Tag: lfe

The 10 pilots that didn’t make it but were worth it!

None of the pilots I was really really rooting for were passed on (except the first three I’m gonna talk to you about in a minute but I knew they were hard sells so I expected it). Quantico, my favorite script of the year, a no-brainer for ABC, was picked up (and the trailer didn’t disappoint). Same goes with Original Sin, now called The Family, Blindspot, Oil (aka Boom), Game Of Silence, Life In Pieces, The Catch, The Grinder, The Player & Lucifer. My top 10. But among my worst 5, Rush Hour, Rosewood & Hearbreaker were ordered (and I predict them a dark future). Thank God, Unveiled & Warrior didn’t make it at NBC!

 

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1. THE BROAD SQUAD (ABC)

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.

A period drama is always a hard sell on a network and ABC surely remembers Pan Am failed not so long ago. The Broad Squad had the advantage to take place in a precinct, and when police is involved on a TV project, it always helps. But it’s not your straight crime-solving procedural, it’s a female character-driven drama, heavy serialized, that is both entertaining and intelligent and tells a lot about how things evolved since then. The cast was great (Lauren Ambrose, Rutina Wesley, Charlotte Spencer, Cody Horn). It was that close to be ordered (Runner was also very much in contention until the very end). ABC is allegedly considering a redevelopment for next season. Let’s hope so!  There’s a little work to do to make the male characters more interesting and the female ones maybe more appealing to the masses.

 

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2. LFE (CBS)

Joe, Ryan, Chelsi, Trevor Mae & Anj are New York City’s wildest, brilliant and most promising doctors. As they start their second year of residency in the city’s most prestigious hospital, they attempt to balance their god complexes with their humanity. Julie, their den mother, give them guidance in their lives and share with them the relationship she wishes she had with her own children…

The medical drama battle at CBS couldn’t have ended differently. I knew from the get-go, even before reading the scripts, that Code Black would always have the hedge over LFE. Not because Code Black seemed better -and it turns out it was not on the page- but because it was a better fit with the network. LFE was more cable-y, more ambitious, more modern, more stylized and would have appealed to a younger audience. Code Black has a respectable chance to become something. LFE was too much of a wild card for CBS. They hesitated a lot but ultimately a miracle didn’t happen. Since it was produced by CBS Television Studios (that doesn’t sell outside CBS & The CW) it was deadly dead when it didn’t get picked up.

 

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3. DELORES & JERMAINE (ABC)

Jermaine is a millennial with big ideas, but very little drive. When he has no other choice but to move in with his estranged grandmother Delores, a strict, football-loving, former DC cop, he brings his youthful enthusiasm into her life as much as she helps him grow up thanks to her old-school parenting methods. Soon enough they’ll become inseparable…

Loved this script because I laughed out loud while reading it and having the great Whoopi Goldberg in the cast was certainly a big advantage. I wanted to believe it was possible ABC gave it a try but the truth is, with so little place to offer for multicamera comedies, and with Last Man Standing as the only companion, Dolores & Jermaine was not the most natural fit. Dr Ken was and it’s the one which was ordered in the end (and it looks pretty good too). ABC Studios tries to sell it elsewhere but I don’t really see where it could land. Plus this is not a good year for comedies. No other network is looking for more.

 

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4. STUDIO CITY (FOX)

After her alcoholic mother totally lost it, Catalina Evans, 17, is sent to L.A to live with her songwriter father and her stepfamily. What she thought would be an easier life doesn’t turn out exactly the way it should when she discovers her dad is a drug dealer to the stars and haven’t sell a single song for years. With her own dreams of stardom in mind, she starts her new life full of hope and songs to give…

