Tag: mouzam makkar

The Fix (ABC) pilot preview: American Crime Story – The People Vs OJ Simpson, a sequel

Written and executive produced by Marcia ClarkElizabeth Craft & Sara Fain (The Shield, Lie To Me, The Vampire Diaries, Dollhouse). Also produced by David Hoberman (Monk, Fighter), Todd Lieberman (The Family, Detroit 1-8-7) & Laurie Zaks (The Family, Castle). Directed by Larysa Kondracki (Rogue, Copper, Legion). For ABCABC Studios & Mandeville Television. 61 pages. 4th Revised Network Draft. 1/23/2018.

Description: After losing the biggest case of her career and being shredded by the media, former prosecutor Maya Travis has left Los Angeles for a quiet life in rural Oregon. Eight years after her devastating defeat, the murderer – a famous movie star- strikes again, forcing Maya to return to Los Angeles to confront him one more time. Will she play by the rules or will she do whatever it takes to get him behind bars?

With Robin Tunney (The Mentalist, Prison Break, The Craft, Empire Records), Adam Rayner (Tyrant, Hunted), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Oz, Suicide SquadBreckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash, Clueless), Merrin Dungey (Big Little Lies, The Resident, Alias, The King of Queens), Mouzam Makkar (The Exorcist, The Vampire Diaries), Scott Cohen (Necessary Roughness, The Carrie Diaries), Marc Blucas (Buffy, Underground), Alex Saxon (The Fosters, Finding Carter), Daniella Alonso (Animal Kingdom, Revolution, Friday Night Lights)…

   

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: American Crime Story, The Good Wife, Murder One, Law & Order True Crime…

Likely timeslot: Thursday at 10 joining the TGIT?

 

Does the name Marcia Clark mean anything to you? For those who watched the excellent American Crime Story: The People Vs OJ Simpson, she was the lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case, played by Sarah Paulson. She resigned from the District Attorney’s office after the debacle and left trial practice behind. She became a “special correspondent” for news show providing coverage of high-profile trials and she wrote several novels based on her experience, as well as pilot scripts that were never produced. She’s one of the executive producer of The Fix and her story is obviously a big inspiration for the show. ABC insists on the fact that the drama is fictional. Still, its starting point draws a lot of parallels to what was called at the time “the trial of the century” and Maya Travis is also finding herself in the eye of a media storm like Clark did. The ambition is to examine the case from all sides of the law, going home with the characters and exploring how it is affecting their personal lives. And I have to admit the writers really captured something here. Unfortunately for them, they will be compared a lot to Ryan Murphy’s brilliant piece and they can’t compete. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try!

Part legal thriller, part confessional, part revenge fantasy, The Fix is as riveting as ABC promises but it’s never a good omen to be so many things at the same time. I’d leave the “revenge fantasy” part out of the equation. It gives the wrong impression. There’s the idea of redemption, that’s for sure, but Maya Travis is not Amanda Clarke from Revenge. She’s a far more interesting character, it seems. More mature. A legal thriller? That’s what describes it the best. And of course, because we’re on ABC, it’s soapy. Not the dirty kind. It stays classy, at least from Maya’s side. From the OJ-like murderer’s side, it’s another story. But can they beat the real OJ?! Not really. It’s very much the same man, or the idea we have of him at least. Steven “Sevvy” Johnson is a narcissistic, perhaps sociopathic, famous Oscar-winning actor that most people actually love because he’s charismatic and charming, and a very good liar too probably. He’s also black, which is a subject in itself like it was with OJ since he’s well-loved by the black community, or at least was. Well, the more I write about it, the more this show feels like a OJ Simpson vs The People‘s fictional follow-up! And I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or bad thing in terms of potential. It could bring more eyeballs than this kind of show usually does but there’s a downside to it: again, the comparison is not in The Fix‘s favor, as good as it is.

Also, they don’t have Sarah Paulson. From what I’ve heard, they were aiming for a big name to play the lead and sent a lot of offers. But the best they could get in the end was Robin Tunney from The Mentalist. I don’t mean to be disrespectful and it’s not like she’s an unknow actress either nor that she’s bad, but sadly she’s not much of a draw on paper. And these days, for a role like this one on a show like this one, it’s a big disadvantage. That being said, the cast looks strong overall, especially with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Sevvy. He’s an excellent actor, much more skilled and charismatic than Cuba Gooding Jr. if you ask me, and easily scarier. OJ was shown as a bit dumb and immature. Sevvy seems like a far more manipulative person. There’s no real doubt about what he has done. What they need is actual proofs and that’s where the fun begins for us. He’s not an easy one to catch. And his defense team is nasty. And they hate Maya, as much as she hates them. We have all the ingredients for a thrilling legal drama. It could have been less Manichaean, it’s really the good guys vs. the bad guys, but that’s probably the price to pay if you want this show to be on a network and not on cable. It needs to stay easily readable and pretty straight-forward. I’m not sure how many episodes they can squeeze out of it, though. Problaby no more than 10 if they want to keep it as efficient and fast-paced.

Other characters are: Andre, who was Maya’s second chair during the high-profile trial (think the equivalent of Sterling K. Brown’s character) and there’s an undeniable connection between them; CJ, a DA investigator who was one of Maya’s closest friends and confidantes but they lost touch when she went away; Charlie Wiest, a spineless opportunist who doesn’t have enough power within the office to control its inner workings, despite his grave efforts, another pain in the ass for Maya; Loni Cho, a Deputy District Attorney and the lead attorney on the new murder case, with a secret; and finally Ezra, an extremely confident defense lawyer -an arrogant pitbull- who won the trail against Maya years ago and who defends Sevvy once again. Those are all strong characters who really exist within the story, who all play an important part.
The Fix is a bit of a dark horse in this pilot season for ABC since it doesn’t correspond at all to what they’re supposed to be looking for. It’s heavily serialized, soapy and pretty dark, and this type of shows did poorly those past few years when they were not from Shonda Rhimes. It would work better as a limited series. Being that different from the other competitors might be an advantage for a series order though. It won’t fix ABC’s drama problems but it could be a good low-profile addition.

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

unveiled

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.