Tag: nbc

NBC’s 20 most exciting projects for 2018/2019 pilot season

The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point. 

 

We can’t say NBC is having a bad season so far. But we can’t say they’re having a great one either. Mostly because they made a very bad scheduling for fall, keeping their strongest pieces for spring, betting on an Olympics push that rarely provides longterm results, as history points. Was The Brave the best choice for the post-The Voice slot? It’s the one that made the most sense at the time, but the show was not strong enough (and The Voice is not the beast it once was). Other than that, at least on the drama side, it’s a mess.

Their worst decision? Giving Law & Order: True Crime the post-This Is Us slot! It was just not compatible at all, any dummy knew that. Was they forced by Dick Wolf to do it? It’s the only acceptable explanation. The Chicago franchise took a hit and it’s partly their fault too. Chicago Med, already a little fragile, shouldn’t have been benched. Chicago Fire shouldn’t have been moved to the thursday 10pm death slot. And The Blacklist shouldn’t have been given an 8pm slot. Chicago PD is the only one doing a good job where it is, considering the circumstances. Blindspot was sent to die on friday and well, death will come rather sooner than later. We’ll see what’s gonna happen with midseason entries Good Girls & Rise but both, especially the latter, have potential. Reverie is not scheduled yet but it’s gonna be tough…

On the comedy side, it’s sunnier than the previous years, thanks to Will & Grace. The revival did more than expected the first weeks of the season and even though it fell a lot since then, the numbers are still great for NBC. It’s their number one comedy right now. The sad news is Great News, which was not worth a second season, does horrible despite the Will & Grace lead-in. Meanwhile, Superstore is doing an okay job to start thursday night facing The Big Bang Theory & Grey’s Anatomy, and The Good Place, thanks to Netflix probably, is doing slightly better than everyone expected. NBC still have AP Bio & Champions to premiere. But only the first one seems to have a chance…

For next season, NBC may want to concentrate their efforts on strenghtening their comedy line-up while finding buzzier new dramas than this year’s. I let you judge by yourself if they have what they need in their development slate:

 

DRAMAS

 

ACCIDENTAL CANDIDATE (Sony Pictures Television)

What?  based on the life of former Democratic congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, which explores what happens when after a small-town mother’s passionate town hall confrontation with a politician goes viral and she becomes thrust into the spotlight, opting to launch a career she never saw coming

Why? After Designated Survivor & The Mayor, both on ABC, the novelty of this type of pitch has worn off. But if it’s treated as a real political drama and not an action-packed thriller or a comedy, Accidental Candidate could tell a very inspiring story. Also, the woman it’s based on is co-writing the pilot. I find this interesting and rare.

 

AMERICAN DISASTER (Universal Television)

What? anthology series tackling different natural disasters with the inaugural season revolving around a Midwestern community that holds itself together in the wake of a catastrophic tornado

Why? The anthology genre is having a hard time working on networks: American Crime, Law & Order True Cime and The Exorcist are not what we can call successful attempts. On cable, especially on FX, it’s another story (American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Feud…). Can NBC break the curse with American Disaster? If it has something to say about climate change and helps raising conciousness on this important matter, other than being a fine entertainment, well then maybe it’s worth a try. What is considered a disaster though? Tornado, earthquake, tsunami… Every season could look the same if they don’t change the angle or the perspectives it’s told from…

 

BELLEVUE (Universal Television)

What? set at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, about the new enigmatic medical director hired to disrupt and tame this mighty Manhattan institution, all while facing his own battle with cancer.

Why? Writer David Schulner’s last medical drama for NBC Do No Harm was not exactly an unforgettable piece of television, neither was his Emerald City on a totally different genre. So his name is kind of putting me off but there’s something dark and intriguing about Bellevue that makes me want to know more.

 

CRUSHERS CLUB (Universal Television)

What? about a struggling boxing gym, which serves as a second home for kids in one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods; the gym gains an unlikely ally in Sonia, a single mom from the suburbs who has found new purpose in her life…

Why? How come Rocky became such a big thing, and still is nowadays, while no boxing drama ever worked (not that there were so many attempts) on television? That’s a mystery Crushers Club may solve. Vin Diesel is producing. Of course, the most exciting thing here is not the boxing part but everything around. If somehow musical drama Rise becomes big on NBC, this one could be a perfect companion.

