Tag: please dont go

Broken (ABC) pilot preview: Half-baked, half-bold, half-good

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Also known as “Please don’t go“. Created and executive produced by Meaghan Oppenheimer (We Are Your Friends). Directed by Jeremy Podeswa (Six Feet Under, The Tudors, Game Of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire). Also executive produced by Reese Witherspoon (Gone Girl, Wild, Hot Pursuit), Casey HaverBruna Papandrea (Harvey Milk, Wild, Gone Girl, Warm Bodies). For ABC, ABC Studios & Pacific Standard. 62 pages.

Description: The personal and professional life of Gemma Avon, a ruthless divorce attorney in Dallas. Raised in the trailer parks of Texas, she has left behind a life of struggle amid squalor, working her way into a corner office and mansion in Dallas’s most prestigious neighborhood. But beneath her facade of togetherness, she’s plagued by self-destructive tendencies and long hidden family secrets that begin to unravel her life when her sister Jules comes back into her life…

With Anna Paquin (True Blood, Roots, X-Men, The Piano), Blair Underwood (Agents of SHIELD, The Event, LAX, Sex & The City), T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife, 11.22.63), Charity Wakefield (The Player), Penelope Ann Miller (American Crime, Mistresses, Kindergarten Cop), Enrique Murciano (Bloodline, Power, Without a Trace), Thad Luckinbill (Nikita, The Young and the Restless)…

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This year, ABC execs are into procedural shows while Castle is coming to an end. At least that’s what have been said in the news. But their pilot slate doesn’t reflect upon it yet. Next year, maybe. Not that it is a good idea anyway… After Conviction, which is the closest they have to a straight procedural (read the preview), and John Ridley’s heavy-serialized detective show Presence (read the preview), here comes Broken, previously known as Please Don’t Go (which was a way better title I think), starring Anna Paquin. But first, it’s not a police procedural. In fact, police is not involved in this, at all. And the procedural element is tiny. It’s mostly a legal drama dealing with one of the most public and expensive divorce cases in the state of Texas where billions of dollars are at stake. We will follow its twists and turns throughout the season, with probably a few minor cases added to the mix along the way. As I see things, it’s a good compromise, more in ABC’s wheeelhouse, but it also makes it a weaker contestant for a series pick-up. This, plus the fact that it could have been better.

It all starts with a flashback of Gemma’s childhood when she was a scared eleven-year-old girl taking charge of her fragile 3-year-old sister the day their mother hustled them out of the house, because of a man who may or may not have been their father. Stepfather? And may or may not have been dangerous. We’re not given any answers to those questions, yet. In fact, most of our questions in this pilot are left unanswered overall. It’s a good strategy so we come back to the show. But for that, we need to care. And I’m afraid we don’t. Too many secrets? In present day, Gemma is a successful lawyer but not that good a person. She’s tough as nails. She has a big mouth. She can be chilly and a real bitch. She knows how to hurt people. Her clients love her for that. She never gives up. She’s restless. But it has a price: other people hate her. She don’t have any friends but many enemies. Even in the firm she works for. Her biggest nemesis is Mark (T.R. Knight), a very competitive colleague. One of them is meant to become a partner soon. Their rivarly is an exciting perspective with sharp dialogues. Classical but efficient.

And then, we learn something that changes everything and makes Gemma a real ABC heroine in the vein of Olivia Pope & Annalise Keating. And the show a bit more dramatic. No, she doesn’t kill anybody. She sleeps with her boss, James (Blair Underwood) even though she’s happily married to a nice rich guy. Too nice probably. She asks him to join her in the middle of the night and they fuck like animals in his car. He asks her to tell him “I want you to fuck me“. Which she does. Needless to say, ABC won’t let that happen. I mean, it’s written “he fucks her, hard, his hand wrapped tight around her neck.” We won’t see that exactly. In fact, the words “fuck” or “motherfucker” come back like 10 times throughout the script. I guess it was written for cable, before they realized the content was not cable-worthy. But the language is, on paper. Sorry, Anna. You’re not on HBO anymore. I think the whole problem of this script resides in the fact that it’s not written as a network show. It takes too much time establishing the story, the characters. It’s okay on cable. It’s not on a network. You need to make sacrifices so the viewers get hooked quickly before they’re tempted to change the channel. It’s sad, but that’s how it works now. Broken might be too old school for its time.

The other problem is that it’s too reasonable, sane. The sister character should have been crazier, more disruptive. Maybe we’ll discover later that she’s a real psycho but for now she’s just a lost girl who’s making the same mistakes her mother did, which means falling in love with the wrong guys and going full drama queen when it gets complicated. The sisters’ relationship is interesting though. Plus, we don’t have much of them on television right now. And since we’re talking about what’s good in this pilot script, let’s talk about the legal part! This one is perfectly executed and exciting. The big case is emotional and realistic. It doesn’t seem to be very original –can any divorce case be?– but it’s not what we’re asking for. We just want to feel something for those people and see every aspect of their failed marriage. Who’s to blame? What about their kid? It seems promising. The scenes where Gemma does her magic are incredibly enjoyable, especially for legal drama suckers like me. And again, the dialogues are really delicious.

Broken actually is a bit broken. It wants to be both network-y and cable-y, both broad and edgy, but the writer had to choose which way to go. So we’re in the middle of something that is half-baked, half-bold, half-good. If you add the fact that Anna Paquin is not the kind of actress that is widely appreciated –but at least this role is very different from True Blood‘s Sookie– what are the odds of this project getting picked-up to series? I’m not optimistic but I wouldn’t mind watching it if it was on… 

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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