Tag: larenz tate

Salamander (ABC) pilot preview: Your conspiracy thriller from the 2000s

Written and produced by Andre Nemec (Zoo, Ninja Turtles, October Road, Alias), Jeff Pinkner (Zoo, Fringe, Lost, Alias), Josh Appelbaum (Zoo, Alias) & Scott Rosenberg (Zoo, High Fidelity, Gone in Sixty Seconds). Based on 2012 Belgian series. Directed by Gary Fleder (Kingdom, Beauty and the Beast, October Road, Kiss the Girls). For ABC Studios, Midnight Radio, Beta Films & Keshet Studios. 58 pages. Network Draft. 01/20/2017.

Description: Ethan Anders, a brilliant but misanthropic engineer, recruits Nora Schaller, a skeptical Homeland Security agent, to help him track a mysterious bank robber whose theft of 66 specific safety deposit boxes, belonging to the elite and powerful, sets in motion a series of blackmails that are linked to a greater conspiracy that is killing people one by one…

With Larenz Tate (Rescue Me, Power, House of Lies, Game of Silence), Allison Miller (Go On, Terra Nova, Incorporated), John Leguizamo (Bloodline, Moulin Rouge, Romeo+Juliet), Elaine Tan (Hand of God), Neil Sandilands (The 100, Hap and Leonard)…

  

You’ll like if you already like: Prison Break, 24, Designated Survivor, Scandal

Likely timeslot: midseason (as a bridge between Designated Survivor season 2A & 2B?)

Welcome back to the early 2000s folks. Salamander, adapted from a belgian series, looks like a script that was lost during this period of time when every network wanted their conspiracy thrillers after 24 & Prison Break broke out. Remember Kidnapped, Vanished or The Nine? Salamander is one of these. They all tended to be appealing on paper based on the concept with their strong hooks and big twists. But at some point, they all had to face reality: it’s hard to pull off conspiracy-themed series on a weekly basis. They became silly and sometimes even unwatchable. And they got cancelled pretty quickly. Salamander is not totally dumb and silly. At least, not yet. But everything that’s happening is unbelievable and overall not that surprising if you watched the shows I pointed out a few lines ago. I would be very surprised if ABC gives it a chance. It looks like one of those pilots that got ordered “just in case”, just to see. And they could’t assemble an attractive cast, like The Crossing, to compensate. Not a good omen either.

As in Prison Break, the relationship between two brothers is at the center of the story and gives an emotional feel to a pilot that’s mostly about plots and twists. But one of them dies in the pilot, paving the way for another, more conventional relationship between our hero, a “normal nerd” and a psychiatrist who works at Homeland Security. They’re supposed to have a strong chemistry -we’ll see if that translates on screen- and the writer insists on it a lot. Way too much. We get it man. In fact, the pilot starts with them having a date. It goes horribly wrong of course. They agree not to see each other again. But you know fate. It’s twisty. 10 pages later they’re in for a big deadly adventure where everyone in New York seem to be dangerous and hiding a terrible secret. We meet so many secondary characters… it’s overwhelming! Between the senator who causes an explosion on a ferry, the man who commits suicide by jumping out of his office’s window, those you just meet in one scene but the writers warn you they will be more important later on… You can feel they have a plan. And they’d better! It’s based on an existing show after all. The way is already paved.

Despite this waterfall of characters, the story is more plot-driven than character-driven, especially when the leads are not on screen, which happens every other scene. For example, you can sense from the get go that the cops who interrogate Ethan Anders after the death of his brother are corrupt and you think they’ll play a bigger role later. Wrong: they end up killing each other. It’s one of those plot twists that give you an instant hard on because it’s exciting and surprising at the exact moment it arrives. And then you think about it and it just don’t make sense. Salamander asks you not to use your brain too much. Some people are good at it. Others just can’t. Your apprecIation of the show may very well depend on it. But above all, it’s a show where you’re clearly told not to get too attached to the characters because most of them are not there for long and that’s a problem for me. It’s hard to care about anything when you’re sent this message. Last thing that troubles me with Salamander is the fact that Ethan is an engineer. It’s way too convenient for the writers. Too easy. He can crack everything. It’s not the first show to do this but it doesn’t make it okay. And about Nora, she’s “just” a psychiatrist at Homeland Security but she has access to everyting. It just doesn’t make sense.

Salamander is not the type of show ABC should bet on though Designated Survivor proved there’s an audience for thrilling conspiracy series on the network when it’s well done. But this show doesn’t have Kiefer Sutherland, nor legs to work for a long time even if the pilot is efficient and action-packed. ABC has way better options to waste a slot on it. Go back where you belong Salamander: to the early 2000s!

