Tag: michael cooney

For Love (ABC) pilot preview: Cheesy Magic in New Orleans

Written and executive produced by Michael Cooney (Identity, 6 Souls). Also produced by Kim Moses (Gone, Conviction, Ghost Whisperer) & Ian Sander (Ghost Whisperer, Profiler, I’ll Fly Away). Directed by John Dahl (Kill Me Again, The Looming Tower, Ray Donovan, Justified). For ABCABC Studios & Sander Moses Productions. 59 pages. Revised Network Draft. 1/20/2018.

Description: Five years ago, Hope Castille, a journalist, lost the love of her life, Charlie, also a journalist, in a tragic car accident. Now she is finally ready to move on and has found a new love, Gabriel Dumaine, mayoral candidate and member or the Dumaine family, a historically important family in New Orleans. But when Hope gets a call from Charlie, her whole world is shaken as she is drawn into the underground world of magic in New Orleans…

With Lex Scott Davis (Training Day), Luke Arnold (Black Sails, Glitch), Ethan Peck (10 Things I Hate About You), Jon Ecker (Queen of the South, Narcos), Rachel Skarsten (Reign, Lost Girl), Wolé Parks (Devious Maids, The Vampire Diaries), Chloe Wepper (Liv & Maddie), Isabella Russo

 

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Once Upon A Time, Witches of East End, Revenge…

Likely timeslot : Sundays at 8 (but nowhere to be found is even better)

 

This was a great read, people! A really great read. I devoured it like crazy… and laughed so really hard. It’s like the equivalent of a great page-turner, that you know is, in fact, very bad. You can’t help reading it but a voice in your head tells you “bad bad bad” in a loop. Great read, bad pilot. For Love is quite something. To be honest, it’s not like I expected much from it. Since the logline I knew. I knew they ordered it for bad reasons. Those reasons are still mysterious to me, though. Because I can’t even imagine there was not at least one better and more worthy pilot script than For Love in development. What’s with Michael Cooney exactly? It’s his third pilot pick-up at ABC after Runner in 2015 and Spark in 2016. And well, those two were not great either, but way better than For Love. I don’t want to make any assumptions but there is something really bizarre here… They probably saw it as a potential Once Upon A Time successor. But do they really need one for a show that is currently doing horrendous ratings on friday night? I don’t think so. Let it die and don’t even try to replicate its distant success.

Anyway, yes, it’s as cheesy as the title suggests. That’s not the only problem, though a big one that makes most of the early dialogues completely ridiculous. Cheesy can be charming and comfy. Look at The Good Doctor, ABC’s new hit. It can be sometimes, but it’s okay. Because you care about the characters and because the writing is solid. Other example: long-running Once Upon A Time again. What saved it even when it became really bad? The Disney brand. The famous characters. The nostalgia. There is nothing that can save For Love. Most of the characters are bland, one-dimensional, even the heroine. She has nothing special going for her. Except she’s a journalist, and I can’t think of a lot of journalist characters on broadcast networks right now. Her best friend is, for now, just her best friend. And nothing else seems to be going on in her own life. Uninteresting. The men are love interests, not much more. The dead one is a perfectly annoying prince charming kind of guy, while the alive one is flavorless. Both come off as corny, silly. Maybe the actors can make them more charismatic but it’s not like they chose them for their acting skills… The bitch? It’s soapy so of course there’s a bitch! Not even her can do magic! She’s not a “good” bitch. She’s certainly not nice but her bitchiness is not funny in action.