The OC meets Shameless US is the most surprising no-go of this pilot season! Studio City was more than a strong contender, it was red-hot and it looked like a sure thing until the end, especially since its musical component would have fit well with phenomenon Empire. Why FOX didn’t give it the thumb up? It’s safe to assume they wanted to order only one Warner Bros. pilot Vs. all the 20th Century FOX Television they had. So it was either Lucifer or Studio City. I’m a big fan of the first one so I can’t blame them to have made that choice. But still, it’s hard to understand and it’s a missed opportunity. But maybe not for so long. FOX insists that the show is still in contention for midseason (but they already said that for Cabot College and Sober Companion last year… and we’re still waiting). We’ll see…

 

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5. STRANGE CALLS (NBC)

An affable but down on his luck young police officer is transferred to a rural town where — with the help of a peculiar, elderly night watchman — he starts to realize the town has a bizarre supernatural underbelly.

When you look at what NBC ordered on the comedy department, there is on one side latina fueled Hot and Bothered and Superstore, and on the other side multicamera comedies People are talking and Crowded. Most of them will only debut at midseason and won’t get much of a chance to shine on a network that decided it was about time they find a drama hit. Strange Calls clearly was the odd man out. It’s really fun, but it’s a supernatural comedy, it’s quirky. What to pair it with? Maybe NBC found the right solution but a little too late: they’re working on making it a 42 minutes dramedy, and pairing it with Grimm would make a lot of sense. But I’m not sold on the idea honestly if it means adding a procedural element to the mix. It would lose what made it different.

 

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6. FOR JUSTICE (CBS)

Natalia Chappel, an FBI agent who works in the Criminal Section of the Department of Civil Rights Division investigating crimes based on civil rights violations across the country, finds herself caught between the radical family she was born into and the professional family she has chosen…

It was reportedly a CBS President Les Moonves’ favorite. But it was not enough to get the precious order to series so it seems. CBS passed on the opportunity to be relevant to the world we are living in, because that’s what this show was meant to be. It was smart and important. The cast was great (Anika Noni Rose! Please Shonda give her a show already!) and the pilot was directed by Selma‘s Ava DuVernay. They clearly made a mistake here, but to be fair it wasn’t right with their objectives this year: attract younger viewers with pop-corn fares. It’s just the opposite of that. But why ordering it in the first place then? Maybe Supergirl & Limitless were enough. They could have found a place for For Justice if they really wanted to…

 

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7.  SNEAKY PETE (CBS)

Marius, a thirty-something con man, upon leaving prison, takes cover from his past by assuming the identity of a cellmate. “Sneaky Pete” then hides out from his debtors while working for his new “family’s” bail bond business. There he uses his considerable charm and criminal prowess to take down bad guys far worse than himself, partnering with a female “cousin” who has her suspicions about his real motives

Not a pop-corn fare either. Not shiny and beautiful. Procedural but with no police involved. If ordered, I’m sure Sneaky Pete would have gotten the Battle Creek treatment: no promotion and a doomed timeslot. It’s a good thing CBS passed on it, in spite of a huge commitment. Now Sony Pictures Television can sell it to a cable channel where it would have a real chance to find the audience it deserves. They’re actively trying to find it a new home so let’s cross our fingers.

 

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8. CHEVY (ABC)

Two fun and relevant baby boomers are living a selfish retirement until their world is turned upside down when their eldest daughter die. They are suddendly left to raise their grandchildren. If as they say the golden years are starting when the fun begins, then their golden years and the greatest adventure of their life start right now…

Chevy not ordered, that’s another surprise of this pilot season. I really liked the script, that I found funny and sweet, and more importantly it seemed to be a perfect fit with the other comedies ABC already has on the air and distinctive enough not to be just The Middle 2.0 or something. Since ABC decided to keep its Wednesday intact and give The Muppets a try, there was simply not a place for it anywhere on the schedule. And I’m glad ABC chose The Real O’Neals over Chevy! But last year or the year before last year, I’m sure Chevy would have made it. It’s unfair.

