Tag: shawn ryan

S.W.A.T. (CBS) pilot preview: The Shemar Moore Show

Written and produced by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (CSI: New York, SouthLAnd, Sleepy Hollow). Based on the 1975 TV series. Executive produced by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, Scorpion, Star Trek Beyond), Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit, Timeless, The Get Down), Marney Hochman (Mad Dogs, Terriers, The Shield), Pavun Shetty (New Girl), Danielle Woodrow (Scorpion) Neal H. Moritz (Prison Break, Fast & Furious, I Am Legend, S.W.A.T.) & Shemar Moore. Directed by Justin Lin. For Sony Pictures Television, CBS Television Studios, MiddKid Prods, Original Films & Perfect Storm Entertainment. 53 pages. Final Shooting Draft. 04/17/17.

Description: Daniel ‘Hondo’ Harrelson, a locally born and bred S.W.A.T. lieutenant, is torn between loyalty to the streets and duty to his fellow officers when he’s tasked to run a highly-trained unit that is the last stop for solving crimes in Los Angeles…

With Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds, The Young and the Restless), Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted, Desperate Housewives, The Inside), Lina Esco (Kingdom, Flaked), Kenny Johnson (The Shield, Bates Motel, Secrets & Lies, Sons of Anarchy), Stephanie Sigman (Narcos, American Crime, The Bridge US), Peter Onorati (The Goodfellas, Civil Wars), Alex Russell (Chronicle)…


You’ll like it if you already like: Hawaii 5-0, Scorpion, Criminal Minds, Lethal Weapon

Likely timeslot: Wednesday at 9 or 10


In comparison to the previous pilot season, reboots didn’t score this many pilot pick-ups. Cheers to that! You can count them on one hand: Behind Enemy Lines at FOX, Dynasty at The CW and S.W.A.T. at CBS. S.W.A.T. is even the reboot of a (failed) reboot since it’s inspired by the 2003 Sony movie of the same name -which starred starred Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez & LL Cool J. and grossed $207 million at the worldwide box office, which isn’t that great- that was based on the short-lived 1975 TV series produced by Aaron Spelling! The theme song of the show was probably more famous than the show itself: it only lasted 2 seasons (37 episodes) on ABC. The project with 100 executive producers received a pilot production commitment from CBS with series penalty behind it. Meaning it would have to really stink not to land on the schedule in less than two weeks now. And it doesn’t stink on paper, though it smells like sweat and male hormones. Oh and if you’re wondering before we start, S.W.A.T. stands for Special Weapons And Tactics.

CBS may have found a smart strategy to attract their viewers towards shows they may not have been attracted to in the first place: they use one of the stars of one of their long-running drama series to topline a new one. That’s what happened with Bull last year, a legal show tailor-made for Michael Weatherly when he decided to left NCIS. And it worked. Bull is not a huge success but it would have had less of a chance of success without Weatherly in the starring role and the NCIS lead-in. They’re doing it again with S.W.A.T. which is toplined by Shemar Moore, who starred in Criminal Minds for 11 years. It has yet to be seen if CBS will slot it around his previous show though but his Criminal Minds fans will check this out, that’s for sure. He will be perfectly fine in this and CBS is the right home for it.

Harrelson is a character who exudes calmness -and sexiness- but who’s always ready for action and has all the ability to become a leader: he’s just not happy with the political reason he just became one. His mentor has been fired after a burr and he’s chosen to replace him, partly because he’s black and knows better than his colleagues the people who live in the streets where they operate, while the “Black Lives Matter” movement is in full force in Los Angeles and the whole country. S.W.A.T. wants to be timely and seems to have found the best way to be. The writing is not particularly sharp and subtle but at least it’s not just about big guns and action, though in the end it mostly is. It’s not described as an intense, action-packed, procedural for no reason.

It starts with a high-octane chase of about 8 pages; there’s a car chase later of course; and some other chases until the end. It’s exhausting honestly but if you came for it, you’ll definitely be happy. The moments when they’re not running somewhere and catching bad guys are to be cherished. That’s when they talk -not only one-liners to make us laugh a little right in the middle of the action, because you know, they’re cool too- and become more than muscles. Though those talks often happen when they’re training, boxing or… making love. Women and gay men should get their weekly shirtless scenes so they’re not watching the show for nothing. They will even get a bit of soapy storylines thanks to one of the few female characters in there who happens to both Harrelson’s boss and… lover! And it’s against the rules… Drama!

S.W.A.T. is very much about Moore’s character -he’s in every scene- but other members of the team still manage to emerge, especially the new guy, Jim Street. He’s cocky, living on the edge and has earned himself a reputation as a loose cannon in his previous job (think Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon). I think it’s the 56th character who fits that description this season, but he’s still the most interesting one in there. There’s also David “Deacon” Kay, the second in command, who I like only because he’s played by Jay Harrington and I like Jay Harrington a lot. And let’s talk about Chris, who’s the only woman of the team. Well… I’d like to describe her to you in details but we don’t know much about her yet, sadly. I think they should have focused on her a little bit more. It would have lessen this impression that S.W.A.T is all about the men. I forgot to tell you about the case of the week. But… it’s just a case of the week, who really cares?

S.W.A.T. is not as light and fun as Lethal Weapon –of the rare stands out of this past season- and can’t be considered as ballsy but it’s doing the job it’s asked for, which is being very actiony, trying to be timely and most of all being the best vehicle possible for Shemar Moore’s skills. It’s a slam dunk for CBS. 

