Tag: judy smith

No Apologies (FOX) pilot preview: The Good Scandal

Also known as Mrs Otis Regrets. Written and executive produced by Ilene Chaiken (Empire, The Handmaid’s Tale, Empire) & Melissa Scrivner Love (Rosewood, Person Of Interest, CSI Miami). Also produced by Judy Smith (Scandal, Braindead) & Oly Obst (The Resident, Ghosted, The Mick). Directed by Saana Hamri (Empire, Shameless US). For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television & 3 Arts. 60 pages. Network Draft. 1/21/18.

Description: FBI Special Agent Hazel Otis -wife, mother, patriot- is in the midst of investigating a domestic terrorism threat when a personal indiscretion – an affair with a prominent general – shatters her life and threatens her career at the FBI. Now labeled “the mistress,” Clementine Otis – wife, mother, patriot – begins to rebuild her personal life and professional reputation…

With Katie Holmes (Ray Donovan, The Kennedys, Dawson’s Creek, Batman Begins), James Tupper (Big Little Lies, Revenge, Men In TreesRose Rollins (The Catch, The L Word), Mark Moses (Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, Homeland), Christian Camargo (Penny Dreadful, Dexter), Ian Harding (Pretty Little Liars), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Taken, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy), Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya, Kingdom)…

  

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: The Good Wife, Scandal, Homeland…

Likely Timeslot: it’s almost impossible to guess FOX schedule at this point

 

Katie Holmes is back, guys! Between her guest stint on Ray Donovan, Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, upcoming Ocean’s 8, this pilot and her much talked-about romance with Jamie Foxx, our dear Joey Potter is doing great 20 years after Dawson’s Creek launched (I’m a die hard fan of Kevin Williamson’s teen drama). It makes me genuinely happy for her. Always thought she was worth better than movies nobody’s watching and unsatisfying TV roles. But let’s not forget she played Jackie Kennedy for christ’s sake! Too bad it was for a miniseries that was just okay. With Mrs Otis Regrets (or whatever name it ends up with), she’s playing a character like she’s never been offered before. We’ll see if she’s the right fit -and sometimes I felt like she wasn’t, I want her to prove me wrong- but it’s a great showcase for her talent. It’s demanding, she’s just not there to make her trademark pouty face. She starts the show undercover dressed as a sexy and trashy redneck southern gal, riding a mechanical bull! Later in the pilot, she’s drunk as fuck, performing Maniac in a karaoke bar, singing and doing sexy moves, and then pouring a bottle of water over her head, shaking her hair and spraying water like Jennifer Beals did in the movie. It’s gonna be legendary! And those scenes are reasons enough to pray for a series pickup!

With such an introduction, you probably think I will tell you this script is awesome. Not if you paid attention to the number of “stars” I gave it. Honestly, I went back and forth a lot. 3 stars or 4 stars? It was a really difficult decision to make. Overall, I enjoyed this script and I think it will make at the very least a decent pilot. It is great at introducing the central character, making us feel a diverse range of emotions regarding her actions, past and present; it’s a multi-dimensional, challenging heroine, that you don’t instantly fall in love with but that you know you want to spend more time with, to understand who she really is. She can be fun, badass -she has a military past that is very important in her backstory- and also very restrained and even cold at times. She’s all of this. And brilliant at her job. And a loving mom. And sexy as hell. It’s hard not to side with her, especially when her all world collapses. She’s definitely worth our attention. She’s a heroine of our times. The show is written, directed and produced by women. And that you can tell. It’s a fine portrait.

So what’s the problem exactly, you’re asking? Well. First, they didn’t do a great job at introducing the other characters. Her new partner in crime, Sam Gerard, is a 29 yerd-old preppy, privileged and unexperienced agent who’s mostly irritating. I have no doubt they will make him more likeable in the subsequent episodes but so far, they made it way too easy to hate him. And then there’s her husband, Larry, a handsome news reporter who’s like the perfect man any woman would want to marry, which makes him a bit bland. He’s modern but he’s too kind, even when he should be really angry at his wife. You want him to scream and go nuts, and he doesn’t. Again, with more episodes they will be able to flesh him out. There are a lot of family scenes by the way. We meet their daughters, Chelsea (13) and Catherine (8). They found the right balance between her professional life and her private one, but sometimes, I have to say I just wanted the show to be about that, and office politics, but not about her mission of the day. She has to save a known racist politician from an assassination attempt. It’s efficient, just not the best part. There’s a serialized story behind though, since the mastermind behind this is not caught in the end. He’ll be back. I remember I had the same feeling with The Good Wife when it started. As much as I liked the cases and Alicia’s relationships at the office, what I wanted the most was her scenes with her husdand and her children, at home. It’s not the only thing that made me think of The Good Wife, to be honest. And it’s both a compliment and a reproach.

From start to finish, I felt like this script was a clever mix between The Good Wife & Scandal, with a hint of Homeland since she’s doing the same job as Carrie Mathison. So, yeah, clever. But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re always under the impression that you’ve already seen it before. It makes it very much predictable. Like this scene when the press is outside her home after the scandal broke. So cliché. Unavoidable, maybe. Or the one when the scandal breaks for instance: she’s right in the middle of a school fundraiser with the other moms. Or the daughter who’s harassed at school and called names because of her mother. But honestly, the most worrying part here is not the comparisons drawn with The Good Wife and Homeland. It’s the one with Scandal. The show is just about to end and it won’t leave on a good note since it’s stupid for ages now. I’m very much afraid Mrs Otis Regrets falls into the same traps. I don’t want Hezel to become as annoying and murderous as Olivia Pope. I don’t want a tiring and never-ending love triangle between Hezel, her husband and NSA’s General Moses Fallon, who’s a lot like President Grant. Been there, done that! Coincidentally, it’s also produced by Judy Smith, like Scandal, which was based on her own life! And with an Empire producer/showrunner on the team, I wouldn’t want the show to become too soapy either. I do love soaps but when they take place at the FBI -look at Quantico!- they can quickly turn into a mess.