 

DELIVERY (ABC Studios)

What? about a group of doctors with deep familial ties who must navigate their personal and professional lives in a high volume perinatology unit

Why? Between Grey’s Anatomy & The Good Doctor, ABC didn’t need another medical drama for next year, maybe that’s why they decided to sell this project to NBC. Reese Witherspoon is producing this mix between medical and family drama, that would be fine near This Is Us. Delivery has a heartwarming behind-the-scenes story: writers Kristin Newman and Rob Wright, who are married and new parents, teamed for the first time to write this script on spec during the three months they spent living in a hospital labor and delivery ward following the birth of their daughter 10 weeks early. Unless it’s not that good a script, I think NBC has a winner here…

 

FIND THE GOOD (Freemantle)

What?  about an obit writer and mother of four living in small-town Alaska, and how writing about death each week teaches her how to live

Why? They had me at “living in small-town Alaska”. Do I have anything more to add? Not really. I don’t think this one will get a pilot order, it doesn’t seem to be distinctive enough, especially when they already have This Is Us, Good Girls and Rise on the air. But I want it anyway.

 

GREENLIT (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  about a highly-skilled task force comprised of five federal agents with backgrounds in the FBI, Secret Service, IRS, and SWAT responsible for protecting members of law enforcement who have been targeted for murder, or “greenlit,” by different criminal organizations

Why? Milo Ventimiglia is producing this action-packed procedural that seems to be in the vein of The Blacklist, Blindspot or Taken. So nothing really new here but among the projects NBC have in this particular genre, Greenlit stands out.

 

LIFE AFTER (Universal Television)

What?  about six friends who, each winter, spring, summer and fall, bond and retreat together from their lives and careers, which are forever linked by a life-changing event from their past

Why? Labelled by the network as “an emotional character drama”, Life After is written by Ringer creators (ugh) and tries to be the This Is Us of friendship. At least, that’s how I understand it and I think it’s a beautiful idea. BUT I’m also concerned by the concept, which seems a bit too complicated for its own good. And with those two in charge, I’m even more worried. Ringer was really too twisted to the point it became impossible to follow…

 

LOVE AFTER LOVE (Universal Television)

What?  an extramarital affair is exposed in a car crash that leaves the man in a coma and the woman missing – soon to be found dead of a gunshot wound; as their spouses try to piece their lives back together, police struggle to solve an ever-deepening mystery

Why? Honestly, I don’t think NBC is the right place for it. Plus, there’s already The Affair on Showtime and this one looks like a less emotional but more thriller-oriented version of it that may not be able to sustain its premise. It’s based on an Argentinan series. That being said, it’s hard not to get excited by such a pitch…

 

MANIFEST (Warner Bros. Television)

What? a plane disappears from radar and returns five years later after being untraceable and presumed lost at sea; no time has passed for those on the plane but, for their loved ones at home, a long five years have gone by

Why? More than three years after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over the South China Sea, the mystery of what happened to it remains while most of the aircraft hasn’t been found. Some crazy theories exist and when you start reading about them, it’s hard to stop. Will this Manifest show be as fascinating and gripping? Robert Zemeckis, who did the excellent movie Flight in 2012, is producing this project NBC paid a lot of money to get. The series will follow the personal lives of the survivor as well as the larger mystery and purpose that is their destiny. Yeah, it’s a bit like Lost in reverse and it could be HUGE if it’s properly done. Fingers crossed!

 

REUNITED (Universal Television)

What? inspired by the life of Pamela Slaton, the country’s foremost investigative genealogist, who uses her wits, detective skills and take-no-prisoners attitude to track down long-lost loved ones and reunite broken families

Why? This one screams “feel-good procedural”, which is exactly what the networks are looking for right now. And noboby should die this time! Plus, genealogy is something some people are really fond of. Mainly old people, okay. It could skew ancient but the concept really has potential.

 

SHATTERED GLASS (Warner Bros. Television)

What? set in the world of Wall Street in which a trio of modern women come together to shatter their respective glass ceilings, taking no prisoners along the way

Why? This project produced by Margot Robbie, who just launched her production company, is described as House of Cards meets Revenge, an empowering post-feminist revenge fantasy. It’s hard not to root for it! But let’s be realistic at the same time: a show set in Wall Street doesn’t seem to be broad enough for a network…

 

A Bad Boys small screen incarnation is in the works, which would follow Marcus Burnett’s sister Syd Burnett (Gabrielle Union), last seen in Miami taking down a drug cartel, now an LAPD detective; a new Miami Vice reboot of the signature 1980s action crime drama about two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives working undercover in Miami, produced by Vin Diesel; another version of Nancy Drew after CBS passed on its one two years ago; a drama that follows an elite unit of LAPD motor cops on their dangerous assignments produced by Josh Duhamel & Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious); and finally a Blue Crush series based on the 2002 movie about a surfer in the wake of a tragic accident.