 

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9. THE CURSE OF THE FUENTES WOMEN (NBC)

When Salvador, a magical and mysterious young man inexplicably emerges from the ocean during a violent storm, he breathes new passion into the lives of the Fuentes women who own a Cuban restaurant on Miami Beach: the beautiful but lonely Lola, who instantly falls in love with him, her mother Esperanza, who’s losing her mind since she’s been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer, and her troubled daughter Soledad, who’s secretly pregnant. The curse that ruined their lives for so long finally breaks…

Blindspot, The Player, Game Of Silence, Chicago Med, Shades Of Blue… NBC went with very serious dramas this year (but some are entertaining too) while the lighter series are represented by the outdated Heartbreaker. The Curse of the Fuentes Women from Ugly Betty‘s creator was ridiculously fun and hot and really worth a try. I think they made a mistake, but it seems they only do that now. Mistakes. And the same ones over and over again. Their loss! Warner Bros. is trying to sell it elsewhere. Not easy. ABC doesn’t need it and it’s the only place I can see it go.

 

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10. NERD HERD (ABC)

Through a combination of genetics and dynamic home schooling, Kip and Mona Lisa Mitchell find themselves raising extraordinarily intelligent kids. When Kip returns home from the military to be a stay-at-home dad, he experiences firsthand the challenges of parenting kids who have genius IQs but limited life and social skills, especially in the Orange County, where looks is the only religion…

I don’t know what happened with this one. I was really high on it after reading the script and I was pretty sure it was a safe bet. As I already said about Chevy, there was just not enough space for it on the schedule but it seems like it was never considered as having a real shot. Maybe they didn’t find the right actors for the children and ultimately the result was bad because of that. Or it’s something else. That being said, I’m still annoyed by the fact FOX didn’t keep it for themselves (it was 20th Century FOX Television produced). How come they are not able to find one broad comedy for them while they produce Modern Family for ABC or now Life In Pieces for CBS? It doesn’t make sense.

 

BONUS : CHEERLEADER DEATH SQUAD (The CW)

A disgraced CIA agent-turned-teacher at an elite Washington D.C. prep school realizes that his students have high-level access through personal connections. So he trains a select few to be his eyes and ears into the world of international espionage and help him earn his way back into the agency.

The surprising order of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, originally set up at Showtime, is probably what doomed the Marc Cherry’s show in the end, whereas it seemed like a sure thing for a longtime. I haven’t read it so I won’t elaborate on it but among the DC Comics’ series it would have been a fun breath of fresh air…

CBS | 2015/2016 Pilot Season: The Best & Worst

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Before CBS reveals its new schedule next Wednesday, here’s the best & worst of their pilot season ! Just my humble opinion.

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DRAMAS

1. LFE – Officially Dead

“Shares some DNA with Grey’s Anatomy but just the right amount. The resident characters are fresh and a lot of fun (…) It feels cable-y, not network-y. That’s why I don’t think CBS will go for it. And that’s sad, ‘cos it’s the best.” Full preview here

2. FOR JUSTICE – Officially Dead

“No other pilot this season resonates more with what’s happening right now in the United States than For Justice (…)  I wish it were less academical, more serialized too, funnier maybe because it’s deadly serious for the most part, but for what it brings to the table in terms of debate and diversity, without being too sanctimonious, it has to go to series.” Full preview here

3. CODE BLACK – Ordered to series

“Honestly, the script is a page-turner, I was hooked! But it also felt a lot like an high-octane episode of Grey’s Anatomy (…) Code Black is not new, and not particularly modern either (…) lacks a sense of humor.” Full preview here

4. SNEAKY PETE – Officially Dead

“this show imagined by David Shore & Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston doesn’t try to be all shiny and beautiful. It’s not as dark and dirty, but it’s not your smooth cop show with sexy people investigating and/or dying (…) The pilot’s one is kind of funny and action-packed and sets up an efficient template that could work for years.” Full preview here

5. LIMITLESS – Ordered to series

“it’s a police procedural in the end, but with a greater mythology and a science-fiction twist that helps making it special (…) I didn’t fall in love with Limitless but I recognize the script has great qualities and there’s an evident potential here. It may even be a better TV show than a movie.” Full preview here

