Tag: the walking dead

Braindead (CBS) pilot preview: When The Good Wife’s creators go full zombies!

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Created by Robert & Michelle King (The Good Wife, Vertical Limit, Red Corner). Produced by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, Prometheus), Judy Smith (Scandal) & David W. Zucker (Police Squad!, Naked Gun). For CBS Television Studios, King Size Productions & Scott Free Productions. 67 pages.

Description: Laurel, the daughter of a Democratic political dynasty who left Washington, D.C. to become a documentary filmmaker, is pulled back into the family business when her brother, the senate majority whip, needs her help running his senate office. Now a young, fresh-faced Hill staffer, Laurel discovers two things: The government has stopped working, and alien spawn have come to Earth and eaten the brains of a growing number of congressmen and Hill staffers…

With Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield LaneThe Returned US, A Good Day to Die Hard, Final Destination 3) , Aaron Tveit (Graceland, Gossip Girl), Danny Pino (Cold Case, Law & Order SVU), Johnny Ray Gill (Rectify, Harry’s Law), Nikki M. James (The Good Wife)…

STARTS JUNE 13th ON CBS

 

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Whether The Good Wife leaves the air next May or stays at least one more year remains a mystery, as CBS has not decided on its fate yet (or so they say). In my opinion, they should wrap it up before it gets too embarrasing. A show that once was so brilliant can’t keep on offering such meh episodes (and such bad ratings). It’s just not acceptable. Creators Robert & Michelle King are already looking ahead while working on their next projects: there’s the ambitious Vatican City for Amazon, about the first female Papal spokesperson, which sounds exciting and new, and there’s Braindead, ordered to series for a summer run, described as a horror dramedy, which sounds a bit weird, especially on CBS but summer is this time of the year when the network allows itself to be real dumb and plain boring, as Under The Dome & Zoo proved to be (Extant was “just” boring and nothing else much). Braindead isn’t dumb and boring on the page. But is it any good? After scratching my head til it bleeds a little, here’s what I can say about the King’s next move.

Braindead is as funny as the Kings can be in The Good Wife sometimes, and it certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a good thing since we already have that kind of “why so serious?” zombie show. It’s called The Walking Dead and everybody saw at least a glimpse of it. There are even a few fans out there, I’ve been told. The tone of the show is much more looking towards Ash Vs. Evil Dead but it wouldn’t be fair to compare it to anything else on TV right now. Braindead is its own thing, familiar in a way but different. Highly entertaining but with substance – and not only raw meat. Laurel, our heroin, has a good sense of humor and it makes her instantly engaging. It certainly is a meaty role for Mary-Elizabeth Winstead, who deserves it. Laurel is not as cold as Alicia Florrick can look at first sight. She’s fresh, cheerful, a bit of a nerd. She’s described by the writers as “eclectic and lively“. Not sure what they mean, but yeah she’s all of that and probably much more as we get to know her.

The characters that surround her are for the most part politicians, whether they’re from her family or working against her family, and they already show their real faces behind the mask. That’s where it’s a good thing the show is written by the Kings and not some random writer. They know what they’re talking about. They know political strategies. They proved it on The Good Wife multiple times. It’s not a zombie show that happens to be set at Washington DC. It’s both a zombie and a political show, and both aspects are treated with the same care. You got the thrills and the violence of The Walking Dead, or let’s say The Strain; and also the excitement of a smart TV show like The Good Wife that doesn’t take you for a dummy. Juggling with both is much more difficult than it seems and they do it very smoothly. I’d like to add The Good Wife fans won’t be lost: they’ll have a good amount of walk and talk scenes, dialogues on the phones and the pilot starts the same way as a lot of the legal series’ episodes do, by showing an internet video, here it’s car crash in Russia directly followed by the fall of a meteorite.

