a woman this time!- who questions his carefree outlook on life after learning the terrifying truth of his family’s legacy. Those are strong characters all around. They’re all in this period of life when you’re starting to understand who you really are but you’re not accomplished yet and it can be painful. Young adults will relate. And there’s this cliffhanger with a new UFO crashing in the desert, that’s exciting!

The new Roswell is actually a better Roswell; a promising pilot that manages to introduce strong characters while setting an atmosphere and launching multiple storylines without getting messy in the process. It’s probably one of the best things, if not THE best, that The CW will offer us next year. 

Searchers (The CW) pilot preview: The CW’s most ambitious journey yet?

Written and produced by Jason Rothenberg (The 100). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Supergirl, Riverdale, Brothers & Sisters), Sarah Schester (Arrow, Blindspot, Legends of Tomorrow). Directed bt Dean White (The 100, The Shield, Once Upon a Time). For Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Productions. 63 pages. 01/14/17.

Description: a group of unlikely heroes find themselves on the journey of a lifetime: 10 years after the death of their parents, Cooper, a pragmatic brother and Fable, a free spirited sister are forced to team up when they learn that their mother’s terrifying and bizarre stories may be a road map to discovering the great legends, myths, and unexplainable mysteries of the world…

With Zane Holtz (From Dusk til Dawn, Make It or Break It), Alex McGregor (Of Kings and Prophets, The Dark Tower), Jeanine Mason (Of Kings and Prophets, Bunheads), Josh KiddWilliam Miller, Marc Blucas (Buffy, Underground, Necessary Roughness)…

    

You’ll like it if you already like: Supernatural, Grimm, The 100, Once Upon a Time…

Likely timeslot: Wednesday at 9

I remember vividly the day I read the script for The 100 pilot. I was very impressed and hopeful it would turn into something special and spectacular. It didn’t. The finished pilot was certainly promising but not as good and ambitious as it was on the page. It became a better show afterwards, more adult and well… less The CW! Unfortunately it went south since then. And the hope of it being “the new Lost” is definitely… lost. While The 100 will live at least one more year, The CW ordered a new pilot from its controversial creator and showrunner Jason Rothenberg (we will not talk about the blacklash here…) and yet again, it’s a winner on the page. Ambitious it is, special too, but I can’t say I’m that impressed. Initially, a lot of comparisons were drawn between Searchers and the endless Supernatural. Even though they share a little bit of DNA, they’re vastly different. I don’t see it as Supernatural‘s successor. And quite frankly, it’s better this way. It’d be too much pressure.

Searchers is not your typical fantasy series, that’s for sure! It’s not about driving around the United States in a vintage car chasing demons, it’s about travelling the world by air and by sea to chase monsters! It’s way bigger in scope and the budget must be too, which is always worrying. Most of the pilot takes place in the Carribean islands -it is shot in South Africa- and ends on the Sahara desert. If they shoot in Vancouver after the pilot, it might be a problem… So don’t expect 22-episode seasons. Don’t even expect it for fall if it’s picked-up to series. It smells like a 13-episode season starting around january 2018. Maybe it will even share a timeslot with The 100… Anyway, the best way to describe the show is to call it an action and adventure drama with supernatural elements, the kind we don’t see much on television because it’s not cheap and because it rarely hits with the audience. There are the pirates shows like Black Sails, but that’s pretty much it right now. There are some kind of modern pirates in Searchers, but that’s not exactly who our heroes are.

They’re explorers. Cooper is a brilliant tech innovator and former soldier who has accepted his parents’ deaths. But all that changes when Fable, his strong, smart and soulful baby sister, drags him on a dangerous mission to learn what truly happened to them 10 years ago. They allegedly died while on a mission in a submarine, killed by a monster called the Grindylow -at least that’s what Fable thinks- but they may not be dead after all. Cooper, Fable and their new friends Zin, an ex-Marine fighter pilot, and Juniper, Fable’s ex-cell mate -Yeah, ‘cos Fable has just been released from jail- are now looking for them from their ship, Prometheus, led by the swashbuckling captain Bosch, a mysterious old soul who can’t shake the past experiences still weighing on his psyche. They’re also determined to find the Grindylow. And Keystones. There are 12 of them from 12 worlds. Each is said to have a pull on the creatures from those worlds and to protect the bearer from those creatures. So if they want the monsters out of our world, they need to find them. That’s basically all you need to know about the concept. It may sound a bit complex but in fact it’s pretty simple.

The goals are clear and the promise of the show is too: Searchers is a treasure hunt with young, beautiful and sexy people. And if the actors are not too bad and the writing not too easy, it could also be emotional from time to time. On paper, the relationship between the brother and the sister is. They don’t get along that well but they clearly love each other deeply. There are flashbacks with their parents, when they were just kids, and those are the scenes I liked the most. We’ll probably get more of them every week, since the stories the mother told them before bed are significant in their quest. There is more to know about the parents. I suspect they are not the good people we’re led to believe. And they have an uncle, Raff. He doesn’t act as a good guy either. So it’s Cooper and Fable against the world and there are exciting challenges ahead. For the writers too. The pilot is action-packed and really delivers on twists and turns but the subsequent episodes will need to be as well if they want viewers to stay. As entincing as the characters are initially, they’re not strong enough yet -unless the actors really add something distinctive to the mix- to bet on them and only them heavily.

