Tag: this is us

Council Of Dads (NBC) pilot preview: This Is Us (Again)

SERIES TITLE: Council Of Dads
GENRE: Family Drama

LOGLINE: The story of Scott Perry and his family, whose lives are thrown into upheaval when he gets a potentially terminal diagnosis. Facing his mortality, he and his wife, Robin, assemble a unique group of carefully chosen male friends to support his family and guide them through the ups and downs of life’s many challenges…

Pilot Cast: Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead, Prison Break, Colony), Clive Standen (Vikings, Taken, Camelot), J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD, Angel, Raising The Bar), Michael O’Neill (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Rectify), Tom Everett Scott (13 Reasons Why, SouthLAnd), Michele Weaver (Love Is…), Emjay Anthony (Bad Mom 2, Rake), Blue Chapman, Steven Silver (13 Reasons Why), Thalia Tran…

Series Creators: Joan Rater & Tony Phelan (Grey’s Anatomy, Doubt, Madam Secretary).
Pilot Director: James Strong (Liar, Broadchurch, Doctor Who).
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer (Lucifer, CSI, Cold Case, Without a Trace), Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed, James Oh, Joan Rater & Tony Phelan.

Studios: Universal Television, Jerry Bruckheimer Television & Midwest Livestock Productions.

Ever wonder how TV executives wade through the dozens of pilot scripts they’re pitched each year? They have staff script readers, who provide what’s called “Script Coverage,” an executive summary and a recommendation for each script. Now you too can preview some of the season’s most buzzed about pilots and find out whether we’d recommend them for pickup. Note that all opinions are our own, and all plot, casting and other creative details described here are subject to change.



You’ll Like It If You Already Like: This Is Us, Parenthood, A Million Little Things

Likely Timeslot: Behind This Is Us is such the most obvious option that NBC will never choose this one… It’ll be This Us‘ replacement come midseason, probably.


WRITTEN BY: Joan Rater & Tony Phelan.

PAGECOUNT: 63 pages.

DRAFT: Third network draft 1/7/19


BACKGROUND: Council of Dads is based upon a true story that inspired Bruce Feiler’s bestselling memoir The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness and the Men Who Could Be Me published in 2010 by William Morrow & Company. In 2008, Felier was diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer. Fearing what the absence of a father figure would do to the lives of his young twin daughters, he had the genius idea to form a Council of Dads, which consisted of six of his closest friends who agreed to help him raise his daughters. Each had his area of expertise such as homework dad or outdoors dad so the girls knew who to turn to for a specific issue when their mother was not available. The happy twist is that he made a full recovery after all. As a consequence, the Council was never fully activated. In the show, it will need to be!

The book was first adapted for TV eight years ago as a half-hour comedy written by Peter Tolan (Rescue Me, The Larry Sanders Show), and was sold to FOX network with a big commitment. Then it went to pilot starring Kyle Bornheimer, Ken Howard and Diane Farr, directed by Joe & Anthony Russo, but it didn’t make in on the schedule. The big comeback of family dramas following the success of This Is Us is probably the reason why the concept is revisited now as a one-hour drama.


SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: SCOTT PERRY (40), a father of four, lives a seemingly healthy life until DR. OLIVER POST (40), Scott’s best friend and also his doctor, diagnoses him with a rare form of cancer, requiring him to spend time in the hospital and in chemo. During Scott’s leave, his friend and AA’s sponsee, LARRY MALVERN (60), drops by to help Scott’s wife, ROBIN (40), with the kids and general errands. Scott returns from the hospital, but another unexpected visit from old friend ANTHONY LAVELLE (40) consequently leads into a conversation about the childhood CrabShack that Scott bought the previous year. Another surprise hits Scott: Robin is pregnant. This profound revelation leads him to doubt the remaining time he has left with his four children -JJ (7), CHARLOTTE (13), THEO (15), LULY (21)- who are all growing up too fast. His chemo and upcoming lab test have sparked some doubts regarding his time left and it pushes him to assemble a council of men (evidently being his best friends) to look out for his children, his wife and the CrabShack for one year. During the day of Scott’s final test, Robin’s water breaks…