When it comes to raising the stakes and giving us a good idea of what the show will look like on a weekly basis, the Kings kind of fail. They made a choice: not showing all their cards in the pilot. They don’t use flashbacks or flashfowards or any other writing tricks. I respect that. Totally. That’s the way most of cable shows work. And they treated Braindead as such. For a network, even during summertime, it’s dangerous but courageous. Hope they’ll be rewarded for it. And I also hope they have a plan but you can’t seriously throw yourself into that kind of story without a plan!

Something really good can come out of that pilot script and that idea of a television show, but Braindead isn’t there yet. For now, it’s total exposure. Getting to know the characters, understanding the political situation -which is never that easy- and attending the first few days of the epidemy. Will it become a survival show at some point? We don’t know, but we sure hope so. There’s exciting stuff ahead and there’s exciting stuff right now. We just have to accept Braindead isn’t a flashy show that makes your head spinning from the get go and leaves you breathless after an hour. It’s a more traditional writing but a very good one thrown into a mix of genres that makes it everything but traditional. It won’t make your brain hurts… yet.

 

NEXT REVIEW: AMERICAN GOTHIC (CBS)

Outcast (Cinemax) pilot preview: when Robert Kirkman trades zombies for demons

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Written and produced by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead). Co-produced by David Alpert (Powers, The Walking Dead), Sue Naegle, Sharon Tal Yguado (The Listener) & Chris Black (Sliders, Mad Men, Ugly Betty). Directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next). For Cinemax, Fox International Channels & Circle of Confusion. 71 pages.

Description: A small town is plagued with a growing number of demonic possessions. Kyle Barnes, the town outcast, who was shunned after claiming to battle these forces as a child, may now be the only one who can stop them. With the help of the Reverend Anderson, a preacher with personal demons of his own, Kyle embarks on a journey to find answers and regain the normal life he lost. But what Kyle discovers could change his fate – and the fate of the world – forever.

With Patrick Fugit (Full Circle, Gone Girl, We Bought a Zoo), Philip Glenister (Ashes to Ashes, Mad Dogs), Wrenn Schmidt (Boardwalk Empire, Person of Interest, The Americans), David Denman (The Office, Parenthood, Drop Dead Diva), Catherine Dent (The Shield, The Mentalist), Lee Tergesen (Oz, Desperate Housewives, Weird Science), Melinda McGraw (NCIS, Mad Men), Grace Zabriskie (Big Love, Ray Donovan, Twin Peaks), Gabriel Bateman (Stalker), Julia Crockett

STARS JUNE 3

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I’m not especially fond of Robert Kirkman’s work so far to be perfectly honest, but I have to admit that with The Walking Dead, he created a phenomenon from scratch against all odds and that’s impressive. No network or cable executives wanted to bet on a zombie show at the time (and they regret it deeply now…). The zombie genre was nowhere to be found on TV. And he made it, quite beautifully, whatever your opinion is about the show and its recent spin-off. With Outcast for Cinemax, once again based on the comic he co-created himself, he’s trying to give birth to the exorcism drama genre, that doesn’t really exist yet (apart from specific storylines on every fantastic show ever). He’s up to the challenge, but Outcast‘s pilot script is not that strong. That’s probably why AMC surprisingly passed on the project (Preacher is a way better option) and Cinemax jumped on the occasion and wrote a bigger check in a desperate move. They are still looking for what their identity is. Action-oriented dramas like Strike Back and Banshee didn’t prove much. Outcast is entirely something else. And action there is not a lot in there!

Outcast is a character-driven story, and that is what the best pilots (and series?) need to be, so we can care. Sadly, it’s hard to care about Kyle Barnes, at least for now, or even simply root for him. He’s exasperating. He whines a lot. He’s so sad, you know. Life has been hard to him. Robert Kirkman spends too much time insisting on it. It makes the pilot even darker and gloomier than it should be. Don’t look for any fun dialogue or a beacon of hope. Gosh, why so serious? Heavy stuff. Not surprising though: every character from The Walking Dead are such downers (except Carol maybe but I stopped watching).

