“Runner” (ABC) pilot preview: Thrilling ride from San Francisco to Mexico… and then?


Written & produced by Michael Cooney (Jack Frost, The I Inside, Identity). Based on Turkish series Son. Co-produced by Kim Moses & Ian Sanders (Profiler, Ghost Whisperer, Reckless) and Peter Horton (Thirthysomething, Once & Again, Grey’s Anatomy). Directed by Michael Offer (How to Get Away With Murder, Last Resort). For ABC, 20th Century FOX Television & Kim-Moses Productions. 61 pages.

Description: Lauren Marks, a sexy wife, loving mom, and career woman, sees her entire life turned upside down when she drops her husband Adam off at the airport for a work related trip and his flight crashes with no survivors. After a day of devastating grief, Lauren receives a strange phone call: her husband never boarded his flight. Relief turns to suspicion when she begins to realize that Adam may be connected to a dangerous Mexican cartel and an international gun running operation. Lauren quickly finds herself in a world she knows nothing about, where any mistake could turn deadly…

With Paula Patton (Precious, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, 2 Guns, About Last Night), Adam Rodriguez (CSI Miami, Magic Mike, Ugly Betty, Reckless), Brent Sexton (Life, The Killing US, Justified), Courtney Ford (Dexter, True Blood, Parenthood), Chris Johnson (Vampire Diaries, Betrayal), Megan Dodds (MI:5, CSI: New York)…

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I don’t have a good feeling about Runner. Sometimes there’s a pilot script you like but you can’t help thinking that it’s never gonna work once on the air and it’s hard to explain why. That’s the whole idea of trusting your instincts. I doubt that ABC’s president Paul Lee has the same instincts as me -and I’m not saying I’m right and he’s wrong- since the rumours are in favor of Runner: it should be ordered to series. So, I guess it will be a mid-season filler or it could also be eyed for a summer run, best case scenario. In my opinion, the show would be better off the regular schedule. It doesn’t really fit with what ABC already has, it can’t go beyond 13 episodes per season -or go beyond one season in fact- and shows like this one have been tried on the network previously. The stories were different, and the scripts were probably less exciting -or it’s the execution that failed- but they made it to the air anyway and they didn’t work at all. I’m especially thinking of Missing and Red Widow. Strong women who lose a loved one (husband, son…) and end up in big troubles because of the secrets they left behind. Runner also shares some DNA with another ABC pilot this year: Shondaland’s The Catch. But it doesn’t seem to bother anyone so…

I probably seem to be against Runner. But I’m not. Sure, ABC has better things to pick up, but it’s a solid pilot script that embarks us on a thrilling ride. It starts with an excellent scene, a flashforward showing our heroin blinfolded in a dark room, tied up to a chair, while a tattooed man is menacing her with a gun. Then she’s confronted with another woman and they’re told only one of them can survive. There’s a fight, a trigger is pulled and… 63 days earlier begins Lauren Marks’ journey, the day she thought she had lost her husband before discovering he’s not the man she thought he was. Of course, all of this takes time. And it’s breathtaking and exhausting. Sad too. The writer tries to add some emotional moments to the action-packed script but it always seems a little bit rushed. Paula Patton has to be good!

Meanwhile, we’re introduced to Adam’s closest brothers and their wives, while another, Troy (Adam Rodriguez), the black sheep of the family for 10 years, is living in Mexico and will soon have a big role to play in the events. The show starts in San Francisco but in the very end we’re already in Mexico, with Lauren et Troy as the target of a sniper. That’s when she’s told to “Run!” and the title of the show suddenly makes sense. She has done nothing wrong but she’s now a person of interest for drug cartels and very big bad Mexicans guys. As much as I would have liked to compare Runner to Breaking Bad, I won’t. But I’m sure Michael Cooney (and ABC ?) had this example in mind… Oh and I forgot to tell you: initially, the pilot was developed for FOX last year. But since it was about an heroin and they don’t want to have one -look at all of their dramas (or pilots), there is none!- ABC took it instead. I’m not sure it was such a good idea in the first place.

Runner... I don’t know how to conclude this. I don’t know what ABC should do with you… Sure, you have a solid script I couldn’t take my eyes off for a second -even if I wanted to pee badly!- but beyond your pilot I don’t think you can maintain the same level of quality and thrills. Soon enough, you will turn into a ridiculous show with twists and turns that don’t make sense. That’s my biggest fear. You won’t work. You’re not a safe bet. Sorry, but I think ABC should run the other way and never look back. 


  1. tash says:

    I knew Runner shared its DNA with Missing and Red Widow, I’m glad you confirmed my first impression. It’s not my kind of thing so I probably won’t watch.
    Funny you mentionned the lack of female leads in fox dramas, I guess after the huge failure (to say the least) of the mob doctor, it won’t happen again.

    • Lulla says:

      Which is stupid since “Mob Doctor”‘s problem was not the female lead, but the whole show which was just crap.

  2. A says:

    It may to work as limited series with 8 or 10 episodes for midseason or next summer. After Scandal in next spring. ABC lives crazy soaps!

  3. Tanya says:

    Thanks for the preview. Paula Patton is very beautiful but a horrible actress I don’t see this show working at all.

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