Tag: joan rater

Drew (CBS) pilot preview: Nancy is back, older, smarter, sexier and more boring than ever!

Sarah-Shahi-Backgrounds

Gotcha Day“. Created by Joan Rater & Tony Phelan (Grey’s Anatomy, Madam Secretary). Based on Edward Stratemeyer. Directed by Marc Webb (Limitless, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, 500 Days of Summer). Executive produced by Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Harvey Milk, Big Fish), Nick Nantell, Joan Rater & Tony Phelan. For CBS, CBS Television Studios & The Dan Jinks Company. 60 pages.

Description: Now in her 30s, Nancy Grace is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world and grieving the death of her best friend…

With Sarah Shahi (Person Of Interest, Life, Fairly Legal, The L Word), Anthony Edwards (ER, Zodiac, Top Gun), Vanessa Ferlito (24, Graceland, Grindhouse), Steve Kazee (Shameless US), Felix Solis (The Following, The Good Wife), Debra Monk (Grey’s Anatomy, Damages)…

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I’m not very familiar with the iconic Nancy Drew character -never read any book, never seen any movie or series about her- but I’m pretty sure that what CBS is doing with this version is wrong and not respectful to the spirit of the original idea. What made it fresh and different at the time was that the heroine was a 16-year-old teenage girl solving mysteries. Not a big boy. Not an older woman. Not a professional. Veronica Mars before Veronica Mars. That was the whole point! CBS Television Studios could have turned the cult property into a nice little CW show while keeping the character as a child. But instead, they decided to make of her a 30-year-old detective. Like we already had a million over the years. Sad to say Nancy Drew is not fresh and different anymore. She’s just one more smart cop investigating crimes in New York. Does CBS need her? Not really. Do we? Certainly not! Then why bother?

The first scene of the pilot is exactly what we don’t want to see in detective dramas anymore. How to turn off your TV in 30 seconds. Nancy is driving a Uber -it’s her a job since she left the NYPD- and starts analyzing every detail coming from her client’s look and clothing, just to pass the time and because clearly she can’t help it. In a minute, she’s able to tell her whole story, just because of a stain on her shirt (I’m not kidding). This know-it-all attitude, from The Mentalist to Dr House and recently useless addition Rosewood, has had its day. It’s just irritating now. Not funny anymore. Especially when there’s nothing else to get our teeth into. At least, Lucifer is fucking Lucifer, the Devil! The hero of Forever was immortal. That’s something! But Nancy? Just a sad and angry woman who lost her best friend, Bess -same as in the books, at least they kept the characters- six months ago and who can’t stop thinking about her ever since (the same as Unforgettable‘s heroine with her sister). The girl wrote a suicide note but Nancy is convinced its a fake, that she was murdered. Long story short: she investigates about her suspicious death the whole episode, with the help of her other best friend, George, a lesbian who also happens to be a cop. Of course. And in the end, spoiler alert… they crack the case. How surprising! So now, Nancy is not so sad anymore and she’s even ready to go back to the precinct. Meaning: the next episodes will be even more boring than the first one! You’ve been warned.

The first act is really painful to read. The writers use the laziest way to introduce the story and the characters. Writing for dummies. That’s what it is. I can’t even say it’s efficient. Because it’s not. Who likes watching two people saying things they already know to each other so the viewers can be on the same page? Who likes watching a character saying out loud what we all very well understood, just to make sure we’re not lost because maybe we’re stupid? The other acts are not particularly better but at least they’re a little less predictable. Overall, the investigation is full of plot holes and nonsense. I’m not good at solving mysteries but Nancy didn’t impress me much. Even the dialogues are lazy. Okay, from time to time there is a funny line or a good joke. But the parts where George says “like we learned at the academy” (to underline the fact that she’s a by-the-book cop, contrary to Nancy) or Nance asks “Do I sound like a crazy person?” (as if there was any doubt about it, yes she does!) get excruciating at some point. Plus, everybody in Nancy’s entourage is very practical when you look at it: her father is a lawyer; her ex is a journalist and George’s girlfriend is a doctor. Meaning she will ask for their help every time she needs to. That doesn’t make her a good detective. Just a lucky girl. And where did the feminism of the books go? Still looking for it…

You know what could save Drew from the complete disaster it’s meant to be according to the pilot script? Sarah Shahi! People love her since Person Of Interest (and some of us since Life). It’s true, she’s great. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, she can be funny and badass. She doesn’t really feel like Nancy Drew, at least the idea we have of her, but I’m sure she can do a decent job even with such a poor material. That what she already did with USA’s legal drama Facing Kate a few years ago, actually. But will it be enough? Drew belongs to Lifetime or Hallmark Channel, not to CBS. And the young demo will never watch this. Nancy Drew was a big inspiration for many writers, many shows they created, now she’s obsolete and should stay where she belongs: in our memories. Next year, CBS will probably try to revive “The Famous Five“…

 

“Doubt” (CBS) pilot preview: Another legal drama that is NOT “The Good Wife” but…

Doubt

Written & produced by Joan Rater & Tony Philan (Grey’s Anatomy, Madam Secretary). Co-produced by Sarah Timberman & Carl Beverly (Elementary, Unforgettable, Justified). Directed by Adam Bernstein (Oz, Breaking Bad, Californication). For CBS, CBS Television Studios & Timberman-Beverly Productions. 65 pages.

