Tag: riley smith

Frequency (The CW) pilot preview: Some good movies should just stay movies

FREQUENCY

Created & executive produced by Jeremy Carver (Supernatural, Being Human US). Based on Toby Emmerich’s movie. Also executive produced by Toby Emmerich (The Hobbit, The Notebook, The Butterfly Effect), Dan Lin (Forever), Jennifer Gwartz (Veronica Mars, Forever) & John Rickhard (Horrible Bosses, How To Be Single). For The CW, Warner Bros. Television, New Line Cinema & Lin Pictures.

Description: Raimy Sullivana female police detective in 2016 discovers she is able to speak via a ham radio with her estranged father, Frank, also a detective, who died in 1996. They forge a new relationship while working together on an unresolved murder case, but unintended consequences of the ‘butterfly effect’ wreak havoc in the present day…

With Peyton List (The Tomorrow People, Flashfoward), Riley Smith (Nashville, 90210, True Blood), Mekhi Phifer (ER, Lie To Me, Torchwood) , Lenny Jacobson (Nurse Jackie), Devin Kelley (Resurrection, The Chicago Code), Anthony Ruivivar (Banshee, Third Watch), Sean Howard Roberts (Painkiller Jane)…

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A good movie doesn’t inevitably make a good series. And a good pilot doesn’t inevitably make a good series either. Frequency with Dennis Quaid & Jim Caviezel was a nice little movie. It was NOT necessary to transform into a weekly TV series. It doesn’t mean the pilot is not good. It’s quite okay, to tell the truth. And it doesn’t come such as a surprise since they just took the same story and simplified it as much as they could without losing the logic, the consistency of it all, so it can play over the course of 42 minutes. But as much as I enjoyed reading the script, I don’t like what the series is poised to become: just another police procedural with a sci-fi twist. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t even understand how they can play with the same idea -two cops in two different timelines investigating together- past a few episodes. Unless our heroin, Raimy, becomes a “cold cases” investigator for murders that happened in the 90s, when her father was still alive, which is pretty specific, hum. Even the serialized part of the show can’t sustain much longer. So: okay pilot, future boring TV show.

The project was first based at NBC last year, with the same writer, and it didn’t go to pilot. It was not a good fit and I guess they saw everything that goes wrong with a Frequency series. Smart decision from their part. Warner Bros. didn’t surrender and sold it to sister-network The CW this season. But it’s not a good fit either! Yes, The CW has changed and makes more adult shows now but I really don’t think their audience will embrace it, it’s simply not in their DNA. And the fact that it’s written by a Supernatural writer doesn’t change a thing. You know what it made me think of? Forever. I liked Forever and even if it wasn’t a success for ABC, the show got a solid fanbase. Would it work on The CW? Probably not. It was more of a FOX show, I’d say. Same here. The difference is, it’s not fun. It’s pretty serious all the time. No jokes. Raimy & Frank are too affected to crack jokes. It’s understandable, they’re not in a good place, but what about the secondary characters? They don’t really exist for now. I read the script three days ago and I don’t remember them much. All of this lacks electricity, sparkles. Dialogues are not sharp enough.

What they could make believable somehow in the movie is harder to swallow in the pilot. It goes too fast, more explanations are needed about the way the ham radio works, about why the father and the daughter can connect. They don’t even try. There’s just a thunderstorm and that’s it. So it comes out as a bit ridiculous at first. But then you get carried away by the investigation and the emotion that comes out of this daughter-dead father relationship, the same way as the Peter & Walter Bishop relationship worked in Fringe. If there’s one thing this pilot is, is emotional! It really is on paper, at least. The director and actors now have to do justice to it. I’m not a big Peyton List fan though, I’m afraid she can’t pull it off. And I haven’t seen much of Riley Smith but in Nashville he was not that bad…

With The CW recently renewing all of their shows, there are not many slots available for new series next season. They ordered six pilots. They’ll probably pick-up three of them to series. In this context, I don’t see Frequency getting a greenlight, even though it’s pretty decent when you just look at the pilot. It’d be hard making 80 episodes out of it -which is a problem for a procedural- and it’s just not on the same wavelength as other CW shows.

Urban Cowboy (FOX) pilot preview: The same old tired rodeo…

URBAN

Written, directed & produced by Craig Brewer (Black Snake Moan, Footloose, Terriers, Empire). Also produced by Sue Naegle (Outcast), Chris Levinson (Tyrant, Charmed, Dawson’s Creek, Law & Order) & Robert Evans (Sliver, Chinatown, The Godfather). Based on 1980 movie Urban Cowboy. For Paramount Television & 20th Century FOX Television. 57 pages.