6. DOUBT – Officially Dead

” Doubt has been created by two ex-writers and producers of Grey’s Anatomy, and it shows. Doubt is soapy (…) Doubt is your classical legal drama with two prominent cases dealt with in the pilot episode. They are not particularly original but they do the job efficiently (…) a decent but shy show developed by/for the wrong network.” Full preview here

7. RUSH HOUR – Ordered to series

It’s exactly what you think it is. What you expect is what you get. It’s funny, for those who like that kind of humor (…) The first Rush Hour movie came out in 1998! You can’t make the same shit as a TV series almost 20 years later and expect the same result and the same welcome from the audience.” Full preview here

 

Not reviewed: SUPERGIRL – Ordered to series

Not reviewed: CRIMINAL MINDS: BEYOND BORDERS – Ordered to series

 

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COMEDIES

1. LIFE IN PIECES – Ordered to series

“an uneven but quite good script… but for a show launched 6 years ago, before Modern Family arrives. CBS has definitely found something that looks like a hit, with a terrific cast, but in my opinion, they missed an opportunity to be relevant about diversity. It was the perfect vehicle for it.” Full preview here

2. AMY FROM HELL – Ordered to series

“Not as profound as Mom, not as funny as 2 Broke Girls, but surely an interesting take on women-centric sitcoms. But why isn’t it a multicamera?! Didn’t find the pilot great but I feek like there’s a real potential behind. It could become a must-see, and the fact that the unlikely pair is played by Jane Lynch & Maggie Lawson makes it a safer bet.”

3. UNTITLED O’SHANNON & WARREN PROJECT – Officially Dead

“Very much in the vein of How I Met Your Mother -with Adam Brody playing some sort of cuter version of Ted Mosby, still hopelessly romantic- it takes place at three different times of the characters’s lives, so it’s a real challenge, one that I would like CBS to risk. They need something like this for the younger demo. And it’s funny too, by the way” 

4. SUPER CLYDE – Officially Dead

“Quite liked the first version. Quite satisfied with the second one, even though I didn’t feel like there was such an improvement (and we lose the sister character that I found great). Still doesn’t think Greg Garcia’s style fits with CBS’s but if they are willing to give it a chance with this new cast that looks more attractive, then try it!”

5. THE HALF OF IT – Has a shot

“Too classical, but that may be its force. It’s the only multicamera worth a try at CBS this season. And it works mostly.” 

6. HAPPY LIFE – Officially Dead

“Didn’t like it first, the Joe character was just too happy for my taste, but it’s the secondary characters that made it work somehow along the way. Pretty pleased that I’ve read it in the end, but not sure I would have watched it.

7. UNTITLED TOMMY JOHNAGIN PROJECT – Officially Dead

“Generic, didn’t make me laugh once… No need to say more!”

 

Not read: TAXI-22 (2015 version) – Officially Dead

 

What pilots are you rooting for?

“Code Black” Vs “LFE” (CBS) pilot previews: is one of them the next great medical drama we’re all waiting for?

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CODE BLACK

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Written & produced by Michael Seitzman (Intelligence). Co-produced by Ryan McGarry, Marti Noxon (Buffy, Angel, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee) & Linda Goldstein Knowlton. Directed by David Semel (Madam Secretary, Dr House, Heroes, Person of Interest). For CBS, ABC Studios & CBS Television Studios. 66 pages.

