Tag: nancy drew

The Haunting of Nancy Drew (The CW) pilot preview: Third time’s the charm!

SERIES TITLE: The Haunting of Nancy Drew
NETWORK: The CW
GENRE: Detective Horror Drama

LOGLINE: Set in the summer after her high school graduation,18-year-old Nancy Drew thought she’d be leaving her hometown for college, but when a family tragedy holds her back another year, she finds herself embroiled in a ghostly murder investigation — and along the way, uncovers secrets that run deeper than she ever imagined. When Nancy ends up a suspect in a murder, it rekindles her love for detective work, even though the clues lead her to believe that a long-dead local girl may be the killer…

Pilot Cast: Kennedy McMaan, Maddison Jaizani (Versailles, Into the Badlands), Tunji Kasim (Nearly Famous), Leah Lewis (Sing it!, Station 19), Alex Saxon (The Fosters, The Fix), Freddie Prinze Jr (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scooby-Doo)…
Series Creator: Noga Landau (The Magicians),Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage (The OC, Gossip Girl, Dynasty, Marvel’s Runaways).
Pilot Director: Larry Teng (Supergirl, Animal Kingdom, Elementary).
Producers: Noga Landau, Melinda Hsu Taylor (Lost, Vampire Diaries, The Gifted), Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage.

Studios: CBS Television Studios & Fake Empire.

Ever wonder how TV executives wade through the dozens of pilot scripts they’re pitched each year? They have staff script readers, who provide what’s called “Script Coverage,” an executive summary and a recommendation for each script. Now you too can preview some of the season’s most buzzed about pilots and find out whether we’d recommend them for pickup. Note that all opinions are our own, and all plot, casting and other creative details described here are subject to change.

 

  

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Riverdale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Veronica Mars, Charmed

Likely Timeslot: They could definitely use Riverdale as its lead-in. They could also pair it with Charmed.

 

WRITTEN BY: Noga Landau.

PAGECOUNT: 56 pages

DRAFT: 2nd Network draft 1/13/19

BACKGROUND: Launching a Nancy Drew TV series has been a priority for CBS Television Studios, which has the rights to the the classic YA mystery books originally published by Stratemeyer Syndicate and later Simon & Schuster, for quite a while now. Two versions have already been developed over the past three years. First Drew at CBS, starring Sarah Shahi as a 30-year-old version of the cult character (It was not good), which went to pilot and got close to a series order. Its star later confessed : “I’m very happy it didn’t go. It was not good”. She also said it was considered “too female” by the network: “My response was like, ‘I don’t remember us talking about tampons and our, like, placentas and our cycles on the show.’ So I don’t know what was too female about it.” Anyway.

Then Nancy Drew was developed at NBC last year, this time with a Nancy in her 40s, who has written her own adventures as books, and must now team up with her estranged former friends to solve a murder mystery. It didn’t go beyond the script stage. Both incarnations were from writers Tony Phelan and Joan Rater (Grey’s Anatomy, Doubt) and producer Dan Jinks. They left CBS Television Studios since then for Universal.

At the time, I was wondering why CBS Television Studios didn’t turn the property into a nice little CW show, keeping the central character as a teenage girl or a young adult. It apparently took them 4 years to realize that was the best and most logial option… And they asked Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage to write and supervise the project. They know a thing or two about teen dramas, so that made sense. So, third time’s the charm, as they say?

 

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: After graduating high school, a depressed, secretive and curious NANCY DREW (18) skips out on college and must face life in the wake of her mother’s death, still living with her dad CARSON, as she begins to solve a ghostly mystery. Her friends aren’t as they seem and trust isn’t something that comes easy to her. After discovering TIFFANY HUDSON murdered with her coworkers GEORGE PHAN (18) and ACE (21) from The Claw dinner, Nancy Drew is back in her crime solving ways, along with BESS MARVIN (18), a new girl in town who quickly becomes an ally. Her boyfriend/secret lover NED “NICK” NICKERSON (19) has his own unbecoming past with Tiffany Hudson that makes Nancy question everything. Did Ned kill Tiffany? Nancy must battle her past in order to uncover and solve this murder case, while LUCY SABLE, a long-dead local girl, starts to haunt her…