Description: Juan Miguel, a country boy from Mexico, known as “El Tornado” in the rodeo world, moves illegally in Houston, Texas, with his baby sister, after their parents have been killed because of a cartel. Now they have to change their identity -he becomes Kyle- and start anew with the help of their uncle, Al. At the popular local bar called Gilley’s, he meets the daughter of the owner, Gaby, a young immigrant lawyer, who’s taking over the business since her dad is dying. There’s a spark between them… This is the story of young lovers as they pursue their dreams and passions through the dust of the rodeo, the grime of the oil refineries, the sweat of line-dancing in honky tonks, the glamour of modern Texas, but the drug cartels are never far from them…

With Alfonso Herrera (Sense8, Terminales, El Equipo, El Diez), Nathalie Kelley (UnREAL, Body Of Proof), Jim Belushi (According to Jim, Red Heat), Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Blade Runner), Lindsey Gort (The Carrie Diaries, Impastor), Riley Smith (The Messengers, 90210, True Blood), Billy Miller (General Hospital, The Young & The Restless), Bryana Salaz

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While every network, especially NBC, is looking for the next Empire, a soap that will draw huge numbers and become a phenomenon -can lightning strike twice?- FOX is already searching for a suitable companion for Empire, since Rosewood is just a temporary solution that will collapse sooner or later, and move to another night (where it will get cancelled eventually). They speed up the process and picked-up two pilots: Star, from Empire‘s Lee Daniels, but without a script ready at the time the shooting is postponed to december, and Urban Cowboy, based on the 1980 movie with John Travolta & Debra Winger. The first one is musical while the second one only contains one little musical element. But it’s a soap, meant to attract latino viewers the same way Empire did with african-americans. Urban Cowboy has just finished shooting. FOX should decide in the next few days if they order it to series, probably for a spring launch.

Urban Cowboy‘s pilot script doesn’t really convince me that it is THE ONE. It’s just not good enough. And it doesn’t have any Cookie in it. In many ways, it reminded of Blood and oil, the soap ABC just launched with mediocre ratings, and of course Dallas, not just because it is set in Texas, with a oil refinery component -‘cos apparently Texas economy only revolves around oil and nothing else- but also because it’s the same old tired story of drug cartels screwing everything up that was the worst part of the Dallas remake. The dialogues are dull, the characters are too kind and innocent -of course there is one villain or two- and it misses the key of Empire‘s success: the fun! Urban Cowboy is only fun (and sexy) when the character of Vivian (played by Lindsey Gort), a young woman with the western style -jeans, vest with fringe and hat- comes into action to shake things up a little bit. A classic love triangle between Kyle, Gaby and him is to expect. And to be clear: every development of the pilot is predictable.

My biggest concern about the show it could become is the fact that it is based prominently on a love story between the two leads. It’s okay for a romantic movie or even a romantic TV comedy, but for a drama, especially a soap, it can turn into a curse. Of course there are secondary characters and many other stories to tell, but the central focus of the writers will be making them a couple -there are still not at the end of the pilot- and then making them marry like in the movie and then break up. And then what? Putting them back together? I’m already fed up with it and it hasn’t even started yet! And it’s not like the other stories are that promising either. Even though the show starts with Kyle’s sister Ana Sofia -later known as Anita- playing the piano and writing a song, the musical part doesn’t really exist as of now. Sure, she’s listening to an Ariana Grande song with her cousin at some point, but that’s all. Of course, it will be revisited but it’s not enough to make a good pairing with Empire. Plus the fact that there is not any african-american character. It’s either you do a show for latinos or for black people but you can’t mix them. That’s stupid and sad. Studio City did that, but FOX didn’t want it past pilot season, for reasons still unknown.

Urban Cowboy could have been an interesting soap with more time to develop it and maybe another writer, ‘cos the rodeo background is a good idea. But in the end, it’s just the same thing we’ve already seen failing a thousand times. FOX probably rushed things to have something to pair Empire with but they didn’t bet on the right horse. We’ll see if they order it to series but don’t hold your breath on this one…

“Studio City” (FOX) pilot preview: when “The O.C.” & “Shameless” are making music together

STUDIOCITY

Written & produced by Krista Vernoff (Shameless US, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Charmed). Co-produced by John Wells (Shameless US, ER, The West Wing, Third Watch) & Andrew Stearn (Shameless US, The West Wing, SouthLAnd, Third Watch). Directed by Sanaa Hamri (Shameless US, Empire, Nashville, Elementary). For FOX, Warner Bros. Television & John Wells Prods. 61 pages.

