Tag: this is us

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

nbc

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!

Dramas renewed: LAW & ORDER: SVU | GRIMM | THE BLACKLIST | CHICAGO FIRE | CHICAGO PD | CHICAGO MED | SHADES OF BLUE | BLINDSPOT

New dramas ordered: TAKEN | EMERALD CITY | CHICAGO JUSTICE | TIMELESS | MIDNIGHT, TEXAS | THIS IS US |

Comedies renewed: THE CARMICHAEL SHOW | SUPERSTORE

New comedies ordered: THE GOOD PLACE | POWERLESS | TRIAL & ERROR | GREAT NEWS | MARLON

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.

 

MONDAYS

THE VOICE

THE VOICE

TIMELESS

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…

 

TUESDAYS

THE VOICE

THE GOOD PLACE / SUPERSTORE

CHICAGO FIRE

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

CHICAGO MED

LAW & ORDER: SVU

CHICAGO PD

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.

 

THURSDAYS

TAKEN

THE BLACKLIST

BLINDSPOT

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.

FRIDAYS

EMERALD CITY

GRIMM

DATELINE

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.

 

SUNDAYS

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

MIDSEASON

CHICAGO JUSTICE / POWERLESS / TRIAL & ERROR / SHADES OF BLUE / MIDNIGHT, TEXAS / THIS IS US / THE CARMICHAEL SHOW / MARLON / GREAT NEWS

Any thoughts? Feel free to comment.

SEE FOX 2016/2017 FANTASY SCHEDULE