Tag: true blood

Midnight, Texas (NBC) pilot preview: True Blood, without the sex & the fun

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Created and executive produced by Monica Owusu-Breen (Charmed, Alias, Brothers & Sisters, Fringe, Agents of SHIELD). Based on Charlaine Harris (True Blood). Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Game of Silence, Under The Dome, Unforgettable). Also executive produced by David Janollari (Six Feet Under). For NBC & Universal Television. 58 pages.

Description: Midnight, Texas, a remote town where your neighbor could be a vampire, a witch, a werewolf, and even an angel. Mystery, horror and romance combine to both enthrall and frighten any outsiders who decide to venture into this unusual place. Like the new man in town, Manfred Bernado, a psychic hoping to start anew but the ghosts of his past and those of the town won’t let him rest…

With François Arnaud (The Borgias, Blindspot), Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black, Arrow, Heroes Reborn), Arielle Kebbel (Life Unexpected, The Vampire Diaries, Ballers, 90210), Sarah Ramos (Parenthood, American Dreams), Jason Lewis (Sex & The City, Charmed, Brothers & Sisters) Kellee Stewart (My Boys, The Soul Man), Parisa Fitz-Henley (Jessica Jones), Yul Vasquez (Magic City, Treme)…

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Can you believe Grimm is on the air for 5 years already? I would never have bet on this one. At some point this season, it was clear the supernatural procedural was poised to find an end soon. But despite meh ratings on fridays, NBC just decided to give it a 6th season –mostly for syndication purposes since they fully own it– possibly the last and possibly reduced to 13 episodes. Nothing’s set in stone right now. What it means for supernatural pilot Midnight, Texas, clearly an underdog from the get go, is: either it’s incredibly good and NBC takes a chance on it, hoping it becomes their next Grimm; either it’s doomed and at the very best they send it to sister-cable network SyFy, where it would fit perfectly. And the second solution may be for the best. Because it’s not “incredibly good” on the page. It’s okay.

When you adapt a story from Charlaine Harris, whose True Blood series was a hit in libraries and on HBO, you expect three things: lots of sex; lots of fun; lots of creepiness. I’m sorry to tell you Midnight, Texas has nearly none of this. Let’s start with the sex. It’s pretty simple: we’re not on HBO or other cable outlets. On NBC, you just can’t have the same amount of sex scenes and they certainly can’t be as graphic as they were in True Blood, with a lot of gentlemen’s very fine asses, perky boobs, orgies and raw fuck. In this pilot, we follow the arrival of Manfred Bernado in Midnight. As sexy as he is supposed to be, he’s not fucking every women of the town yet. He quickly finds his Sookie though, a charming, timid, innocent lady called Creek. She’s a waitress. Like Sookie. In the only diner/bar in town, like Sookie. He’s not a vampire like Bill, neither a monster. But he’s a dark man too, with many secrets. He’s tortured because of his visions, because ghosts can litteraly jump under his skin, invade his brain. So their relationship is similar to Bill & Sookie. And it was not the best part of True Blood. There are other romances, and a tiny bit of sex thanks to them but really, don’t expect that from Midnight, Texas. That’s too bad. They assembled a very sexy cast! It will get frustrating. You’ve been warned!

Told you it lacked fun. Let me be clear about that: when you’re doing a show where there is a psychic, a vampire, an angel, a werewolf, a witch and a talking cat (yes, a talking cat like in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch!), the least you can do is having fun with all this. Like True Blood did. Like Supernatural does for 12 years. This pilot is way too serious in my opinion. You get an occasional joke and the character of the vampire is clearly designed to be the funny/cynical one –as always, hum– but he can’t do all the heavy lifting by himself. He needs help and he doesn’t get it. That’s something that can be worked on though. They can add more humor in subsequent episodes…

Regarding the creepiness, apart from the ghosts, it’s very soft. No horror. There are strange and horrible things supposed to happen. We’re teased about them but we don’t see them yet. We’re told the town of Midnight has been built where the veil between the living and dead is the thinnest. It explains why supernatural creatures decided to live there, together. At peace. At least until a murder happened and caused the attention of the media. ‘cos of course there’s a murder in the middle of this… What did you expect? There was a serial killer in True Blood season one too. Charlaine Harris tends to tell the same story all over again anyway… There is the exact same atmosphere in Bon Temps and in Midnight. It’s reassuring in a way. But we’ve already been there, haven’t we?

