Tag: marc webb

Drew (CBS) pilot preview: Nancy is back, older, smarter, sexier and more boring than ever!

Sarah-Shahi-Backgrounds

Gotcha Day“. Created by Joan Rater & Tony Phelan (Grey’s Anatomy, Madam Secretary). Based on Edward Stratemeyer. Directed by Marc Webb (Limitless, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, 500 Days of Summer). Executive produced by Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Harvey Milk, Big Fish), Nick Nantell, Joan Rater & Tony Phelan. For CBS, CBS Television Studios & The Dan Jinks Company. 60 pages.

Description: Now in her 30s, Nancy Grace is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world and grieving the death of her best friend…

With Sarah Shahi (Person Of Interest, Life, Fairly Legal, The L Word), Anthony Edwards (ER, Zodiac, Top Gun), Vanessa Ferlito (24, Graceland, Grindhouse), Steve Kazee (Shameless US), Felix Solis (The Following, The Good Wife), Debra Monk (Grey’s Anatomy, Damages)…

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I’m not very familiar with the iconic Nancy Drew character -never read any book, never seen any movie or series about her- but I’m pretty sure that what CBS is doing with this version is wrong and not respectful to the spirit of the original idea. What made it fresh and different at the time was that the heroine was a 16-year-old teenage girl solving mysteries. Not a big boy. Not an older woman. Not a professional. Veronica Mars before Veronica Mars. That was the whole point! CBS Television Studios could have turned the cult property into a nice little CW show while keeping the character as a child. But instead, they decided to make of her a 30-year-old detective. Like we already had a million over the years. Sad to say Nancy Drew is not fresh and different anymore. She’s just one more smart cop investigating crimes in New York. Does CBS need her? Not really. Do we? Certainly not! Then why bother?

The first scene of the pilot is exactly what we don’t want to see in detective dramas anymore. How to turn off your TV in 30 seconds. Nancy is driving a Uber -it’s her a job since she left the NYPD- and starts analyzing every detail coming from her client’s look and clothing, just to pass the time and because clearly she can’t help it. In a minute, she’s able to tell her whole story, just because of a stain on her shirt (I’m not kidding). This know-it-all attitude, from The Mentalist to Dr House and recently useless addition Rosewood, has had its day. It’s just irritating now. Not funny anymore. Especially when there’s nothing else to get our teeth into. At least, Lucifer is fucking Lucifer, the Devil! The hero of Forever was immortal. That’s something! But Nancy? Just a sad and angry woman who lost her best friend, Bess -same as in the books, at least they kept the characters- six months ago and who can’t stop thinking about her ever since (the same as Unforgettable‘s heroine with her sister). The girl wrote a suicide note but Nancy is convinced its a fake, that she was murdered. Long story short: she investigates about her suspicious death the whole episode, with the help of her other best friend, George, a lesbian who also happens to be a cop. Of course. And in the end, spoiler alert… they crack the case. How surprising! So now, Nancy is not so sad anymore and she’s even ready to go back to the precinct. Meaning: the next episodes will be even more boring than the first one! You’ve been warned.

The first act is really painful to read. The writers use the laziest way to introduce the story and the characters. Writing for dummies. That’s what it is. I can’t even say it’s efficient. Because it’s not. Who likes watching two people saying things they already know to each other so the viewers can be on the same page? Who likes watching a character saying out loud what we all very well understood, just to make sure we’re not lost because maybe we’re stupid? The other acts are not particularly better but at least they’re a little less predictable. Overall, the investigation is full of plot holes and nonsense. I’m not good at solving mysteries but Nancy didn’t impress me much. Even the dialogues are lazy. Okay, from time to time there is a funny line or a good joke. But the parts where George says “like we learned at the academy” (to underline the fact that she’s a by-the-book cop, contrary to Nancy) or Nance asks “Do I sound like a crazy person?” (as if there was any doubt about it, yes she does!) get excruciating at some point. Plus, everybody in Nancy’s entourage is very practical when you look at it: her father is a lawyer; her ex is a journalist and George’s girlfriend is a doctor. Meaning she will ask for their help every time she needs to. That doesn’t make her a good detective. Just a lucky girl. And where did the feminism of the books go? Still looking for it…