Description: In the busiest and most notorious ER in the nation – LA County Hospital – the extraordinary staff confronts a broken system in order to protect their ideals and the patients who need them the most. Leanne Royer, a force of nature and a force to be reckoned with, is in charge of four residents who are getting their first taste of ER medicine. She’s here to mentor, teach and… terrify them, while the hospital is in code black almost every day…

With Marcia Gay Harden (Into the Wild, The Newsroom, Damages, How to Get Away With Murder, 50 Shades of Grey), Bonnie Somerville (The OC, Friends, NYPD Blue, Cashmere Mafia), Ben Hollingsworth (The Joneses, Cult), Raza Jaffrey (Smash, Homeland, Sex & The City 2), Luis Guzman (Oz, How to Make it In America), Melanie Kannokada (The Brink)…

LFE

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Written & produced by Paul Downs Colaizzo. Co-produced by David Marshall Grant (Nashville, Brothers & Sisters, Smash) & Dan Jinks (Pushing Daisies, Big Fish, American Beauty). Directed by David Slade (Twilight, Hannibal, Powers, 30 Days of Night). For CBS, CBS Television Studios & Dan Jinks Co.

Description: Joe, Ryan, Chelsi, Trevor Mae & Anj are New York City’s wildest, brilliant and most promising doctors. As they start their second year of residency in the city’s most prestigious hospital, they attempt to balance their god complexes with their humanity. Julie, their den mother, give them guidance in their lives and share with them the relationship she wishes she had with her own children…

With Melissa Leo (Fighter, Prisoners, Frozen River, Treme, Wayward Pines), Daniel Sharman (Teen Wolf, The Originals), Andy Mientus (Smash, The Flash), Luke Slattery, Ana Kayne (Another Earth), Reed Birney (House of Cards, The Blacklist), Annie Funk (A Most Violent Year)…

 

CBS President Nina Tassler made it clear a few months ago at the TCAs: she is determined to add a medical drama to her fall line-up, a genre she never had a success with since she got the job. Nobody can or want to remember her previous attempts, but let me refresh your memory: there were Three Rivers & Miami Medical in 2009, A Gifted Man in 2011 and countless pilots that didn’t make it to series, like Only Human last year. To be fair, they were not that bad. But they failed to resonate with an audience. To make sure they find the right one this time, she and her drama team developed a ton of them: two made it to pilot stage, Code Black & LFE, while other two -an untitled project by Parenthood‘s Sarah Watson & Jason Katims and Austen’s Razor– were close but ultimately didn’t make it. It’s safe to say one of them will be on the schedule, but it’s hard to predict which. They are both strong contenders, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I have my favorite, but I’m not sure it’s the perfect one for CBS…

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I’ll start with Code Black which, I predict, is the most likely to get the chance to shine. The ABC Studios co-produced drama comes from Michael Seitzman, a man who, over the years, wrote several pilots that never aired like Empire State, House Rules or Americana, all of them being very different – family soaps, political drama- and efficient but too close to home, too classical. Then came police procedural Intelligence, which was kind of original -for those haven’t seen Chuck– but painfully bad. With Code Black, he seems at ease. Honestly, the script is a page-turner, I was hooked! But it also felt a lot like an high-octane episode of Grey’s Anatomy. You know, one of those when there is a minor catastrophe that makes every doctor rushing around the hospital because there are too many patients to treat at the same time. And I looove Grey’s Anatomy from the bottom of my heart, for 10 years now. And the show is still good, but it’s another subject. The thing is, I totally understand why ABC didn’t keep it for themselves: they already have Grey’s Anatomy, they surely don’t need Code Black. And I’m not sure CBS needs it either because the audience doesn’t. Of course, the Shonda Rhimes drama will die, sooner or later, but the next great medical drama can’t be a copy of it, as Grey’s found success exactly because it was not a copy of ER. They took the best part of it to create something new and modern. Code Black is not new, and not particularly modern either.

