Tag: mouzam makkar

The Mars Project (The CW): From the network that brought you The 100

georgina-etait-henrietta-dans-fringe

Also known as “Colony”. Created and executive produced by Doris Egan (Reign, Dr House, Tru Calling, Smallville). Directed by Bharat Nalluri (The 100, MI-5, Emily Owens). Produced by Robert Zotnowski (House of Cards) & Frank Marshall (Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic World, The Goonies). For The CW & CBS Television Studios. 59 pages.

Description: a team of explorers arrive on Mars to join the first human colony on the planet, only to discover that their predecessors have vanished. Led by Gina Nolan, a woman whose husband is among the missing, the colonists are forced to change their mission from exploration and settlement to investigation and survival, while navigating the hostile planet and their own personal demons…

With Georgina Haig (Once Upon A Time, Fringe), Neal Bledsoe (The Mysteries of Laura, Smash, Ugly Betty), Mouzam Makkar (The Vampire Diaries), America Olivo (Degrassi: the Next Generation, Chicago PD), Mark Leslie Ford, Carl Beukes (Dominion), Tongayi Chirisa (Crusoe), Peter Mark Kendall (The Americans, Chicago Med)…

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I remember exactly how I felt when I read The 100 pilot for the first time. I was more than hooked but anxious too. I wanted to watch it right away and see if they were able to deliver. At the time there was nothing like it on the CW. It was ambitious, riveting and exciting. And they delivered. Quite beautifully. It had problems and the next few episodes rode on a bumpy road. It was too Gossip Girl and not enough Lost, too many love stories, not enough adventures. It took time before it got great again. But it did. I can say I’m almost as impressed by the Mars Project pilot script as I was by The 100‘s and the good news is, now I know The CW can meet our expectations with this kind of ambitious tale, and they know what not to do, so this time I’m not anxious, just excited.

It wouldn’t be that interesting to draw comparisons between The 100 and The Mars Project any further. They share some DNA, that’s for sure. They are both offering the exploration of a new and dangerous territory, whether it’s our very own Earth or the Red planet. And luckily for them, New Mexico can pass for it easily. But that’s it. We’re with a group of adult characters here, which is a relief. No stupid teenagers doing stupid things and taking wrong decisions all the time. Adults can be stupid sometimes too but our heroes are not deliquents but intelligent and highly trained individuals, harshly selected for what they can bring to the colony in various areas of expertise. Some of them might be in love, but that’s not the main focus. It just helps bringing more emotion and higher personal stakes.

For those who are allergic to the Shonda Rhimes’ style of storytelling, sorry to tell you writer Doris Egan chose to follow the How to Get Away With Murder/ Quantico trend, at least to introduce the story. Maybe longer. We’ll see. One part of the pilot is told through flashbacks, showing us how our group of very competitive –and young and beautiful– people met during training, how they fell in love –or in hate– how some of them betrayed the others, mostly for the win. It’s very Quantico, but less fun. Entering the FBI academy is not an easy thing to do but leaving for space, colonizing another planet and proving you are able to resist to an incredible amount of pressure without going back, ever, is one other thing. They are put through numerous tests, both physical and psychological. It’s an efficient way to present the characters. They all have at least one thing in common: since they are ready to leave their whole life behind to go to Mars, it means they are damaged one way or another and we’ll find out more about it later. There is a lot to learn about them I guess.

We alternate with scenes in the present day when the mission has already started, at the very moment when everything suddenly goes wrong. Their vessel is litteraly crashing on Mars. There’s nothing they can do to save the day. Some people die. Others are severely injured, like the beauty queen of the show, Chandra Devi, and they now have to walk towards the camp, many miles away. Weird noises and difficult landscapes are part of their journey. And in the end, as the pitch says: when they finally arrive, the first colonists seem to have disappeared. There’s a message on the wall: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust“. And that’s it. It raises many questions without immediate answers: what happened? Was the crash part of the plan? Was it a sabotage? Is there a mole in the group? You see, there is no murder here –yet– but a lot to chew on anyway. It takes a thriller/horror turn that’s very exciting and probably broader than “simple” sci-fi.

Like The CW couldn’t afford to leave The 100 behind after they shot the pilot, they have to give The Mars Project a shot. It won’t be a rattings juggernaut, probably, but a critics favorite and a hell of a ride, I bet it will be. There’s still work to do so we can care more about the characters, who are just outlined for now, but it’s both a character-driven and a plot-driven show and those are the best. 

