Tag: lauren ambrose

Untitled M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple Series preview: Of course, there’s a twist! And another one!

SERIES TITLE: Servant (Working Title)
GENRE: Mystery Horror Drama / Psychological Thriller

LOGLINE: Young married couple Dorothy and Sean Turner has hired inexperienced nanny Leanne Grayson to help care for their newborn baby. But there’s an unspoken secret surrounding this child…

Pilot Cast: Lauren Ambrose, Toby Kebbell, Nell Tiger Free, Rupert Grint.
Series Creator: Tony Basgallop.
Pilot Director: M. Night Shyamalan.
Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blumenthal, Todd Black, Taylor Latham, Steve Tish, Ashwin Rajan.
Studios: Blinding Edge Pictures, Escape Artists.

Ever wonder how TV executives wade through the dozens of pilot scripts they’re pitched each year? They have staff script readers, who provide what’s called “Script Coverage,” an executive summary and a recommendation for each script. Now you too can preview some of the season’s most buzzed about pilots and find out whether we’d recommend them for pickup. Note that all opinions are our own, and all plot, casting and other creative details described here are subject to change.


WRITTEN BY: Tony Basgallop (Berlin Station, Inside Men, Hotel Babylon)

PAGECOUNT: 31 pages

BACKGROUND: M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant is part of the slate of ambitious originals for Apple’s upcoming streaming service that should be launched sometime in the first quarter of 2019. It will debut alongside several other shows, including a morning show drama led by Jennifer Aniston & Reese Witherspoon, a space drama from Ronald D. Moore, world-building drama series See from Steven Knight and Francis Lawrence, and Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories reboot. The half-hour psychological thriller which received a 10-episode straight-to-series order back in February 2018 may not be the splashiest of the bunch, but it does have M. Night Shyamalan as both executive producer and director of the first episode. So, did Apple make the right bet? Our pilot script review follows:

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: It’s raining in present-day New York. In a four story Brownstone house near Park Slope, young married couple Dorothy and Sean Turner -she’s a TV reporter, he’s professional chef- are preparing for the arrival of Leanne Grayson, an eighteen year-old girl from Wisconsin that they;ve hired as a nanny for Jericho, their 3 month-old baby boy. We meet Leanne as she’s getting out of a cab. After a polite and warm welcome, she’s given a tour and discovers the cold, small bedroom they’ve re-arranged for her at the top of the house. On her dressing table: a key and a folder with the words “Duties and responsibilities”. She doesn’t open it yet.

Later that evening, in the kitchen, the couple shoots questions at her about her family while giving her a little something to eat. She has not met the baby yet. Sean offers her champagne, she declines because of her young age. Dorothy is a bit embarrassed. Then she gives her the opportunity to call her family back home. She accepts. Once she’s alone, she hangs up the phone without even dialing. During the night, while both Dorothy and Leanne are sleeping, a wide-awake Sean leaves the bed and enters the nursery. There, he takes his very silent baby on his lap. And…

COMMENTS: This first episode is not very fast-paced — it’s all about creating the atmosphere and introducing the show’s four principal characters, who are all mysterious in their own ways. It’s all happening behind closed doors, in this stylish house which is as beautiful as it is frightening, especially when night comes. If it weren’t for the tablet that Sean uses at one point, you’d almost think the show was set in the 50s or the 60s. Shyamalan should compensate for the lack of action with his directing, and the actors with their performances. They have the material for it. And of course, there’s a twist! (And, as you might expect from M. Night Shyamalan, another one, too!) The difficulty here is writing about the show without spoiling them. Let’s just say the twists help the shhow enter the world of fantasy and even horror. And they give it instant depth.

While the story senters about the baby, every character seems to be hiding something. Dorothy & Sean are clearly tormented, and their relationship seems fragile. They love each other, but they’re struggling and it shows. There’s denial and bitterness here. Grief too, perhaps? Meanwhile, Leanne is a strange girl who seems too polite, calm and discreet on the surface to be totally honest… We don’t know much about them by the end of the script but we want to know more. Who are they? What have they done? Who should be fearing whom? Many questions come up along the way, including perhaps most importantly: why Leanne? Why did they choose her? Why isn’t she asking more questions? Why isn’t she surprised by some discoveries when we, as viewers?… Is there something she knows that we don’t? Does she have a secret agenda? It’s definitely intriguing and weird. It doesn’t stand out as extraordinarily original, but it doesn’t feel like déjà vu all over again either. It’s sort of comfortable in its uncomfortable ways.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Servant is an M. Night Shyamalan production through and through, and it’s the kind of show that could help Apple make some noise in a subtler way than big expensive machines starring huge stars, marking points with both critics and horror fans (more the thrill seekers than the hard core horror lifers). It should resonate with people who loved The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix with a format resembling Amazon’s Homecoming that makes it very binge-worthy.

