Tag: jeremy sisto

F.B.I. (CBS) pilot preview: Dick Wolf By The Book

Written and executive produced by Craig Turk (The Good Wife, Private Practice, Boston Legal). Also produced by Dick Wolf (Law & Order, SVU, Truee Crime, Chicago Fire, PD, Med, Justice), Peter Jankowski & Arthur W. Forney. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Millenium, Under The Dome, Mr Robot, Midnight, Texas). For NBCUniversal TelevisionCBS Television Studios & Wolf Films. 60 pages. Network Draft. 1/22/18.

Description: the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, alongside relatively young agents Maggie Bell & Otilio Abramah “OA” Casillas, and the emotional toll cases have on their relationships and personal lives…

With Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue, Van Helsing, Reaper), Zeeko Zaki (24 Legacy, Valor, Six), Jeremy Sisto (Ice, The Returned, Suburgarory, Law & Order, Six Feet Under), Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman Boss, The Following, Gladiator), Ebonée Noel (Wrecked, Still Star-Crossed)…

  

You’ll Like It You Already Like: Any straight police procedural show.

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10 (one of the few slots available where there’s no Dick Wolf show on NBC)

 

No, it’s not a typo in the article’s title: this show produced by Dick Wolf is really for CBS! F.B.I. will be Wolf’s first drama series to launch on a network other than NBC in 15 years, since the 2003 Dragnet reboot on ABC that didn’t last long. So what happened? The project was originally developed at NBC but with Wolf’s Chicago franchise expanding, taking 3 hours in the schedule, plus veteran Law & Order:SVU still alive and new iteration Law & Order True Crime coming, there was simply not slot available for it in NBC’s slate of procedurals. So it made sense for him to look to expand his brand elsewhere and CBS was the logical first destination since the eye network is known for its crime procedurals. NBC will still get some money out of it anyway since Universal is co-producing F.B.I. with CBS. The only downside here is that they won’t be able to crossover the show with Chicago PD (or any other), something they probably would have done on NBC. CBS was so happy to get a Wolf show that they ordered it straight-to-series with a 13-episode commitment, without any writer attached and of course any script ready. Former The Good Wife executive producer Craig Turk was then recommended for the job by CBS, being one of the top drama writers on CBS TV Studios’ roster. And here we are!

So, F.B.I… Could they find a more generic title than this? It sums up the whole concept of the show, really. In that regard, it is perfect. Though they could have added “: New York“, cos’ knowing both Wolf and CBS, if it works for them, we will get the Los Angeles & Miami versions sooner or later! There’s a definitive lack of ambition, as the logline can attest, and it’s a choice. It’s not like they were trying to make something crazy original and they totally failed in the end. No, they were just aiming at a simple, straight-forward crime procedural since the beginning. No fat. But is it a smart move in 2018? Don’t you need a hook, even in a procedural, to bring interest? I think the reasoning behind is quite easy: Dick Wolf is a brand, and people who love his brand don’t want anything that would deviate from it. No high-concept. No strange consultant. No magic. So Wolf is bringing exactly what people are supposedly looking for from him. And from CBS. Haters gonna hate. Lovers gonna love! I don’t consider myself as a hater of Dick’s work but I can’t say that I’m a fan either. I always find his shows bland and F.B.I. kinda is too. It’s never really about the characters. It’s about the case of the week and the investigation. And sometimes, when there’s a little time left, they throw us crumbs of information about the investigators’ private lives. Like a well-deserved reward. That’s what happens here. When the pilot ends, we know one thing about every principal character. Which is already a lot I guess from such a show.

