Tag: laurie zaks

The Fix (ABC) pilot preview: American Crime Story – The People Vs OJ Simpson, a sequel

Written and executive produced by Marcia ClarkElizabeth Craft & Sara Fain (The Shield, Lie To Me, The Vampire Diaries, Dollhouse). Also produced by David Hoberman (Monk, Fighter), Todd Lieberman (The Family, Detroit 1-8-7) & Laurie Zaks (The Family, Castle). Directed by Larysa Kondracki (Rogue, Copper, Legion). For ABCABC Studios & Mandeville Television. 61 pages. 4th Revised Network Draft. 1/23/2018.

Description: After losing the biggest case of her career and being shredded by the media, former prosecutor Maya Travis has left Los Angeles for a quiet life in rural Oregon. Eight years after her devastating defeat, the murderer – a famous movie star- strikes again, forcing Maya to return to Los Angeles to confront him one more time. Will she play by the rules or will she do whatever it takes to get him behind bars?

With Robin Tunney (The Mentalist, Prison Break, The Craft, Empire Records), Adam Rayner (Tyrant, Hunted), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Oz, Suicide SquadBreckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash, Clueless), Merrin Dungey (Big Little Lies, The Resident, Alias, The King of Queens), Mouzam Makkar (The Exorcist, The Vampire Diaries), Scott Cohen (Necessary Roughness, The Carrie Diaries), Marc Blucas (Buffy, Underground), Alex Saxon (The Fosters, Finding Carter), Daniella Alonso (Animal Kingdom, Revolution, Friday Night Lights)…

   

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: American Crime Story, The Good Wife, Murder One, Law & Order True Crime…

Likely timeslot: Thursday at 10 joining the TGIT?

 

Does the name Marcia Clark mean anything to you? For those who watched the excellent American Crime Story: The People Vs OJ Simpson, she was the lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case, played by Sarah Paulson. She resigned from the District Attorney’s office after the debacle and left trial practice behind. She became a “special correspondent” for news show providing coverage of high-profile trials and she wrote several novels based on her experience, as well as pilot scripts that were never produced. She’s one of the executive producer of The Fix and her story is obviously a big inspiration for the show. ABC insists on the fact that the drama is fictional. Still, its starting point draws a lot of parallels to what was called at the time “the trial of the century” and Maya Travis is also finding herself in the eye of a media storm like Clark did. The ambition is to examine the case from all sides of the law, going home with the characters and exploring how it is affecting their personal lives. And I have to admit the writers really captured something here. Unfortunately for them, they will be compared a lot to Ryan Murphy’s brilliant piece and they can’t compete. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try!

Part legal thriller, part confessional, part revenge fantasy, The Fix is as riveting as ABC promises but it’s never a good omen to be so many things at the same time. I’d leave the “revenge fantasy” part out of the equation. It gives the wrong impression. There’s the idea of redemption, that’s for sure, but Maya Travis is not Amanda Clarke from Revenge. She’s a far more interesting character, it seems. More mature. A legal thriller? That’s what describes it the best. And of course, because we’re on ABC, it’s soapy. Not the dirty kind. It stays classy, at least from Maya’s side. From the OJ-like murderer’s side, it’s another story. But can they beat the real OJ?! Not really. It’s very much the same man, or the idea we have of him at least. Steven “Sevvy” Johnson is a narcissistic, perhaps sociopathic, famous Oscar-winning actor that most people actually love because he’s charismatic and charming, and a very good liar too probably. He’s also black, which is a subject in itself like it was with OJ since he’s well-loved by the black community, or at least was. Well, the more I write about it, the more this show feels like a OJ Simpson vs The People‘s fictional follow-up! And I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or bad thing in terms of potential. It could bring more eyeballs than this kind of show usually does but there’s a downside to it: again, the comparison is not in The Fix‘s favor, as good as it is.

