Tag: melissa roxburgh

Manifest (NBC) pilot preview: “We have to go back”… and they did!

Written and executive produced by Jeff Rake (The Mysteries Of Laura, The Tomorrow People, The Practice). Also produced by Robert Zemeckis (Flight, Cast Away, Back to The Future, Forrest Gump, Tales From The Crypt), Jack Rapke (The Borgias, Allied) & Jackie Levine (Wonder Woman, Justice League). Directed by David Frankel (Collateral Beauty, The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me, Sex & The City). For NBCWarner Bros. Television & Compari Entertainment. 61 pages. 1/03/18 Draft.

Description: a plane disappears from radar and returns five years later after being untraceable and presumed lost at sea. No time has passed for those on the plane but, for their loved ones at home, a long five years have gone by. The series follows their personal lives as well as the larger mystery and purpose that is their destiny…

With Josh Dallas (Once Upon A Time, Zootopia, Thor), Melissa Roxburgh (Valor), J.R. Ramirez (Jessica Jones, Power, Arrow), Athena Karkanis (Zoo, The Expanse), Parveen Kaur (Beyond, Saving Hope), Luna Blaise (Fresh Off The Boat)…


You’ll like if you already like: The Event, FlashForward, The Crossing…

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10 or midseason


Manifest is the perfect example of a waste of a good concept and coming from Robert Zemeckis as an executive producer, it’s even more disappointing. I can’t say I’m surprised, there’s literally no buzz for this pilot since it’s been ordered and the cast they assembled is very weak. I mean no disrespect but when you choose Josh Dallas as your leading man, it means you have a problem somewhere. Even worse: he’s the most famous one here! “Network + High-concept” is probably seen as a recipee for disaster by actors and their agents nowadays and for good reasons. So when your script is not even convincing, you can’t expect much. My theory is simple: Warner Bros. made a strong pitch for Manifest, every network wanted it, NBC won it for a large chunk of money and had to go with a put pilot commitment, and then they had no choice but to order it no matter what. They probably regret it… But hey, maybe I’m totally wrong. Maybe they love it and will give it the best slot they have next year! Who knows at this point?

First, remember ABC also had a similar concept in the works this pitch season, that resonated better with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over the South China Sea more than three years ago. Because that’s probably where those ideas came from. Flight 410, that’s how it was called, was described like this: “after a commercial flight vanishes over the Atlantic Ocean, a disgraced journalist whose wife was on the plane is driven to solve the mystery as he leads an unconventional group with other family members left behind”. It’s a simpler version of Manifest, with the same “Lost in reverse” vibe. And sometimes, simpler is better. Because the problem here is not the plane disappearing or the search for the truth but the fantasy part. The problem is right here, in this precise line: “No time has passed for those on the plane but, for their loved ones at home, a long five years have gone by.” We’re suddenly in Lost meets Resurrection and it’s not a territory we want to explore.

I don’t know if the writer, Jeff Rake, already knows the answer about this mystery -It’d be better if he does- but that simply can’t be answered with a reasonable, scientific or pseudo-scientific explanation. And it creates awkward and predictable and useless moments between the characters. What if they aged too? What if 5 years have gone by for them too? There’d still be the mystery of the sudden departure and it’d be just enough. And oh so you know, the script suggests that the characters are now connected by an invisible force that has a voice that speaks in their heads telling them to do things that help saving other people. Like Michaela warning a bus driver to slow down before hitting a child. It’s uninteresting and already too much! And there’s more! While Michaela visits her old boyfriend, a now married cop, she learns of two children who were abducted. Eventually the voice leads her to rescue the children… Damn. So we’re gonna get a rescue every damn week on top of that?

Also they worked hard to make it a family fare, which is quite an odd fit with the initial thriller concept. I don’t see parents watching this show with their children honestly. So yeah, it’s mostly about a family, the Stark family –Game of Thrones‘ fans are shook- who just wrapped up their family vacation to Jamaica in April 2013. It’s composed of a suburbanite couple in their thirties Ben & Grace and their 10 year-old twins Call, a leukemia patient, and Olive, a rambunctious young girl. They’re accompanied by Ben’s sister Michaela, a dissatisfied clerk at the police station who’s haunted by a past car accident where her best friend died while she was driving. Now she’s an alcoholic and her dream of being a policewoman has been derailed. Ben & Michaela’s parents, Steve & Karen, are also in the plane. Due to an oversold flight, Grace, Olive, Steve and Karen all board the early flight home, leaving Ben, Michaela and Cal to take the later flight. On the second flight, they experience turbulence and when they land, it’s October 2018. Of course things have changed a bit since then like Grace now being a teenage nightmare, Grace “having an affair” with a neighbour and Karen being dead. But apart from Michaela, most of the characters here sound like pains in the ass. Reminded me a lot of FlashForward, which had a better concept but with terrible characters mostly.

