Tag: abc

The Hypnotist’s Love Story (ABC) pilot preview: You, female stalker edition

SERIES TITLE: The Hypnotist’s Love Story
NETWORK: ABC
GENRE: Soap Drama

LOGLINE: After a string of failed romances, Ellen, a successful hypnotherapist, is optimistic about her current boyfriend, a charming widower… until he reveals a disturbing truth: a stalker ex-girlfriend Sasha who has been following him and his son for years. Ellen finds herself intrigued, and oddly thrilled by the stalker, entirely unaware that they’ve already met…

Pilot Cast: Juliet Rylance (McMafia, The Knick), Heather Graham (Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, Californication), Adan Canto (Designated Survivor, The Following), Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Jane The Virgin), Liza Lapira (9JKL, Don’t Trust The Bitch, Dollhouse), Skye P. Marshall (Black Lightning)…
Series Creator: Katie Wech (Star, The Secret Circle, Rizolli & Isles, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland).
Pilot Director: Francesca Gregorini (Humans, Electric Dreams).
Producers: Katie Wech, Heather Graham, David Hoberman (Monk), Todd Lieberman & Laurie Zaks (Castle, The Family, Wicked City).

Studios: ABC Studios & Mandeville Television.

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: You, Dirty John, Lifetime and Hallmark Channel movies…

Likely Timeslot: Paired with The Bachelor in midseason or with The Bachelorette in the summer. Or sent to Lifetime or Hallmark Channel.

 

WRITTEN BY: Katie Welch

PAGECOUNT: 61 pages

DRAFT: 3rd Revised Network Draft. 1/11/19

 

BACKGROUND: The Hypnotist’s Love Story was the first pilot season order for ABC (NYPD Blue‘s happened off-cycle) and the first pilot order for the network’s new entertainment president Karey Burke, who comes from Disney’s cable channel Freeform. She wants to target women to lure them back at ABC and take back that number one crown they lost to NBC. The pilot is based on australian writer Liane Moriarty’s book published in 2011. It’s one of the seven international bestselling novels she wrote, with Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret and Truly Madly Guilty, each claiming the No. 1 spot on The New York Times Best Seller list. As you all know, Big Little Lies‘ HBO adaptation became a hit and won multiple Emmy Awards, while a second installment is on its way. If The Hypnotist’s Love Story were to be ordered to series, it would become the second adaptation to come to our TV screens, which is an indeniable strong selling argument for ABC.

Heather Graham, who plays the stalker character, has been the driving force behind the project from the get-go. She brought the book to Mandeville Television and ABC Studios after meeting with several producers. The pitch led to a buy, then a script and now a pilot.

 

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: ELLEN (38) is a hypnotherapist who excels at helping others with their relationships, but can’t seem to find one of her own. Four dates in with PATRICK SCOTT (38), a handsome widower and single dad, Ellen finally thinks she may have found her soulmate. She remains undeterred after Patrick is forced to reveal that he has a stalker, an exgirlfriend named SASHA (40s), when she suddenly appears at their dinner date, but Ellen’s best friend JULIA (38) is immediately concerned. Back at work, Ellen convinces her client ROSIE (28) to break off her engagement with media mogul IAN ROMAN (40s), who in turn publishes disparaging articles about Ellen and threatens her. Ellen eventually meets Patrick’s son JACK (10), which enrages Sasha, who had a very close relationship with him. Sasha breaks into Ellen’s house after seeing where she leaves the spare key, bakes banana bread in her kitchen, and then gives it to Jack. Ellen ends up in need of new clients after Ian’s articles scare off her old ones, and she ends up unknowingly in a session with Sasha.

COMMENTS: I guess sometimes you can’t resist to a strong selling argument and it feels like that’s what happened here with ABC’s top execs when they greenlighted the pilot, based on a weak script but coming from a name. Also, they made their decision while You became a hit on Netflix and Dirty John started to get some traction over there too. They probably saw an opportunity to tell a similar stalker-could-be-a-serial-killer story but more focused on women this time. By the way, I have a suggestion for a better title: Crazy In Love. It’s more attractive and it fits better with what’s at stake honestly. It’s two women madly in love and slighlty deranged. And I don’t think a network that launched so many female empowering shows should ruin it with such a dull thing. Of course, women can be stalkers, and they can go crazy, and they can make mistakes and love too much, and badly, but then you have the responsibility to portray them with subtlety and dignity, tell how they got there in the first place. And pitting them against each others is not very 2019… unless you’re doing Killing Eve and have Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s talent and intelligence.

