Tag: kevin williamson

Ghost (The CW) pilot preview: Might as well be called The Conjuring new generation

jess

Created and executive produced by Kevin Williamson (The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer). Directed by David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Containment, The Flash, Arrow, Smallville…). Also executive produced by Lauren Wagner (Stalker, The Following). For The CW, Warner Bros. Television & Outerbanks Entertainment. 58 pages.

Description: In New Orleans, a young woman seeks help from a parapsychologist when she begins to experience paranormal phenomena after she almost died on a car crash one year before. Only to discover he may be a fake one. Together, they embark on an investigation inside a house that is supposed to be haunted…

With Megan West (How to Get Away With Murder), Matt Passmore (The Glades, Satisfaction, Underbelly), Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl, Complications, Kingdom)…

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If you read my review of Time After Time (still here), you already know all the love and admiration I have for Kevin Williamson. Clearly, Ghost is not his best work. It might even be one of his worst. But he’s THAT good that even one of his worst script is not that bad after all. I get why The CW ordered the pilot, though I’m not sure it would be a good idea to pick it up to series. Can people be that interested in a drama dealing with ghosts and haunted houses every week? I’m not sure. Yes, there was Ghost Whisperer, but it was a police procedural before anything else. It’s not the case here. It could get boring very fast, except if they decide to tackle other kind of supernatural activities at some point. But then, they would lose what makes it special, different. And I don’t see it having 22 episodes per season. It looks very much like a midseason entry, at best. Or it would be perfect for a summer run, but The CW doesn’t do that a lot so far.

Honestly, it’s a tough script to judge on paper. It’s based on suspense, fear. It’s written like a horror movie and Williamson, Scream’s creator, knows a thing or two in that department obviously. But he’s way better when there are serial killers involved. I’m still looking for the thrills. The quality of the final product is highly dependent on the director’s vision and execution anyway. Who happens to be David Nutter here. He’s the Kevin Williamson of the drama pilots’ directors. Everytime he directs one –every year– it’s ordered to series. So there’s every reason to be confident. If the frightening scenes don’t work though, then the whole series is a deadman walking.

It’s very much like The Conjuring in fact, but less efficient and instead of having investigators in their fifties, they are much younger and sexier. Because we’re on The CW. We can’t blame them for that. It’s already a tough sell as it is not to add more difficulties. I’m not a fan of the cast by the way. Matt Passmore is a good actor, but I have a hard time finding Jessica Szohr a good enough co-lead. it’s hard to tell about Megan West, as the heroine. So far, she has only played the dead -but alive in flashbacks- Lila in How To Get Away With Murder. But I’m always game for gingers!

Ghost is very character-driven. They all have a difficult and dark past we’re progressively introduced to. But everything about them is desperately predictable, from their reactions to their decisions, as is the progression of the investigation –and the ghost does everything by himself, they don’t have much work to do– and the twist in the end, that I saw coming since the first pages. And I think everybody will. It makes the whole pilot a bit uncomfortable to read. They withhold an information but we’re not that dumb, we know what’s happening. Weird choice.

I’m surprised to read that Ghost is a strong contender at The CW. So far, it’s the less compelling of the crop in my opinion and it doesn’t have any longtime potential. If they can make the pilot work somehow, I don’t see the series going very far. Too many things are missing and there’s no real argument to come back to it…

Time After Time (ABC) pilot preview: This is how ABC plans to help you grieve Forever at last

FREDDIE

Created and executive produced by Kevin Williamson (The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer). Based on Karl Alexander‘s novel & Nicholas Meyer‘s movie. Directed by Marcos Siega (Blindspot, The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Dexter). Also executive produced by Lauren Wagner (Stalker, The Following). For ABC, Warner Bros. Television. & Outerbanks Entertainment. 61 pages.

Description: It is London, 1893. H.G. Wells is destined to become a famed science fiction author, but on this evening he’s just a little known writer struggling to get published. He has invited his intellectual friends to show off his new invention – a time machine – but never suspects his late arriving guest, surgeon and friend John Stevenson, is the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. When the police arrive looking for him, John sneaks into the time machine and flees to modern day Manhattan with Wells in hot pursuit. There Wells meets Jane Walker, a charming museum curator, who’s about to die in the hands of John if he doesn’t stop him in time…

With Freddie Stroma (UnREAL, Pitch Perfect, Harry Potter), Josh Bowman (Revenge, Make it or Break it), Genesis Rodriguez (Entourage, Identity Thief), Regina Taylor (DIG, The Unit), Jordin Sparks