With Searchers, The CW is offering an ambitious proposition, maybe they’re most ambitious yet, which is targetting a more family-oriented audience than their other shows. It can be dark and frightening sometimes but it’s mostly fun and adventurous. It’s pure entertainment. It’s not a safe bet but it’s one worth taking if they want to grow again. 

“Studio City” (FOX) pilot preview: when “The O.C.” & “Shameless” are making music together

STUDIOCITY

Written & produced by Krista Vernoff (Shameless US, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Charmed). Co-produced by John Wells (Shameless US, ER, The West Wing, Third Watch) & Andrew Stearn (Shameless US, The West Wing, SouthLAnd, Third Watch). Directed by Sanaa Hamri (Shameless US, Empire, Nashville, Elementary). For FOX, Warner Bros. Television & John Wells Prods. 61 pages.

Description: 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…

With Florence PughEric McCormack (Will & Grace, Perception, Trust Me), Heather Graham (Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, Scrubs, Californication), Riley Smith (True Blood, 90210), Jeanine Mason (Bunheads), Samantha Logan (666 Park Avenue, The Fosters), Jordan Calloway (ER, Allie Singer), Timothy Granaderos

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The whole time I was reading Studio City‘s pilot script I was thinking about whether or not it would be a good fit with Empire. The musical show’s surprise and incredible success didn’t allow FOX to develop any soap opera of the same kind to pair it with, on time for pilot season. But honestly, I don’t think FOX should even try to do that. Other networks, yes, they will have to. Even if ABC always did and NBC tried many times the past few years but failed to offer one on the schedule except the horrible Deception. Some of you may also remember Cane on CBS. There probably won’t be another Empire anytime soon. FOX better should find shows that are not straight soap-operas but which could work with Empire. Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens is a very strong contender (already picked-up to series). Studio City is another one. I’m always suspicious when a show is officially described as a little bit of this mixed with a little it of that. But this time, they’re not playing with us: Studio City really is The OC meets Shameless. With a bit of Nashville too. But this, they couldn’t say.

The OC (and Nashville) part of Studio City is pretty obvious from the get go : a smalltown girl with a violent and batshit crazy mother comes to L.A. to live with her songwriter father and his family in a nice house with a pool. But a little pool. Studio City is not Orange County. It’s not a poor neighborhood either. And since we’re talking about Los Angeles, know the big city is pretty much a character in the show. I’m just a little disappointed the writer made very cliché and uninspired choices such as Malibu beach or Universal Studios’ Jurassic Park Ride to locate some scenes. The OC comparison also works with the tone that is used: there’s a lot of humor and characters who don’t take themselves too seriously, like Rob, the father -it’s a good thing he’s played by such a funny guy like Eric McCormack- or the mother-in-law, Stevie (Heather Graham), who’s not Cookie but a pretty insane woman we can only love. They’re just the right amount of funny and craziness. More would make them unbelievable. Most of the cast consists of young adults characters because Rob has another daughter from a previous marriage, Emma, who acts like a bitch, and Stevie has a son, Mateo, and a daughter, Zoe. And they are all beautiful, of course. Two of them may even fall in love… Oh, shocking!

And that’s when Shameless US more than comes to mind, which is not so surprising since the creator, as well as the producers -especially the great John Wells who never disappoints- work for the show. You can find the same kind of lightness even when terrible things happen and this very special family liberates the same sort of energy and warmth. There are a few quite daring storylines, like this love story I won’t talk about, or the central conflict of having a drug dealer as a father. Note this is inspired by the real story of Krista Vernoff, the creator. In case you thought it was not credible. That being said, Studio City don’t (and can’t) go as far as Shameless and stays very much in a network comfort zone. Proof: the script starts with the mention “Curse words will be silenced or bleeped“. We hate that.

Even if I liked what I’ve read, I was not totally hooked and I’m not sure why. Maybe because the promise of what’s to come is not clear enough. I don’t know what we will see every week. The different members of the family doing bad things, mostly? How long can it stay relevant, then? The coming of age story of Cat is what interests me the most. At the very beginning of the pilot, we’re exposed to what she will become in 4 years: a superstar. Taylor Swift-like, it is said. I’m curious to see how we get there. You have to wait for 30 pages to hear a song, by the way. For now, the show can’t be labelled as a musical drama. Good: we already have enough of that!

Studio City‘s pilot script is very decent and a pleasure to read but I don’t think there is an unmissable TV show in there. An enjoyable one, that’s for sure. But nothing we haven’t already been told a million times. After Glee, Smash, Nashville, Power, Violetta (!) and Empire, what’s left to say about the musical industry? Probably a ton of things, but I can’t imagine Studio City saying them differently or at all. BUT I also think FOX really should favor this one to the dark drama pilots they ordered so… I’m in!