Tag: robert kirkman

Outcast (Cinemax) pilot preview: when Robert Kirkman trades zombies for demons

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Written and produced by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead). Co-produced by David Alpert (Powers, The Walking Dead), Sue Naegle, Sharon Tal Yguado (The Listener) & Chris Black (Sliders, Mad Men, Ugly Betty). Directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next). For Cinemax, Fox International Channels & Circle of Confusion. 71 pages.

Description: A small town is plagued with a growing number of demonic possessions. Kyle Barnes, the town outcast, who was shunned after claiming to battle these forces as a child, may now be the only one who can stop them. With the help of the Reverend Anderson, a preacher with personal demons of his own, Kyle embarks on a journey to find answers and regain the normal life he lost. But what Kyle discovers could change his fate – and the fate of the world – forever.

With Patrick Fugit (Full Circle, Gone Girl, We Bought a Zoo), Philip Glenister (Ashes to Ashes, Mad Dogs), Wrenn Schmidt (Boardwalk Empire, Person of Interest, The Americans), David Denman (The Office, Parenthood, Drop Dead Diva), Catherine Dent (The Shield, The Mentalist), Lee Tergesen (Oz, Desperate Housewives, Weird Science), Melinda McGraw (NCIS, Mad Men), Grace Zabriskie (Big Love, Ray Donovan, Twin Peaks), Gabriel Bateman (Stalker), Julia Crockett

STARS JUNE 3

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I’m not especially fond of Robert Kirkman’s work so far to be perfectly honest, but I have to admit that with The Walking Dead, he created a phenomenon from scratch against all odds and that’s impressive. No network or cable executives wanted to bet on a zombie show at the time (and they regret it deeply now…). The zombie genre was nowhere to be found on TV. And he made it, quite beautifully, whatever your opinion is about the show and its recent spin-off. With Outcast for Cinemax, once again based on the comic he co-created himself, he’s trying to give birth to the exorcism drama genre, that doesn’t really exist yet (apart from specific storylines on every fantastic show ever). He’s up to the challenge, but Outcast‘s pilot script is not that strong. That’s probably why AMC surprisingly passed on the project (Preacher is a way better option) and Cinemax jumped on the occasion and wrote a bigger check in a desperate move. They are still looking for what their identity is. Action-oriented dramas like Strike Back and Banshee didn’t prove much. Outcast is entirely something else. And action there is not a lot in there!

Outcast is a character-driven story, and that is what the best pilots (and series?) need to be, so we can care. Sadly, it’s hard to care about Kyle Barnes, at least for now, or even simply root for him. He’s exasperating. He whines a lot. He’s so sad, you know. Life has been hard to him. Robert Kirkman spends too much time insisting on it. It makes the pilot even darker and gloomier than it should be. Don’t look for any fun dialogue or a beacon of hope. Gosh, why so serious? Heavy stuff. Not surprising though: every character from The Walking Dead are such downers (except Carol maybe but I stopped watching).

Anyway, the writer sets up a great deal of conflicts, mostly through flashbacks: with his mother who used to beat him as a child; with his wife and daughter but what happened between them remains a mystery; and with his sister, who’s still trying top help him. She’s a courageous girl, and a character we can relate to. Then there’s the whole town who thinks he’s the demon. And well, maybe he is. One thing’s for sure: he’s possessed since he’s a little boy -some graphic and disgusting scenes help us understand the horrible feeling- and he’s not the only one anymore over there. Something’s spreading and we are supposed to be afraid. We’re not. Yet.

I don’t know about you but the exorcism stories have always bored me to death. And when you’ve seen one such scene -especially if it’s from The Exorcist, the one and only masterpiece- then you’ve seen every one of them. They’re always the same. It’s the same as zombies “running” after humans to eat them. It gets old very fast. One pilot with three exorcism scenes is enough for me. What about some kind of mythology? It is implied that there is one underneath it all. But it’s not clear whether we should be confident about it being huge enough to grab our attention weekly, for more than one season. What about the bigger picture? If it’s just the “demon of the week”, kill me already!

Outcast could be noisier than previous Cinemax’s shows because of its pedigree and originality and that’s probably why they are so high on it. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing in this pilot script that really makes want to be back for a second episode, let alone an entire season. It’s not just that it’s not for me. It’s that it’s not very good, actually. But we’ll see how the audience responds to it. A surprise is always possible…

 

Fear The Walking Dead (AMC) pilot preview: Can the spin-off be better than the original?

