Tag: scott foley

Whiskey Cavalier (ABC) pilot preview: Sexy for the ride

Written and executive produced by Dave Hemingson (How I Met Your Mother, Don’t Trust the B****, The Catch). Also produced by Scott Foley, Bill Lawrence (Life SentenceCougar Town, Scrubs, Spin City) & Jeff Ingold (Rush Hour, Ground Floor, Undateable). Directed by Peter Atencio (Jean-Claude Van Johnson, Key & Peele). For ABC, Warner Bros. Television & Doozer Productions. 60 pages. 3rd Network Draft. 1/12/2018.

Description: the adventures of FBI agent Will Chase (codename: Whiskey Cavalier) who, following an emotional break-up, is assigned to work with CIA operative Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge (codename: Fiery Tribune). Together, they lead an inter-agency team of spies who periodically save the world (and each other) while navigating the rocky roads of friendship, romance and office politics…

With Scott Foley (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, True Blood, The Unit, Scrubs, Felicity), Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, Chuck, Supernatural), Ana Ortiz (Devious Maids, Hung, Ugly Betty), Tyler James Williams (Criminal Minds, The Walking Dead, Everybody Hates Chris), Vir Das

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Mr & Mrs Smith, Castle

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10, Tuesday at 10, Wednesday at 10.

 

Whiskey Cavalier is entering the pilot race with a big advantage: its cast. And these days, when most of the biggest names are more tempted to work for a streaming platform like Netflix or Amazon instead of a good ol’ broadcast network, it’s already a victory! And not a small one. Hottie and goodie Scott Foley became some sort of household name thanks to his roles on Grey’s Anatomy and then Scandal and he’s worth a shot as a leading man. The whole project was built around him by the way, he was attached to star from the get go. Lauren Cohan was one of the most sought-after actresses of this pilot season, being a fan favorite from the most watched TV show out there -you probably recognized The Walking Dead– and from the dozen of projects she received, that’s the one she chose. It’s quite telling. Together, they make an attractive pair. Let’s just hope they have chemistry. The cast also includes Tyler James Williams. Even though his appearance on The Walking Dead was shorter than Cohan’s, it’s still someone people can identify and he’s here for his comedic skills. Last but not least: Ana Ortiz, who’s a sweet addition; the kind of actress you’re always happy to have back on your screen, even in a small part. And not a small part it is here. Now, the question is: does the script live up to the cast?

I’d like to give you a simple answer but sorry, it will be a bit more complicated than that. The thing is, Whiskey Cavalier is far from inventing or even re-inventing the wheel. It could have been made 5, 10, 15 and even 30 years ago. But it will probably look better today. You won’t see there anything you haven’t already seen before, probably more on the big screen than on television though. It’s more movies that come to mind when you think about light action fare. But there’s also a dynamic that TV knows by heart, and its viewers too: the “will they? won’t they” situation created when two sexy people who hate each other at first sight are asked to work together against their will and slowly fall in love. I don’t see how Whiskey Cavalier could escape this trope and I don’t even think that’s something they’d want. They know it’s gonna happen sooner or later. We know it too. That’s part of the fun. But maybe there will be a love triangle to spice things up a little bit. Yes, another trope where two women are fighting for the same guy… I don’t want to to sound too cynical: ratings have proven time and time again that that’s what the audience want, as long as it’s well-made. And I have a feeling this one will be.

The pilot’s most obvious strength is that it never takes itself too seriously. The writer knows he’s not doing The Bourne Identity. He’s not trying to. He makes his own little thing that could become something big if lightning strikes. The script is as efficient as a script can be on a broadcast network. The action scenes are promising, it’s always going fast, constantly moving from one place to another. It starts in Paris, it goes to Moscow and New York, and it ends up in Reims (a little city in France). It’s constantly funny, playful, exciting. Maybe a little exhausting too. All the characters have a great sense of humor but not the same kind. I mean, it starts with Will Chase (Foley) singing Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in his pajamas. It sets the tone. Will & Francesca tease each other all the time; and Tyler James Williams’ character Edgar Standish -who’s one of the bad guys when we meet him, or so we think- is simply hilarious as the jittery genius who has enough super-secret informations to get him bought off, imprisoned or killed by a dozen governments. While we’re here for the fun and we get plenty, the main plot stays interesting all along, with enough twists and turns -not too predictable or complicated- to keep us happy.

You probably got it now, Whiskey Cavalier is a procedural action dramedy and the pilot’s main goal is to assemble the inter-agency team. Will & Francesca will be helped permanently by Edgar, Ana Ortiz’ Susan Sampson, who’s the FBI’s top behavioral scientist and also Will’s best friend; and Rutger, CIA’s quartermaster and Francesca’s friend. They work from an apartment since their missions are top-secret, even for the others at the FBI & the CIA. Expect a bit of workplace comedy in there. Their missions can send them anywhere on the planet. I didn’t tell you much about our two heroes but all there is to know so far is in the logline. We’re not given a lot of details about their past, just a few hints. And that’s all we need for now. I have one concern about them: their cat and mouse game in the pilot works very well, since they’re enemies and they’re not exactly looking for the same thing, but will it be as fun when they’ll have to work side by side, not against each other but together? I really hope so! Towards the end, Rutger asks Susan: “You think it’ll always be like that?” and she answers: “I hope so!“. We all do!