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Kevin Williamson fascinates me. Really. His scripts always get ordered to pilot and his pilots always get ordered to series. That’s how good he is on the page, as a writer, but also as an executive producer. It doesn’t mean his shows are always good -remember Stalker– and last long -remember Hidden Palms– but he’s an incredible storyteller. He simply knows how to write efficient, entertaining and edgy network television. He has a large number of obsessions -serial killers are one, love triangles are another- that make all of this shows very familiar but also very different at the same time because he never tells the same story twice. This pilot season, he created two -This + Ghost at The CW- and produces one, Recon for FOX (Read the preview). Time After Time is definitely the best. And also one of the best pilot scripts at ABC overall. I would VERY surprised if they don’t order it. Because of its quality, because of its huge potential and because of…

Time After Time is not produced in-house, it’s a Warner Bros. Television production. BUT ABC signed an “unprecedented” stacking rights deal with them a few weeks ago so they’re able to offer all in-season episodes –rather than the current practice of the “rolling five” most recent 5 in-season episodes– of any new Warner Bros. series launched in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons on a variety of video-on-demand platforms. And Time After Time happens to be the only drama pilot in contention at ABC that is produced by them. So you do the maths. If they don’t pick it up, the deal is a waste of money, at least for this first year. They also have comedy pilot Dream Team (read the preview) that is very much alive.

Why such a deal was made? Certainly to avoid another “Forever situation”. Remember last year, the funny police producedural didn’t match ABC’s expectations in terms of ratings and was cancelled after one season, even though it had a huge fanbase, promising storylines and a terrible timeslot where it was almost impossible to do satisfying numbers. If Forever had been a ABC Studios show, they would probably have offered it a second season. But it was from Warner Bros. so it died. I know many fans are still very angry about this and I see Time After Time as a possible way to make amends to them. It’s not the same show, it’s not the same story, it’s not the same actors, but it shares a lot of DNA with Forever and gives the same promise to the audience: a fun, solid series, led by a charming duo, with a hint of science-fiction.

The only big difference –that might also be a real problem– is there is no cop involved at this stage of the story, so no clear procedural element. There’s an ongoing hunt to find Jack The Reaper in New York City and stop his savage crimes towards innocent women, but the rest is mostly dramedic. A man from 1893 navigating modern life is a fertile ground for jokes and awkward situations as you can imagine, including yummy shirtless scenes that makes us very comfortable. It’s really funny and sweet. Plus, HG Wells has an interesting point of view on our society since he’s an outside player who has no other choice but to play the game if he wants to fit in, but as a dreamer, a hopelessly romantic and someone who deeply believes in utopia, he’s very disappointed to discover that the world in 2016 is nothing like what he imagined in his novels. It’s cutely sad.

I just can’t wait to watch Freddie Stroma in this part. He was tremendously sexy in UnREAL. Here, he can be even more. This HG Wells is a mix between Sherlock, Harry Morgan & David Tennant’s Doctor Who. The cliché of the authentic english man who makes girls wet when he cracks a joke or simply opens his mouth. His sort of innocence is a breath of fresh air, compared to the cynicism –which also has its charms– of a Dr House or a Lucifer. Hoping Stroma has a great chemistry with his female partner Genesis Rodriguez. Its success will depend on it. Her character is a buzzy modern girl, not particularly special, not the life of the party, but she has secrets, of course. And a roommate.

The Jack The Reaper part is the most worrying. Not only because he’s played by Revenge‘s Josh Bowman, who’s not a good actor in my opinion. How long can they look for him? It makes me think of The Following. It was a great concept for one season, but what do do you do after that? This example proves it can be very tricky for the writers and nothing good can come out of it. It’s adapted from a book and a movie, which both have a real end. What’s the ultimate goal of Time After Time? I’m not sure. But one element makes me think Kevin Williamson may have a plan. A smart one. Towards the end of the pilot, we’re introduced to a new character, Vanessa Anders, who’s HG’s great granddaughter! And she was waiting for him all along. She knew he would come. We learn characters from HG Wells’ novels have came to life, like Dr Moreau from The Island of Dr Moreau; or The Invisible Man. Maybe every season will tackle a new villain? Anyway, there are many stories to tell.

Time After Time has an ambitious and smart concept where time travel is the just a start. It has everything else it needs to attract a huge fanbase: a charming duo at the center with love in the air, a great deal of fun, suspense… It’s one of the best scripts I’ve read this year, honestly, even though it doesn’t say much. Kevin Williamson did it again! This is impressive.

Recon (FOX) pilot preview: here’s how Quantico season 2 should look like…

RECON

Created and executive procuced by Caroline Dries (The Vampire Diaries, Smallville, Melrose Place 2009). Directed by Adam Davidson (Community, Parenthood, Big Love, Grey’s Anatomy). Also executive produced by Julie Plec (The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, Kyle XY) & Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, The Following, Dawson’s Creek, Scream). For FOX & Warner Bros. Television. 63 pages.