Even though Mrs Otis Regrets have a few problems, mostly a bit predictable and déjà vu premise, it definitely has potential for the long haul and it’s a great vehicle for Katie Holmes. At some point, one character says: “The timing is all wrong. All anyone cares about right now is the sexual assault stuff.” And that’s my main concern here: is the show’s timing wrong? I’d say its timing is perfect as long as they play their cards right: it has A LOT to say about sexism in the work place, about the glass-ceiling, about being in the public eye and how much the perception is different if you’re a man or a woman, and I hope they won’t shy away from all of this, that they will embrace it and make it an important show in the process. Women deserve this.

Braindead (CBS) pilot preview: When The Good Wife’s creators go full zombies!

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Created by Robert & Michelle King (The Good Wife, Vertical Limit, Red Corner). Produced by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, Prometheus), Judy Smith (Scandal) & David W. Zucker (Police Squad!, Naked Gun). For CBS Television Studios, King Size Productions & Scott Free Productions. 67 pages.

Description: Laurel, the daughter of a Democratic political dynasty who left Washington, D.C. to become a documentary filmmaker, is pulled back into the family business when her brother, the senate majority whip, needs her help running his senate office. Now a young, fresh-faced Hill staffer, Laurel discovers two things: The government has stopped working, and alien spawn have come to Earth and eaten the brains of a growing number of congressmen and Hill staffers…

With Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield LaneThe Returned US, A Good Day to Die Hard, Final Destination 3) , Aaron Tveit (Graceland, Gossip Girl), Danny Pino (Cold Case, Law & Order SVU), Johnny Ray Gill (Rectify, Harry’s Law), Nikki M. James (The Good Wife)…

STARTS JUNE 13th ON CBS

 

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Whether The Good Wife leaves the air next May or stays at least one more year remains a mystery, as CBS has not decided on its fate yet (or so they say). In my opinion, they should wrap it up before it gets too embarrasing. A show that once was so brilliant can’t keep on offering such meh episodes (and such bad ratings). It’s just not acceptable. Creators Robert & Michelle King are already looking ahead while working on their next projects: there’s the ambitious Vatican City for Amazon, about the first female Papal spokesperson, which sounds exciting and new, and there’s Braindead, ordered to series for a summer run, described as a horror dramedy, which sounds a bit weird, especially on CBS but summer is this time of the year when the network allows itself to be real dumb and plain boring, as Under The Dome & Zoo proved to be (Extant was “just” boring and nothing else much). Braindead isn’t dumb and boring on the page. But is it any good? After scratching my head til it bleeds a little, here’s what I can say about the King’s next move.

Braindead is as funny as the Kings can be in The Good Wife sometimes, and it certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a good thing since we already have that kind of “why so serious?” zombie show. It’s called The Walking Dead and everybody saw at least a glimpse of it. There are even a few fans out there, I’ve been told. The tone of the show is much more looking towards Ash Vs. Evil Dead but it wouldn’t be fair to compare it to anything else on TV right now. Braindead is its own thing, familiar in a way but different. Highly entertaining but with substance – and not only raw meat. Laurel, our heroin, has a good sense of humor and it makes her instantly engaging. It certainly is a meaty role for Mary-Elizabeth Winstead, who deserves it. Laurel is not as cold as Alicia Florrick can look at first sight. She’s fresh, cheerful, a bit of a nerd. She’s described by the writers as “eclectic and lively“. Not sure what they mean, but yeah she’s all of that and probably much more as we get to know her.

The characters that surround her are for the most part politicians, whether they’re from her family or working against her family, and they already show their real faces behind the mask. That’s where it’s a good thing the show is written by the Kings and not some random writer. They know what they’re talking about. They know political strategies. They proved it on The Good Wife multiple times. It’s not a zombie show that happens to be set at Washington DC. It’s both a zombie and a political show, and both aspects are treated with the same care. You got the thrills and the violence of The Walking Dead, or let’s say The Strain; and also the excitement of a smart TV show like The Good Wife that doesn’t take you for a dummy. Juggling with both is much more difficult than it seems and they do it very smoothly. I’d like to add The Good Wife fans won’t be lost: they’ll have a good amount of walk and talk scenes, dialogues on the phones and the pilot starts the same way as a lot of the legal series’ episodes do, by showing an internet video, here it’s car crash in Russia directly followed by the fall of a meteorite.

When it comes to raising the stakes and giving us a good idea of what the show will look like on a weekly basis, the Kings kind of fail. They made a choice: not showing all their cards in the pilot. They don’t use flashbacks or flashfowards or any other writing tricks. I respect that. Totally. That’s the way most of cable shows work. And they treated Braindead as such. For a network, even during summertime, it’s dangerous but courageous. Hope they’ll be rewarded for it. And I also hope they have a plan but you can’t seriously throw yourself into that kind of story without a plan!

Something really good can come out of that pilot script and that idea of a television show, but Braindead isn’t there yet. For now, it’s total exposure. Getting to know the characters, understanding the political situation -which is never that easy- and attending the first few days of the epidemy. Will it become a survival show at some point? We don’t know, but we sure hope so. There’s exciting stuff ahead and there’s exciting stuff right now. We just have to accept Braindead isn’t a flashy show that makes your head spinning from the get go and leaves you breathless after an hour. It’s a more traditional writing but a very good one thrown into a mix of genres that makes it everything but traditional. It won’t make your brain hurts… yet.

 

NEXT REVIEW: AMERICAN GOTHIC (CBS)