Anyway, the writer sets up a great deal of conflicts, mostly through flashbacks: with his mother who used to beat him as a child; with his wife and daughter but what happened between them remains a mystery; and with his sister, who’s still trying top help him. She’s a courageous girl, and a character we can relate to. Then there’s the whole town who thinks he’s the demon. And well, maybe he is. One thing’s for sure: he’s possessed since he’s a little boy -some graphic and disgusting scenes help us understand the horrible feeling- and he’s not the only one anymore over there. Something’s spreading and we are supposed to be afraid. We’re not. Yet.

I don’t know about you but the exorcism stories have always bored me to death. And when you’ve seen one such scene -especially if it’s from The Exorcist, the one and only masterpiece- then you’ve seen every one of them. They’re always the same. It’s the same as zombies “running” after humans to eat them. It gets old very fast. One pilot with three exorcism scenes is enough for me. What about some kind of mythology? It is implied that there is one underneath it all. But it’s not clear whether we should be confident about it being huge enough to grab our attention weekly, for more than one season. What about the bigger picture? If it’s just the “demon of the week”, kill me already!

Outcast could be noisier than previous Cinemax’s shows because of its pedigree and originality and that’s probably why they are so high on it. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing in this pilot script that really makes want to be back for a second episode, let alone an entire season. It’s not just that it’s not for me. It’s that it’s not very good, actually. But we’ll see how the audience responds to it. A surprise is always possible…

 

Fear The Walking Dead (AMC) pilot preview: Can the spin-off be better than the original?

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Written & produced by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) & David Erickson (Sons of Anarchy, Low Winter Sun). Co-produced by Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, Bill Johnson & David Alpert. Directed by Adam Davidson (Hell On Wheels, Community, Big Love, Parenthood). For AMC,  AMC Studios, Circle of Confusion & Valhalla Entertainment. 55 pages.

Description: When her drug-addict teenage son Nick is found in shock in the middle of the street as if he has just seen a ghost, Madison Bennett tries to understand what happened to him, with the help of her daughter Alicia and her fiancé Travis Posada. They discover it might be linked to the mysterious illness that is spreading at a fast rate in the city of Los Angeles for a few days and inevitably all around the globe soon…

With Kim Dickens (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, House of Cards, Friday Night Lights), Cliff Curtis (Die Hard 4, Training Day, Three Kings), Frank Dillane (Sense8), Alycia Debnam-Carey (The 100, Unfriended), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Orange is the new Black, Grimm), Lorenzo James Henrie

STARTS THIS AUGUST ON AMC

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When AMC announced they were working on an unnecessary spin-off of The Walking Dead, nobody was really surprised and everybody expected something a little more exotic and original than setting it in Los Angeles. I mean, they had endless possibilities. Africa, or Asia, or even Europe would have been more exciting. Another part of the globe! But way more expensive and definitely riskier. It was too much to ask I guess. Robert Kirkman and his co-producers took the easy road, we can’t really blame them. So what’s the catch? Fear The Walking Dead is basically showing the first days of the epidemic through the eyes of the members of a modern, recomposed and a little cliché family who lives in the city of angels. The interesting part? Discovering what happened with the authorities, the government… But that’s not much what the pilot is about. The series? Hard to say for now. We’re just given a little bit of information, hoping we’ll get more at some point. But we know how powerless everybody is and how it ends, so…

