Tag: megan west

Ghost (The CW) pilot preview: Might as well be called The Conjuring new generation

jess

Created and executive produced by Kevin Williamson (The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer). Directed by David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Containment, The Flash, Arrow, Smallville…). Also executive produced by Lauren Wagner (Stalker, The Following). For The CW, Warner Bros. Television & Outerbanks Entertainment. 58 pages.

Description: In New Orleans, a young woman seeks help from a parapsychologist when she begins to experience paranormal phenomena after she almost died on a car crash one year before. Only to discover he may be a fake one. Together, they embark on an investigation inside a house that is supposed to be haunted…

With Megan West (How to Get Away With Murder), Matt Passmore (The Glades, Satisfaction, Underbelly), Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl, Complications, Kingdom)…

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If you read my review of Time After Time (still here), you already know all the love and admiration I have for Kevin Williamson. Clearly, Ghost is not his best work. It might even be one of his worst. But he’s THAT good that even one of his worst script is not that bad after all. I get why The CW ordered the pilot, though I’m not sure it would be a good idea to pick it up to series. Can people be that interested in a drama dealing with ghosts and haunted houses every week? I’m not sure. Yes, there was Ghost Whisperer, but it was a police procedural before anything else. It’s not the case here. It could get boring very fast, except if they decide to tackle other kind of supernatural activities at some point. But then, they would lose what makes it special, different. And I don’t see it having 22 episodes per season. It looks very much like a midseason entry, at best. Or it would be perfect for a summer run, but The CW doesn’t do that a lot so far.

Honestly, it’s a tough script to judge on paper. It’s based on suspense, fear. It’s written like a horror movie and Williamson, Scream’s creator, knows a thing or two in that department obviously. But he’s way better when there are serial killers involved. I’m still looking for the thrills. The quality of the final product is highly dependent on the director’s vision and execution anyway. Who happens to be David Nutter here. He’s the Kevin Williamson of the drama pilots’ directors. Everytime he directs one –every year– it’s ordered to series. So there’s every reason to be confident. If the frightening scenes don’t work though, then the whole series is a deadman walking.

It’s very much like The Conjuring in fact, but less efficient and instead of having investigators in their fifties, they are much younger and sexier. Because we’re on The CW. We can’t blame them for that. It’s already a tough sell as it is not to add more difficulties. I’m not a fan of the cast by the way. Matt Passmore is a good actor, but I have a hard time finding Jessica Szohr a good enough co-lead. it’s hard to tell about Megan West, as the heroine. So far, she has only played the dead -but alive in flashbacks- Lila in How To Get Away With Murder. But I’m always game for gingers!

Ghost is very character-driven. They all have a difficult and dark past we’re progressively introduced to. But everything about them is desperately predictable, from their reactions to their decisions, as is the progression of the investigation –and the ghost does everything by himself, they don’t have much work to do– and the twist in the end, that I saw coming since the first pages. And I think everybody will. It makes the whole pilot a bit uncomfortable to read. They withhold an information but we’re not that dumb, we know what’s happening. Weird choice.

I’m surprised to read that Ghost is a strong contender at The CW. So far, it’s the less compelling of the crop in my opinion and it doesn’t have any longtime potential. If they can make the pilot work somehow, I don’t see the series going very far. Too many things are missing and there’s no real argument to come back to it…

“Kingmakers” (ABC) pilot preview: “Revenge” 2.0, for real!

KIngmakers

Written & produced by Sallie Patrick (Revenge, Dirty Sexy Money, Life Unexpected). Co-produced by Jay Beattie & Dan Dworkin (Revenge, Criminal Minds, Cold Case). Directed by James Strong (Broadchurch, Gracepoint, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey). For ABC & ABC Studios. 57 pages.