Description: Alexa Reikowski, a rookie FBI agent, embeds herself in a suspected terrorist family, the Mazaris, four months after a terrible attack on the american soil killed the Vice President and a dozen other people. Hired as an assistant to Farrah, the mother, she’s warmly welcomed and gets attached to them but she quickly discovers that they are not who they seem to be on the surface…

With Tracy Spiridakos (Revolution, Bates Motel), Nick Weschler (Revenge, Roswell), Alexander Siddig (Game Of Thrones, 24, Star Trek Deep Space Nine), Sarita Choudhury (Homeland, Kings, Hunger Games: Mockingjay), Amanda Warren (The Leftovers), Yasmin Kaur BarnKaran Oberoi (NCIS), Leonidas Castrounis

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O-M-G! Finally something 100% original at FOX! I’m exaggerating, okay. There’s also Pitch & Star, which are. But Prison Break, Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist, 24:Legacy, The X-Files… it’s a lot. Needless to say, Recon has lesser chance to get picked up, especially since it’s about terrorism: Homeland is still a thing; 24:Legacy will be a thing –of course, they will order it whether it’s good or not– & Quantico is… something –not the hit it was supposed to become, partly because of bad scheduling, but not a flop either. So I’m very confused about this pilot. I definitely enjoyed the ride but in the end I’m not sure the show it’s supposed to be is needed right here right now. I totally get why FOX ordered it to pilot though: it’s efficient and it has potential over the course of 3-4 13-episode seasons. In fact I think it would have been a formidable idea for Quantico, season 2: Alex Parrish sent undercover inside a suspected terrorist family. Hey Quantico team, if Recon is not ordered, just steal the idea and it’ll be perfect!

Kevin Williamson is producing. This man knows how to make hits and entertaining television. Or knew. His last attempt, Stalker, was more of a disaster. But weaker shows worked at CBS. Ordering it made sense. Creating it too. Sometimes, you just need to eat! This year, he’s on two other pilots: Time After Time for ABC & Ghost for The CW. Did you know every pilot he did got ordered to series since the beginning of his career? So either he will have three new shows on the air next year (+ The Vampire Diaries & The Originals) or he will fail at this stage for the first time. Does Recon look like a loser? Not on the page at least. But I agree: The Vampire Diaries‘ team dealing with terrorism is a frightening thought. And choosing Tracy Spiridakos & Nick Weschler as leads is kind of a stupid idea. I guess they had no other choice. I’m not saying they’re not good –they are good-looking– but… charisma, anyone? I fear they won’t be able to do justice to this smart script and bring it to another level.

I loved the opening sequence of Recon and I will spoil it to you like crazy. Anyway, the trailer will, sooner or later… So we’re inside a funeral home, following an embalmer working on the dead body of a 70 year-old-woman. There’s flesh and blood. A scalpel. A drain tube. Ankles twisted. Bones cracking. It’s precise. It’s gore. It’s like one of those disgusting scenes in Nip/Tuck when you’re about to vomit just by watching it. And soon we discover he’s… hiding a ticking bomb inside of the body! And it’s not anyone’s body. It’s the Vice President’s wife’s body! A few hours later, it explodes inside Washington National Cathedral, killing the Vice President and sixteen other souls. Cut to black! That’s what I call an opening sequence, my friends. And good news: it’s not a “6 six months before” just right after. But a much more enoyable and original these days “Four months later”.

The rest of the pilot is less exciting but it’s a job well done anyway. Mostly. There’s action and suspense, and this family is a mistery we’re amazed to delve into. They are so ambiguous… And yes, it’s way too easy and cliché sometimes, like those flashbacks showing that the heroine’s dad was killed during 9/11 and that explains why she entered the FBI, so it never happens again. But Alexa is no Carrie Mathison. Not even a tiny Carrie. And the whole set up is just not realistic and doesn’t always take the right direction in my opinion. Making our heroine probably falling in love with one of the terrorist is 1/ already done 2/ kind of ridiculous in this context. But that’s what happens when you create young and beautiful characters and cast models to play them: you want them to fuck with each other at some point. But we’re not in Grey’s Anatomy! Or in Mystic Falls. It’s pretty serious stuff. Come on!

Because of the cast and the inevitable comparisons that will be drawn between the show and Homeland, Recon seems to be doomed from the get go. And honestly, people want to have fun. They don’t want another show about terrorism. They already have plenty to choose from. If FOX can attract people with the pilot -which I doubt of- they won’t be able to keep them interested much longer, unless they assume to make something completely dumb, only based on twists, but it’s not exactly what we’re promised here and we can’t blame them for that. Not smart enough, not dumb enough…