Midnight, Texas is simply a network version of True Blood, a cousin of Grimm, which doesn’t take any risks and leaves us mostly indifferent even though there’s a bunch of interesting relationships and a lot of stories to tell starting from here. Not an incredible pilot, but potential nonetheless. If you have never seen True Blood, maybe you can tolerate it. NBC has way better and/or safer pilots to bet on this year. Except if they’re planning a summer run or a midseason start after Grimm ends, if Grimm ends. 

Preacher (AMC) pilot preview: AMC can praise the Lord, they found the next “True Blood”!

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Pilot written & produced by Sam Catlin (Breaking Bad). Adapted from the comics by Steve Dillon & Garth Ennis. Directed & co-produced by Seth Rogen (This is the end, The Interview). Also produced by Evan Goldberg, Vivian Cannon (The Big C)… For AMC, Sony Pictures Television, DC Comics, Original Film & Point Grey Pictures. 62 pages.

Description: Jesse Custer, a conflicted Preacher in a small Texas town, merges with a creature that has escaped from heaven and develops the ability to make anyone do anything he says. Along with his ex-girlfriend, Tulip, a violent batshit crazy woman, and an Irish vampire named Cassidy, the three embark on a journey around the United States to literally find God…

With Dominic Cooper (Agent Carter, Captain America, Need for Speed, Fleming), Joseph Gilgun (Misfits, This is England), Ruth Negga (Misfits, Criminal Justice, Agents of SHIELD), Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds), Lucy Griffiths (True Blood), Ian Colletti (Rake), W. Earl Brown (American Crime, True Detective, Deadwood), Jamie Anne Allman (The Killing US), Brian Huskey (Selfie, Veep)…

STARTS ON MAY 22TH, 2016

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There is definitely something missing on TV since True Blood went off the air last year: an adult supernatural drama that is both sexy and fun. And over the top crazy.  Also twisted as hell. While on the quest of their next big hit after Breaking Bad and Mad Men ended, with only The Walking Dead (and soon its spin-off) still standing, AMC might have stumbled across it. Preacher is full of potential, not as depraved as the HBO show was -at least for now- but whacky and offbeat nonetheless. I bet it’s gonna get a huge fanbase pretty soon if ordered to series and it seems like the comics it’s based on (from DC) makes it already a project of great interest for many people all around the world. The franchise is highly popular since it debuted on 1996. I’m not sure why AMC didn’t pull a direct-to-series order, like they did with kung-fu drama Into the Badlands, starting next november, a riskier project in my opinion. Maybe because they wanted to make sure it was true to the comics. Or maybe because, like HBO which developed its own adaptation a few years ago or the movie projects that came even before that, they’re a little bit afraid of its controversial content about religion. AMC, be brave and just go for it! You may be rewarded with huge ratings and lots of passionate social media discussions. Isn’t it the whole point nowadays?

Even though Preacher is very dark and graphic -the first scene ends with splashing blood and guts all over the place- what may be different with this adaptation from the previous ones is the emphasis on comedy. It’s a lot of fun all along and that’s why it stands out as something we’re not that used to, at least in this genre and format. With Seth Rogen producing and directing the pilot, AMC made it pretty clear: they want it entertaining and fucked up. So it is. I don’t want to go too far in comparisons but let me tell you there’s a Tarantino-esque vibe to it. It requires a great sense of humor, that’s for sure. And it doesn’t need to be taken too seriously. Secondary characters who populate the small town where Jesse Custer lives are all very strange, devious, the same way as the people of Bon Temps were. They offer great laughs and some kind of astonishment. Vampire Cassidy is well… outrageous! I totally picture Joseph Gilgun in the role. Tulip could be compared to Michonne from The Walking Dead, but crazier.

That being said, Preacher may surprise you along the way: between the lines, it’s a really deep story about faith and America. Our hero may not be the flashiest character of the pilot but he delivers some great moments on an emotional level, which I found surprising and promising. We need to care about him. We almost do in the end. And the writer makes sure -a little too hard maybe with too many details for an introduction to this mad mad world- that we understand there is a complex mythology behind it all, multiple lawyers. A lot happens. Violent things. Weird things. Ridiculous things. Like a crossbow-fighting… on a plane! I wish we’d spend a little more time with Jesse, and a little less time with the craziness. Hints of craziness and supernatural elements would have been enough. It’s one of those pilots that want to show its full potential right away… Budget-wise, AMC will have to show us the money. And we know it’s not their strongest suit…

Preacher is the biggest chance for AMC to deliver another phenomenon to TV after The Walking Dead. It has “HIT” written all over it with its crop of weird characters, its atypical tone, its graphic violence, its mythology, its controversial topic… but of course, it’s not for everyone. AMC needs it as much as fans of the property need closure for this never-ending project. So, say a little prayer and everything should be fine!