COMMENTS: When it comes to family dramas, NBC’s critically-acclaimed This Is Us became such a phenomenon on broadcast television that it must have been hard for any other network to launch a new one since then. In fact, none have risked it the past two years. Even ABC’s A Million Little Things, which is not technically a family drama, probably suffered a bit from the comparison, at least initially. Even so, this pilot season marks a big return of the genre. They’re all looking for the next This Is Us, and NBC itself wants another one apparently. Council Of Dads is very much in the same vein and will give you the same exact feeling of sweet melancholy and nostalgia. They come from the same place -the heart- and they march to the beat of the same drum. The question is not “will you cry?” but “when will you cry?”.  But are they different enough so there’s a place for both in our lives?

As a fan of the genre, I’d be tempted to answer that there is a place for both, of course. But as a TV observer, I’m not so sure. The similarities are not only about the tone, it’s also about the stories that are being told and the characters we’re introduced to. Which is worse. Viewers might feel like they have already watched this show. Not only 10 or 15 years ago. Also yesterday. And probably tomorrow. Let’s take the dad character as an example. His story is different from Jack Pearson’s but he’s cut from the same cloth. He’s handsome, and so nice, and open, and generous, great with the kids, great with the wife, great with the friends. The perfect guy. And he has a darker side. Just like Jack, he struggled with addiction in the past. He works as a heroic, almost divine figure, soon to become a haunting ghost for his family. Because yeah, he dies at the end. Don”t consider it as a spoiler. It’s part of the concept. There’s no concept if he survives. What’s great though is even if you see it coming from miles away, it tears your heart out the same when it happens. It must have to do with the way it’s announced, with a sobriety that’s almost surprising for a show that could have been more manipulative if they wanted to. If you haven’t cried before -it’s unlikely- that’s the moment when you’ll let it all out.

Robin, like Rebecca, is a courageous woman who’s a bit overshadowed by her husband in the pilot but still, she’s an appealing character from the get-go and as a OB/GYN and mother/stepmother to four children -soon five- you can only admire her. Then you have Luly, the eldest child. The story is told from her point of view and voiceover. Scott had her before he met Robin but the birth mother was never really in the picture and Luly feels ready to have a little bit more of her in her life. Also, she’s a talented writer, she is focused on her future and waiting to hear if she’ll get an important internship at a prominent New York publication. But her priorities change dramatically when her father gets sick. That’s when she meets Evan, a smart, caring young man with a great sense of humor who has been taking care of his sick mother. Their relationship is reminiscent of Kate and Toby’s. They’re going through the same hell at the moment and that’s what brings them together. The difference is they’re younger and more reckless. Luly is probably the best character in there. She has a lot of potential.

Can’t say the same about Theo, who’s some younger version of Kevin Pearson, before the alcholol, the drugs and celebrity. He thinks the world is against him and that he can’t do anything. Most of his storyline in the pilot is about his driving test. Even though it’s quite revealing about his difficulties and weaknesses, it’s not as gripping as the other stories. Charlotte’s is way more exciting, but it’s the biggest déjà vu at the same time. She’s an adopted child who wants to know more about her origins. Yep, same as Randall. With her best friend Tess, she decides to go meet her cousin without her parents knowing. Her story could become very emotional and will probably take a different path from Randall’s since she doesn’t have the same age. But still… And finally there’s JJ, the youngest of the family, a sweet child who has a wonderful relationship with his parents and who reveals to be transgender. That story hasn’t been told by This Is Us! Finally one that’s new! I love the way it’s handled, with such simplicity and acceptance. There’s a human warmth throughout the pilot script that should fit with the hot setting (Savannah, Georgia).

In the council, we have three men who make their way into the story sweetly. Dr. Oliver Post is an esteemed oncologist and surgeon who is Scott’s doctor. He was Robin’s friend from college, and he’s a married gay man now, with a child. He seems cool. Anthony Lavelle is one of Scott’s oldest friends. He’s a chef, he’s single and he wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s cool too. And Larry is the oldest, maybe the wisest of the bunch. He has a strong presence, he’s rough around the edges and he’s a bit mysterious. We don’t know much about him so far. I wouldn’t say he’s cool but I like him too. There’s nobody not to like in this show anyway! Which leads to a certain lack of conflicts, but they surely will come! The council of dads concept is more of a theory right now than an actual thing since we’ll have to wait for the second episode at least to see how it works exactly. That’s a good reason to stay.

