Tag: simone kessell

The Crossing (ABC) pilot preview: The show that desperately wanted to be Lost…

Written and produced by Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie (Scream, Revenge, Criminal Minds, The Event, Vanished, Surface). Also executive produced by Jason Reed (Ninja Turtles, National Treasure, Prince of Persia). Directed by Rob Bowman (Castle, The X-Files, Parker Lewis). For ABC Studios, Jason T. Reed Productions & Dworkin & Beattie Productions. 63 pages. 2nd revised network draft. 12/27/16.

Description: Refugees from a war torn country start showing up to seek asylum in a small East Coast fishing town. Only the country these people are from is America and the war they are fleeing is 250 years in the future. Jude Miller, the local sheriff with a troubled past, Emma Peralta, a federal agent, and Rae, a mother in search of her missing refugee daughter, drive this allegory with a surprising conspiracy at the center…

With Steve Zahn (Mad Dogs US, Treme), Sandrine Holt (24, House of Cards, MacGyver), Simone Kessell (Terra Nova), Jay Karnes (The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Tyrant), Grant Harvey (The Secret Life of the American Teenager), Rick Gomez (Justified, What About Brian, Band of Brothers),  Kelley Missal (One Life to Live), Rob CampbellJohn D’LeoTommy Bastow

  

You’ll like it if you already like: LostThe 4400, The Event, V, Invasion

Likely timeslot: Midseason. Sunday at 8 or 9 or Tuesday at 10.

 

Remember 2004 when ABC launched the same season Desperate HousewivesGrey’s Anatomy & Lost? 13 years later -gosh, we’re getting so old!- the alphabet network wants badly to recreate the magic with three pilots that are supposed to be in the same vein. While Bluegrass/Blood Red is written by Marc Cherry & Black’s Law is produced by Shonda Rhimes’ company, The Crossing is NOT coming from J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse sadly but from Jason Reed, a former Disney executive-turned-producer -it helps!- and Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie, who were behind MTV’s Scream and a handful of failed high-concept dramas like Surface or The Event. Sorry, but it doesn’t bode well for the project, though I can see why ABC is considering it may fill the gap left for Lost. As Disney Media Distribution put it in a recent presentation: “It’s a character-driven piece in a world we know and these are characters we can connect with. This is a show we are convinced international audiences will love“. It certainly does have an appeal but it’s too bad it’s not that great and revolutionary on paper…

Back in 2004 -what a year!- South Park released an episode about people from the future who travel back over 1000 years looking for work. It’s was a thinly veiled allegory for Mexican immigration, with the residents happy to hire the time immigrants to perform household tasks at cheap rates until their own jobs are taken away. Was it the inspiration? The creators will probably never say. In 2017, the topic of immigration is still huge around the world, between Donald Trump who wants to build a wall and refugees who drown in the mediterranean sea. The Crossing couldn’t be more timely. And that’s probably the most important reason why ABC ordered the pilot in the first place. And the most important reason why I’m a bit sad it’s not as good as I wanted it to be. The opening scene looks impressive and is kind of a shock: a hundred of people at least struggling, drowning deep beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, some of them swimming towards the light, towards life. And I’d say it stays good and gripping for about 30 pages. But then I got a little bit bored and I thought to myself that it looked exactly like the kind of high-concept series that automatically bombed sooner or later for the past decade. Except Lost.

I have two main concerns, even three: I don’t feel like the concept can sustain very long and we’re not given enough reasons to believe there’s a rich mythology behind; I’m not very keen on the characters’ initial portrayals, they sound cliché and bland; and I can’t imagine Steve Zahn & Sandrine Holt as the new Matthew Fox & Evangeline Lilly. I mean… This cast is one of the less attractive ABC assembled this year. I know Steve Zahn was one of the most sough-after actor of pilot season -dunno why- but Sandrine Holt seems to be a second thought, and all the others are unknown. Not sure they’re charismatic enough. I’d like to be proven wrong though. Not that they are asked a lot either. Zahn could add humor to his character that lacks it on paper. He plays a boy next door sheriff with a mysterious past, who has a child to take care of since his divorce. Holt is a federal customs agent who is all business. Heavily skeptical of the refugees’ story and the concept of time travel, she nonetheless is sympathetic enough to find the truth since she’s an immigrant herself. From the secondary characters, none really stand out at this point.

But let’s go back to the concept, which is ambitious when you’re pitching it but doesn’t seem to be that much once the dust settles. Time travel is not something that worked this year (Timeless, Time After Time and Making History are all flops at various degrees) and conspiracies are always hard to keep interesting for multiple seasons. They start big and they tend to get too complicated progressively until viewers lose interest and disappear. What’s interesting though, it’s that everything the refugees say about their journey and their past life -not much actually- isn’t illustrated with images. Meaning they could totally be lying to the authorities. We’re never quite sure they are good people, or if their intentions are good. It’s frustrating and confusing but the uncertainty gives a reason to stay a little bit longer. This plus the cliffhanger that does the job it’s asked for. In the end, you’re left with the feeling that you’ve already watched that show before. Maybe it was The 4400 or V or Invasion. Replace the word “refugees” with “aliens” and you get the picture.