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“The Broad Squad” (ABC) pilot preview: the cop show you didn’t even know you wanted!


Written & produced by Bess Wohl. Executive Produced by Josh Schwartz (The OC, Chuck) & Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries, Hart Of Dixie), Len Goldstein, Aaron Kaplan (The Mysteries Of Laura, GCB) & Alexandra Lydon. Directed by Coky Giedroyc. For ABC, ABC Studios, Fake Empire & Kapital Entertainment. 58 pages.

Description: In 1978, the graduating class of Boston’s first female patrol officers was dubbed “The Broad Squad” by the local press. Eileen, Molly, Joanne & Lisa arrived at a tumultuous time in Boston’s history, marked by corruption within the police force and a heightened organized crime presence in the city. Navigating rival neighborhoods as well as the conflicting attitudes toward them from everyone, they find themselves tested both on and off duty.

With Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, Torchwood), Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Charlotte Spencer (Glue), Cody Horn (Magic Mike), Michael Gaston (The Leftovers, The Mentalist, Unforgettable), Kenneth Mitchell (Jericho), Alberto Frezza

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The police department in the 1970s was the ultimate boys club… Until four women showed up and changed everything. They were only looking for equality. What they found was themselves.” This is how The Broad Squad pilot script starts, with these words and I think it’s the moment when I realize to my own surprise it might not be the little project I overlooked because it was a period detective drama and I hate both detective and period dramas and there are way too many on television. There is definitely something more. In fact, the detective part doesn’t even really matter. Yes, these women are police officers but they don’t investigate or interrogate. They patrol and they make people abide by the law, with force if needed. The Broad Squad is really a female character-driven drama which wants to show you how it was like being a woman in the 70s-80s, how much courage and pride it took for these four to drive and walk around the city everyday to make it safer for everyone. This pilot manages to be both entertaining and intelligent, even important I might add.

Between Rookie Blue -because of course, the show starts on their very first day on duty- and SouthLAnd -because they spend most of their days and nights patrolling and facing domestic violence, bar fights, young offenders making graffitis on the walls… no big drug lords and shootings on the streets- The Broad Squad is trying to be realistic, staying in the everyday life of people, not going into those exceptionnal moments when there is murder and death. Surely, if picked up, it will happen sometimes. It will need those. But the goal is to stay close to the characters, feeling what they feel. And it totally works. I’ve just met these women but I really wanna get to know them better, and also the people around, their families, their friends. There is already a lot to explore. My only doubts so far would be about the anger they are all experiencing, which is a little too heavy to take sometimes -fortunately there’s humour- and about the male characters, who are a little bit too… manly so far.

Joanne (Rutina Wesley) is probably the character that stands out the most because she’s the most struggling one. She’s not just a female cop. She’s an African-American female cop, who also happens to be a lesbian -but her colleagues don’t know it yet. And I have to remind you it’s the 70s! I mean: it’s a lot! She has one foot in the precinct and the other one in the poor neighbourhood where she grew up. She can be seen as a traitor by her own family. Then there is Eileen (Lauren Ambrose). She’s from an Irish family, her father was a cop, her husband is a cop and she always dreamt to be a cop. Now she has two children to raise and a lot to prove to everyone. She’s kind, maybe a little too much so far to be really interesting. But it’s a promising character, that’s for sure. Molly (Charlotte Spencer) is the famous one because she comes from a family that has a reputation in Boston, and not a good one actually. Her father disappeared when she was 15 and her brothers are delinquents. And finally, we have Lisa (Cody Horn), the gorgeous one. Her beauty doesn’t help her when it comes to be respected by men. She has a very dark secret that still haunts her everyday -and makes her an alchoholic- and the person who is responsible for her trauma happens to be a cop in the same precinct. They all have a good reason to be there. They all have something to prove, and something to find. They are beautifully written characters.

The Broad Squad is not your usual cop show, not only because it’s a period drama but because it aims to be different, not a crime-solving straight procedural but a heavy serialized and character-driven one, with no strong emphasis on romantic storylines. It’s hard to tell whether or not it can be successful on ABC. They have nothing like it right now. It’s not Castle. It’s not Scandal either. But it’s good and broad, with a strong cast. And I want to believe good shows always find a way…