Also, they don’t have Sarah Paulson. From what I’ve heard, they were aiming for a big name to play the lead and sent a lot of offers. But the best they could get in the end was Robin Tunney from The Mentalist. I don’t mean to be disrespectful and it’s not like she’s an unknow actress either nor that she’s bad, but sadly she’s not much of a draw on paper. And these days, for a role like this one on a show like this one, it’s a big disadvantage. That being said, the cast looks strong overall, especially with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Sevvy. He’s an excellent actor, much more skilled and charismatic than Cuba Gooding Jr. if you ask me, and easily scarier. OJ was shown as a bit dumb and immature. Sevvy seems like a far more manipulative person. There’s no real doubt about what he has done. What they need is actual proofs and that’s where the fun begins for us. He’s not an easy one to catch. And his defense team is nasty. And they hate Maya, as much as she hates them. We have all the ingredients for a thrilling legal drama. It could have been less Manichaean, it’s really the good guys vs. the bad guys, but that’s probably the price to pay if you want this show to be on a network and not on cable. It needs to stay easily readable and pretty straight-forward. I’m not sure how many episodes they can squeeze out of it, though. Problaby no more than 10 if they want to keep it as efficient and fast-paced.

Other characters are: Andre, who was Maya’s second chair during the high-profile trial (think the equivalent of Sterling K. Brown’s character) and there’s an undeniable connection between them; CJ, a DA investigator who was one of Maya’s closest friends and confidantes but they lost touch when she went away; Charlie Wiest, a spineless opportunist who doesn’t have enough power within the office to control its inner workings, despite his grave efforts, another pain in the ass for Maya; Loni Cho, a Deputy District Attorney and the lead attorney on the new murder case, with a secret; and finally Ezra, an extremely confident defense lawyer -an arrogant pitbull- who won the trail against Maya years ago and who defends Sevvy once again. Those are all strong characters who really exist within the story, who all play an important part.
The Fix is a bit of a dark horse in this pilot season for ABC since it doesn’t correspond at all to what they’re supposed to be looking for. It’s heavily serialized, soapy and pretty dark, and this type of shows did poorly those past few years when they were not from Shonda Rhimes. It would work better as a limited series. Being that different from the other competitors might be an advantage for a series order though. It won’t fix ABC’s drama problems but it could be a good low-profile addition.

“The Family” (ABC) pilot preview: the family soap you won’t even feel guilty about loving!

ORIGINALSIN

Previously entitled Flesh & Blood and Original Sin. Written & produced by Jenna Bans (Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Scandal, Private Practice, Off the Map). Co-produced by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman (Monk, Fighter, Warm Bodies, The Proposal) & Laurie Zaks (Castle). Directed by Paul McGuigan (Sherlock, Monroe, Devious Maids). For ABC, ABC Studios & Mandeville Prods. 63 pages.

Description: It’s been ten years since 9-year-old Adam Warren disappeared from Red Pines, Maine and the world has changed a lot in his absence. His mother, Claire, who was then just starting her first City Council campaign, has been elected mayor. His father, John, is now the bestselling author of “Grieving with Grace” a book series on coping with loss. Adam’s siblings, Danny and Willa, who were supposed to be watching Adam at the time, have each dealt with their guilt in their own way. So, when a young man appears in Red Pines claiming to be Adam, it throws everyone into a tailspin. The man sitting in jail for Adam’s supposed death is released as Nina Meyer, the cop responsible of the investigation, is forced to reexamine what truly happened so many years ago….

