Tag: sarah shahi

Reverie (NBC) pilot preview: a future success for Sarah Shahi… but in a virtual reality

Pilot “Apertus” written and produced  by Mickey Fisher (Extant, Mars). Executive produced by Brooklyn Weaver (Extant, The Number 23, Run All Night), Darryl Frank & Justin Falvey (Extant, Under the Dome, Falling Skies, Las Vegas, The Americans). Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, Orphan, The River). For Universal Television & Amblin Television. 61 pages. Draft 01/22/2017.

Description: Mara Kint, a former detective turned professor specialized in human behavior, is brought in when the launch of an advanced virtual reality program called “Reverie”, designed by a young woman seen as “the next Einstein”, has dangerous and unintended consequences. “Reverie” puts people inside a waking dream of their own design, but some of them don’t ever want to come back, which put them into a coma and treathens their lives. Mara’s mission is to bring them back, one by one, before it’s too late…

With Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest, Fairly Legal, Life, The L Word), Kathryn Morris (Cold Case, Pensacola), Jessica Lu (Awkward), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes, Lucky Man, Covert Affairs), Dennis Haysbert (24, The Unit)…

  

You’ll like it if you already like: Extant, Person of Interest, Minority Report, Falling Water

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10.

Reverie was one of those rare spec pilots that garnered interest from multiple networks and ultimately landed at NBC. Same thing happened with Mickey Fisher’s first project, Extant, that he wrote when he was an unknown writer, which sparked a bidding war before landing at CBS with a straight-to-series order with Halle Berry signing on to star. This is the proof miracles can happen… twice! I remember how much I loved Extant on paper and how much the show was a disappointment overall (and a snoozefest most of the time). So forgive me if I’m being cautious with this one. I can see why people loved it -and I liked it- but I can’t help being pessimistic for its future if it’s picked-up to series. Mainly because NBC (and other networks for instance) doesn’t have a good track-record with sci-fi and fantasy recently. Revolution, Timeless and Emerald City weren’t exactly earth-shattering.

In the meantime, Sarah Shahi was one of the most sought-after actresses of this pilot season and she ultimately chose Reverie. Which is not that surprising. She’s staying in her comfort zone. She apparently loves procedural shows -or she loves shows that can potentially air for multiple years, can’t blame her- and she’s best known for Person Of Interest, which was already a grounded thriller drama with sci-fi elements. Again, I get it. She loved the script, bla bla bla. And her character can be both badass and emotional. Mara is smart, she can kick ass if needed and of course she’s tortured because of a terrible thing that happened to her family in the past, a thing that she feels responsible for. It’s certainly appealing for an actress. But I feel like she may be doing a mistake (again). But not as huge as Nancy Drew for CBS last year, rest assured…

The concept of Reverie is cool -a procedural without a crime !- but narrow. Once Mara will have rescued ten or twelve people from their dreams, we’re gonna get bored. Inevitably. Even if the settings change in every dream (it’s a hotel in the pilot), as well as the characters involved and their personal story we’re told (a romantic one this time). So narrow I don’t see how it could last for long, except if they turn it into a more serialized show at some point. Like Person of Interest did in fact. There’s the potential to do so, especially with the puzzling creator of the virtual reality program and the mysterious private company behind. But will they be able to get there?

Reverie is exactly the type of show that is stuck between two ambitions: being network-y, knowing exactly what it means in terms of pace and structure; and being more than that, looking towards what they’re doing on cable. But in the end, it’s too much for procedural lovers -and well, there’s no crime in there you know- and not enough for HBO, Showtime or Netflix users. The premice could sound like a Black Mirror episode (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Fisher was partly inspired by it actually) but turned into a basic procedural. Raising the standart of the procedural shows is a beautiful ambition to have and a brave thing to do. But it rarely pays off sadly.

Reverie is a modern and ambitious sci-fi thriller series, the kind that rarely works on network television, that also happens to be a procedural, which is a shame. It could easily land on Minority Report territory, unless it miraculously finds an audience as Person of Interest did. It’s a fine vehicle for Sarah Shahi, but it probably belongs to SyFy, not NBC. Except it would be too pricey. In another world or in a virtual reality, it would be a success. 

Drew (CBS) pilot preview: Nancy is back, older, smarter, sexier and more boring than ever!

Sarah-Shahi-Backgrounds

Gotcha Day“. Created by Joan Rater & Tony Phelan (Grey’s Anatomy, Madam Secretary). Based on Edward Stratemeyer. Directed by Marc Webb (Limitless, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, 500 Days of Summer). Executive produced by Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Harvey Milk, Big Fish), Nick Nantell, Joan Rater & Tony Phelan. For CBS, CBS Television Studios & The Dan Jinks Company. 60 pages.