I don’t know if the book it’s adapted from was any good -reviews seem to mixed overall- but there’s always such an efficiency and a great deal of suspense and twists in Liane Moriarty’s work that you can’t really hate it. It’s definitely chick lit but with an edge and the surprising depth that comes with it. The Hypnotist’s Love Story may be the outlier though. There’s no such thing as edge and depth here, I’m not even sure there’s a story. Probably more of a lack of story. I don’t think it’s a good pilot and I don’t think it could become a good TV series either. The foundations and the characters are simply not solid enough and it’s overall very predictable. I even felt kind of insulted sometimes. The writer sets some straps for us -why not? let’s play!- but gosh, they are so obvious. How could she think we would jump in? And in terms of twists and craziness I’m very disappointed too. The craziest thing the stalker Sasha does is… baking banada bread in her rival’s kitchen. I mean, WTF??! If it’s supposed to give us an idea of how far she’s able to go, please stop right there! Which leads me to a reflexion I had during the whole reading: those characters don’t act like functionning adults. There is teenage angst and obsessive behavior that just doesn’t feel appropriate for the age group they’re supposed to be in. And it’s mostly painful to watch. It’s not fun. It’s probably not supposed to be but at least we would enjoy it more if it was. What it is supposed to be though it’s thrilling. And it’s not that either. It’s too cheesy to be.

In the end, can something be saved from this mess? Certainly not Patrick’s character, who’s one-dimensional and too good to be true. You have a hard time understanding why both Ellen and Sasha desire him so much, he’s so boring… It all rests on the actor’s shoulders now to make him at least charming and damn hot. Adan Canto should be able to. Fans of Big Little Lies, you’ll get a good amount of normal (and uninteresting?) chit-chat with friends and family, around coffees, cup of teas or glasses of wine. But most of it sounds fake sadly. And Ellen’s best friend is one more flat protagonist. One character I liked though is Ellen’s extravagant mother, played by Jane Seymour. She’s actually funny, that’s a breath of fresh air. So no, not much can be saved from this mess. But it’s watchable if you have time to spare and a fondness for these things.

 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Since both You and Dirty John are uniformly dull shows that worked anyway, there’s hope for The Hypnotist’s Love Story. But maybe this one would have a better chance on Netflix thanks to the system of recommendations or on Disney+ to stay in the family. Coming back week after week would suppose a need of better writing, more appealing characters and stronger hooks. I want to believe ABC wants to win women back with shows that are more empowering and less insulting. 

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[ X ] PASS
 ] CONSIDER
[  ] RECOMMEND

Nana, Hannah, Happy Accident… ABC 2019 comedy pilots ranked from best to worst

It was bound to happen sooner or later and this time is now: the “ABC Funny” brand of single-camera family-oriented comedies is going through a rough patch after years of success and may be heading towards a slow death. It took form back in 2009, when both critically-acclaimed Modern Family and dearly beloved The Middle started. They were joined over the years by other strong and more modest performers such as The Goldbergs, Fresh Off The Boat, Blackish and American Housewife. Every single time they tried to deviate from the formula (Trophy Wife, The Real O’Neals) or totally go into other directions (Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the Bitch, Selfie, The Mayor), they got slapped in the face with terrible ratings. Most of those shows were pretty good by the way, with the exception of some iconic failures like Work It and Super Fun Night.

Now that everything has been made, from 70s, 80s and 90s settings to big pushes on diversity, the audience seems to be tired of them. The Middle is gone, Modern Family is about to go. New entries Single Parents and The Kids are Alright started well before settling down at disappoiting levels, while the sophomore season of unowned Splitting Up Together is nothing to rave about. It leaves the network with a huge comedy problem and one decent hit, The Conners, even though it lost steam compared to mothership Roseanne. ABC may think the answer is in the multicamera genre, that they tried to revive occasionnally, with Last Man Standing (cancelled and now on FOX) and Cristela among others. From the nine pilots ordered, one has already been passed on –The Middle spin-off Sue Sue In The City, which was probably not on-brand- one is a second spin-off from modest performer Blackish, similar to Young Sheldon centered around Young Bow, 4 are single cams and 3 are multicams. The number of comedy ordered in may will depend on ABC’s decision about reducing or not their comedy slots. They may very well only take one of each. But one thing’s for sure: they had a weak development season in that department… Which leads to our ranking based on the scripts.

