Tag: stephen moyer

Shots Fired (FOX) pilot preview: A lesser American Crime

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Also known as Indictment. Created & directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball). Co-created by Reggie Rock-Bythewood (Notorious BIG, Players, New York Undercover). Produced by Francie Calfo (Empire) & Brian Grazer (24, Friday Night Lights, Gang Related, Arrested Development). For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television, Imagine Television & Undisputed Cinema. 63 pages.

Description: A black officer shoots a white teen in a racially charged Tennessee town. Considering the unusual circumstances of this case, two out-of-town black prosecutors are brought in to sort through the evidence and find out what really happened. As the community grows anxious and the country is buzzing, Preston Terry and Ashe Bell must keep personal bias and suspicions to themselves to seek the truth…

With Sanaa Lathan (Nip/Tuck, Boss, Family Guy, Alien Vs Predator, Out of Time), Stephan James (Selma), Helen Hunt (Mad About You, As Good As It Gets, Twister), Richard Dreyfuss (Weeds, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Conor Leslie (Klondike, Other Space), Aisha Hinds (Under The Dome, True Blood), Tristan Wilds (The Wire, 90210DeWanda Wise

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I’ve just finished my American Crime season 1 binge-watching when I’m writing this article. So, sorry if this brilliant show comes up a lot during the following review but the truth is they share a lot and even though Shots Fired is a decent pilot script, it can’t compare to American Crime‘s. In any way. That’s said. The FOX “event series” as they call it -meaning it’s written as a miniseries but it could get a second one with a new story if it works- is described by the proud network as a “mystery-thriller drama”, but I don’t think it really fits with what I’ve read. It’s a cop show, mostly. Yeah, it doesn’t sound as exciting but it’s closer to the truth. And a few very serialized cop shows like The Killing are great so it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad and generic. Mystery implicates surprising plot twists and twisted characters. Not that kind of show. Thriller means suspense and action. Not that kind of show either.

At its core, Shots Fired tells the story of a detective investigation led by two very different people, whose main common thread is to be… highly desirable. And it doesn’t take long before they start being flirtatious. Yeah, it was obvious from the pitch it was going to happen. At least, they don’t try to hide it. Just a few pages and we’re right in the middle of it. Well… It took 9 seasons for Mulder & Scully. Why do I talk about those two beloved characters? Because they’re back and because when you look closely at the pitch of Shots Fired, it’s like The X-Files, without the monsters or any supernatural events. Except, maybe, the monsters are humans hiding in this town.

American Crime is an anomaly on ABC. It’s a cable show from start to finish. Shots Fired is very networky. It means it gets a better chance to work, especially if FOX decides to pair it with Empire, since they share a producer and most of all a potential afro-american audience with two black leads and a racially-charged topic. And I’m okay with it, don’t get me wrong. It’s cool to have a fair entertaining show that treats a subject which is resonating with the news, with America. Especially when the next presidential election is coming. Oh but.. FOX means… FOX News. And FOX News means Republican propaganda. Means Donald Trump! Means misinformation and guns for all. And suddenly I’m afraid the show could be instrumental for the campaign. And that’s a scary thought… But NOTHING in the pilot script resembled any sort of propaganda. And the writers are black themselves. It’s safe to assume it’s all gonna be OK.

Shots Fired tries to be realistic mostly, and that’s where I have a little disapointment: the script is not detailed to the point where you can really feel the atmosphere of this little town in Tennessee smothering you, like Modesto did in American Crime. There’s not the same raw emotion either. They want us to be comfortable in front of our TV. And when you decide to talk about such a sensitive subject, making people comfortable is not the best way to make your point, in my opinion. It should be a punch in the face. It should make you feel pain, you should be able to sense the despair of the population. Let’s take an example: there’s the mother of the victim. We briefly met her during one of those classical interrogation scenes we’ve seen a thousand times before in every cop show. There’s no emotion coming out of it. At least on the page. It’s lazy. And that’s a real problem to me. Then you think about Felicity Huffman’s character in American Crime, also the mother of the victim, and it’s definitely another level… But it’s not fair to compare words with acting. That being said, as a network show, it works. It’s efficient. You want to see more. It’s a good place to start and you can only hope it’s gonna get more ambitious along the way, more complex, more subtle. One can dream, hum?

With Shots Fired, the real question is not “Is it any good?” but “Is it up to the challenge?”. And I really fear it’s not. It needs to be ‘cos it’s serious stuff here, it’s politics. You can’t fuck this up. It would be a shame. It’s too important these days. This love story they’re forcing between the leads doesn’t reassure me at all, honestly. So okay, you understood me: Shots Fired is not American Crime. Never will be. It’s not great but it’s not bad either. Let the writers call the shots. We’ll see what they’re capable of.