As you probably have understood now, Council of Dads is a very progressive show with a lot of diversity and a ton of good intentions. You think that’s a lot? I do too. The writing is good enough so you don’t feel like they’re adding some more big topics to an already-packed pile but maybe they could or should have kept some stories for later. Same goes with the cliffhanger. It’s better to have one in general but it’s the kind of show that doesn’t really need it, the family is enough to make you come back no matter what. The upcoming story that is implied by it sounds familiar and a little too soapy for the show’s sake but we’ll see. If they handle it like A Million Little Things handled his, I’m all in for the ride.


FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Does NBC need another emotional family drama in their schedule when they already have This Is Us, which set the bar quite high? Nope, not really. An argument could be made that they they didn’t need another medical drama with Chicago Med in their line-up last year but they ordered New Amsterdam anyway and both are cohabiting nicely so far…  It would be a shame if Council of Dads were to be passed on for that reason. It shouldn’t have been ordered to pilot in the first place then. So, if the finished product is as great, moving and beautiful as the script is, there’s no good reason for stopping there. The Perrys may or may not be the next Pearsons but they are worth living.



[  ] PASS


A Million Little Things (ABC) pilot preview: So Many Feelings

Written and executive produced by  DJ Nash (Growing Up Fisher, ’til Death). Also produced by Aaron Kaplan (The Chi, Life In Pieces, American Housewife, Secrets & Lies) & Dana Honor (9JKL, Me Myself And I). Directed by James Griffiths (The Mayor, Blackish, Episodes). For ABC, ABC Studios & Kapital Entertainment. 58 pages. 10/01/2018 Draft.

Description: ”Friendship isn’t a big thing – it’s a million little things,”. A group of friends, for different reasons and in different ways, are all stuck in their lives, but when one of them dies unexpectedly from suicide, it’s just the wake-up call the others need to finally start living. The group comes together to mourn the loss of their friend and in the process are reminded of how their lives used to be before their secrets…

With David Giuntoli (Grimm, Priviliged), James Roday (Psych, Miss Match), Romany Malco (Weeds, Think Like a Man), Stephanie Szostak (Satisfaction), Allison Miller (13 Reasons Why, Go On, Terra Nova), Anne Son (My Generation), Christina Moses (The Originals, Containment), Christina Ochoa (Valor, Blood Drive, Animal Kingdom), Lizzy Greene… Also Ron Livingston as guest star.


You’ll Like It If You Already Like: This Is Us, Thirtysomething, Brothers & Sisters, Parenthood

Likely timeslot: Wednesday at 10 or Thursday at 9


There’s simply no words to tell you how enthusiastic I am about A Million Little Things. I’ll try to find some, though. First, we need to go back a year ago when ABC decided not to pick-up to series DJ Nash’s previous project, a comedy pilot called Losing It, about “three misfit adult siblings and their parents who — between divorce, new parenthood, early-onset dementia and let’s just say life — are all losing it in different ways“. An heartbreaking decision but understandable: though the script was good, it was definitely not your typical ABC family comedy, since it was pretty dark, with a cable-feel. Not a good fit. It was hard not to think of This Is Us, especially with Gerald McRaney playing the father and some sort of surprising twist towards the end (spoiler alert: the mother died). But ABC loved it and gave DJ Nash a second chance. It’s this “failure” that gave him the idea and the courage to work on A Million Little Things, based on a personal experience. “Sometimes in comedy, you have to apologize for adding drama, which is why I was so thrilled to see ABC’s passion for a drama that has comedy” he declared when the pilot got picked-up. Since then, it’s a clear frontrunner in the 2018 pilot race. And the script does live up to the expectations!

