Tag: natalie martinez

“Warrior” (NBC) pilot preview: Kung-Fu “Revenge”, a dish best NOT served

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Original Title: American Ronin. Pilot “Humility” Written & produced by David DiGilio (Traveler, Crossbones). Executive produced by husband & wife Walter F. Parkes (The Slap US) & Laurie MacDonald (Crossbones). Directed by Phillip Noyce (Revenge, Salt, Bone Collector, The Giver). For NBC & Universal Television. 60 pages.

Description: Kai Forrester, a damaged young woman is given a chance to go out of jail in exchange for working undercover for a mysterious martial arts master who trains her to bring down an international crime lord who’s responsible for the death of her twin brother…

With Natalie Martinez (Under The Dome, Secrets & Lies US), Holt McCallany (Lights Out), Lance Gross (Crisis, House Of Payne), Will Yun Lee (True Blood, Strike Back, Hawaii 5-0), Rila Fukushima (Arrow), Andy Allo


Two pilot seasons ago, NBC developed a drama project entitled Bloodlines, about an 18-year old girl discovering she’s coming from a powerful family of mercenaries with skills in martial-arts and some kind of magical power. I think I never read something more dated than that (for example, the writer I won’t name wanted I saw a sign from Ace Of Base, some AC/DC and Stuck On You from Lionel Richie for the soundtrack…). It was dumb and thank God, NBC didn’t go further with it. Sadly, they’re trying something not that different this year with Warrior. It’s not as bad. But it’s not good either. Just think about those boooring scenes in this booooring show that is Revenge, where Emily Thorne learns martial arts. Well, now you have an idea of what Warrior looks like.

I’ll be honest: the opening scene is visually ambitious on paper and if they get the right budget for it, it could look gorgeous and be impressive. David DiGilio doesn’t hesitate to refer to Inception & Matrix, with important choreographic fighting scenes defying gravity. And it takes place in Dubaï, in a luxurious building between the desert and the sea, Mission: Impossible-style. But then… then you have other kung-fu fighting scenes, more traditional and grounded, but way too many. If I remember correctly, there are six in the pilot. You can’t deepen the characters while doing all this stuff. And because the writer wants his show to be taken seriously -I can’t blame him for that- he can’t crack too many jokes either. Bloodlines had many many flaws but at least, dialogues were amusing.

So it’s not fun, most of the time. It’s not emotional, except towards the end because we finally get some rest with the fighting for more character and relationship stuff. We learn some secret, but they are way too easy and obvious to make us care a little bit more about Kai. She’s a bad ass and that’s cool. Life hasn’t been easy for her and that’s sad. But it’s not enough to make a show out of it. It’s already hard to go through one episode, I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch a full season. The mythology doesn’t look solid enough at this point and it’s already hard to follow. Who are the enemies? What do they want? We need some sort of answers from the get go, just to be sure we’re not completely wasting our time here. The only thing I quite liked is the use of magic. There’s a hint of supernatural occurences and we pay a visit to the afterlife world called here “Shadowland” where our heroine is experiencing a near-death moment. The rest is so cliché about Chinese people doing their rites and being wicked and bloodthirsty and… well, it’s depressing.

In my opinion, Warrior is the perfect example of those projects not worth a pilot order that get it anyway for whatever mysterious reasons, and there are a few of them every year. It has no potential to become a hit, even a modest one. The cast is not even attracting, even if I’m pretty sure Natalie Martinez is capable of doing the job nicely. I hope NBC will come its senses and won’t order it to series. If they do, it can only be a mid-season entry cancelled after a few airings. And it’s not me being pessimistic. It’s me being realistic. 

Catches of the Week: it’ all about diversity! Vanessa Williams, Laverne Cox, Natalie Martinez…


While the directors’ jobs are filled quickly, casting is tough this pilot season. Because of the increasing competition from cable and most importantly digital platforms like Netflix & Amazon, the talent pool of experienced actors is almost empty. The pressure over channels and talent agencies is higher than ever. So far, catches are not impressive. But most of them have something in common: diversity! 

NBC is very high on diversity, something they made pretty clear since their pick-ups of series Telenovela (Eva Longoria) and Shades Of Blue (Jennifer Lopez) and pilots Go, Jerrod Go!, The Curse of the Fuentes women, martial arts Warrior, and Love is a Four Letter Word. They all requires latinos, afro-americans and asian americans in lead roles.

This is how Nadine Velasquez and Cynthia McWilliams have been cast this week in the marriage drama Love is a Four Letter Word which chronicles the collision of race, sexuality and gender roles when three diverse couples put modern marriage to the test. The My Name is Earl alumna will play play Rebecca, a Cuban American who is deeply in love with Julie and very happy with their marriage, but doesn’t realize her wife is actively considering getting back together with her ex, Nick. McWilliams will play Tandi, one half of a happy couple with a young son who is experiencing difficulties fulfilling her dream of having another child. Hot Adan Canto, seen in The Following and Mixology, got the part of the mysterious man who brings the Curse to the Fuentes women in the pilot from Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta. Natalie Martinez, most recently seen in Under The Dome, will star in Warrior as Kai Forrester, a damaged heroine who works undercover with physical and spiritual guidance from a mysterious martial arts master to bring down an international crime lord. Finally veteran S. Epatha Merkerson from Law & Order is reuniting with producer Dick Wolfe with a lead role in the Chicago Fire and Chicago PD planted spin-off Chicago Med. She will be the head of the hopistal.


In other diversity casting news, Vanessa Williams from Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives will play the bold and unapologetic new boss of Kevin Connolly (Entourage) in comedy pilot Fantasy Life for FOX, where Mitch (Connolly) lands his ultimate dream job hosting a fantasy football show, he’s forced to navigate office politics while becoming the star he never thought he could be. Asian American actor Daniel Henney has joined the Untitled Criminal Minds spin-off with Gary Sinise & Anna Gunn. Last but really not least, Laverne Cox, discovered in Orange is the new black, got the part of a transgender attorney in Reasonable Doubt for CBS. If the show is ordered to series, then she’ll become the first transgender regular character on broadcast TV, which is exciting and groundbreaking.

In other non-diversity news (!), cancelled Perception‘s star Eric McCormack, pursued for different roles, will star in musical drama pilot Studio City for FOX, where he’ll play the songwriter father of a young singer who’s trying to make it big in Hollywood, but the man turns out to be a drug dealer to the stars! Ex-Breaking Bad actress Betsy Brandt wants to prove she can be funny after the Michael J. Fox Show demise, so she accepted one of the female leads in CBS’ Life In Pieces comedy pilot, with Colin Hanks playing one of her siblings. David Lyons (Revolution, The Cape) toplines drama pilot Game Of Silence, which NBC is very high on. Sweet Zach Gildford (Friday Night Lights, Off The Map), coming off Stanistan‘s pilot USA Network sadly just decided not to pick-up to series, lands on ABC in soap pilot Flesh & Blood. Finally, excellent Annie Potts & John Carroll Lynch will play the heroine’s parents in comedy pilot Family Fortune for ABC, where the central character comes out to her family.