That being said, F.B.I. is as efficient as a procedural can get and it’s fast-paced. The situation is quickly set. The investigation starts two pages in. You’re given twists and cliffhangers every 8-10 minutes or so. You get a proper conclusion in the last two pages. Nothing’s left to your imagination. And it’s done. Again: no fat. There’s still some kind of ambition though, I was lying earlier. The case they chose to tackle is quite strong and heavy. Terrorism. In New York. Nothing original here either. But bombs explode, buildings collapse. It’s gonna cost a lot of money! So it starts with two bombs detonating at a working-class South Bronx apartment complex, injuring many and killing a local 7-year old boy. It’s quite horrifying, so you’re either hooked or disgusted. And then it’s the whole city that’s under a major bomb threat. Another one is found at a community center and our agents are in the constant fear of a new one exploding anywhere. The stakes are high. It must be impressive for people who never saw any of 24, Homeland or more recently Quantico. For the others, it’s business as usual. But once again, it’s well made and once you’re in, you just stay. Unless you’re not into cellphone melted on a guy’s burnt leg and other digusting things like that. Will they be able, budget-wise, to go as big in every episode? Probably not. It’s gonna become quieter I guess. Once the dust settles, they will have to be careful not to enter the boring zone…

The characters are instantly working, maybe because we meet them right into the action, and then they never sleep, never quit. You have Maggie Bell -skilled, intellectual, emotional- hard not to like, the real heroine here; Otilio Abraham “OA” Casillas -former undercover DEA operative, instinctual, grizzled- very typical; Jubal Valentine, an experienced agent who thrives on stress -and adds a hint of humor-; Kristen Yessayen, a highly intelligent analyst; Ian Lentz, a forensic technology expert; and finally Ellen Toy, the deeply respected boss, who’s elegant, cultured, disarmingly direct and impossible to intimidate. Love her already. It’s a really good team on paper and the actors they chose, especially Jeremy Sisto and Connie Nielsen, are always great. Again, F.B.I. is very low-key on the character’s private lives and doesn’t introduced any serialized elements. At some point, Maggie says : “I eat dinner with Kristen in the office most nights and neither of us have a personal life to talk about.” We’ve been warned! We’re not in Shondaland, we’re in Dickland. Oopsie. Wolfland sounds better!

F.B.I. is your go-to procedural, Dick Wolf by the book product. It’s exactly what you expect from him. It fits perfectly with CBS actual line-up and might be the beginning of a lucrative franchise… unless viewers are looking for something else these days, in the era of peak TV. It will probably skew old, even though most of the characters are young, but it’s CBS best chance at success next year, it seems. Go Dick, do your thing!

The Jury (ABC) pilot preview: Archie Panjabi, from Kalinda investigator to Kim juror

TheJury

Created by VJ Boyd (Justified, The Player) & Mark Bianculli .Directed by Neil Burger (Limitless, Divergente, Billions, The Illusionnist). Produced by Carol Mendelsohn (CSI, Melrose Place), Julie Weitz, VJ Boyd and Mark Bianculli. For ABC, Sony Pictures Television, ABC Studios & Carol Menselsohn Productions. 62 pages.

Description: follows a single murder trial a season as seen through the eyes of the individual jurors, exploring the biases and experiences that influence the jurors’ judgment, and how their preconceptions change along the way. Season one is about the vicious murder of Victoria Chase, 17, for which classmate Michael Cleary, 18, is being accused of. Now it’s time for Kim Dempsey, Dan Baliss, and the other 10 jurors to find where the truth lies and decide whether he is guilty or not…

With Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife, The Fall), Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory, Law & Order, Six Feet Under), Adina Porter (The 100, True Blood), Eve Harlow (The 100, Heroes Reborn), Brandon Jay McLaren (The killing US, Graceland, Falling Skies), Kevin Rankin (Friday Night Lights, Unforgettable, Breaking Bad), JD Pardo (Revolution, The Messengers), Nikki DeLoach (Awkward), Hina Abdullah, Ben Esler (Hell On Wheels), Brian Howe, Jayne Taini (Ray Donovan)…