Again, I will quote DJ Nash, he’s the one who describes it the best way since he’s the brilliant mind behind it and I assure you it’s not just PR, it’s true, it’s what I felt too: “It’s an optimistic look at how the loss of a friend is the impetus for the other seven to finally start living, to make a promise to him and to themselves to finally be honest about what’s really going on (…) I know in my own life, my friend’s passing is a constant reminder to keep things in perspective“. There’s something really emotional and profound on the page that I hope will translate on the screen and with the cast they managed to assemble, I have a feeling it will. A Million Little Things could be summed up as “This Is Us with friends”, though it would be unfair to compare them too much. They come from the same place -a little something called heart- and they march to the beat of the same drum but they’re different enough so there’s a place for both in our lives. AMLT is about the power of friendship, the power of belonging to a group in a world where it’s easy to get lonely, to be left alone. People are not talking anymore, they don’t even look at each other on the bus, on the train, on the streets… Those seven realize they need to take care of each other a little bit better, tighter. They simply need to change, which is also the name of the song from Tracy Chapman we’re supposed to hear in the pilot if they got the rights for it.

At first, I was a bit taken aback when I discovered it was mostly about a male friendship. Not that it’s not interesting, but experience proved that shows centered around those rarely work (Men of a certain age, Big Shots, We Are Men…) for some reason. My guess is women are not that fascinated by this type of look behind the curtain -what do men do when we’re not around?- and men are not into soapy character-driven dramas as much as women are. What’s different with A Million Little Things is that those men are not stereotypes, they are modern and self-conscious -though they spend too much time at hockey games if you ask me- they’re multi-dimensional and they don’t avoid their emotions; while the women are not just on the background, they’re not just girlfriends or wives, they have their own stories to tell and their own journeys to live. It’s a bunch of promising characters and we’ll all fall in love with them I’m sure. Even when they’re not nice, even when they’re difficult. But don’t be afraid, they can also be a lot of fun. Let me introduce you to them.

Eddie (David Giuntoli) is the former front man of a local band turned music teacher and stay-at-home dad. His marriage is in trouble, and although he loves being a dad, he wonders what his life would have been like had he made different choices. He may be ready to take a big risk and leave his wife… for another woman he’s having an affair with. There’s a Netflix’s Friends From College vibe here, but it’s less cynical and more importantly: they didn’t meet at college! Then there’s Gary (James Roday), who is known for his deflective humor, a habit of sleeping with everyone, and complete control over his emotions. He’s in remission after battling a breast cancer and may want to take a chance at love. He’s both irritating and cute. Rome (Romany Malco) is a depressed but very successful commercial director. Not quite the gig he went to film school for, he longs to be doing something more important than making stupid commercials. He’s in a happy marriage but his wife knows nothing about his darker side. Also, he’s black. And it’s important because depression in the black comunity is even more taboo. Finally, there’s Jon (Ron Livingston), who appears to have it all: good looks, a beautiful family, and a successful career. But he takes his own life in the opening by jumping out of a window for reasons everyone has a hard time to understand. Don’t expect a Desperate Housewives‘ kind of mystery, but there’s certainly soapy elements in the DNA of the show, with a big reveals at the end of the pilot to make sure you’ll come back, including one shocker. And Jon’s suicide is still very much a question mark.

It’s the women’s turn now. Delilah (Stephanie Szostak) is Jon’s wife, who pushes through after his death for the sake of her children. She’s admirable and I love her already.  Katherine (Anne Son) is Eddie’s wife, who was once the fun one in the group but now is the boring mom to a son she loves while juggling being the parent she wants to be with her very successful law career. She’ll be harder to love but it’s the type of character that could become fascinating after a while if she’s not labeled as “the bitchy one”. Regina (Christina Moses) is a talented chef with dreams of opening her own restaurant one day. She is living proof that there’s nothing stronger in this world than a determined woman. She’s married to Rome and he’ll need her more than ever. Finally, there’s Maggie (Allison Miller) who is amazing and comfortable in her own skin. She’s a therapist and her career and her life are focused on the emotional. She might be the one for Gary. But there’s something about her he doesn’t know yet… The scenes between the guys are cool but the scenes between the girls are even cooler. Most of the pilot is happening during Jon’s funeral, or right before and after, and there are flashbacks to tell us how they met. And a great speech. And much more.