“Unveiled” (NBC) pilot preview: “Touched by an Angel” all over again

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Written & produced by John Sakmar & Kerry Lenhart (Boston Public, Make it or Break it). Co-produced by Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel, The Bible, A.D. The Bible Continues,The Dovekeepers) & Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, The Shark Tank, The Apprentice, The Bible). For NBC, Universal Television & Lightworks Media. 65 pages.

Description: An ensemble of flawed guardian angels intervene in the lives of those who find themselves facing crisis in an attempt to restore their faith and, often, save their lives. Beyond the veil, a space between Heaven and Earth, two brother angels, Hunter and Lucas, good and evil, are waging war against each other…

With Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: Blood and Sand, The Flash), Connie Nielsen (Boss, The Following, The Good Wife), Will Kemp (Van Helsing, The Great Fire), Dana Davis (Heroes, The Nine, Franklin & Bash), Stephan James (Selma, Degrassi, The LA Complex), Mouzam Makkar

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Dear readers, don’t be fooled by the stunning lady (Connie Nielsen) and the beautiful men (Liam McIntyre & Will Kemp) in the picture up above. They may play angels and they may be very good at it -let’s just hope time won’t tell- but they’re working for very dark forces that need to be stopped as soon as possible. I’m talking about Roma Downey & Mark Burnett, husband & wife, who are trying to turn TV into a giant church. They produced The Bible for History, which was a tremendous success, then the follow-up entitled A.D. The Bible Continues which is coming to NBC in a couple of weeks (we’ll see if it works as much), plus another religious mini-series for CBS called The Dovekeepers, and they’re now responsible for this drama pilot which, in my opinion, should never be revealed to the public. I don’t deny there is a big audience for something like Unveiled, but my problem with it is not the message that it’s carrying -that I don’t approve but have nothing but respect for- it’s the show in itself. You just can’t do something like this in 2015. You just can’t, for Christ’s sake!

Let’s go back to the year 1994. Then started on CBS a show called Touched by an Angel, starring… oh oh… a certain Roma Downey as Monica, a guardian angel who is tasked with bringing guidance and messages from God to various people who are at a crossroads in their lives. Basically, the same story as Unveiled, except here it’s an ensemble show with multiple angels who may not be as joyous and positive as Monica and her friends. The thing is, Touched by an Angel was huge: it lasted 9 seasons, 211 episodes; it even gave birth to a spin-off called Promised Land. It peaked during season 4 as the 5th most watched shows of 1997, behind Friends, ER, Veronica’s Closet and the Sunday Night Football! So it totally makes sense that NBC and Roma Downey thought it might be a good idea to revive the show, but without using the same name or the exact same story. One sure thing: if it’s ordered to series, whenever NBC put it on the schedule (Sundays in spring?), it will skew old, very old. TV has changed and nobody wants to see that anymore. The Bible is epic and you learn things while watching it. Unveiled is just dumb and you learn nothing.

During the opening, a girl in a wedding dress cries her eyes out on a beach, praying for her “Adam” to be safe. Which is a ridiculous image. And then the whole episode tells you the story of poor Adam, through the eyes of our guardian angels, especially one for whom it’s the first day on duty. There’s a second story, with an old man who’s about to commit suicide in front of his wife. In the end, you discover the stories are connected and that’s about the only surprise of the pilot. The rest is exactly what you expect from this kind of show: cliché dialogues, uninspired declarations of love, smooth characters you want to slap in the face… And the perspective of meeting new ones every week made me wanna cry my eyes out like a girl in a wedding dress on a beach. Or drown myself into the ocean directly. About the guardian angels, let’s just say they’re all very kind and mysterious, not funny one second, too buzzy doing good to give anything that could make us care about them. And there’s a lot of sky. A lot of light. A lot of sun. A lot of water. A lot of “ethereal” music. It’s heaven on earth, mostly Los Angeles, California. But the pilot is shot in Vancouver in March, meaning there won’t be that much of light and sun. In the very end, there’s an hint of Spartacus/Game Of Thrones with a sword fight, but no blood. It comes out of nowhere but I guess it’s their way of saying: look how modern we are! Well it’s an epic fail, guys.

Sorry Father. Forgive me for I have sinned. But these awful things needed to be said loud and clear. Unveiled should never ever see the light of day. Not on a network. Not in 2015. Not in real life! And I can assure I will pray for it everyday until the Upfronts week. Hear me out.