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Most of you probably already know about the departure of ABC’s president Paul Lee, replaced by fellow number 2 Channing Dungey. He did a great job at the alphabet from 2010 to 2015, building an excellent line-up of family comedies, a slew of solid dramas, the Shondaland’s TGIT brand while pushing for diversity before anyone else, leading to a real trend that is now followed by every other network. What he also did, and that’s where he must be thanked for even though it drove him to ruin, was giving a chance to bold projects like American Crime, The NeighborsGalavant, Agent Carter, The Family, in an attempt to reduce the gap between network television and cable/streaming platforms’ shows. Sadly, numbers were dreadful for most of them and he refused to give up. Now he’s gone but he’s still reponsible for the projects developed for the past few months and this pilot season’s pick-ups. And The Jury is, I’m afraid, exactly the type of ambitious series Paul Lee tried to impose for years with no success. Why would this one work where all the others failed? At least, the incredible popularity of the Serial podcast or the documentary series Making a Murderer make The Jury trendy.

The pilot works a bit like a conceptual episode of soon gone The Good Wife, only told from the jury’s perspective. Except it’s not a one-shot but the whole concept of the show. It even starts like a lot of episodes of The Good Wife with a video took from a phone broadcasted in front of the jurors, one where the not yet dead victim is sadistically aussaulted by a group of cruel teenagers -friends?- in the woods, only to discover in the end of the sequence that she’s consenting, it’s roleplay. But she died a few hours later nonetheless. Glaucous, isn’t it? The prosecutors in the story are not that important. They do their job when we’re in the middle of a courtroom scene -and there are a few- but their speeches are pretty harmless. What the writers are focused on is the 12 jurors we meet along the way. 12 it’s the law but it’s a lot for a TV show. It takes time to learn their first names and understand who they are in a nutshell. They try to avoid caricatures but they don’t always succeed. You have the nerdy IT guy, the southern material belle, the angry old lady, the hipster artist, the middle-class working mom… The goal now is to deepen the characters since, as I understand it, every episode will be centered on one of them through flashbacks from their personal life, explaining how the case reflects upon their own story. It means 12 episodes plus a 13th for the verdict. And it also means quality will vary depending on the interest we have for a character. Some of them don’t seem that interesting actually. The ongoing trial and the new informations we will learn along the way should keep us entertained though. They didn’t choose a spectacular case for nothing.

The structure of the episode is quite complex. We jump all the time from the trial to the delibaration room, where the jury is poised to spend hours, from past to present with some scenes happening during the investigation, while we’re focusing on the juror Kim Dempsey, played by the phenomenal Archie Panjabi, through flashbacks. It means a lot of Archie in the pilot, but less in the subsequent episodes even if she comes out as a leader in the jurors team. You’ve been warned. Kim doesn’t seem that different from Kalinda. She’s a strong woman obsessed with seeking the truth, not there to make friends so she can look like she’s cold sometimes, and a bit provactive. In fact, she was at the center of a sex scandal a few months ago that kind of ruined her career. She is a domestic abuse crusader and everyone saw her having rough sex with her boyfriend in her young years with a video that leaked online. We’re offered a crispy glimpse of it where she begs him to hit her, harder and harder until it makes her leap bleed. She even licks her own blood while moaning. That’s certainly something Kalinda could have done (but not CBS). Told you it was glaucous. It’s not just the murder case. It’s the whole atmosphere. Are people ready for this? But don’t be afraid, the writers also give us some breathing space when the characters are debating, joking around a bit, irritating each others…

I really hope The Jury can find an audience on ABC because it could be really good –AmericanCrime/The Good Wife good- and an important piece of television but from where we stand, I’m not optimistic. Let’s be real: it’s ambitious but complex, well written and suspenseful but dark and gloomy for the most part, and highly serialized, which is not what the new network’s executives are looking for anymore… And since legal dramas always tend to scare the younger demo, The Jury is guilty of being a cable drama that will get cable ratings but on a network where they’re not sufficient. It has to be tried and taken care of properly, but the verdict is still out…