A Million Little Things may or may not become the next This Is Us ratings-wise. It may or may not become the next best thing. But let me tell you it’s a good medecine, a great therapy a lot of us need and to which we could become addicted. It’s the kind of show that makes you realize you should be living your life at the fullest while you can. It’s the kind of show that makes your heart jumps a little, your eyes cry a little… Ultimately, it gives you a million different feelings. I don’t know about you but that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a television show. So please be part of our lives, AMLT



The Village (NBC) pilot preview: This Is All Of Them

Written and executive produced by Mike Daniels (Shades Of Blue, Taken, Sons of Anarchy, The Vampire Diaries). Directed by Minkle Spiro (Downton Abbey, Call The Midwife, Genius). For NBCUniversal Television. 63 pages. Second Network Draft. 12/19/17.

Description: Despite a difference in age, race, culture and lifestyle, the residents of a Manhattan apartment building find that the more their lives intertwine, the more complex and compelling their connections become, thus proving life’s challenges are better faced alongside family, even if it’s the one you make wherever you find it. All under one roof, we will meet a recovering war vet, a pregnant teenage girl and her single mom, a cop with an unexpected love interest, a woman hiding a terrifying secret from her husband and a millennial lawyer who might find his grandfather is the best and worst roommate he ever could have hoped for…

With Warren Christie (The Resident, Alphas, October Road), Michaela McManus (SEAL Team, Aquarius, The Vampire Diaries), Lorraine Toussaint (Orange is the New Black, Selma, Saving Grace, Any Day Now), Dominic Chianese (Damages, The Sopranos, The Goldfather II), Grace Van Dien (Greenhouse Academy), Moran Atias (24: Legacy, Tyrant, Crash), Jerod Haynes (Empire, Sense8), Frankie Faison (Grey’s Anatomy, Banshee, The Wire), Daren Kagasoff (Red Band Society, The Secret Life of the American Teenager), Amber Skye Noyes (Quantico, The Deuce), Will Chase (Nashville, Smash), Luke Slattery


You’ll Like It If You Already Like: This Is Us, Parenthood

Likely timeslot: Right behind This Is Us, whether it stays on tuesdays or it moves


Remember Melrose Place? At least the first version of Melrose Place before Amanda Woodward/Heather Locklear came in, which was more a relationship drama with young people living in the same residence than a super crazy soap? It was not very good and it didn’t work, that’s why it changed so much, but we can say The Village is more in this vein, with a similar concept, though the characters are from different age, race, culture and lifestyle. For this reason, you can’t mistake it with a show from the 90s! It’s diverse and very rooted in our modern world. I don’t think it’s plausible in any way. I don’t think there are buildings where neighbours are so friendly with each other. That’s certainly not what I’m experiencing. I don’t live in New York but I went there and as in every big city in the world, neighbours don’t interact that much. The Village plays more like an utopia. That’s how things should work. People should talk, and help each other, and be kind and patient and open and generous. In a way, The Village wants to send the same message as This Is Us: we’re stronger when we’re all together, as a family, as a team. It’s a bit naïve and cliché, and so what? Cynicism is gone for good.

This sprawling ensemble drama has more serialized storylines going on in this pilot than in an entire season of a procedural. There are like 12 main characters and as many secondary ones. And yet, you’re never lost, probably because the writing is good enough to make them all distinctive. Plus, they’re all smartly connected so you never feel like it’s a compilation of stories. They all have their own apartment in this Brooklyn residence, but not all of the action is happening inside. There’s also a nursing home nearby, where they deal with troublemaking elders, for example. Plus, they have places where they can all be together: the iconic basement bar “The Crook and Croney” and the rooftop where they make parties and stare at the stars while confessing secrets. Two of our central characters, Ron and Patricia, a cute and loving couple in their sixties, own the building and make it their mission to create a family out of their residents, many of whom are longtime tenants. They truly are the glue that holds this place together. But Patricia has a secret that could threaten it all… She’s dying. She doesn’t want to tell anyone, including her husband. Of course, when you make such a show, you know the strenghth of the concept can also be its weakness: some stories will work better than others, some characters will be fan favorites, some others will live in their shadows, but hopefully everyone will find what they’re looking for in the show. I can’t say I loved it all, I can’t say everything is working but the pilot gave me enough reasons to stay.