You know what could save Drew from the complete disaster it’s meant to be according to the pilot script? Sarah Shahi! People love her since Person Of Interest (and some of us since Life). It’s true, she’s great. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, she can be funny and badass. She doesn’t really feel like Nancy Drew, at least the idea we have of her, but I’m sure she can do a decent job even with such a poor material. That what she already did with USA’s legal drama Facing Kate a few years ago, actually. But will it be enough? Drew belongs to Lifetime or Hallmark Channel, not to CBS. And the young demo will never watch this. Nancy Drew was a big inspiration for many writers, many shows they created, now she’s obsolete and should stay where she belongs: in our memories. Next year, CBS will probably try to revive “The Famous Five“…

 

“Limitless” (CBS) pilot preview: a high octane thriller for action junkies!

LIMITLESS

Written & produced by Craig Sweeny (Elementary, Medium, The 4400). Co-produced by Bradley Cooper, Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (Fringe, Hawaii 5-0, Scorpion, Stark Trek, Alias), Neil Burger (Limitless, Divergente, The Illusionnist) and many others. Directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man, Lone Star). For CBS, CBS Television Studios, Relativity Television, Yet To Be Named Company & K/O. 63 pages.

Description: Brian Sinclair discovers the power of the mysterious drug NZT and is coerced into using his newfound drug-enhanced abilities to solve weekly cases for the FBI, alongside FBI Agent Rebecca Tate…

With Jake McDorman (American Sniper, Greek), Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), Hill Harper (CSI New York, Covert Affairs), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantiono (Scarface, Abyss, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)…

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CBS has three high profile pilots this year: Rush Hour (Read the preview here), DC Comics’ top secret Supergirl and Limitless, adapted from the 2011 movie with Bradley Cooper. Probably two of them will go to series. Limitless as a TV series sounds a little… limited but hey, it’s for CBS: it’s a police procedural in the end, but with a greater mythology and a science-fiction twist that helps making it special. Yes, I think it’s special even though it reminded me a little bit of Person of Interest and another pilot in contention this year but at FOX: Minority Report. The three gives you the same high voltage of action scenes and twists and turns. You can’t fall asleep watching that and it’s hard looking the other way. But falling in love is another thing…

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. That’s probably one of the arguments the producers gave to CBS while trying to convince them to take a look at this adaptation of a movie that didn’t really work and didn’t become the franchise it was meant to be. Another argument is the one I exposed in an article: the presence of the characters of Eddie Mora, played by Bradley Cooper himself, and Carl, played by the great Robert de Niro (Read the article here). It definitely helps and it’s not just cameos, at least for Cooper. As for the lead role, they chose Jake McDorman, just coming out of successful Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, where he shared scenes with Bradley Cooper. This man’s everywhere! Finally, Jennifer Carpenter tries to find her next adventure since the end of Dexter. It takes time. After two pilots (Sea Of Fire for ABC and Stanistan for USA Network) and right in the middle of a pregnancy, she’s back at work in a role that doesn’t seem very different from her Debra Morgan but people will be happy to see her again. So, Limitless has a lot going on for it.

The first scene and even the first act (the whole pilot ?) is action and action, again and again. And special effects everywhere, ‘cos Brian Sinclair is multiplying in his mind and on our screens thanks to the drug he takes. He can imagine what would happen if he does this or that, so he can observe, for example, that he might be hit by a bus if he chooses to turn right instead of left. Everything that happens in his brain is transcribed with images or his inner voice for us to hear. It’s a lot to take in but it works, on the page. Then it’s the director’s job -and Marc Webb is a good one- and his team to make the most of it in budget. Of course, they will have to relax for the next episodes but it’s doable I guess. What I’m less fond of is the characters’ personal stories. Saying it’s easy would be an understatement. Brian’s father is ill, that’s what motivates him to do all these crazy things and taking so many risks, while Agent Rebecca Tate’s father died of addiction so, of course, this drug and the person who dies because of it feels like her problem too. Lazy writing…

Limitless is the perfect show for CBS: not too risky -a procedural- but a little bit different than what they already have -science-fiction- that can attract the young demo they are desperately looking for. Moreover, it’s a potential companion for Scorpion (they share the same producers!), it’s in-house produced and it has a great international appeal. If the race was not that tight at the network, I’d say it’s a no-brainer…