 

——————-

COMEDIES

 

A&R (Universal Television)

What? about a young, hip music label, along with its young, hip boss, is thrown into disarray when the owner brings back a hard-partying, middle-aged “mastodon” from the industry’s past to help guide them into the future

Why? We can’t say The Mayor on ABC made a case in favor of this project that feels a bit similar, at least regarding its central figure being a hip hop artist. Music will be a big part of this show and it’s hard to imagine it fitting with what’s currently on the network. It’s a tough sell, but an interesting one nonetheless.

 

AMERICAN ALIEN (Universal Television)

What? about Denise “Dee Dee” and Sonny Mendoza, a small-town brother-and-sister team who struggle to keep their working-class jobs while also protecting vulnerable space aliens from everyday pitfalls in their hometown of Tucson, Arizona

Why? It sounds like a comedy that could fit well with The Good Place, with the same kind of semi-supernatural high-concept, though I’m not sure NBC is looking for a companion show since it’s already paired with Superstore quite successfully. Maybe it could takeover for The Good Place once the short season is done… Talking about Superstore: American Alien is also produced by America Ferrara! What if it was the missing piece of NBC’s current thursday night?

 

GUESS WHO DIED (Sony Pictures Television)

What? described as a humorous and inspiring look at the shared joys and challenges we all experience at any stage of life

Why? This one is comedy veteran Norman Lear’s longtime passion project. The 95 year-old legend is behind successful and well-reviewed Netflix’s One Day at A Time so he could get away with anything right now. NBC paid big money to have it. Meaning a pilot order at the very least is more than likely. We don’t know much about what it will really be about -old people will be involved- but let’s be confident and hope for the best.

 

LIFE FAMILY (Universal Television)

What? two twentysomething friends who met as foster children and now try to figure out what they want from life and each other in New York City

Why? This multicamera comedy is coming from Sean Hayes’ production banner. It’s no coincidence since NBC is actively looking for a compatible show to pair with Will & Grace, which will be coming back next year. So the actor tried his luck with this project written by Hot In Cleveland‘s creator Suzanne Martin, who also wrote recent episodes of Will & Grace. Nothing about it screams originality but wait and see.

 

THE MUNSTERS (Universal Television)

What? follows members of an offbeat family who are determined to stay true to themselves but struggle to fit in in hipster Brooklyn

Why? After failing to reboot this 1960s comedy series a few years ago with Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, American Gods) as a drama -it was called Mockingbird Lane and NBC aired the rejected pilot anyway for Halloween- they’re trying again but this time keeping the original format. Seth Meyers is producing (he’s also behind midseason entry AP Bio). The offbeat tone might be exactly what NBC needs right now.

 

TOO CLOSE TO HOME (Warner Bros. Television)

What?  about two sisters who came from very humble beginnings. One of them bettered her circumstances through education and hard work, which paid off in the form of a relatively good life; that “good life” is upended when her much lazier sister strikes it rich by winning the lottery and comes crashing into her world

Why? NBC almost ordered The Sackett Sisters last year -starring Busy Phillips & Casey Wilson- and this one has the same feel and a similar pitch. With 2 Broke Girls gone, a comedy led by a women duet would be much appreciated. Please NBC, make it a reality this time! And you can cast Busy Phillips & Casey Wilson again, we’re very okay with that.

 

UNTITLED JOSH MALMUTH PROJECT (Universal Television)

What? centers around an unlicensed bar that a woman runs out of her backyard

Why? Okay, this is a very short description but there’s something a bit crazy about this idea that I like a lot. It’s simple, but efficient. And more importantly, it’s supervised -but not written- by Mike Schur (Parks and recreation, The Good Place). So something tells me it should not be overlooked!

 

UNTITLED LANG FISHER (Universal Television)

Whatabout the dedicated diplomats of a small U.S. embassy in the Caribbean who are suddenly thrown into chaos when an unqualified, ignorant and hard-living oil man is appointed as their new ambassador

Why? Mindy Kaling is co-producing this comedy project that has a Parks and recreation vibe, as well as an original and exotic location that would make it stand out from the crowd a little but (unless the characters stay indoor). While reviving The Office doesn’t sound like an idea I like very much -especially without Steve Carell- I think they should give a chance to shows like this one, that could be as good.

 

NCB also has a new IT Crowd remake in store; as well as a The Office comeback and they may get the Mad About You revival that is in early stages of development with Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt returning.

 

What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!