 

NEXT: DESIGNATED SURVIVOR (ABC)

The Bastard Executioner (FX) preview: Kurt Sutter is one son of a bitch! Here’s another proof…

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Written & produced by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, Southpaw). Co-produced by Paris Barclay, Francie Calfo & Brian Grazer (24, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development). Directed by Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy, In Treatment, NYPD Blue, Cold Case). For FX, FX Productions, Fox 21, Imagine Television & Sutter Ink. 65 pages.

Description: In the 14th century in England, the story of Wilkin Brattle, a warrior knight in King Edward I’s charge, who is broken by the ravages of war and vows to lay down his sword. But when that violence finds him again killing his wife and unborn child, he is forced to pick up the bloodiest sword of all. He infiltrates his old kingdom that betrayed him, determined to destroy it from the inside…

With Lee Jones, Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Flora-Spencer Longhurst, Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy, Married With Children, 8 Simple Rules…), Kurt Sutter, Elen Rhys, Timothy V. Murphy (True Detective, Sons of Anarchy), Sarah Sweeney, Darren Evans (Galavant, My Mad Fat Diary), Sarah White, Danny Sapani (Penny Dreadful, Misfits), Sam Spruell (The Last Ship) & Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters, The Americans) as guest…

PREMIERING SEPTEMBER 15TH ON FX

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Kurt Sutter is one son of a bitch. Ahem. It’s a little scary writing an article about a show penned by Kurt Sutter, I must admit. Because I know he might end up reading it. He’s out there. I mean: he tweets. And when he’s angry, he can become some sort of… bastard executioner. Heads roll. Not that he’s mean or anything. It’s just that he says exactly what he thinks, and we all admire him for that but it can be violent, you know. Since I feel pretty safe hiding behind my computer screen, it’s my turn to say what I really think about this pilot script he wrote. Honesty is more valuable to him than anything else, right? Everything’s gonna be okay. And it’s not gonna hurt. I guess. So where was I? Oh yeah: Kurt Sutter is one son of a bitch!

First things first: I have to confess that I was not a fan of Sons of Anarchy. I watched a few episodes and I abandoned it. Not my thing. No hard feelings though. But somehow I happened to know everything about the show’s every twist and turn over the course of its entire run -sometimes I was impressed- and from what I understood almost everybody died at some point in atrocious circumstances! Which is interesting since in The Bastard Executioner‘s pilot at least three characters we think are important die. Just like that. And the cruel but smart strategy is: here are those characters, this one you will adore, this one you will love to hate and boom they are dead, you will never seem them again. Deal with it! This is a son of a bitch move and it’s brilliant. We’re instantly amazed, sad and intrigued. But, ‘cos there’s a “but” (and many butts but we’ll get to that later), I’m puzzled about one death in particular. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say the one who can be considered as the main antagonist of the show is killed. Meaning, our hero’s quest for revenge is done in the end of the pilot. So what’s next? Other villains can be introduced and some characters already there can become villain (one is on the verge of being one) but it feels like what could have been the main focus of season one has disappeared into thin air for the sake of being original. It also questions Wilkin Brattle’s intentions. Are we moving towards a Breaking Bad-like story, where a simple man slowly turns into a very bad guy? Seems like it. Not sure I want to see that again even if the context is totally different. On the other hand, I don’t want to see Revenge in the middle ages either. God no!

So, about the butts. It’s not what you think. Well, there’s a scene that will certainly be very talked about and remembered whatever happens with the show: while the Baron character is talking about strategy with his right-hand man, he takes a shit in his chair and then a servant comes to wipe his shitty ass. It’s gross but it’s Middle-Age tradition. No more no less. But it’s something most historical movies and series quietly ignore. Not Kurt Sutter. He clearly has a hard on writing it. And we can’t blame him, especially since it’s a detail that strongly tells the audience: forget what you saw of this period, I will tell you the true story without poetry. That’s how he’s making history! The rest of the pilot is less surprising, with an inevitable rape, some Braveheart feels, a LOT OF violent fights… what you can expect from this type of story. Two female characters are really interesting: Lady Love -all is in the name obviously- who’s sexy and bored, a little lesbian maybe, a woman of paradox and mystery, I could watch the show only for her; and Annora, Katey Sagal’s character, some sort of witch who helps our hero but has her own agenda… She’s secretly in love with a disfigured beast, who happens to be played by her own husband… Kurt Sutter himself! That’s exciting in a weird way.

After using Shakespeare’s Hamlet to structure Sons of Anarchy, Kurt Sutter bets on The count of Monte Cristo to build his new show around, meaning it’s another soap hidden behind an historical background, great violence and those WTF? moments he loves so deeply. And it’s working, mostly. The Bastard Executioner can and will be considered as FX’s answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones, probably hoping it gets more attention than The Strain, FX’s answer to AMC’s The Walking Dead.