Description: Sadie Barrow, a smart, successful 30-something defense attorney, shockingly falls in love with one of her very rich clients, Billy Conway, who may or may not be guilty of a brutal crime. As of now, she has been able to hide the affair from her colleagues at Klein & Associates, but she knows the truth will come out eventually and it could put her career in jeopardy…

With KaDee Strickland (Private Practice, Secrets & Lies), Teddy Sears (American Horror Story, Masters of Sex, Raising the bar), Laverne Cox (Orange is the new black), Dreama Walker (The Good Wife, Don’t Trust the B****, Compliance), Dulé Hill (Psych, The West Wing), Elliott Gould (Friends, Ray Donovan, American History X), Kobi Libii (Alpha House)…

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Sometimes, life is unfair. For Doubt, life is very unfair indeed. I read the pilot script just after watching the greatest episode of The Good Wife this year, and clearly Doubt can’t compare. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It’s just that The Good Wife is beyond brilliant. If the show wasn’t developed for the same network, it wouldn’t be that big of a problem, but it is. And The Good Wife is not dead yet. We’ll get one more year, at least. Lucky us. I doubt Doubt can be paired with Michelle & Robert King’s drama on Sundays, or put somewhere else on the schedule. It wouldn’t fit. In fact, CBS should forget the legal drama genre for a bit, so we can mourn The Good Wife peacefully when the time will come…

Sadie Barrow is certainly cute and I love Kadee Strickland since Private Practice -and I miss her since I don’t watch Secrets & Lies– but she’s no Alicia Florrick/Julianna Margulies, though she totally deserves to be the lead of a show. Sadie is more of the Meredith Grey/women of the Shondaland kind. Doubt has been created by two ex-writers and producers of Grey’s Anatomy, and it shows. Doubt is soapy. Not a problem for me, I like it. But will CBS audience do? It’s a huge bet. And CBS is not used to bet on anything, or just once a year. And their next bet is already called Supergirl. Anyway. Doubt is your classical legal drama with two prominent cases dealt with in the pilot episode. They are not particularly original but they do the job efficiently. I quite liked what they did with a man called the “subway pusher” who, as you can imagine, killed a woman by pushing her onto the tracks of the subway. The man is sick, crazy sick, and it reflects on his attorney, Cameron Wirth, a very interesting character since it’s a transgender woman, played by Laverne Cox, revealed by Orange is the new black. She shares some part of her personal story with her client, but there are many more things to say about her and I’m already sad we’ll probably never get a chance to hear it. She teams up with a second year associate, played by the sparkling Dreama Walker. Those two excited me. I wanted more of them.

The whole love affair story didn’t excite me this much for a simple reason: the accused is clearly not a murderer! He is handsome, gentle, even touching… he’s kind of perfect and there is no twist at some point telling you: “Hey, the man you find so attractive and cool is, in fact, the real killer!”. Maybe they’re planning to reveal it a later time but it will already be too late. It is a now or never situation in my opinion. You have to show quickly what you’re TV series is made of. That’s the way it works now, like it or not. I’m not asking to pile up cliffhangers like in a Shonda Rhimes show, I’m just asking for one! And Doubt gives none. In the last scene, Sadie tells her mom -who’s in prison for something we’re not aware of- she has an affair with her client. It is also revealed Carolyn, the mom, has a love connection with Sadie’s boss, Isaiah Klein. I’m sorry but it feels a little bit too close to the Richard/Ellis storyline in Grey’s Anatomy. And it’s not pilot material. It’s just a good story for later in the season, nothing more. If ordered, the first season will deal with Bill Conway’s trial, and it’s a little thin to fill in 22 episodes… After it is closed? I fear the show becomes a fine soapy legal drama we don’t particularly need. But I’d probably watch it so…

Doubt is a decent but shy show developed by/for the wrong network. On ABC or NBC, why not! On CBS, duh? If by any chance it gets picked-up to series, I’ll support it and even pray for it. I love the cast, I like the characters and their dynamics. But let’s be realistic here: it’s not gonna happen.