NBC 2017/2018 Schedule [+ THOUGHTS]


MONDAY

8- THE VOICE

9- THE VOICE

10- THE BRAVE

TUESDAY

8- THE VOICE

9- SUPERSTORE / THE GOOD PLACE

10- CHICAGO FIRE

WEDNESDAY

8- THE BLACKLIST

9- LAW & ORDER: SVU

10- CHICAGO PD

THURSDAY

8- WILL & GRACE / GREAT NEWS

9- THIS IS US

10- LAW & ORDER TRUE CRIME

FRIDAY

8- BLINDSPOT

9- TAKEN

10- DATELINE

MIDSEASON

TIMELESS – RISE – CHICAGO MED – REVERIE – GOOD GIRLS – AP BIO – CHAMPIONS – SHADES OF BLUE

THOUGHTS

What’s good?

  • Choosing The Brave to follow The Voice on monday makes a lot of sense. They seem compatible and it gives the show the best platform NBC has right now.
  • Moving This Is Us to thursday night is very agressive and shows how much NBC is confident it will stay strong on its sophomore year. It’s gonna be tough for ABC’s TGIT in particular since they pursue kind of the same audience.
  • Cheap friday with Blinspot & Taken seems a good solution.
  • Keeping most of wednesday intact is not a surprise and the right move.

What’s bad?

  • Putting Will & Grace against The Big Bang Theory on thursday is putting way too much pressure on a show that stopped being strong when Friends ended. Though with football in the first weeks of its run, people who don’t watch sports might tune in.
  • Comedies after The Voice on Tuesday always got more than mixed results. Why would it change now?
  • Law & Order True Crime after This Is Us doesn’t look good on paper, especially because it means Chicago Med is benched for at least 8 weeks.
  • The Blacklist is again on the move. After monday and thursday, here comes wednesday. At this point of its run, it’s unlikely the show gets a boost…
  • Keeping so many shows for midseason means most of them will have to air during springtime -yes, after a big push during the Olympics- when the numbers are getting lower and lower every year; or in the summer for some of them…

NBC | 2017/2018 – Fantasy Schedule

Those are predictions based on feelings and NBC final schedule may end up very differently! It will be announced on Sunday. Stay tuned and until then, enjoy the read!

 

RENEWED

LAW & ORDER: SVU | THE BLACKLIST | CHICAGO FIRE | CHICAGO PD | CHICAGO MED | BLINDSPOT | SHADES OF BLUE | THIS IS US | TAKEN | TIMELESS

SUPERSTORE | THE GOOD PLACE | GREAT NEWS

ORDERED

THE BRAVE | RISE | REVERIE | GOOD GIRLS | LAW & ORDER TRUE CRIME

WILL & GRACE | AP BIO | CHAMPIONS

NBC schedule seems to be the easiest to predict with a limited number of new shows ordered and some strong pieces from monday to wednesday that shouldn’t move. But overcrowding -both weakened The Blacklist & Blindspot are renewed for 22-episode season- may lead to strange decisions. Friday seems to be the day where they can get a little more agressive than the past few years. Let’s not forget they’ll have the Superbowl this year and also the Olympics for 2 weeks in february, which are great platforms to promote the new shows coming midseason. Let’s see what they could come up with…

 

MONDAYS

THE VOICE

THE VOICE

THE BRAVE

The post-The Voice slot on monday is traditionally used to launch new shows and since Timeless has been cancelled and Taken seems to be a midseason option/filler once again, The Brave (aka For God and Country) looks like the only new show that could appeal to the audience that watched The Blacklist & Blindspot there before (with mixed results). It’s an action-packed thriller, mostly procedural with serialized elements.

TUESDAYS

THE VOICE

THIS IS US

RISE

While it wouldn’t be crazy to let Chicago Fire stay after This Is Us to keep the strength of the night intact, it’d be a waste not to use NBC’s number one show as a launchpad for a compatible new one. Rise, which is probably NBC’s favorite drama for next season, is the perfect candidate. The musical component might be a turn off for some people but it’s a Jason Katims’ show, meaning it’s all about the characters and the emotion that comes out. Exactly like This Is Us, which is very close to Katim’s Parenthood. A no-brainer.

WEDNESDAYS

CHICAGO FIRE

LAW & ORDER: SVU

CHICAGO PD

Chicago Fire is both the strongest and the most family-friendly show of the Chicago franchise. Moving it to the 8pm slot on wednesday would make a lot of sense. NBC even tested it there one time for a big crossover event between the Dick Wolf shows and it did great. Law & Order:SVU met some difficulties this spring with a series of low numbers but it’s a show that always rebounds in the fall and it beat Criminal Minds a few times. Why would they mess with that? Chicago PD is always fine where it is.