There’s one character though that I’m in love with. For all the bad reasons. She’s named Marie Jojo. Which is already funny in itself. She’s a 90 year-old woman, trapped in the body of a 12 year-old. Well, it’s more complicated than that but I won’t bore you with the details. Let’s just say the Dumaines are actually immortal voodoo practitioners who transfer their souls from body to body so they can live forever. They adopted a poor child so Marie Jojo, the matriarch, can still make their lives a living hell every damn day! And I can’t wait to watch her scenes if the pilot gets picked-up. I mean, a 12 year-old talking like a mean grandma must be a precious thing to witness. It has every chance to look totally ridiculous! That’s where all the fun is. That’s how For Love must be watched, I guess. As a very guilty pleasure that even Lifetime or Freeform -and they know a thing or two about shitty shows- would even be ashamed to air. But really, that’s where it should end up just in case ABC Studios think that this jewel needs to exist for real. I know I’m very mean right now and I’m sorry for this. But when I get the chance to review something as bad as For Love, I do it with all my heart… and bile acid.

What else can I tell you? There’s a Russian psychic, a weird guy with a skull levitating by his sides, a whole fake circus coming alive with dragons, fire and eveything as part of a magic trick to scare the heroine. Can’t wait for the OUAT special effects team doing their magic! Rival families, a war which is brewing, our little Hope caught in the middle of all this, not knowing what to do and who to believe. But she keeps on moving “FOR LOVE” of course… I give you one thing, only one thing that I like about this script: its setting. New Orleans is not that much used for television shows. The Originals recently, season 3 of American Horror Story… And it’s too bad because there’s a rich history there to delve into. For Love doesn’t even try. There’s a great sense of the geography of the city, the old part of it, the more recent one. But does it say something about it? No. Not yet at least. One character is a candidate for mayor so there could be a political story to tell too. But honestly, will they ever make something out of it? Probably not. That’s not their subject. Their subject is magic. And their love triangle. And a TV show based on a love triangle can’t be good by the way. Love triangles are okay for a few episodes, maybe a few seasons if you’re inspired (Dawson’s Creek dit it, The Vampire Diaries too). But not an entire show.

I took a long hard look at this script. I read it from the first line to the last. I didn’t skip any. And I decided I didn’t want to be a part of it. AT ALL. Even though I shamelessly enjoyed it sometimes. For Love is ridiculous, simply ridiculous. And ABC isn’t that desperate. Nothing would justify a series order. Nothing! I sound very dramatic but I’m appalled by what I just read. If somehow they pick-it up, then it’s dark magic, voodoo dolls, I don’t know, but not the decision made by someone in his right mind. For the love of God, can someone cast a spell to erase it from ABC’s roster? 

Spark (ABC) pilot preview: Can the new Empire be a dystopian steampunk soap?

misfits-antonia-thomas-misfits-d8e553c864151f4e7339ae3e675da549-large-1025959

Created and executive produced by Michael Cooney (Identity, 6 Souls). Directed by James Kent (Testament of Youth, The White Queen, Marchlands). Also exexutive produced by Ian Sander & Kim Moses (Ghost Whisperer, Profiler). For ABC, ABC Studios & Sander/Moses Productions. 58 pages.

Description: It is current day America, but not as we know it. Imagine electricity had never been discovered – in its place, gas and coal run the world and power our everyday devices. Now imagine the amount of power the people who own the gas and coal in this world would command. Two rival families, the Stocktons and the Lavelles, are battling for ages until a rebellious young woman, a tinker named Pin Jones, can level both their empires with a spark of invention…

With Antonia Thomas (Misfits), Regé-Jean Page (Roots, Waterlo Road, Fresh Meat), Tom Brittney (The Five, The Syndicate), Lena Olin (Alias, Welcome to Sweden, The Ninth Gate), Alex Lanipekun (Homeland, 24, MI-5), Austin Hébert, Tracy Ifeachor (The Originals, Crossbones), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Daredevil, ER, Chicago Hope), Rachel Hurd-Wood (Home Fires)…

rate rate rate

Despite the huge success of Hunger Hames worldwide and the honorable results of such movies as Divergent and The Maze Runner –-let’s not forget a few missteps like The 5th Wave recently– the dystopian genre has a hard time existing on television. Which is weird when you think about it since these movies work like series, through multiple episodes and cliffhangers at the end to make you come back the following year. We had The Lottery on Lifetime, if anyone remembers it. Guess not. The excellent The 100 of course. And not much else. Other attempts (The Selection at The CW, Delirium at FOX) were not picked-up to series. And I fear Spark will meet the same end. Even though I’m not totally convinced by its potential, I’d be curious to see what’s gonna happen in case it’s ordered. It could become another huge disappointment like Blood and Oil. Or maybe the new Empire is hiding behind it…

