Tag: mark gordon

The Rookie (ABC) pilot preview: Richard Castle is dead, give a warm welcome to John Nolan!

Written and executive produced by Alexi Hawley (Castle, Body Of Proof, The Unusuals). Also produced by Mark Gordon (Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Quantico, Designated Survivor), Nathan Fillion, Michelle Chapman & Jon Steinberg. Directed by Liz Friedlander (The Following, Stalker, Conviction). For ABC Studios & The Mark Gordon Company. 61 pages. Revised Network Draft 1/21/18.

Description: John Nolan is the oldest rookie in the LAPD.  At an age where most are at the peak of their career, Nolan cast aside his comfortable, small town life and moved to L.A. to pursue his dream of being a cop. Now, surrounded by rookies twenty years his junior and ruthless training officers , Nolan must navigate the dangerous, humorous and unpredictable world of a “young” cop, determined to make his second shot at life count…

With Nathan Fillion (Castle, Desperate Housewives, Buffy, Firefly), Afton Williamson (The Night Of, Banshee, The Breaks), Melissa O’Neil (Dark Matter, Rogue), Eric Winter (Witches of East End, Brothers & Sisters, The Mentalist), Richard T. Jones (Amy, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Criminal Minds), Alyssa Diaz (Ray Donovan, Zoo, Army Wives), Mercedes Mason (Fear The Walking Dead)…


You’ll like it if you already like: Castle, Rookie Blue, The Good Doctor, 9-1-1…

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10, Tuesday at 10, Wednesday at 10 – wherever


This pilot season, ABC has one big obsession: their next crime drama hit! It’s been almost two years now that Castle is gone and no replacement has been found yet. (#RIPConviction) What better way to do so than hiring back Castle last showrunner Alexi Hawley & ex-Castle star Nathan Fillion? Seems almost too easy, right? They ordered The Rookie straight-to-series in a competitive situation with no script ready yet, just those names and a big producer attached they’re used to work with: Mark Gordon. It happened the same way for Designated Survivor not so long ago, with mixed results. It’s always a risky move but they got lucky this time: it’s a convincing one, totally on brand with the Alphabet network, as a light fare they’re craving for right now. And it’s the kind of show that they could put in any slot, it’d have a real chance to find its audience. From where we are now -far from the may upfronts- it already looks like a winner to me.

The Rookie works a bit like The Good Doctor initially -which can’t be a bad thing- since John Nolan is put in a similar situation than Shaun Murphy: he’s the odd man out in a place he’s not familiar with where a lot of people don’t want him there for various reasons… so they treat him like shit. Nolan is not autistic and doesn’t have any syndrome that makes him brilliant. He’s just “old”. Old means he may be wiser than his new colleagues twenty years younger than him thanks to his “life experience”, as they say politely. But his age doesn’t prevent him from being fearless and having a bit of fun when needed. His secret weapon? He’s more interested in the people he’s helping than the other rookies who are very much focused on themselves and how they perform. They certainly have to teach him a few things though, and not just about what music he should listen to. The personal story of Nolan is a bit emotional since he’s just been through a divorce while his son has gone to college. He needed to reinvent itself, to pursue his dream and he’s basically telling us that it’s never too late. That’s inspiring and it will strike a chord with the viewers I guess. He’s exactly doing what few people dare in real life. How could you not root for him?

Even though Nolan is at the center of the show, it works mostly as an ensemble -very diverse by the way- with scenes without him. His fellow rookies have their own set of stories and challenges. Lucy Benitez is trying to prove that she can do the job despite people looking down on her for being a woman and Latina, while Jackson West is the son of a high ranking officer following in his family’s footsteps who doesn’t seem to be ready for the high-pressure he’s exposed to. They’re all assigned to a training officer and it’s always a pair of a woman and a man, which is interesting since we don’t get to see very often women teaching men on television. It creates different dynamics. Talia Bishop is a newly promoted training officer whose first assignment is Nolan; Tim Bradford is an overbearing and not nice one paired with Lucy; and Angela is a no nonsense korean american who’s hard on Jackson but it’s just what he needs. They all have tough first days: Nolan sees someone getting killed; Jackson unnecessarily tase a homeless person, Lucy is being tested at every turn by Tim like she can’t be trusted. But don’t worry: it’s mostly a lot of fun. They tease each other all the time, there’s always someone to crack a joke here and there. ABC labels it as “comedic” and they’re not lying.

The Rookie shares some DNA with another hit of this season: FOX’s 9-1-1. Forget Ryan Murphy’s extravaganza, they’re trying to be more realistic and true to what’s really happening in the streets of L.A, though some cases are more spectacular or emotional than others. I don’t know about their exact action perimeter but they can be visiting a poor neighborhood in one scene and Hollywood Boulevard in another. But don’t expect any investigation here. They’re not detectives. They’re cops. And not cops who investigate. They get a call, they drive, they run, they catch the bad guys. It’s a lot of action and adrelanine, it’s fast paced and you never have time to get bored (Fillion will need to get in shape or he’ll look ridiculous). You go from one mission to another, from one team to another; and the last mission of the pilot reunites them all in a grand finale. You get to know the characters through their missions, but also with what’s happening before and after, and when they’re not working. That’s how a few soapy elements are introduced. For example, they avoid the traditional and very Castle-like “partners who are falling in love” since we discover late in the episode that Nolan & Lucy are sleeping together, not Nolan & Talia. We can call it a secret relationship, even if it’s mostly about sex for now. There’s just one thing that I don’t like about this: it’s once again about an older man being with a younger woman. That trope is tiring… But I’m confident they’ll play with it more than just using it since they seem to be determined to make something modern.