With Joan Allen (The Killing US, Luck, Face/Off, Hatchi, The Bourne Identity), Rupert Graves (Sherlock Last Tango in Hallifax, The White Queen, V for Vendetta), Margot Bingham (Boarwalk Empire, Matador), Alison Pill (The Newsroom, In Treatment, The Pillars of the Earth, Harvey Milk), Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights, Off the Map, The Mob Doctor, The Purge: Anarchy), Liam James (The Killing US, Psych), , Andrew McCarthy (St Elmo’s Fire, Lipstick Jungle), Florianna Lima (Allegiance, The Mob Doctor), Madeleine Arthur (Big Eyes), Alex Steele (Degrassi: the next generation), Rarmian Newton

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He’s not dead! The kid’s not dead! Just realize Original Sin (aka Flesh & Blood) is the first drama in at least 2 years that doesn’t start with a dead kid. Gracepoint, Secrets & Lies, American Crime, The Missing, Bloodline… Do you need more proofs of this morbid tendency that started with the great and acclaimed Broadchurch? What was once a taboo subject matter on television fascinated the whole world in the past few months as if suddenly writers were allowed to deal with such a dark, traumatic event and jumped on the opportunity all at once. Here, on the contrary, the kid is coming back from the dead -not as in The Returned or Resurrection- figuratively! Everybody thought he died 10 years ago. They were all wrong. Well, in fact, we’re not sure yet if it’s the real Adam who’s back in Red Pines or someone who’s trying to take its place in the Warren family. But that’s one of the many hooks and chills this well-crafted pilot gives you.

From a writer who worked on all Shondaland’s series -she even created one!- it doesn’t come as a surprise. She learned from the best! But this time, Shonda is not involved. Jenna Bans did it by herself. And Shonda can be proud. Last year, she wrote the Sea Of Fire pilot script, which was in my opinion really really good and was worth a try at ABC. They didn’t order it to series, because it was too dark and too sexually charged for network television, I suspect. I see Original Sin as their way of making amends and a proof they believe she is able to bring them their next hit. It was reported on Deadline it is “getting a strong buzz heading into the home stretch“, the same way as How to Get Away With Murder last year. Nothing’s ever a sure thing, but it looks good. To be totally honest with you, I think I liked Sea Of Fire better. I’d say it was more unpredictable. Original Sin possesses a lot of twists and most of them work but once or twice I said to myself: “this is going to happen“. And it happened. But people appreciate being right, so it won’t hurt if they guess one or two things in advance. They’ll feel smart and there are still plenty of surprises to get excited about anyway.

At its core, Original Sin is a family drama, a very human one, more than a mystery or a detective show, or even a soap. It’s the story of a family which was detroyed the day the youngest child disappeared and could never recover from the pain and anger they felt and still feels. Even if most of them had no choice but to get on with their lives. Even if the culprit was found. Or so they thought. It’s essentially character driven, from every point of view, not only the family’s but also the detective’s, a journalist’s and the man who was not guilty after all but may be guilty of something else soon… You can feel their pain and their guilt, even now. It’s devastating on the page. I hope the cast can live up to it. I’m not too worried. Joan Allen, Alison Pill, Rupert Graves and Zach Gilford are brilliant. As we follow Adam’s return -the scene when they see him for the first time is upsetting- we witness the day they lost him through numerous flashbacks. Where they were. What they could have done. And then what they did. ‘Cos they all did things they’re not proud of in the wake of the tragedy. One of them did something even the Lord himself can’t forgive, and he/she won’t be able to keep the secret any longer. And you want to be there the moment it’s gonna happen. Midway through the script, I already knew I wanted Original Sin to go to series badly. Add to that the feel of a small town, the pressure of a political campaign, an affair -‘cos there’s always an affair-, this weird and mysterious child, who was abused, lonely for so long, you want to hug and tell him it’s all gonna be okay except he creeps you out at the same time… Everything’s in place to make a great show out of the already great pilot.

Original Sin could totally take the actual spot of Secrets & Lies -and precedently Resurrection– on Sundays at 9 on ABC, and would mesh well with Nashville if the musical soap were on the move to Sundays at 10 as most predict, including me. I don’t know if the show has more than one or two seasons to give, but it definitely has what it takes to offer us one or two great seasons, of 13-15 episodes preferably. And if they find the right twist, I’m sure they can go on a few more years. People can relate to this family and its members, they can feel for the detective, they can get excited by the investigation and the secrets that will be found along the way… And it won’t even feel like a sin to love it. 

Photo courtesy of YVRShoots