COMMENTS: Based on the Nancy Drew mystery stories, this CW pilot is a nice surprise since the previous adaptations were failures that questioned the necessity and the relevance of such a character in the 21st century. Turns out a young woman who solves mysteries can still be a thing in 2019, even when Veronica Mars did a great job a few years ago. Remember, she was often described as “Nancy Drew meets Philip Marlowe” when she arrived on our screens. What strikes me the most with this script, which has flaws to be honest, is that it manages to be both classic an modern, predictable and exciting, funny and pretty scary. It’s easy to picture it around shows such as Riverdale or Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It almost feels like it’s part of the same universe, like a secret spin-off. Even though I’m not a big fan of those series myself, I’m convinced there’s an audience for his new addition.

Let’s meet the new versions of those familiar characters first. So, Nancy is 18, she’s in grief since her mother died, she’s living the worst version she could picture of her life: stuck in the small town she grew up in, with very few friends around her, a reputation that she’s not always confortable with and a job as a waitress that really doesn’t fulfill her. This Nancy is sexually active, she’s into hook-ups and we meet her as she’s having sex with Nick, her secret flame that she may be ready to share a real relationship with. Nick is a former high school athlete with a mysterious past, who should be on full scholarship to a top university. Instead, he’s working as a car mechanic. What they have in common is a feeling that their lives are not going into the right direction and that’s something they can escape from when they’re together. If there’s chemistry between the actors, that should work fine.

The new George is a tough, tattooed girl from the wrong side of the tracks who felt personally wronged by Nancy in high school. But now they are both suspects in the killing of Tiffany Hudson, the two nemesis are forced to team up to track the culprit and clear their names… and it just may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But we’re clearly not there yet! Their current dynamics made of nasty jokes and little humiliations is too good to abandon so quickly. Then there’s the new Bess, a refined young woman whose wealthy background sets her apart from Nancy but here again, the investigation to find the real killer help them connect, while Bess is doing whatever it takes to keep her own dark secrets hidden. Those three women at the center of the show are really the main draw. They form some sort of sorority, created by the circumstances, that is more complex than it was in the books. The other male lead is Ace, a charming dishwasher with a philosophical bent, whose provocative insights on the murder investigation will lead Nancy to conclude that there’s much more to this supposed burnout than meets the eye. I wouldn’t be surprised this turns into a love triangle trope between Nancy, Nick and Ace. That wouldn’t be the most innovative idea…

The Haunting of Nancy Drew has something charming going on for it. It may be the town of Bayport, a fishing village that feels like Riverdale but with the ocean, with its traditions and a melancholia that comes with the views. For now, it’s the main street, the police station, the dinner, Nancy’s house, the bluffs and Bayridge Drive, the part of the town where the rich folks live. It’s enough to get a sense of what life is for Nancy over there. Most of us would love to live in such a place, or at least go there for vacations, for her it’s hell. We’ll see what the director will make of the scenery and for once, Vancouver, where it will be filmed, matches with how it’s supposed to look like. Yay! But what’s interesting is that it becomes progressively scarier. The more the investigation progresses, the more it becomes clear that it’s not exactly the idyllic town we thought it would be. It smells like death, there are ghosts and we end up with a medium in a motorized wheelchair for a spiritism seance! I’m not a big fan of the fantasy/horror part of the show, but at least it’s properly introduced. So it won’t just be about murder mysteries being solved every week. In fact, it seems like the whole first season will revolve around the same story and it’s good news, especially if they’re aiming at shortened seasons of 10-13 episodes. There’s one story about Nancy’s past and her parents’ that’s particularly intriguing. Are they murderers themselves? Maybe that’s the thing that will make me stay around a little bit more.

 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: The Haunting of Nancy Drew has found a way to be faithful to the character and its famous adventures, to update her status as a feminist icon who lives in our era, to capture the atmosphere of a strange fishing village and to fall within the framework of the recent teen noir dramas that became worldwide phenomenons such as Riverdale. It’s the best version The CW can get of a detective show, with wit and charm. That’s why they’d better give it a chance. 

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[  ] PASS
 ] CONSIDER
X ] RECOMMEND

Drew (CBS) pilot preview: Nancy is back, older, smarter, sexier and more boring than ever!