THURSDAYS

SUPERSTORE / THE GOOD PLACE

WILL & GRACE / GREAT NEWS

CHICAGO MED

The Superstore/The Good Place pairing didn’t do miracles for NBC last fall but it’s safe to assume they were happy enough to repeat it next year. It would lead into the revival of Will & Grace for a 12-episode season, which is a priority for the network. They’re already promoting it heavily… Will it be as huge as they’re hoping for? Probably not. But can it do better than Chicago Med? Probably yes! Since NBC didn’t pick up any multicamera comedy to pair it with, Great News seems to be the best option. It feels like a multicamera as a lot of critics pointed out when it started and it’s a comedy NBC has faith on apparently: they renewed it despite terrible numbers. It’s its only chance to do better. Chicago Med at 10 where ER aired for years doesn’t seem to be far-fetched.

FRIDAYS

LAW & ORDER TRUE CRIME

THE BLACKLIST

DATELINE

After years of low profile programming on friday, NBC seems to be ready to become a little more agressive. At 9, now that Grimm is gone, The Blacklist could move there and face Hawaii 5-0 on CBS. At 8, NBC could have put Blindspot BUT Law & Order True Crime, the anthology series about the Menendez crimes, is rumored to be on the fall schedule. There’s a chance the Dick Wolf show beats MacGyver, which is not as strong as the eye network wants us to believe by the way. It’s only for 8 weeks so Blindspot can take over later.

MIDSEASON

REVERIE & SHADES OF BLUE could be paired once Sunday Night Football is done. Two procedurals lead by women back to back.

AP BIO & TRIAL & ERROR (if it’s renewed) could replace Will & Grace & Great News. CHAMPIONS could replace THE GOOD PLACE which is only 13 episodes per season.

GOOD GIRLS could take over This Is Us slot once the 18-episode second season is done.

TAKEN could be used as a filler when The Voice & The Brave are off the air.

TIMELESS is supposed to come back for a 10-episode run in summer 2018.


What do you think? Feel free to comment!

NBC 2017/2018 Comedy Pilots ranked

 

Will NBC ever get rid off their terrible comedy curse while most of their schedule is in good shape compared to the other networks? There was a glimmer of hope when Superstore did surprisingly good two years ago but it has lost steam since then and it can’t be considered as a tent pole. At the time, we thought they may have found a comedy brand, which would consist of light workplace half-hours led by a female character. In that regard, Powerless seemed to be the perfect companion but after a heavy retooling and a change of showrunner, the first DC Comics comedy went nowhere and was even pull off the schedule, which doesn’t happen a lot these days. It’s not gonna come back.

Last fall, The Good Place starring Kristen Bell & Ted Danson garnered great reviews and offered a somewhat decent pairing for Superstore. It got renewed for a second season which is filming right now and it’s expected to be back next fall. It’s not a hit but at least they can be proud of it. And then there’s Trial & Error, a hard sell but an excellent show that NBC is said to be very fond of. A renewal is not out of reach. It might have been a better player on a streaming platform though, like they did with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sold to Netflix last minute. Finally, NBC launched Tina Fey-produced Great News two weeks ago and the ratings are already very challenging with a huge drop after the pilot. Marlon has yet to premiere this summer.

This pilot season, fewer comedy pilots were ordered (7 against 14 in 2016) as NBC has less and less room to try them and a Will & Grace 12-episode comeback season is eyed for fall. They may only pick-up 3 pilots to series. A tough race. Here’s what they got.

 

  1. UNTITLED KOURTNEY KANG PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television)

     What it’s like to grow up as the only girl in the only mixed race family in the suburbs of Philadelphia, dealing with real-world issues like race and gender while never losing focus of her life goal… to become a Laker Girl like her idol, Paula Abdul. With Isabelle Russo, Kenneth Choi, Rebecca Creskoff, Paula Abdul, Derek Hough…

Very very similar to Fresh Off The Boat -it’s from the same team- and just as good but with a female teenager POV instead. Edgy at times -the heroine is obsessed with boners and wants to make out with her relatively young teacher- and really funny, it just doesn’t look like an NBC show at all. Even on ABC, it would be a challenge because of the raunchy dialogues. Sounds like the great one that got away…

 

2. THE SACKETT SISTERS (Universal Television)

      Two estranged sisters perform a Sully Sullenberger-esque act of public heroism, then are forced to navigate their new found notoriety together. With Casey Wilson, Busy Phillips, Bradley Whitford, Rich Sommer…

2 Broke Girls may get cancelled by CBS but The Sackett Sisters are on their way to fill the void. They’re less vulgar but probably crazier. Casey Wilson & Busy Phillips are perfect for the roles and Bradley Whitford as their father is an incredible bonus. Sounds like comedy gold. I laughed a lot. I’m not sure the “internet sensations” thing can sustain for long but the family dynamics here is interesting. It’s a bit messy but it has potential. Due to Casey Wilson’s pregnancy, the show will probably not hit the air before 2018 though.