The Crossing is not strong and ambitious enough to be granted the right to think of itself as a possible successor to Lost. It’s timely and entertaining, family-friendly and somewhat appealing, but it doesn’t look like a game-changer for ABC. More like an honest little show that will get lost in the ratings rather sooner than later and that will ultimately drown.

“Of Kings and Prophets” (ABC) pilot preview: when “The Bible” is just… a “Game Of Thrones”

Ofkingsandprophets

Written & produced by Adam Cooper & Bill Collage (Exodus, Assasin’s Creed, Tower Heist, The Transporter Refueled). Co-produced by Chris Brancato (Boomtown, Hannibal, Narcos), Jason Reed (Casino Royale, The Dark Knight, Harry Potter), Reza Aslan (Tyrant) & Mahyad Tousi (We are New York). Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Hostages, Chicago Fire, Legends, The Day After Tomorrow). For ABC, ABC Studios & BoomGen Studios. 64 pages.

Description: An epic Biblical saga that begins during the reign of Saul, first King of Israel – and follows his dramatic fall from grace and the rise of his successor, David. Living in the land of milk and honey isn’t easy when enemies circle on all sides…

With Oliver Rix (The Muskeeters), Ray Winstone (The Departed, Noah, Hugo Cabret, Indiana Jones 4), Simone Kessell (Underbelly, Terra Nova), Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens), James Floyd, Mohammad Bakri (Tyrant)…

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Damn! I will say this once and then move on anyway: I don’t think I am legitimate to judge a pilot script like Kings And Prophets‘. Because I don’t know much about The Bible -and I’m not really interested to learn more- so I can’t say if it’s faithful to the “true” story (wink wink) or not. Plus in another news, I don’t watch Game Of Thrones -yeah, you can throw stones at me and spit on my grave when I die. What the writers are cleary trying is to make some sort of biblical version of the HBO hit. But legitimate or not, my vision of what the show might be(come) may not be that uninteresting -yes, I’m selling my article here, please keep reading- since I was dragging my feet to read it and I kind of not hated it along the way. I’m not saying I will watch it if it’s picked-up but I’m curious about the outcome…

Kings and Prophets found the best way possible to attract the young demo towards what traditionally appeals more to the older viewers. It’s not really about teaching people the history of the Israelites, even if it’s inspired by it through The Book of Samuel in the Old Testament -and I’m sure the Jewish community will be attentive- it is more about embarking us on an eventful journey with strong willing, fearless characters who are about to change the lives of thousands of other people. Game of Thrones is a soap opera in its bones. The Bible is too, in a way. Kings and Prophets even more. It’s about lies, treasons, revenge… Death is everywhere all the time. Love is in the air too, but sex is a weapon, for women but not only. There is a feminist vibe thanks to the character of Ahinoam mostly, the first Queen of Israel but also the real King of Israel when you take a closer look at her doings. And her daughters, at least one of them, could follow her steps. In a way, there is some Reign in Kings And Prophets. It’s more adult of course than the CW show but they play with the same cards, they just don’t use it the same way. And Reign is quite a good show, for those who are rolling their eyes right now.

The three main characters are men, obvisouly. Saul (Ray Winstone) is the unworthy old King of Israel who will, sooner or later, die in atrocious conditions. He’s on the edge of madness, he even threatens to kill his son Jonathan who he considers as a traitor. His fall from grace happens because he refuses a genocide God has ordered… Or is it Samuel? Samuel (Mohammad Bakri) is the narrator of the show -and his voiceover is heavily present in the first and the last act, which is necessary to properly understand what happened before we arrive and as you can imagine, a lot happened. He’s the prophet, but above all a giant liar with an hidden agenda. Finally, there’s David (Oliver Rix), the young innocent and handsome shepherd, who will become the Queen’s new beau. We like him very much for obvious reasons, but also because he offers the best scene of the script: a big fight with a lion he defeats beautifully! If done properly, it could be a very impressive moment of television. As long as ABC Studios don’t use too many ugly CGI (I’m probably dreaming there). There’s also a big death in the pilot. And it was all shot in South Africa, which means it should look stunning.

ABC is very high on the show and recently added Narcos‘ Chris Brancato to Kings And Prophets’ team, eyeing him as showrunner if the pilot goes to series. It means it is very likely and according to Deadline, they are already assembling a writers’ room to start working on new scripts ASAP while the order may be as big as 15 episodes for the first season. It sounds like a mid-season show, possibly to replace Once Upon A Time when it is on a break, but we can also imagine a fall launch, right behind Once Upon A Time at 9. I wouldn’t have bet on it before reading the script, now I’m intrigued though not totally convinced. It could crash, it could work, it could even be a hit. Everything’s possible. Time will tell…