Sarah-Shahi-Backgrounds

Gotcha Day“. Created by Joan Rater & Tony Phelan (Grey’s Anatomy, Madam Secretary). Based on Edward Stratemeyer. Directed by Marc Webb (Limitless, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, 500 Days of Summer). Executive produced by Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Harvey Milk, Big Fish), Nick Nantell, Joan Rater & Tony Phelan. For CBS, CBS Television Studios & The Dan Jinks Company. 60 pages.

Description: Now in her 30s, Nancy Grace is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world and grieving the death of her best friend…

With Sarah Shahi (Person Of Interest, Life, Fairly Legal, The L Word), Anthony Edwards (ER, Zodiac, Top Gun), Vanessa Ferlito (24, Graceland, Grindhouse), Steve Kazee (Shameless US), Felix Solis (The Following, The Good Wife), Debra Monk (Grey’s Anatomy, Damages)…

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I’m not very familiar with the iconic Nancy Drew character -never read any book, never seen any movie or series about her- but I’m pretty sure that what CBS is doing with this version is wrong and not respectful to the spirit of the original idea. What made it fresh and different at the time was that the heroine was a 16-year-old teenage girl solving mysteries. Not a big boy. Not an older woman. Not a professional. Veronica Mars before Veronica Mars. That was the whole point! CBS Television Studios could have turned the cult property into a nice little CW show while keeping the character as a child. But instead, they decided to make of her a 30-year-old detective. Like we already had a million over the years. Sad to say Nancy Drew is not fresh and different anymore. She’s just one more smart cop investigating crimes in New York. Does CBS need her? Not really. Do we? Certainly not! Then why bother?

The first scene of the pilot is exactly what we don’t want to see in detective dramas anymore. How to turn off your TV in 30 seconds. Nancy is driving a Uber -it’s her a job since she left the NYPD- and starts analyzing every detail coming from her client’s look and clothing, just to pass the time and because clearly she can’t help it. In a minute, she’s able to tell her whole story, just because of a stain on her shirt (I’m not kidding). This know-it-all attitude, from The Mentalist to Dr House and recently useless addition Rosewood, has had its day. It’s just irritating now. Not funny anymore. Especially when there’s nothing else to get our teeth into. At least, Lucifer is fucking Lucifer, the Devil! The hero of Forever was immortal. That’s something! But Nancy? Just a sad and angry woman who lost her best friend, Bess -same as in the books, at least they kept the characters- six months ago and who can’t stop thinking about her ever since (the same as Unforgettable‘s heroine with her sister). The girl wrote a suicide note but Nancy is convinced its a fake, that she was murdered. Long story short: she investigates about her suspicious death the whole episode, with the help of her other best friend, George, a lesbian who also happens to be a cop. Of course. And in the end, spoiler alert… they crack the case. How surprising! So now, Nancy is not so sad anymore and she’s even ready to go back to the precinct. Meaning: the next episodes will be even more boring than the first one! You’ve been warned.

The first act is really painful to read. The writers use the laziest way to introduce the story and the characters. Writing for dummies. That’s what it is. I can’t even say it’s efficient. Because it’s not. Who likes watching two people saying things they already know to each other so the viewers can be on the same page? Who likes watching a character saying out loud what we all very well understood, just to make sure we’re not lost because maybe we’re stupid? The other acts are not particularly better but at least they’re a little less predictable. Overall, the investigation is full of plot holes and nonsense. I’m not good at solving mysteries but Nancy didn’t impress me much. Even the dialogues are lazy. Okay, from time to time there is a funny line or a good joke. But the parts where George says “like we learned at the academy” (to underline the fact that she’s a by-the-book cop, contrary to Nancy) or Nance asks “Do I sound like a crazy person?” (as if there was any doubt about it, yes she does!) get excruciating at some point. Plus, everybody in Nancy’s entourage is very practical when you look at it: her father is a lawyer; her ex is a journalist and George’s girlfriend is a doctor. Meaning she will ask for their help every time she needs to. That doesn’t make her a good detective. Just a lucky girl. And where did the feminism of the books go? Still looking for it…