Why did ABC pick up so many crime drama pilots when they already have straight-to-series The Rookie? Of course, you can never be 100% sure a promising script will turn into a good pilot and then become a hit, they know better than that, but it’s not that hard to see that the Nathan Fillion-starrer has all it takes to become one. It’s fresh, funny and actiony, with characters you instantly care about. So I’ll start my new series of “pilot preview” articles with a bold prediction: The Rookie is ABC’s next international hit!

Las Reinas (ABC) pilot preview: Not soapy enough

Positively Miami“. Written and produced by Dean Georgaris  (Paycheck, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life). Executive produced by Mark Gordon (Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Quantico, Designated Survivor), Chris Brancato (Narcos) & Nick Pepper. Directed by Liz Friedlander (Conviction, Stalker, 90210). For ABC Studios, EOne & The Mark Gordon Company. 59 pages. Network Draft 5. 1.25.17.

Description: Detective Sonya De La Reina is forced to confront her past when a case compels her to reconnect with her estranged family, especially her grandmother Gabriella, the head of the most powerful criminal outfit in Miami. Thrust back into the world she thought she had left behind, Sonya must walk the murky line between the law and her family, and question her true destiny as a De La Reina…

With Daniella Alonso (Animal Kingdom, Being Mary Jane, Revolution, Friday Night Lights), John Corbett (Northern Exposure, Sex & The City, Parenthood, United States of Tara), Matthew Davis (The Vampire Diaries, Cult, Damages, What About Brian), Sonia Braga (Aquarius, Luke Cage, Alias), Amanda Warren (The Leftovers), Eric Winter (Days of Our Lives, Brothers & Sisters, Witches of East End), Shalim Ortiz (Heroes, Magic City)…


You’ll like if you already like: Queen of the South.

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9, Monday at 10, Wednesday at 10


Writer Dean Georgaris is a lucky and supposedly talented guy. The two scripts he wrote this year got a pilot order: the military drama For God and Country at NBC and Las Reinas at ABC, two very different beasts. Years ago, he created Clementine, already for ABC, an intriguing show centered on a girl who discovers she has psychic powers. It was good and this close to get a series order. Maybe he’s about to get his revenge, though I feel like the alphabet has way better and more fitting options than this crime drama set in Miami –which is kind of exotic- originally developed in 2015-2015 when they were not looking for any procedural. Now they are, but Deception or The Trustee are stronger.

Even though the pitch indicates Las Reinas may be a soap –the classic story of a girl who abandoned her wealthy family a long time ago (six years precisely) but who has no other choice but to reconnect with them- it’s not. There are elements, yes. Like the grandmother who’s evil. I’d be glad to watch the incredible Sonia Braga playing this part. Think Madeleine Stowe in Revenge as Victoria Grayson. Gabriella de la Reina is the same kind of cruel queen. She looks lovely and stunning for her age (she’s 66), everybody in the community thinks she’s the most generous woman on earth, but in fact she’s a ruthless bitch and a murderer. I would want her funnier, so at least the show gives us a good guilty laugh, but she’s just mean and that’s it for now. Every time the show has the opportunity to go full soap, it just looks the other way. No OMG moments or edge of your seat scenes. No emotional stuff either. It’s a pity. ABC viewers would be more likely to give it a chance if it were soapier.

It’s mostly about the investigation –a missing girl, of course- and establishing our heroine as a no-nonsense badass cop who doesn’t follow the rules because she has a great instinct and people around her who are ready to forgive her behaviour as long as she saves the day. Exactly as the other ABC pilot The Trustee, but at least this one’s fun. And she has a partner, a new one, she’s not fond of. How surprising. He basically follows her everywhere but doesn’t add much to the mix. He’s bland. There was no time to give him something interesting to play it seems. There are other cops we don’t care about and Sonia’s ex-partner, who’s now her boss. There’s a nice potential there. But it’s a procedural so we’ll have to wait before they find the time to make something out of it.

There’s nothing even remotely fresh in Las Reinas, nothing that really makes you want to come back, unless you’re craving for one another crime procedural about a formidable detective with a difficult past. The criminal family angle is the only thing that could have made the difference but it’s not convincing and important enough in the pilot. It’s a CBS show lost in the ABC development slate. It was not good enough in 2014. It’s still not good enough in 2017. Adiós.

Conviction (ABC) pilot preview: From Agent Carter to Carter Morrison, Hayley Atwell slays!