“Game Of Silence” (NBC) pilot preview: when NBC goes dark(er)…

DAVIDL

Written & produced by David Hudgins (Everwood, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights). Based on Turkish series Suskunlar. Co-produced by Carol Mendelsohn (CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York, CSI Cyber, Melrose Place), Julie Weitz, Tariq Jalil & Timur Savci (Suskunlar). Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Millenium, Dead Man Down, Under The Dome, Unforgettable). For NBC, Sony Pictures Television, Intrigue Entertainment, Carol Mendelsohn Productions & TIMS Productions. 65 pages.

Description: Jackson, Gil, Tony, Scrub… They were just four little boys from Dalton, Georgia. They were bound to each other as brothers. One day, they made a childish mistake. It was an accident that came at a high cost and their lives would never be the same again. They took an oath to never tell a single soul about what happened, they were going to keep this a secret until the end of their days. But keeping this burden was not going to be an easy task. Twenty five years have passed since that unfortunate day. Jackson is now a rising attorney on the brink of success but he could lose his perfectly crafted life when his long lost childhood friends threaten to expose this dark secret from their violent past…

With David Lyons (The Cape, Revolution, ER), Michael Raymond-James (True Blood, Terriers, Once Upon A Time), Bre Blair, Demetrius Grosse (Justified, Banshee), Conor O’Farrell (CSI, Medium), Larenz Tate (House of Lies, Rescue Me), Claire van der Boom (Hawaii 5-0), Deidrie Henry (The Riches)…

rate rate rate rate

Wow. After three months of pilot scripts reading, I have to say I’m a little fed up with the thriller dramas. Before the pickups started we were all about “it’s the year of medical drama” but in fact, the real tendency is the thriller. I don’t really know where it comes from (The Following?) but here they are, all over every network, especially at NBC & ABC. And all over the place story-wise, sometimes. We can’t say Allegiance or Odyssey did great, just to name a few. But don’t be scared. It didn’t cloud my judgement about Game of Silence. I just had to get it off my chest once and for all. That being said, the problem with the thriller dramas is it’s hard making 22 episodes out of it when it’s the network’s goal or even imagining going beyond one season. And that’s what I fear here: we could have a great first 13-episode season because the concept is strong and the pilot hooks you up, but then? What happens? We’ll have plenty of time to discuss it later if it goes to series but still. You can’t ignore the menacing cloud up there…

What I like about Game of Silence it’s the fact that there’s not a great and mysterious conspiracy behind the events that are happening. Or anything supernatural/sci-fi. The characters brought it upon themselves. They made a mistake a long time ago and now they suffer the consequences. The show tries to unfold on a human scale, with some sort of psychological narration thanks to Jackson’s voice-over, wrapping the story in nostalgia, sorrow and regrets. The numerous flashbacks telling their youth are sweet at first, filled with light and hope, then they become darker and darker, to the point it gets painful. They all spent six months in a refarmatory for teens, that’s when things started to go bad, very bad. Some guys beat the crap out of them, they were even raped! All of them. At the same time. I have to admit I was a little shocked. I didn’t expect that, especially on a network. We don’t really see it. But we realize it. And the reason why they promised to each other they won’t talk about it, ever, to anyone, is because of shame. And it has repercussions in their adult life. One character has an intimacy problem. With his own wife! They’re all very damaged. That’s why even when they do something stupid, out of rage, we can’t really blame them. But it’s not easy loving them either. I’m telling you that after reading the whole script, knowing all the facts. But while reading it, sometimes I just thought these morons were wasting my time.

Game of Silence has a little soapy element, with a love triangle that goes way way back. Jackson was in love with a girl, they were together for a long time before he abandoned her and his friends to live a better life in Atlanta. But now she’s with one of them. And him, he is about to get married. Classical but the show needed just that. Sadly, the writer couldn’t help himself putting big bad guys linked to drug-trafficking and so on right in the middle of the story and it begins to irritate me, after The Affair and Bloodline played that card already. That’s not what we’re interested in. It’s just a way to gain time. I just hope they won’t focus too much on it. There’s a political aspect to the story too, surrounding some of Atlanta’s biggest names. It’s a little bit more exciting and it’s not just gaining time, this time. It’s really important. One of the men who rape them is now an important figure of the city. And they won’t let him get away with it…

Game Of Silence is one of the three thriller dramas NBC ordered to pilot this year, with Blindspot and The Player. They are all very different and they could all go to series but this one is probably the hardest to sell on this network. Not only because it’s the darkest, with less action and more psychology -which is definitely a good thing- but because it’s heavily serialized with just one little procedural element since the hero is a lawyer and he has a case in the pilot, as he will probably deal with other ones in subsequent episodes. Game of Silence is cable-y and finding the audience it deserves won’t be easy. Hoping it won’t be silenced after four or five episodes, I wish it good luck!