As I understand it, Fear The Walking Dead is trying to be broader than the original show. Which is weird. Part of the fact it became such a phenomenon is that it was surprising, never seen before on TV, brutal, graphic and carefully crafted. It was a genre show that became highly popular, addictive and hyptnotizing without even trying to. Same as what happened with Game of Thrones on HBO in a way, except they tried harder. FTWD isn’t surprising. It starts exactly the same way, with Nick, the teenage son, waking up after a long sleep in a house where he is not supposed to be, in the middle of puddles of blood and guts. He starts quickly remembering what happened, the horrors he saw (a friend of his eating another friend of them) and it doesn’t take long before walkers appear, prompting him to escape before it’s too late. Then he gets in a car accident. End of act one. It’s efficient but also sufficient to realize that whether it’s in The Walking Dead or the spin-off, whether it happens in Atlanta or Los Angeles, with Rick or with Nick, at the end of the day it tells the same story and it’s a story that is already running out of fuel for quite some time in the original show – which I watched the first four seasons, before quitting because I was bored as hell and I didn’t like any of the characters still alive, except Carol. I didn’t feel anything anymore for anyone. That’s when you break up, right?

Then there’s the family drama. We meet the members of the Bennett and Posada families one by one. And they are… boring? Kind of. They seem so you and me and everyone else. Okay, the son is a drug addict -and not all of us are- but the mom is a mom -caring and loving and too kind for Nick’s own good- the stepfather is a stepfather -tries to fit in, tries to be THE man, the savior, the hero- and the teenage daughter is a teenage daughter -rebellious and not too concerned by what happens, as long as she can sneak out to make out with her older bad boy boyfriend. There’s the ex-wife, bitter; and the other son, bitter and pissed. Madison can’t really be compared to any of the moms in The Walking Dead but Travis acts a lot like Rick, at least at the beginning of the series. It’s not hard to connect with them, to understand their feelings, their reactions. And that’s the problem. It’s too easy. It’s too classical. It doesn’t move you, or annoy you. It leaves you indifferent, for the most part. Those who’ve seen the original show don’t want to see a smoother version of it. And those who have not seen the original certainly won’t check out this one. It’s not like AMC could promote it as “it’s The Walking Dead, but for a family audience”. There are still zombies, and violence, and hard stuff to deal with. It ends with a severed head that is still alive and stares at the family…

I’m not a big fan of The Walking Dead and it seems like Fear The Walking Dead won’t be any better. In fact, it can only be worse, judging by the uninteresting pilot they wrote after long hours of brain storming about what this spin-off could and should be. That’s the best thing they could come up with? Duh. It’s lazy and quite common. I’m worried, but not totally pessimistic. I’m a sucker for family dramas. If they can find ways to deepen the characters, flesh them out, and if they have a great secret plan they don’t want us to know anything about for now, maybe there is a show in there that needs time to grow. Hopefully, they already have two seasons ordered to do so. If they fail, they could still say it was always meant to be a limited series…

 

WATCH THE TEASER

The “Walking Dead” spin-off “Fear The Walking Dead” ordered to series!

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UPDATE: AMC just made it official! Two seasons have been ordered for a launch late summer 2015. First one will consist of 6 episodes. Second one could get more.

It has not been officially announced yet but I can tell you “Fear The Walking Dead”, the inevitable spin-off, is ordered to series a few weeks after the pilot was shot. It can’t come as a surprise since the original show is such a success for AMC. 

Described as a family drama, Fear The Walking Dead (previously known as Cobalt) takes place in Los Angeles and will tell the story of the early days of the epidemic through the eyes of a family, without any tie with the comic books. We don’t know much more except a lot of the action happens in an hospital. All characters are new, played by Kim Dickens as Miranda (Deadwood, Sons Of Anarchy, Treme), Cliff Curtis as Sean Cabrera (Missing, Trauma, Training Day), Alycia Debnam-Carey as Ashley (The 100), Frank Dillane as Nick and many more. The pilot has been written by Dave Erickson (Low Winter Sun, Sons of Anarchy) and directed by Adam Davidson (Hell On Wheels) who never worked on the original. The shooting is expected to start in early April for a likely launch this summer, as a bridge between season 5 and season 6 of The Walking Dead. Production will move from Los Angeles for the pilot to Vancouver, Canada, for the remainder of the first season.

SEE ALL THE OTHER AMC PILOTS ORDERED