Created & executive produced by Liz Friedman (Jessica Jones, Dr House, Elementary). Directed & executive produced by Liz Friedlander (Stalker, The Secret Circle). Also produced by Mark Gordon (Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, Quantico) & Nick Pepper. For ABC, ABC Studios, The Mark Gordon Company & Entertainment One. 65 pages.

Description: Carter Morrison, the brilliant but ne’er-do-well daughter of a former President, is blackmailed into taking a job as the head of Los Angeles’ newly created Conviction Integrity Unit. She, along with her team of lawyers, investigators and forensic experts, work together to examine cases where there’s credible suspicion that the wrong person may have been convicted of a crime…

With Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter, The Prisoner 2009, The Pillars of Earth), Eddie Cahill (CSI New York, Friends, Under The Dome) , Shawn Ashmore (The Following, X-Men, Quantum Break), Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead, Masters of Sex, the Knick), Manny Montana (Graceland, South Beach), Daniel DiTomasso (Witches of East End)…

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Of course, this Conviction ABC pilot has nothing to do with the NBC 2006 short-lived Law & Order:SVU spin-off series of the same name. I dunno if they plan to change the title at some point but if they don’t, it shouldn’t be a problem. Who remembers the other show? For starters, I have to answer your burning questions about this Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) at the center of the story, ‘cos I’m sure you have a ton of them. First and foremost, yes it does exist in real life. In L.A. but also in some other cities (Dallas, Baltimore, New Orleans, New York, Chicago…). For how long? It’s pretty recent actually. The L.A. office only opened last year for instance. In 2007 for Dallas. Does it work? That I don’t know, but based on a few articles I read on the internet, this effort got a reasonable amount of fanfare and also a bit of skepitiscim. Finally, is it worth making a TV show about it? I’d say yes. At least by judging this pretty decent pilot script.

Have you ever heard the term “charactercedural”? That’s the word Dick Wolf used to describe his Conviction when it launched and that’s a word I will use to describe this one as well, and many pilots this season, so it seems. It basically means a procedural that deals extensively with characters’ back stories and personal lives. Scandal started as such, before it became less and less procedural and heavily serialized. Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise also works this way. That being said, it’s mostly a matter of dosage. Straight procedurals don’t exist anymore but CBS shows like Criminals Minds, CSI:Cyber or Scorpion tend to rely on the serialized elements much less. And for a very good and not artistic reason: it sells better in syndication. It’s easier for reruns. My comparison with Scandal is not an innocent one. In many ways, Conviction resembles the Shonda Rhimes show. At least what it was at the beginning. It has something to do with the political background but not only.

I know some of you hated the first version of Scandal. I thought it had a big potential and hopefully they did the right thing making it bolder, louder, kinkier after a few episodes. I feel the same way about Conviction at this point. It has what it takes, the characters it needs, to become exciting and even addictive, but as of now, the pilot is too sober and too flat. It’s fast-paced and there are funny moments, because those guys are funnier than expected, but they lack eccentricism in my opinion. And our heroin, Carter Morrison, tries too hard being cool and detached. Plus, she’s too buzzy being sexy. Olivia Pope is sexy because she is. Because Kerry Washington is. Not because the writers absolutely wanted her to be. Let Hayley Atwell being her sexy self without underlining it with a huge pencil, please. Carter is a rebel with a cause. She doesn’t fight with her legs and fists -she doesn’t have to- but she fights with her words and her attitude. She’s like a more intellectual Jessica Jones (same writer). And she’s a mess. She stands up to her boss. Her family. Her colleagues. Any men. Any women. Everybody.

The rest of the team is composed of Sam Sullivan (Shawn Ashmore), an handsome thirtysomething who was supposed to be the boss of CIU before Carter came out of nowhere; Tess (Emily Kinney), a young blonde paralegal who looks naive but who’s not; Frankie (Manny Montana), the forensics expert, a nerd who went to prison for quite some time; and finally Maxine, an ancient LAPD detective in her forties, who’s as stubborn as Carter. On paper, the dynamics between those five totally work. The case of the week, the first the team has to tackle, is smartly chosen, timely: a black man who may have been wrongly accused of the murder of his girlfriend, 15 years ago. In the show, there’s a different type of suspense than in the vast majority of other legal dramas: it’s not whether the accused will be found guilty or not in the end, since he has already been, but is he REALLY guilty or not… It doesn’t make that huge a difference but in this television landscape filled with this type of shows, any difference is welcome.

The script of Conviction does exactly what a pilot of a “charactercedural” is supposed to: meeting the leader and her team, giving a hint about their respective secrets -cos of course they all do have some- solving the first case in the same fashion as the next 250 episodes -if they’re very lucky- and giving us enough reasons to come back (good dynamics, funny lines, gimmicks…). Check check check. Now, Conviction is left with two choices if it’s ordered to series: staying a bit basic and boring people quickly OR taking the Scandal route. We’re on ABC. I think the right answer is obvious… Hayley Atwell can slay in this. And sometimes, the right actress is just enough to turn something correct into something really good!