Take Castle, change the “police” part by an “espionage” part, bet on the jokes, step on the gas, improve the budget, put on sexy clothes and you get Whiskey Cavalier! With a strong script, an attractive cast and an upbeat tone, this is a very serious contender at ABC, a damn fun ride. I don’t know if this is what people want but it certainly what the alphabet network thinks people want right now. They may be onto something…

Toast (ABC) pilot preview: The first Shondaland comedy brought to you by Scott Foley

JERRIKA

Pilot “Arden” written and executive procuded by Scott Foley. Based on an idea by Scott Foley & Greg Grunberg. Directed by Gail Mancuso (Modern Family, 30 Rock, Scrubs, Roseanne, Dharma & Greg, The Nanny). Also executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder), Greg Mettler (Cougar Town, That’ 70s Show) & Greg Grunberg. For ABC, ABC Studios & Shondaland Productions. 56 pages.

Description: Over their wedding rehearsal dinner, engaged couple Max and Paige have their eclectic family and friends give toasts recalling anecdotes about the couple — but flashbacks reveal that the toasts don’t always get it right, as we watch the true story of their complicated, funny and relatable road to marriage…

With Jerrika Hinton (Grey’s Anatomy), Jono Kenyon (Step Dave, Go Girls), Tessa Ferrer (Grey’s Anatomy, You’re The Worst, Extant), Punam Patel (Kevin From Work), Brooks Wheelan (Saturday Night Live)…

rate rate rate

It’s been a few years now since Shonda Rhimes tries to produce a comedy in order to expand her empire and explore a new territory. No surprise here: she’s deeply in love with shows like The Mindy Project (where she guest-starred) or Cougar Town. She developed several projects for ABC but Toast, which was already in contention last pilot season, only got an order this time around and will be her first real attempt. The idea was brought to her by fellow actor Scott Foley, a series regular in Scandal, and his longtime friend Greg Grunberg –they met way way back on Felicity– with Foley writing the script. None of them will act in it. Toast is not really in ABC’s wheelhouse since it’s not what we can call a family comedy, though there’s a family component, and romantic comedies didn’t really work them (Selfie, Manhattan Love Story, Mixology…). But who knows, maybe this is the one? Maybe it’s their How I Met Your Mother? At least, there’s a concept.

The idea that every episode will feature a toast from one of the guest could get old very fast. That’s my main concern. But of course, every episode will be different since the personnality of the guest in question totally change the dynamics. In the pilot episode, they chose to focus on Arden, one of the bride’s best friend, who’s batshit crazy, very flirtatious, probably an alcoholic and totally self-absorbed. She got on my nerves at some point, but you get used to her. She’ll probably be much more bearable when she won’t be at the center of the stage in subsequent episodes. Maybe they thought they needed the most scandalous character -or so it seems for now- to make a splash at the beginning. Arden tells the story of the day they met, in a cafe, Max’s cafe for instance, and how they were this close to never talk to each other despite an almost reciprocal love first at sight. Most of the story works in flashbacks, with the guest voice-over. And sometimes we pause to see the reaction of the couple and the other guests, especially their parents who, of course, didn’t know the real story.

Every episode will tell one stage of their relationship through a toast. But how many toasts can those people give, honestly? You can’t make 8 seasons with this. Well, technically — and I guess they thought about it and looked for a solution– this is “just” the rehearsal dinner. So, in season 2, they can work on the actual wedding diner. And in season 3… I don’t know… the divorce dinner? Maybe it’s too soon… Let’s say the baby shower afternoon toasts? See, you can go on and on… The same guest can do multiple toasts this way. It’s not that bad a concept after all. Or am I just trying to convince myself? One thing’s for sure: this couple is cute. It’s a network comedy so don’t expect them to be original. I didn’t find them too cliché, though. But they need to be as broad as possible so people can identify to them. Just forget You’re The Worst, Catastrophe and other anti-romcom. That’s not what we are offered here. At leas, there’s an effort made in the casting process since they made them an interracial couple. But it was probably not planned at the writing stage so there’s no reference to it. But I hope they will adress it at some point. There’s something to do with it, obviously. Two different set of families and values and traditions. That can fuel the story and make it more relevant. Especially since even cable comedies don’t really tackle the subject. It’s all-white.

When it comes to comedy, does the Shondaland recipe can be adapted? Of course, it can! The rythm of this pilot, the back and forth between past and present, the dramedy feel of the whole thing is very Shonda Rhimes. Scott Foley knows who he works for. Or Shonda made a ton of notes. He only wrote a movie before Toast, but it does look like a “real” professional script. Would Shonda have been interested in the project if it was not from him but some unknown person? Probably not. Would ABC have picked-up it to pilot if it was not produced by Shondaland? I’m conflicted on this one. I don’t have the answer. Anyway, it’s not off-brand for them. Just not their strong suit. It’s a very good idea to give the bride role to Jerrika Hinton. She thrives on Grey’s Anatomy and she feels more at ease with comedy than drama (not that she’s not good in drama!). Plus, they can recreate the magic she had with Tessa Ferrer, as her best friend Jules here, who played the annoying but moving Leah Murphy in the medical soap.

Toast is not the funniest thing I’ve read this year and the fact that it’s produced by Shonda Rhimes doesn’t make it an automatic yes, and shouldn’t for what it’s worth. But if ABC wants something different than the regular family comedies they’re renown for on their schedule next year, maybe it’s the right way to go. The concept looks stronger than expected and branding it as “the first Shondaland comedy” –which it is– already makes half the work for the marketing department.