 

3. RELATIVELY HAPPY (Warner Bros. Television)

     An adult brother and sister wind up living together for the first time since they were kids, after one of them suffers a big loss. They become each other’s wingmen, shoulder to cry on, best friend and punching bag as they navigate love, loss and work while helping to get each other “un-stuck”. With Genevieve Angelson, Jon Rudnitsky, Mouzam Makkar, Jane Lynch…

The only multicamera comedy NBC has developed this year, partly because they needed something to pair with Will & Grace. It was first set at CBS under the title The Happy Peppers -which I like better- a couple of years ago. There’s definitely a Will & Grace vibe in the mechanics -they share a co-creator- but with siblings. Not as funny yet but cute and even touching. But this cast doesn’t look like a winner and NBC doesn’t seem to be high on it. It seems like it will get passed on and NBC will put a single-cam after Will & Grace

 

4. WHAT ABOUT BARB? (ABC Studios)

    Around a psychotherapist who tries to cut ties with her most overbearing patient but is unsuccessful and gains an annoying family member in the process. With Leah Remini, Jessica Gunning, Ben Lawson…

I get why ABC passed on it for themselves and offered it to other networks, though it doesn’t seem to be a fit anywhere else than on ABC. I haven’t seen the movie it’s adapted from –What About Bob?– but it’s good mostly, better than I imagined, though I’m a bit concerned about the longevity of such a concept. It’s very family-oriented, there are great dynamics in there and it feels real somehow which may be the most surprising thing about this pilot. The cast looks strong. The fact that it’s not produced in-house may doom it.

 

5. AP BIOLOGY (Universal Television)

    A hilariously cynical Ivy League professor loses out on his dream job and goes to work as a high school biology teacher where he imposes his unorthodox teaching style and uses the kids to plot out revenge on those who wronged him. With Glenn Howerton, Patton Oswalt, Mary Sohn…

This is the perfect example of a pilot that is both really annoying and irresistible at the same time. I wouldn’t be surprised if NBC goes for it even if it’s not their best script. It’s a high-school workplace comedy that works mostly because the secondary characters surrounding the central one are great, though they’re never given the time and the proper introduction they’re worth. Other than that, it’s a one man show, an irritating one sometimes. Though it resembles Bad Teacher and doesn’t have a ton of potential, it’s decent and very much in the network’s wheelhouse.

 

6. CHAMPIONS (Universal Television)

    Vince, a charismatic gym owner with no ambition, lives with his younger brother Michael, a gorgeous idiot. Their simple life of women and working out is put on hold when the gay teenage son of Vince is dropped off on their doorstep by Priya, one of his old high school flings. The three of them have to live together now. With Anders Holm, Andy Favreau, J.J Totah, Mindy Kaling…

There’s a very original dynamics in there between three very different men and a half-indian gay teenager is not the type of character we meet a lot on television. It’s enjoyable for the most part thanks to strong dialogues and pop-culture references but it feels very predictable and like The Mindy Project, the writers don’t seem to know where to go next. Plus, it doesn’t belong to NBC for me (FOX?). Won’t work IMHO.

 

7. SPACED OUT (Warner Bros. Television)

    A working class genius and his struggles to fit in with an established team all made more difficult when their job is building a rocket to Marr. With Matt Shively, Christine Woods, Miranda Cosgrove, Brett Goldstein, Donald Faison…

This one is too nerdy for my taste and it can’t compare to The Big Bang Theory. There’s way too much voice over. It’s funny at times but you can count how many times you laughed, which is not a good sign, and it doesn’t have a ton of potential. The cast looks quite good though, which is the only thing that could save it I guess.

 

 

Shelter (NBC) pilot preview: A great disaster TV movie…

Written and produced by Warren Leight (Law & Order SVU, Law & Order CI, In Treatment). Executive produced by Paul Haggis (Collision, Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale, Walker Texas Ranger) & Charles McDougall. Directed by Charles McDougall (Sex & The City, Desperate Housewives, The Office, The Good Wife). For Sony Pictures Television. 01/27/17.

Description:  The nurses and doctors of Our Lady of Salvation, an understaffed Brooklyn hospital, becomes the borough’s last viable trauma center after a catastrophic hurricane wreaks havoc on the city. On a holiday weekend with few doctors on call, the medical staff is pushed to make the most difficult life-and-death choices as they work to save their patients and themselves…

With Rachel Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters, Six Feet Under, When We Rise, Muriel’s Wedding), Nikki M. James (The Good Wife, Braindead), JJ Feild (Turn), Jamie McShane (Scorpion, Bloodline, SouthLAnd), Latarsha Rose (Being Mary Jane), Paola Lazaro, Matthew James Thomas (Britannia High), Nadia Gan (Mr Robot)…

  

You’ll like it if you already like: ER, Grey’s Anatomy, Code Black, disaster TV movies…

Likely timeslot: midseason slot (sunday?)