Timeless (NBC) pilot preview: when the story is already written…


Created and exeuctive produced by Eric Kripke (Supernatural, Revolution) & Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit, The Get Down). Directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday, Game of Thrones). Also executive produced by John Davis (The Blacklist, I, Robot, Predator), John Fox (The Blacklist, Dr Ken, The Player) & Marney Hochman (Terriers, The Chicago Code, Last Resort). For NBC, Sony Pictures Television, Davis Entertainment & MiddKid Prods. 64 pages.

Description: an unlikely trio formed with Lucy Preston, the best history professor in town, military man Wyatt Logan and brilliant engineer Rufus Carlin, travel through time to battle a master criminal intent on altering the fabric of human history with potentially catastrophic results lead by the mysterious terrorist Garcia Flynn. They need to stop him before everything changes for the whole world…

With Abigail Spencer (Rectify, Mad Men, True Detective), Matt Lanter (90210, Star-Crossed), Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted), Goran Visnjic (ER, Extant), Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers, Babylon), Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards, Third Watch), Claudia Doumit

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Why do time travel is the big trend of this pilot season with four projects -three dramas, one comedy- tackling it? My best theory is because Back To The Future just celebrated its 30th birthday a few months ago (1985-2015). So writers thought it might the right time to revisit the theme with original ideas… or not. ABC’s Time After Time is inspired by a novel and The CW’s Frequency by the movie of the same name (=> read the preview here). Time is 100% original while its title is 100% uninspired. It is described as Back To The Future meets Mission: Impossible. That’s certainly one way to put it. With such an ambition and its two well-regarded creators, Eric Kripke & Shawn Ryan -who can make as many flops as they want, they will always find new jobs- no surprise networks fought to get it until it lands at NBC with a big commitment. Meaning the pilot order was only a formality and the series order seems very likely, as well as a post-The Voice slot and an Olympic Games push next summer. The story is already written. At least the beginning of it. I’m not sure about what will happen next. Will it work or flop hard? We never really know what the future holds…

Every year, NBC launches one or two high-concept dramas but it’s the bland dramas that tend to stick (or the high-concept pilots quickly become bland boring series, i.g. The Blacklist). This season, opportunities were given to Blindspot, which did great initially and still is an honorable performer six months later; and to The Player, that was cancelled after a few airings. For this pilot season, Time is the only high octane option. I didn’t hate the pilot script but I found it very robotic -short sentences, no time to breathe, ever. The few attempts towards emotion are too mechanical. As a result, it’s hard to feel something for the leads and it’s also very hard to be surprised by their interactions. We’re right in the middle of well-known territory and it’s a shame. It’s cool to take risks and dream big but if you’re goal number one is to make the story moving at a fast pace and make it as broader as possible, you fail in general. Time travel nerds will find it way too simple and uninspired, while the most part of the audience will look for something special in Time they will never find, I’m afraid. You got the good twists, a great cliffhanger but it lacks heart and sincerity. Plus, the pilot doesn’t give a good vision of what to expect on a weekly basis. Is it 100% serialized or will every episode feature a close-ended story with serialized elements? Is the plan visiting a new event from history (or future) in every episode?

30-something Lucy has no choice but to follow orders when homeland security knocks at her family home’s door and forces her to travel through time with two people she’s never seen before in a capsule called Lifeboat. Just because she’s the best history professor available (but mostly because she’s a stunning beauty, which helps to sell the concept to the masses). They have to stop a crazy terrorist (Goran Visnjic) who allegedly killed his wife and daughters (but we’re pretty sure that as bad as it looks, everything will make sense in the end and he will only be one piece of a wicked game). So their first mission is to go back to 1937 in New York and prevent the famous Hindenburg Zeppelin created by the Germans from accidentally crashing and killing a ton of people (it really happened). It will make one hell of a costly opening scene! They succeed of course -sort of- but I won’t tell you how, you’ll see. The writers try to be as spectacular as they can, hoping they will be granted a substantial budget so it doesn’t look too fake. They don’t really bother with explanations, they bet on short-cuts, quick moves so we don’t get enough time to think. Except, when you read, you can stop whenever you like it. That’s what I did a few times and it gave me a headache. Time travel stories always do. It’s so complex. It’s not a feeling I particularly like, to be honest. But it’s inevitable.

Of course, you get the right amount of sexual tension between the two leads -Abigail Spencer and Matt Lanter are SO beautiful they will make a couple everybody will be rooting for- while the third lead (Malcolm Barrett) is the sidekick with secrets, and probably the most interesting character of the whole show. Lucy and Wyatt have so cliché backstories -one has a mum who’s dying of cancer, the other lost his wife- that you get bored with them very quickly. Again, the respective charm of the actors -and Abigail Spencer is a very talented actress- could make them way more enjoyable to follow on screen, through time.

Since history tends to repeat itself, I don’t see Time becoming a huge hit for NBC. I think it’s their new Revolution. It will start OK because they will do everything they can to insure it gets a big premiere, because they will do an efficient marketing campaign with beautiful posters and special commercials during the Olympics. But honestly, you need to be on your A-game to tackle time travel properly. Are they?  Only time will tell if the show is good enough, simple (not simplistic) and entertaining enough to keep people interested for more than an episode or two. I’m worried it rapidly becomes inconsistent, a big mess. But kudos to NBC for trying something “different” from the Chicagos. Hope they will be rewarded.