The best thing that could happen to Manifest is if it suddenly disappeared from pilot season. Come back in 5 years with a better script and a concept tweaked and we’ll see what we can do with you! There’s certainly something to do around this story, with a conspiracy behind and all, but make it realistic and simpler. Until then, please don’t board this plane NBC!

Valor (The CW) pilot preview: Flying Under The Radar

Written and produced by Kyle Jarrow (Lost Generation). Executive produced by Bill Haber (Beauty and the Beast, Rizzoli & Isles) & Anna Fricke (Everwood, Men In Trees, Wayward Pines). Directed by Michael M. Robin (The Closer, Major Crimes, Rizzoli & Isles, Nip/Tuck). For CBS Television Studios, Ostar Productions & Jaworowski Productions. 61 pages. Draft 02/14/17.

Description: The boundaries between military discipline and human desire are tested on a U.S. Army base that houses an elite unit of helicopter pilots trained to perform clandestine international and domestic missions. A failed mission involving one of the first female pilots in the unit ultimately uncovers layers of personal and government/military secrets and leads to the rescue of a group of MIA soldiers…

With Christina Ochoa (Blood Drive, Matador, Animal Kingdom), Matt Barr (Sleepy Hollow, Hellcats, Harper’s Island), Charlie Barnett (Secrets & Lies, Chicago Fire), Melissa Roxburgh (Arrow, Supernatural), Corbin Reid (How To Get Away With Murder), W. Tre Davis (Shades of Blue), Nigel Thach (American Dreams), Mac Brandt (Kingdom, Colony)…



You’ll like it if you already like: The Unit, Quantico.

Likely timeslot: None.


Every year, there are two or three pilots that I have a really hard time reading until the last page because they’re so boring (and a hard time writing on it subsequently…). And my little experience proved me that a boring script always turns into a boring pilot, no matter what the director or the actors do. The only fact that The CW picked-up Valor to pilot is a mystery. It doesn’t fit with their line-up, it doesn’t correspond to what the majority of their viewers are looking for and well, it’s just not good enough to be granted one in my opinion, especially when you only pick six! So what happened? Still trying to figure this one out.

No big names are attached, unless Beauty & The Beast producer Bill Hader is considered as one at the young-skewing network. And no big The CW star used to make it more appealing. Here’s the only reason I found: the network president Mark Pedowitz has been looking to launch a military-themed series for a long time. Three years ago, he picked up Navy base pilot Company Town (which was slightly better) and he’s the one who launched Army Wives back when he ran ABC Studios. It still doesn’t explain why he thinks it’s a good idea, but at least there’s that. I don’t feel like there are so many military drama amateurs out there but we found one.

Valor is not a soap hidden behind a military drama, in case you were wondering or even hoping. It really is a military drama, heavily serialized, with some unconvincing soap elements and a conspiracy at the center. If you replace the military part with the FBI or the CIA, you get Quantico. Except Quantico‘s pilot script was a thing of beauty in terms of efficiency. Valor‘s can’t compare. Like Quantico, the drama unfolds in the present as well as in flashbacks, which is not a good sign since that’s what killed the ABC show (though it’s not really dead as of now). Honestly, it’s already hard to care about the events happening in the present, so caring about the past is like a suicide mission. Add to the mix a season-long plan about the rescue of a group of MIA soldiers and you get a way too complicated show for an audience who’s not even remotely interested in the first place. No OMG moments to wake you up. No sexy scenes to distract you. Unless you’re really fond of action scenes -there are plenty of it- and a chopper lover, you’re in for a snoozefest.

Valor only has one good thing going for it in fact: its female perspective on a world mostly dominated by men. It centers on Nora, an intense and driven junior Army pilot who is a member of the Night Raiders special ops unit. And though I didn’t fall in love with the character, I still find her interesting and unusual for a female lead. She is partnered with the more experienced Gallo, an aging hipster, and together they fly choppers in and out of the hottest hot spots in the world (but in the show expect the world to look like Atlanta and its surroundings all the time). They share a secret that must never come to the attention of the Army. It is linked to a botched mission in Somalia that left a pair of American servicemen in enemy hands. Even if I wanted to tell you more, I couldn’t. Was too bored to understand what was happening. The other characters are bland. I don’t remember one clearly.

Which network will have the biggest and noisiest military drama? Certainly not The CW! Valor is a weak contender, flying under the radar, ans has very little chance to be ordered to series anyway. Those who are interested by this type of shows are more likely to give a chance to For God And Country at NBC or CBS’ Navy Seal Drama.