 

Shelter was the first big drama buy for the broadcast network this pilot season, receiving a pilot production commitment by NBC with Paul Haggis potentially directing. But the movie director had apparently better things to do when it actually got ordered. It doesn’t matter that much though, Charles McDougall is a very good one and many pilots he directed got picked-up to series in the past. In the medical field, the network already has Chicago Med -which is fine despite unsatisfying numbers in its second year- and summer filler The Night Shift. Do they need a third one? I’m very doubtful. I don’t think there’s a slot for it in the fall. Later, maybe…

The hook here is that it’s a real time “extreme event” medical drama. But they don’t mean real time like 24 was originally set up. A one-hour episode is not equal to one-hour in fiction time in Shelter. We don’t really know how much time has passed when the pilot ends. A few hours probably. So it doesn’t feel that different from the other medical shows. The concept of 24 sounds a little too early 2000s anyway. And then there’s the “extreme event” part. This one is accurate – a catastrophic hurricane wreaks havoc on the city- but ultimately it doesn’t feel like the beginning of a TV show but more like the first-part of a 4-hour mini series… from the 90s! Which doesn’t mean it’s boring or anything. I was actually hooked from the first page to the last. It works. It’s very fast-paced and action-packed to the point it’s even exhausting. So many things are happening… A little too many? You can feel the storm coming. And when it arrives, it’s definitely not a little one. Code Grey, Code Red and Code Black have been activated at the hospital. And then the Disaster Code. I get that the writer wants to show how huge the event is but he may be forgetthing he could have 12 other episodes to write after that. What will happen then? And what about the hurricane? It will have to end at some point.

It’s a very character-driven medical drama with our heroine, Kim, the nurse in chief, being at the center of this huge mess and trying to be the best at everything: treating patients (one of them, of course, is her wreckless teenage son), organizing the unorganizable, kick ass at shutting her boss’ big mouth, dealing with her ex-husband who’s a pain in the ass and finding the time to sleep wiht a doctor, her fuck-buddy who wants more. And she’s very good at all of this. Rachel Griffiths will probably thrive on this. Welcome back to american network TV, dear. One other nurse is very pregnant. Classic. She’ll probably deliver her baby in atrocious circumstances later. It’s a diverse cast, with mostly appealing characters, though most of them have yet to be introduced properly with more details about their personal lives. That’s where the show can find more stories to tell in subsequent episodes, though having family members coming to the hospital could get old very fast.

The most intruiging character is Meghan Sparks, the hospital administrator, that everybody will hate initially, that’s for sure. It’s funny because she’s described as a blonde “FOX News hostess” type in the script and she’s played by Nikki M. James, who’s the contrary of this. What’s even more funny is that the same thing happened with Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy. She was supposed to be a tiny blonde -and Kristin Chenoweth was approached to play the role- but they went for Chandra Wilson. Meghan brings the most interesting thing about this show: it is set in an understaffed hospital of Brooklyn, in a poor neighborhood, and she represents what’s wrong with the american health system. It’s an old theme, but few medical shows tackled it properly and it seems to be timeless, sadly.

Shelter is not the next great medical drama, but it would be a fine TV movie or miniseries and it would fit well with the Chicago shows while doing a better job at keeping you on the edge of your seats. Maybe NBC can turn it into a two or three nights event but a weekly show for years? It seems unlikely. With those characters and this perfect sense of urgency, it’s a bummer.

Rise -aka Drama High- (NBC) pilot preview: Glee for emotionally open grown-ups, This Is Us style

Written and produced by Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Bosto Public). Inspired by a true story. Based on Michael Sokolove‘s book. Executive produced by Michelle Lee (The Path, Pure Genius, About a Boy), Flody Suarez (8 simples Rules…) & Jeffrey Seller (Hamilton, Rent). Directed by Mike Cahill. For Universal Television & True Jack Productions. 54 pages. 2nd revised network draft. 01/30/17.

