Frequency (The CW) pilot preview: Some good movies should just stay movies

FREQUENCY

Created & executive produced by Jeremy Carver (Supernatural, Being Human US). Based on Toby Emmerich’s movie. Also executive produced by Toby Emmerich (The Hobbit, The Notebook, The Butterfly Effect), Dan Lin (Forever), Jennifer Gwartz (Veronica Mars, Forever) & John Rickhard (Horrible Bosses, How To Be Single). For The CW, Warner Bros. Television, New Line Cinema & Lin Pictures.

Description: Raimy Sullivana female police detective in 2016 discovers she is able to speak via a ham radio with her estranged father, Frank, also a detective, who died in 1996. They forge a new relationship while working together on an unresolved murder case, but unintended consequences of the ‘butterfly effect’ wreak havoc in the present day…

With Peyton List (The Tomorrow People, Flashfoward), Riley Smith (Nashville, 90210, True Blood), Mekhi Phifer (ER, Lie To Me, Torchwood) , Lenny Jacobson (Nurse Jackie), Devin Kelley (Resurrection, The Chicago Code), Anthony Ruivivar (Banshee, Third Watch), Sean Howard Roberts (Painkiller Jane)…

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A good movie doesn’t inevitably make a good series. And a good pilot doesn’t inevitably make a good series either. Frequency with Dennis Quaid & Jim Caviezel was a nice little movie. It was NOT necessary to transform into a weekly TV series. It doesn’t mean the pilot is not good. It’s quite okay, to tell the truth. And it doesn’t come such as a surprise since they just took the same story and simplified it as much as they could without losing the logic, the consistency of it all, so it can play over the course of 42 minutes. But as much as I enjoyed reading the script, I don’t like what the series is poised to become: just another police procedural with a sci-fi twist. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t even understand how they can play with the same idea -two cops in two different timelines investigating together- past a few episodes. Unless our heroin, Raimy, becomes a “cold cases” investigator for murders that happened in the 90s, when her father was still alive, which is pretty specific, hum. Even the serialized part of the show can’t sustain much longer. So: okay pilot, future boring TV show.

The project was first based at NBC last year, with the same writer, and it didn’t go to pilot. It was not a good fit and I guess they saw everything that goes wrong with a Frequency series. Smart decision from their part. Warner Bros. didn’t surrender and sold it to sister-network The CW this season. But it’s not a good fit either! Yes, The CW has changed and makes more adult shows now but I really don’t think their audience will embrace it, it’s simply not in their DNA. And the fact that it’s written by a Supernatural writer doesn’t change a thing. You know what it made me think of? Forever. I liked Forever and even if it wasn’t a success for ABC, the show got a solid fanbase. Would it work on The CW? Probably not. It was more of a FOX show, I’d say. Same here. The difference is, it’s not fun. It’s pretty serious all the time. No jokes. Raimy & Frank are too affected to crack jokes. It’s understandable, they’re not in a good place, but what about the secondary characters? They don’t really exist for now. I read the script three days ago and I don’t remember them much. All of this lacks electricity, sparkles. Dialogues are not sharp enough.

What they could make believable somehow in the movie is harder to swallow in the pilot. It goes too fast, more explanations are needed about the way the ham radio works, about why the father and the daughter can connect. They don’t even try. There’s just a thunderstorm and that’s it. So it comes out as a bit ridiculous at first. But then you get carried away by the investigation and the emotion that comes out of this daughter-dead father relationship, the same way as the Peter & Walter Bishop relationship worked in Fringe. If there’s one thing this pilot is, is emotional! It really is on paper, at least. The director and actors now have to do justice to it. I’m not a big Peyton List fan though, I’m afraid she can’t pull it off. And I haven’t seen much of Riley Smith but in Nashville he was not that bad…

With The CW recently renewing all of their shows, there are not many slots available for new series next season. They ordered six pilots. They’ll probably pick-up three of them to series. In this context, I don’t see Frequency getting a greenlight, even though it’s pretty decent when you just look at the pilot. It’d be hard making 80 episodes out of it -which is a problem for a procedural- and it’s just not on the same wavelength as other CW shows.

5 comments

  1. Djrocca says:

    What are your faults with Peyton List? (Personally I would rather have her back on The Flash but that’s just me.)

  2. mae says:

    Will you do other CW scripts? Riverdale? Is really just a teen soap? Compatible with Flash?
    Transylvania? Is like Penny Dreadful or Van Helsing? I heard it has lots of monologues.

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