Most of the success of the pilot -a presentation was ordered first but they upped it to a full-length pilot then, which is a good sign– resides in its execution. The setting, the landscapes, as well as the costumes, need to be taken care of properly so that it doesn’t look cheap. The writer has a real vision of how this city and those people should look like in this alternate reality, circa 2016. It’s based on Steampunk, an aesthetic inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. He even offers a “look book” at the end of the script with visuals for cars working with coal cumbustion, underground bar and dance clubs, coffee machines or the heroine’s high heels. They decided to shoot in Prague, Czech Republic, to reduce the costs while most of the cast is coming from Europe, especially the UK. There’s no big name but promising newcomers, like Anthonia Thomas, a mini-Rihanna who was stunning in Misfits. Risky. But in case you haven’t notice, let me break it to you: the show can be labelled as “black”. 5 of the most prominent characters are. Good strategy. ‘cos that’s what it is. I’m probably going too far but imagine ABC slots the show on Wednesday at 10pm after Blackish, when Empire ends on FOX… Wouldn’t it be damn smart? Hire me ABC!

The network describes the show as a lavish primetime soap of passion, greed and hope. It’s true, it is. If it looks new and different from the outside, it’s very classical in the inside. Sometimes, it also feels a bit like a CW show with slightly older characters. Pin Jones is yet another Katniss Everdeen, a whip smart, courageous, independent, kind-hearted girl, soon to be torn between two men and two rival families: her boyfriend Captain Aidan Stockton, a rugged and sexy all man who’s deeply in love with her, he even hides a ring in his drawer; and Alex Lavelle, a more sophisticated handsome man, kind of douchy, who knows exactly who she is when he met her and has an agenda but can’t help liking her more than he should. You get the picture. A good ol’ love triangle. Pin’s mother is dead. Of course. She has a delinquent brother. A loving father. They’re tinkers. So they’re poor. Aidan’s mother is a great bitch. We’ll love hating her. Alex has a brother, who’s a terrible person. And an evil father. And Aidan’s most close friend and colleague happens to be Alex’s brother’s fiancée. Still following? Told you. It really is a soap.

But there’s action too, and many surprises. A few pages in, there’s a huge explosion, that kills someone. And later on, a coal train derails. And other people die. Won’t reveal you more but be sure a lot happens in this pilot. Like… maybe our Pin is on the verge of discovering something huge, that will change the face of humanity as they know it… At first, I had a hard time getting into the script. Those stories about gas and coal are so unsexy and sad. It lacks sparkle, electricity. It takes time before it gets interesting. It takes time before you can connect with the main characters. Too much time probably. But at some point, somehow, it starts to work. And you can see the potential and the emotional strength of this story. It resonates with our past and our present. It’s brighter than it looks. It’s more than a soap.

Spark is certainly a leap of faith for ABC. Sometimes, it’s good to take one. Especially since the network is in a tough situation. Before new boss Channing Dungey gets too scared of screwing her first little victories up –hoping she has some– there’s a window of opportunity to try new things, be bold. Spark is new. Sort of. And bold. A bit. And out of time. Why not giving it a chance? 

“Runner” (ABC) pilot preview: Thrilling ride from San Francisco to Mexico… and then?

RUNNER

Written & produced by Michael Cooney (Jack Frost, The I Inside, Identity). Based on Turkish series Son. Co-produced by Kim Moses & Ian Sanders (Profiler, Ghost Whisperer, Reckless) and Peter Horton (Thirthysomething, Once & Again, Grey’s Anatomy). Directed by Michael Offer (How to Get Away With Murder, Last Resort). For ABC, 20th Century FOX Television & Kim-Moses Productions. 61 pages.