Description: Eli, a young man whose sister is found dead during her freshman year at an elite Ivy League university adopts a new identity -Jacob- to infiltrate the school and its century-old secret society called Skull & Key, consisting of privileged students, ambitious faculty, and high-profile alums – in order to investigate her death… 

With Gus Halper, Adrian Pasdar (Profit, Heroes, Amy, Agents of SHIELD), Kristin Bauer Van Straten (True Blood, Once Upon a Time), Parminder Nagra (ER, The Blacklist Alcatraz), Colm Feore (The Borgias, Revolution, Thor), Tracey Fairaway, Nick Eversman (Missing), Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries, Cane, The Riches), Megan West (How to Get Away With Murder), Khary Payton

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This is not a story of forgiveness…” Remember these lines? They’re iconic. They’re from Revenge‘s pilot. They are used the exact same way in Kingmakers‘ pilot. And you know why? Because Kingmakers is basically Revenge 2.0. It’s what Revenge‘s season 2 should have been if ABC didn’t decide to pursue Emily’s quest throughout the whole show instead of sticking to the plan and having a new revenge every season like the creator intended to in the first place (before being “let go”, as they say). Now, Revenge has largely outstayed its welcome, digging deeper and deeper its grave with stupid and/or overly complicated storylines and dull characters. ABC finally decided to pull the plug. In fact, they asked the writers to wrap up the damn thing. Which is the same even if the show isn’t officially canceled yet. So, tireless fans, don’t expect a 5th season, even shortened. The best hope you can have now is Kingmakers going to series. ABC could even change the title to… Revenge: Kingmakers. But I really don’t think they should do that. There should be no such thing as a Revenge franchise. Too little too late!

That being said, the ties with Revenge are more than obvious in the script: they are totally assumed! “Revenge” is the word that ends the first act (bold and underlined!) and then even ends the whole pilot! Sallie Patrick, the creator (and producer on Revenge), writes at the beginning: “We’re not in the Hamptons anymore“. She built up the show around the same structure -a quote to start, then the voiceover from the hero telling his tale, a flashforward, later on he even circles the head of his first target on a photograph, Emily style…), except the setting has changed and the characters are not the same. Well, they don’t have the same names and they’re not played by the same actors, but they’re pretty much the same actually. The Vandeermeers are like the Graysons: a rich power couple who toy with everybody including their own children. They have affairs, they kind of love/hate each other, and they’re linked to the death of the hero’s sister. We don’t know yet how. I’m pretty sure Colm Feore and Kristin Bauer will be a delight to watch doing that. Adrian Pasdar, as a Senator (This man will never play a “normal” guy!), will be great too. Our hero, Jacob/Eli is like Emily/Amanda: dark, determined, consumed with hate, but pretty and cheerful on the outside. He’s a smart young man gone bad. I could compare every Kingmaker‘s character to its Revenge counterpart but I guess you get the idea.

You probably understood that I’m not a big Revenge fan. In fact, I liked the pilot. I was full of hope. I appreciated the first season, even if I had a lot of doubts regarding the future of the show. And then I hated it until I stopped watching after the season 3 finale. If I totally forget the existence of Revenge, then I feel like Kingmakers‘ pilot is a good one. It may even be better than Revenge‘s. Gosh, as you can see I can’t forget Revenge. The thing is the flashforward is a little bit more interesting and doesn’t make the same mistake as Revenge did: there is no doubt about the identity of the person who is dying. And there’s no doubt he’s dead either. That’s when Kingmakers plays the How to Get Away With Murder‘s card: who killed him with an arrow, in front of everyone? And is it the same person who killed Julia (the sister)? Towards the end, there’s an exciting scene about the secret society Skull and key. Boo, the mysterious one. It’s the members all reunited in the tomb, wearing black cloaks in the dark, so we can’t see their faces. You get the chills instantly. But it’s easy and not that original, granted. Remember the movie The Skulls? Still, it works and you want to know more. I fell in the trap again, but this time I won’t stay longer than one season I promise, unless it is really good!

Kingmakers is ABC wanting to recreate the magic they once had with Revenge. It’s not a spin-off, it’s not officially a reboot. It’s the same show but different. You know you’ve seen it before but you don’t really care as long as they keep it entertaining and fresh somehow. Let’s call it a spiritual spin-off! As much as I hate what I’m about to say, I’ll say it: Kingmakers might become a good show so we should not count it out of the race yet. But ABC surely has better & fresher shows in the oven…