Description: After her alcoholic mother totally lost it, Catalina Evans, 17, is sent to L.A to live with her songwriter father and her stepfamily. What she thought would be an easier life doesn’t turn out exactly the way it should when she discovers her dad is a drug dealer to the stars and haven’t sell a single song for years. With her own dreams of stardom in mind, she starts her new life full of hope and songs to give…

With Florence PughEric McCormack (Will & Grace, Perception, Trust Me), Heather Graham (Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, Scrubs, Californication), Riley Smith (True Blood, 90210), Jeanine Mason (Bunheads), Samantha Logan (666 Park Avenue, The Fosters), Jordan Calloway (ER, Allie Singer), Timothy Granaderos

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The whole time I was reading Studio City‘s pilot script I was thinking about whether or not it would be a good fit with Empire. The musical show’s surprise and incredible success didn’t allow FOX to develop any soap opera of the same kind to pair it with, on time for pilot season. But honestly, I don’t think FOX should even try to do that. Other networks, yes, they will have to. Even if ABC always did and NBC tried many times the past few years but failed to offer one on the schedule except the horrible Deception. Some of you may also remember Cane on CBS. There probably won’t be another Empire anytime soon. FOX better should find shows that are not straight soap-operas but which could work with Empire. Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens is a very strong contender (already picked-up to series). Studio City is another one. I’m always suspicious when a show is officially described as a little bit of this mixed with a little it of that. But this time, they’re not playing with us: Studio City really is The OC meets Shameless. With a bit of Nashville too. But this, they couldn’t say.

The OC (and Nashville) part of Studio City is pretty obvious from the get go : a smalltown girl with a violent and batshit crazy mother comes to L.A. to live with her songwriter father and his family in a nice house with a pool. But a little pool. Studio City is not Orange County. It’s not a poor neighborhood either. And since we’re talking about Los Angeles, know the big city is pretty much a character in the show. I’m just a little disappointed the writer made very cliché and uninspired choices such as Malibu beach or Universal Studios’ Jurassic Park Ride to locate some scenes. The OC comparison also works with the tone that is used: there’s a lot of humor and characters who don’t take themselves too seriously, like Rob, the father -it’s a good thing he’s played by such a funny guy like Eric McCormack- or the mother-in-law, Stevie (Heather Graham), who’s not Cookie but a pretty insane woman we can only love. They’re just the right amount of funny and craziness. More would make them unbelievable. Most of the cast consists of young adults characters because Rob has another daughter from a previous marriage, Emma, who acts like a bitch, and Stevie has a son, Mateo, and a daughter, Zoe. And they are all beautiful, of course. Two of them may even fall in love… Oh, shocking!

And that’s when Shameless US more than comes to mind, which is not so surprising since the creator, as well as the producers -especially the great John Wells who never disappoints- work for the show. You can find the same kind of lightness even when terrible things happen and this very special family liberates the same sort of energy and warmth. There are a few quite daring storylines, like this love story I won’t talk about, or the central conflict of having a drug dealer as a father. Note this is inspired by the real story of Krista Vernoff, the creator. In case you thought it was not credible. That being said, Studio City don’t (and can’t) go as far as Shameless and stays very much in a network comfort zone. Proof: the script starts with the mention “Curse words will be silenced or bleeped“. We hate that.

Even if I liked what I’ve read, I was not totally hooked and I’m not sure why. Maybe because the promise of what’s to come is not clear enough. I don’t know what we will see every week. The different members of the family doing bad things, mostly? How long can it stay relevant, then? The coming of age story of Cat is what interests me the most. At the very beginning of the pilot, we’re exposed to what she will become in 4 years: a superstar. Taylor Swift-like, it is said. I’m curious to see how we get there. You have to wait for 30 pages to hear a song, by the way. For now, the show can’t be labelled as a musical drama. Good: we already have enough of that!

Studio City‘s pilot script is very decent and a pleasure to read but I don’t think there is an unmissable TV show in there. An enjoyable one, that’s for sure. But nothing we haven’t already been told a million times. After Glee, Smash, Nashville, Power, Violetta (!) and Empire, what’s left to say about the musical industry? Probably a ton of things, but I can’t imagine Studio City saying them differently or at all. BUT I also think FOX really should favor this one to the dark drama pilots they ordered so… I’m in!