Description: Lauren Marks, a sexy wife, loving mom, and career woman, sees her entire life turned upside down when she drops her husband Adam off at the airport for a work related trip and his flight crashes with no survivors. After a day of devastating grief, Lauren receives a strange phone call: her husband never boarded his flight. Relief turns to suspicion when she begins to realize that Adam may be connected to a dangerous Mexican cartel and an international gun running operation. Lauren quickly finds herself in a world she knows nothing about, where any mistake could turn deadly…

With Paula Patton (Precious, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, 2 Guns, About Last Night), Adam Rodriguez (CSI Miami, Magic Mike, Ugly Betty, Reckless), Brent Sexton (Life, The Killing US, Justified), Courtney Ford (Dexter, True Blood, Parenthood), Chris Johnson (Vampire Diaries, Betrayal), Megan Dodds (MI:5, CSI: New York)…

rate rate rate

I don’t have a good feeling about Runner. Sometimes there’s a pilot script you like but you can’t help thinking that it’s never gonna work once on the air and it’s hard to explain why. That’s the whole idea of trusting your instincts. I doubt that ABC’s president Paul Lee has the same instincts as me -and I’m not saying I’m right and he’s wrong- since the rumours are in favor of Runner: it should be ordered to series. So, I guess it will be a mid-season filler or it could also be eyed for a summer run, best case scenario. In my opinion, the show would be better off the regular schedule. It doesn’t really fit with what ABC already has, it can’t go beyond 13 episodes per season -or go beyond one season in fact- and shows like this one have been tried on the network previously. The stories were different, and the scripts were probably less exciting -or it’s the execution that failed- but they made it to the air anyway and they didn’t work at all. I’m especially thinking of Missing and Red Widow. Strong women who lose a loved one (husband, son…) and end up in big troubles because of the secrets they left behind. Runner also shares some DNA with another ABC pilot this year: Shondaland’s The Catch. But it doesn’t seem to bother anyone so…

I probably seem to be against Runner. But I’m not. Sure, ABC has better things to pick up, but it’s a solid pilot script that embarks us on a thrilling ride. It starts with an excellent scene, a flashforward showing our heroin blinfolded in a dark room, tied up to a chair, while a tattooed man is menacing her with a gun. Then she’s confronted with another woman and they’re told only one of them can survive. There’s a fight, a trigger is pulled and… 63 days earlier begins Lauren Marks’ journey, the day she thought she had lost her husband before discovering he’s not the man she thought he was. Of course, all of this takes time. And it’s breathtaking and exhausting. Sad too. The writer tries to add some emotional moments to the action-packed script but it always seems a little bit rushed. Paula Patton has to be good!

Meanwhile, we’re introduced to Adam’s closest brothers and their wives, while another, Troy (Adam Rodriguez), the black sheep of the family for 10 years, is living in Mexico and will soon have a big role to play in the events. The show starts in San Francisco but in the very end we’re already in Mexico, with Lauren et Troy as the target of a sniper. That’s when she’s told to “Run!” and the title of the show suddenly makes sense. She has done nothing wrong but she’s now a person of interest for drug cartels and very big bad Mexicans guys. As much as I would have liked to compare Runner to Breaking Bad, I won’t. But I’m sure Michael Cooney (and ABC ?) had this example in mind… Oh and I forgot to tell you: initially, the pilot was developed for FOX last year. But since it was about an heroin and they don’t want to have one -look at all of their dramas (or pilots), there is none!- ABC took it instead. I’m not sure it was such a good idea in the first place.

Runner... I don’t know how to conclude this. I don’t know what ABC should do with you… Sure, you have a solid script I couldn’t take my eyes off for a second -even if I wanted to pee badly!- but beyond your pilot I don’t think you can maintain the same level of quality and thrills. Soon enough, you will turn into a ridiculous show with twists and turns that don’t make sense. That’s my biggest fear. You won’t work. You’re not a safe bet. Sorry, but I think ABC should run the other way and never look back.