For those who wonder what a “code black” is, here is the answer, explained during the first scene: “it’s in an emergency room an influx of patients so great that there aren’t enough personnel or resources to treat them all. The average urban ER is in code black 5 times per year. LA County Hospital is in code black 300 times per year“. It means there will be one in almost every episode, that’s the promise they implicitly make. And it’s one the writers will be able to keep but not without the same damages as in the pilot: every character gets a very short time to connect with the audience at a personnal level. We don’t know much about the residents at the end of the pilot and I’m afraid it will be hard to explore all of them equally with all the action going on (they can’t even find time to hook up somewhere). However, for now, Leanne (played by the GREAT Marcia Gay Harden) and Christa (Bonnie Somerville) are the one getting all the attention. They’re interesting, they are great characters in theory, but you cannot think about anyone else than Miranda Bailey for the first one and a mix of several female characters from Grey’s Anatomy for the latter. The interactions between Leanne and the residents work the same way as with Bailey and her residents in the ABC pilot (or Annalise Keating and her students in How To Get Away With Murder). It’s disturbing. And Code Black lacks a sense of humor. There are failed attempts then no attempts at all at some point. The medical cases are moving, but it feels like we’ve already seen them a thousand times.

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LFE also shares some DNA with Grey’s Anatomy but just the right amount. The resident characters are fresh and a lot of fun: they drink, they dance, they partyyy; they joke, they poke fun at each other; they seduce; they pee on the sidewalk at night and are sent to prison for that; and of course, they are very good job at their job. Most of them are cocky, something that can be upsetting sometimes, but they are flawed characters and we’re instantly and quite subtly exposed to their own personal demons. Joe has a family to take care of since his mom died: his father is seriously sick and his brother does a huge load of nothing. Honestly, he seems a little boring but he does something very disturbing at the end of the pilot that could change that. Anj is a party girl, sexually open minded, who hides who she really is to her very traditional Indian parents who are looking for a husband for her to marry. Chelsi is the baby of the group, she’s kind of genius, she’s only 24, and she’s socially awkward, obsessed by her cases and probably still a virgin. Ryan is the hot bad boy and Mae, the Jennifer Lawrence kind of girl, fun and messy. Finally, Trevor is the nice guy that tries to look cool but almost always fail. All of them already know each other since it’s their second year of residency, and some of them even met at medical school a few years ago. We could have felt excluded from these guys that are already friends but we don’t. That’s where the writer does a brilliant job: we quicky feel like part of the team!

What makes the show different from Code Black and closer to ER is the fact that we spend a lot of time outside of the hospital’s walls: especially in New York’s finest night clubs, in the streets -I already talked about the peeing scene- and in their apartments. With the pilot being shot in Big Apple, and probably the rest of the series if it’s picked up, it really makes a difference in terms of settings and atmosphere. It’s cooler and lighter but, at the same time, there is a lot of darkness coming out of the characters -I’m also thinking about Melissa Leo’s Julie, who looks depressed- and from the situations. Drugs and alcohol are involved in the opening scene. Then there’s an arm roberry that ends up in a bloodbath. The surgery scenes are graphic. Take a look at how the writer describes the show at the beginning: “this is a stylized series. It’s badass. It’s heightened“. And he goes far then saying, and I quote: “Imagine Quentin Tarantino’s name on the title page somewhere“. It’s a little too much, dear newcomer Paul Downs Colaizzo. But you already know how to sell your script! And apparently, it worked! Instead of Tarantino, he got David Slade as a director. And it’s not bad. This man’s behind Hannibal. “Stylized”, he knows to handle it. But can CBS handle it? That’s the real question here. It feels cable-y, not network-y. That’s why I don’t think CBS will go for it. And that’s sad, ‘cos it’s the best.

While Code Black can go anywhere in CBS’s schedule, after NCIS, Scorpion or Criminal MindsLFE seems to be bound to Sundays, the “prestige night” of the network, alongside soon-to-conclude The Good Wife and Madam Secretary. Anywhere else, it will probably bomb. That doesn’t mean Code Black WILL work, but it’s fast-paced, action-packed and sweet at times. Both of them can attract the young demo, but LFE has the edge over Code Black thanks to younger (and cuter) characters and a more modern feel, but its stylized look can also scare people and that makes it a dark horse for a pick-up to series. My heart is saying yes to LFE. But my crystal ball is all about Code Black. We’ll see in a few weeks how things turn out… And to answer loud and clear the question asked in the title of the article: none of them will be the next great medical drama in my opinion. But you never know…