You know what could save Drew from the complete disaster it’s meant to be according to the pilot script? Sarah Shahi! People love her since Person Of Interest (and some of us since Life). It’s true, she’s great. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, she can be funny and badass. She doesn’t really feel like Nancy Drew, at least the idea we have of her, but I’m sure she can do a decent job even with such a poor material. That what she already did with USA’s legal drama Facing Kate a few years ago, actually. But will it be enough? Drew belongs to Lifetime or Hallmark Channel, not to CBS. And the young demo will never watch this. Nancy Drew was a big inspiration for many writers, many shows they created, now she’s obsolete and should stay where she belongs: in our memories. Next year, CBS will probably try to revive “The Famous Five“…

 

PILOT WHISPERER: FOX prepping pilot order for megachurch project

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While pilot season started earlier than last year with orders for comedies at ABC & NBC, most of the heavy-lifting has yet to come in the next few weeks. Our PILOT WHISPERER column is here to give you some inside scoops for what’s to expect…

 

NBC

Atlanta-set soap Buckhead, produced by Will Packer (Uncle Buck, Truth Be Told, Roots) for Universal Television, is seen by the network as what could become the next Empire and should be offically picked-up to pilot at any moment. The drama written by David McMillan is about ambition, sex, and revenge in the extravagant, high-stakes world of Atlanta politics, entertainment, churches and strip clubs.

Legal drama Miranda’s Rights is heating up. It’s about 28-year-old Miranda Coale, who six years after a sex scandal upended her life, gets a shot at redemption when she’s hired by a group of millennials living and lawyering together in a start-up law firm…(Update: PICKED-UP)

Among hot properties with a pilot production commitment, NBC could give greenlights to Amy Poehler-produced comedy Dumb Prince (Update: PICKED-UP), spoof of crime documentaries The Trail (Update: PICKED-UP) & Greg Berlanti-produced dark family soap Brides.

 

CBS

Iconic Nancy Drew could be back on the air with a contemporary take from longtime Grey’s Anatomy producers Joan Rater & Tony Phelan, produced by Oscar-winning producer Dan Jinks (American Beauty) for CBS Television where the writers have an overall deal (they also wrote legal drama Doubt, whose second pilot with Katherine Heigl is awaiting a series order). The show, about a Nancy Drew in her thirties who is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, could be the right companion series for Supergirl, if the superheroin gets a second season. (Update: PICKED-UP)

Bunker Hill from Jason Katim’s True Jack Productions is close to an order. Written by Sarah Watson, the medical drama is set at a high-tech Silicon Valley hospital with a cutting-edge approach to medicine. (Update: PICKED-UP)

Also hot at CBS with pilot production commitment are Training Day reboot from Jerry Bruckheimer & Antoine Fuqua (Update: PICKED-UP); and another project from Jerry Bruckheimer: multicamera comedy Talk Nerdy To Me about four smart, ambitious, twenty-something women living together.

 

ABC

The Alphabet network has already picked-up The Jury to pilot; and among the next orders is expected Monstropolis from ABC Studios, in which drama in which monsters are real, living amongst the humans in the city of New Manhattan; legal drama Please don’t go produced by Reese Witherspoon about a ruthless divorce attorney in Texas (Update: PICKED-UP); Kevin Williamson’s travel drama Time after Time (Update: PICKED-UP); and comedy Damage Control about the overworked, underpaid, clean up crew of the Marvel Universe specializing in dealing with the aftermath of the unique fallout from superhero conflicts.

Shonda Rhimes should get her first comedy pilot order for Toast, written by Scandal‘s Scott Foley and based on an idea by Foley & Greg Grunberg. It tells the story of an engaged couple who, over their wedding rehearsal dinner, have their eclectic family and friends give toasts recalling anecdotes about them (Update: PICKED-UP). Another very likely pick-up is for Hail Mary, based on Austrian comedy Braunschlag about a young small-town mayor named Emma Wolf and her dysfunctional siblings (Update: PICKED-UP).

 

FOX

On the heels of Lethal Weapon reboot order (announced right here), FOX is high on Dan Fogelman/Rick Singer’s Pitch pilot about a young female pitcher who defies the odds to become the first woman to compete in professional baseball (Update: PICKED-UP); an Untitled Megachurch family soap project from Julian Breece; and The Greatest American Hero comedy reboot from Chris Miller & Phil Lord. Other comedies soon to be ordered to pilot are I Like You from actress/writer Alex Bornstein & multicamera The Enforcers from ex-Friends writers Sherry Bilsing-Graham & Ellen Kreamer (Update: PICKED-UP).

 

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