One of the most emotional story is Katie’s & her mom Sarah. The sixteen year-old girl is a budding street artist and she’s forced to tell her mom she is pregnant after getting in trouble at school. Sarah is a young and single mother herself who works hard as a nurse and who wanted another life for her daughter. There’s a twist about the father but I’m not gonna tell anything. It’s one of those soapy moments that makes the show even more exciting. And then there’s Gabe, a busy and broke law student who has very little time to deal with his pill-pushing grandpa, who resides at the nursing home where Sarah works. So they’re gonna have to live together now and Gabe is less enthusiastic than his grandfather about it. Plus, Gabe will have to add something else to his plate: when Edda, an Irani woman, is detained by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), he’s asked to help her win her case so she can stay in America. Her cop boyfriend and downstairs neighbor Ben is left looking after her son, Sami, who’s only eight and absolutely not Ben’s biggest fan! While all of this is going on, Ron welcomes Nick, a discharged war vet, into the building, who’s a bit tired of the “Thank you for you service” sentence he’s being told at every moment. That’s just a glimpse of the stories I’m giving you here but I guess you have a better picture of what it’s all about. And again, it may seem messy and too rich but it’s working mostly. And it says a lot about today’s America.

The Village is a high-concept yet simple relationship drama like no other right now, that’s totally in sync with the “feel good” trend television is experiencing with shows such as This Is Us & The Good Doctor. The residents of this Brooklyn building are the epitome of a chosen family and I have a feeling viewers will choose to be a part of it as well. This is all of them and this is us, all together now.

NBC| 2016/2017 – Fantasy Schedule


Those are predictions based on feelings and NBC final schedule may end up very differently! It will be announced on Sunday. Stay tuned and until then, enjoy the read!





As the number one network, NBC could simply decide to fill the holes with new shows and hoping they stick. But I hope they will be a bit more ambitious with some bold moves while taking care of their comedy slate, using Superstore and The Carmichael Show as launchpad for new comedies, surrounded by The Voice and Little Big Shots.






Among the new dramas ordered by NBC so far, Timeless is the closest to The Blacklist & Blindspot. And when I say “closest”, it’s still very far from it. The time-travel twist makes it a bit harder to jump on occasionally but as ambitious as the concept is, they did something pretty simple, easy to understand. Will they be able to sustain the premise and the excitement though? I’m not sure. It’s more in the vein of Revolution in the end, that didn’t thrive behind The Voice but did very bad when it was moved somewhere else on the schedule (wednesdays at 8) for the second season. I would have prefered Miranda’s Rights there but obviously, it’s not gonna happen. They could also leave Blindspot there one more year, but it would be a waste of their best timeslot. If Timeless doesn’t do good, the spin-off of The Blacklist could totally end up here for the remaining of the season…






The Chicago Med/Chicago Fire duo does pretty well these days, sometimes matching The Voice ratings. But it’s clear Chicago Med doesn’t really need this to do acceptable numbers. It would probably do the same anywhere else on the schedule. NBC needs to use The Voice to give a good exposition to their comedies, a genre that is still almost dead on the network. Promising Superstore has at least two new shows that would fit well with it : The Good Place with Kristen Bell & Ted Danson and DC Comics’ Powerless. I’ll try The Good Place first in the fall, keeping the other one for a midseason launch when The Voice returns. Trial & Error, Great News & drama Law & Order: True Crime could end up on mondays or tuesdays to fill the holes when The Voice will be gone for a few months.






Wednesdays should remain stable with Chicago Med solidifying the 8pm slot, where The Mysteries Of Laura did ok and Heartbeat failed and got cancelled. Nothing else should change, especially Law & Order: SVU that stays strong despite Empire and ABC comedies still going strong.






NBC has many options for the 8pm timeslot but with the Olympics this summer and the football on Thursdays for one month, they’d better put there a show with a short-term commitment. Taken is only 10 episodes and fit well with high-octane fares The Blacklist & Blindspot, now a duo. They could put a preview somewhere during the Olympics to promote it heavily. It’s a better option than Emerald City, that seems to be a trainwreck from the get go. Chicago Justice could start at 8 during midseason.





The Mysteries of Laura was worth at least a reduced third season but it didn’t happen. Miniseries Emerald City has a shot there. Shades of Blue could take over at midseason, while Midnight, Texas could replace Grimm if they don’t decide to keep it for a summer run.






Any thoughts? Feel free to comment.