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Written & produced by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) & David Erickson (Sons of Anarchy, Low Winter Sun). Co-produced by Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, Bill Johnson & David Alpert. Directed by Adam Davidson (Hell On Wheels, Community, Big Love, Parenthood). For AMC,  AMC Studios, Circle of Confusion & Valhalla Entertainment. 55 pages.

Description: When her drug-addict teenage son Nick is found in shock in the middle of the street as if he has just seen a ghost, Madison Bennett tries to understand what happened to him, with the help of her daughter Alicia and her fiancé Travis Posada. They discover it might be linked to the mysterious illness that is spreading at a fast rate in the city of Los Angeles for a few days and inevitably all around the globe soon…

With Kim Dickens (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, House of Cards, Friday Night Lights), Cliff Curtis (Die Hard 4, Training Day, Three Kings), Frank Dillane (Sense8), Alycia Debnam-Carey (The 100, Unfriended), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Orange is the new Black, Grimm), Lorenzo James Henrie

STARTS THIS AUGUST ON AMC

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When AMC announced they were working on an unnecessary spin-off of The Walking Dead, nobody was really surprised and everybody expected something a little more exotic and original than setting it in Los Angeles. I mean, they had endless possibilities. Africa, or Asia, or even Europe would have been more exciting. Another part of the globe! But way more expensive and definitely riskier. It was too much to ask I guess. Robert Kirkman and his co-producers took the easy road, we can’t really blame them. So what’s the catch? Fear The Walking Dead is basically showing the first days of the epidemic through the eyes of the members of a modern, recomposed and a little cliché family who lives in the city of angels. The interesting part? Discovering what happened with the authorities, the government… But that’s not much what the pilot is about. The series? Hard to say for now. We’re just given a little bit of information, hoping we’ll get more at some point. But we know how powerless everybody is and how it ends, so…

As I understand it, Fear The Walking Dead is trying to be broader than the original show. Which is weird. Part of the fact it became such a phenomenon is that it was surprising, never seen before on TV, brutal, graphic and carefully crafted. It was a genre show that became highly popular, addictive and hyptnotizing without even trying to. Same as what happened with Game of Thrones on HBO in a way, except they tried harder. FTWD isn’t surprising. It starts exactly the same way, with Nick, the teenage son, waking up after a long sleep in a house where he is not supposed to be, in the middle of puddles of blood and guts. He starts quickly remembering what happened, the horrors he saw (a friend of his eating another friend of them) and it doesn’t take long before walkers appear, prompting him to escape before it’s too late. Then he gets in a car accident. End of act one. It’s efficient but also sufficient to realize that whether it’s in The Walking Dead or the spin-off, whether it happens in Atlanta or Los Angeles, with Rick or with Nick, at the end of the day it tells the same story and it’s a story that is already running out of fuel for quite some time in the original show – which I watched the first four seasons, before quitting because I was bored as hell and I didn’t like any of the characters still alive, except Carol. I didn’t feel anything anymore for anyone. That’s when you break up, right?

Then there’s the family drama. We meet the members of the Bennett and Posada families one by one. And they are… boring? Kind of. They seem so you and me and everyone else. Okay, the son is a drug addict -and not all of us are- but the mom is a mom -caring and loving and too kind for Nick’s own good- the stepfather is a stepfather -tries to fit in, tries to be THE man, the savior, the hero- and the teenage daughter is a teenage daughter -rebellious and not too concerned by what happens, as long as she can sneak out to make out with her older bad boy boyfriend. There’s the ex-wife, bitter; and the other son, bitter and pissed. Madison can’t really be compared to any of the moms in The Walking Dead but Travis acts a lot like Rick, at least at the beginning of the series. It’s not hard to connect with them, to understand their feelings, their reactions. And that’s the problem. It’s too easy. It’s too classical. It doesn’t move you, or annoy you. It leaves you indifferent, for the most part. Those who’ve seen the original show don’t want to see a smoother version of it. And those who have not seen the original certainly won’t check out this one. It’s not like AMC could promote it as “it’s The Walking Dead, but for a family audience”. There are still zombies, and violence, and hard stuff to deal with. It ends with a severed head that is still alive and stares at the family…

I’m not a big fan of The Walking Dead and it seems like Fear The Walking Dead won’t be any better. In fact, it can only be worse, judging by the uninteresting pilot they wrote after long hours of brain storming about what this spin-off could and should be. That’s the best thing they could come up with? Duh. It’s lazy and quite common. I’m worried, but not totally pessimistic. I’m a sucker for family dramas. If they can find ways to deepen the characters, flesh them out, and if they have a great secret plan they don’t want us to know anything about for now, maybe there is a show in there that needs time to grow. Hopefully, they already have two seasons ordered to do so. If they fail, they could still say it was always meant to be a limited series…

 

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