Description: Now in her 30s, Nancy Grace is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world and grieving the death of her best friend…

With Sarah Shahi (Person Of Interest, Life, Fairly Legal, The L Word), Anthony Edwards (ER, Zodiac, Top Gun), Vanessa Ferlito (24, Graceland, Grindhouse), Steve Kazee (Shameless US), Felix Solis (The Following, The Good Wife), Debra Monk (Grey’s Anatomy, Damages)…

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I’m not very familiar with the iconic Nancy Drew character -never read any book, never seen any movie or series about her- but I’m pretty sure that what CBS is doing with this version is wrong and not respectful to the spirit of the original idea. What made it fresh and different at the time was that the heroine was a 16-year-old teenage girl solving mysteries. Not a big boy. Not an older woman. Not a professional. Veronica Mars before Veronica Mars. That was the whole point! CBS Television Studios could have turned the cult property into a nice little CW show while keeping the character as a child. But instead, they decided to make of her a 30-year-old detective. Like we already had a million over the years. Sad to say Nancy Drew is not fresh and different anymore. She’s just one more smart cop investigating crimes in New York. Does CBS need her? Not really. Do we? Certainly not! Then why bother?

The first scene of the pilot is exactly what we don’t want to see in detective dramas anymore. How to turn off your TV in 30 seconds. Nancy is driving a Uber -it’s her a job since she left the NYPD- and starts analyzing every detail coming from her client’s look and clothing, just to pass the time and because clearly she can’t help it. In a minute, she’s able to tell her whole story, just because of a stain on her shirt (I’m not kidding). This know-it-all attitude, from The Mentalist to Dr House and recently useless addition Rosewood, has had its day. It’s just irritating now. Not funny anymore. Especially when there’s nothing else to get our teeth into. At least, Lucifer is fucking Lucifer, the Devil! The hero of Forever was immortal. That’s something! But Nancy? Just a sad and angry woman who lost her best friend, Bess -same as in the books, at least they kept the characters- six months ago and who can’t stop thinking about her ever since (the same as Unforgettable‘s heroine with her sister). The girl wrote a suicide note but Nancy is convinced its a fake, that she was murdered. Long story short: she investigates about her suspicious death the whole episode, with the help of her other best friend, George, a lesbian who also happens to be a cop. Of course. And in the end, spoiler alert… they crack the case. How surprising! So now, Nancy is not so sad anymore and she’s even ready to go back to the precinct. Meaning: the next episodes will be even more boring than the first one! You’ve been warned.

The first act is really painful to read. The writers use the laziest way to introduce the story and the characters. Writing for dummies. That’s what it is. I can’t even say it’s efficient. Because it’s not. Who likes watching two people saying things they already know to each other so the viewers can be on the same page? Who likes watching a character saying out loud what we all very well understood, just to make sure we’re not lost because maybe we’re stupid? The other acts are not particularly better but at least they’re a little less predictable. Overall, the investigation is full of plot holes and nonsense. I’m not good at solving mysteries but Nancy didn’t impress me much. Even the dialogues are lazy. Okay, from time to time there is a funny line or a good joke. But the parts where George says “like we learned at the academy” (to underline the fact that she’s a by-the-book cop, contrary to Nancy) or Nance asks “Do I sound like a crazy person?” (as if there was any doubt about it, yes she does!) get excruciating at some point. Plus, everybody in Nancy’s entourage is very practical when you look at it: her father is a lawyer; her ex is a journalist and George’s girlfriend is a doctor. Meaning she will ask for their help every time she needs to. That doesn’t make her a good detective. Just a lucky girl. And where did the feminism of the books go? Still looking for it…

You know what could save Drew from the complete disaster it’s meant to be according to the pilot script? Sarah Shahi! People love her since Person Of Interest (and some of us since Life). It’s true, she’s great. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, she can be funny and badass. She doesn’t really feel like Nancy Drew, at least the idea we have of her, but I’m sure she can do a decent job even with such a poor material. That what she already did with USA’s legal drama Facing Kate a few years ago, actually. But will it be enough? Drew belongs to Lifetime or Hallmark Channel, not to CBS. And the young demo will never watch this. Nancy Drew was a big inspiration for many writers, many shows they created, now she’s obsolete and should stay where she belongs: in our memories. Next year, CBS will probably try to revive “The Famous Five“…