Description: The story of Lou Volpe, a litterature teacher in his forties in a Pennsylvania high school, who is appointed by the principal to take over and modernize the theater program that is dying. He chooses the provocative and emotional rock musical Spring Awakening –about teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality in late-19th-century Germany- as their first production. A choice that won’t be without consequences for the students and their families in this “Americana” town…

With Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother, Mercy Street), Rosie Perez (Search Party, Lipstick Jungle), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), Marley Shelton (The Lottery, Eleventh Hour), Amy Forsyth (Defiance, The Path), Casey Johnson, Rarmian Newton (The Family), Shannon Purser (Stranger Things, Riverdale), Damon J. Gillespie, Shirley Rumierk, Joe Tippett, Ted Sutherland, Taylor Richardson

    

You’ll like if you already like: Glee, Smash, Friday Night Lights, This Is Us, Parenthood

Likely timeslot: Tuesday at 9 or 10 paired with This Is Us

There’s a question that is still haunting me six months later: why did This Is Us become such a success on NBC while Parenthood, which was very much in the same vein and even better, never got real traction during six years? There are multiple theories like Milo Ventimiglia’s ass in the trailer. Or the fact that the twists made all the difference. Mine is simpler: it came out with a perfect timing. The right show in the right place at the right time. And for the first time, fabulous writer Jason Katims, who was behind Parenthood but also Friday Night Lights and more recently Pure Genius, may have created the right show in the right place at the right time. Supposedly paired with This Is Us and not very far from The Voice, Rise has every chance to become a hit. And it deserves to. That’s the best script I’ve read this season so far (with comedy Libby & Malcolm at ABC which happens to be very timely too). It’s emotional, delicate and rich.

The pitch sounds like Glee and it’s probably Rise‘s biggest weakness from a marketing point of view. The feeling of “been there, done that” won’t be easy to erase from potential viewers’ minds. It’s a leap of faith, clearly. But honestly, whatever is your opinion on Glee -mine is not flattering- we’re very from it from the overall tone to the characters’ stories. Glee was a funny, entertaining, sometimes poignant show, which main goal was to give a litteral voice to characters rarely seen on TV. An enjoyable mess that outstayed its welcome, I’d add. Rise is an entirely different beast. By the way, it’s not exactly a musical high-school drama soap, as it could be described. It is mostly set in a high-school, there’s a bit of music in it -but not that much- and there are soap elements, that’s true, but to me it’s a realistic drama above all and the story of a working-class town and the families that live there. Like Friday Night Lights was not really a drama about football. Stanton, Pennsylvania, is like Dillon, Texas: a struggling but picturesque town with diners, churches, clapboard houses, american flags everywhere…

What NBC could and should insist on is the fact it’s based on a formidable true story, the one of Lou Volpe, a ground-breaking high school drama teacher who ran for 44 years the renowned drama program at Harry S Truman High School in Levittown, a low-income town in Pennsylvania, as chronicled in the book Drama High, written by one of his students, Michael Sokolove. And the fact that Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez, producers of Tony-Award-Winning hip-hop musical Hamilton, are associated with the project says a lot about how important Rise could become, as a cultural phenomenon and a stepping stone in this new era of television where networks want to reflect middle-America as how it really is. These days, people want real situations, real emotions, as This Is Us just proved.

Among the principal characters, aside from Lou Volpe and his family -he’s married and a father of three children- there is Lilette, a half Puerto Rican half Irish teenage girl, and her hot mess of a mother, a waitress sexually harassed by her boss; Robbie, an African-American stud, whose mother is in late stages of muscular disease; Simon, a Christian closeted young gay man, whose younger sister is in a wheelchair; Gwen, the theather’s queen bee whose parents are on the verge of divorce; Maashous, a mysterious foster kid who’s living secretly at the school… Don’t worry, Lou has his own Sue Sylvester: Tracey Wolfe, the high energy with a no-holds-barred mouth current Drama School teacher and a former high school theater person, who’s really funny and adds a welcome lightness to the ensemble.

Behind every student character, there’s a difficult, sometimes really sad but ordinary family story and a talent ready to explode with so many things to say through songs. We don’t get many informations about every one of them in the pilot but in the end we want to spend more time at their sides to understand who they really are and why they feel so familiar, how much we share with them… and hear more of their singing voices. Jason Katims is so good at portraying people without making them clichés. It’s impressive and admirable. This pilot is not about big twists or OMG moments or crazy laughs or huge performances. It’s about setting the stage for the season to come, introducing the characters and bringing them together towards this theater program that will change their life. There is so much potential and so many stories to tell starting from here. It couldn’t have been more promising and exciting than that.

Rise is probably one of the best things that will happen to us in a few months on television, believe me. It’s the promise of an exceptional show that will resonate with America and hopefully the whole world, that will bring people together. It will make us laugh and cry, and sing and dance, as long as we’re emotionally open and ready for it… Rise will make us all very happy. And that’s the most beautiful thing to do.