 

SINGLE CAMERA COMEDIES

 

 

  1. HAPPY ACCIDENT (20th Century FOX Television & ABC Studios)

Around two Pittsburgh families — a father (Matt Walsh) with three adult daughters (JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Kether Donohue, Jessie Pinnick), and a hotel lounge singer (Vanessa Williams) with her med student son (Elliot Knight) — who are forced together after a decades-old secret is revealed… 

Ordered off-cycle, Happy Accident might very well be ABC’s last chance to capitalize on Modern Family‘s lead-in to launch a new family comedy with potential. I wouldn’t consider this script as a no-brainer -the whole story is very predictable and it’s not laugh-out-loud funny- but it’s actually not bad at all with a few sweet moments and good dialogues. It’s more adult-oriented -there’s only one kid in there- than ABC’s usual fare and it may be a good thing though it makes it a harder fit with the last comedies standing. It’s very diverse, blending a white traditional family with a more excentric black one, and it includes a gay son and a tomboy daughter. The cast is really great and that’s what could save it from being mediocre. Vanessa Williams will go back to what she does best: being a queen diva. Veep‘s Matt Walsh is a nice get for ABC. Joanna Garcia is a show killer but a nice gal we’re always happy to watch. And You’re The Worst‘s revelation Kether Donohue -that I consider as the new Megan Mullally- could become the main attraction. So unless Happy Accident tests poorly, I can totally see it on the schedule next year. Becoming a hit though is a whole other story…

 

2. UNTITLED JESSICA GAO PROJECT (ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios & Imagine Television)

about Janet Zhao (Holly Chou), a first generation Chinese-American woman who struggles to set healthy boundaries with her crazy, exhausting family. When her wealthy grandmother dies and names Janet the sole inheritor, she suddenly finds herself the unwilling new matriarch of the family she’s spent her life trying to keep at arm’s length…

Originally known as “Lazy Rich Asians'”, this comedy pilot written by Jessica Gao, who worked on Silicon Valley and who won an Emmy for writing “Pickle Rick,” a standout episode of Rick and Morty that aired in 2017, totally and confidently surf on summer 2018 box-office smash Crazy Rich Asians. The plot is very similar though the genre is different since it’s more of a family comedy than a romcom. It’s fresh, funny, sometimes moving, and it sounds like something that comes from a place of respect and love for a community without being cheesy. Fresh Off the Boat became the first Asian family comedy in the U.S. in more that two decades. It would be nice to get a second one now, not in two more decades…

 

3. HANNAH (ABC Studios)

The story of Hannah (Hannah Simone) and her Indian-American immigrant father. They always have been close, but after she admits to herself that she’s in a dead-end job and he reveals his marriage is over, they’re starting over together and each finding a new path. This new chapter will either make them crazy close — or just crazy…

I have nothing against Hannah Simone, really, but I’m not sure why ABC is so eager to give her a starring vehicle. Last year’s The Greatest American Hero female reboot she was on was definitely not a good fit with the network and it made total sense to pass on itn whatever the result may have been. This one is said to be semi-autobiographical and ABC loves that. It’s a weird and not entirely effective mix between a family single-cam and a romantic/girly comedy that is not designed for a large audience. The daughter/father relationship dynamics is cute, but the rest is weak. It would be great to have a nontraditional Indian family at the center of a show, it has not been made yet, but this one is not THE one, sorry.

 

4. WOMAN UP (20th Century FOX Television)

about two former teen moms (Mary-Elizabeth Ellis & Tawny Newsome) who have worked their asses off to see their daughters all the way through high school graduation; and now, at 35, they’re ready to make up for the youth they never had…

Damn ABC. You’re supposed to do better than this! First, why is this a single-cam? It would have worked better as a multicam in the vein of 2 Broke Girls and Mom. Okay, ABC is not CBS and they probably couldn’t have found the right slot for it but why ordering it in the first placee? It barely works as a single-cam, but it has its moments. This is not a straight family comedy, though there are strong family elements, and those single mothers-teenage daughters relationships are not as innovative as they want to be. Nobody remembers FOX’s one-season-and-done I Hate my Teenage Daughter, but it’s the same concept. They had other very similar pilots in the past and with better scripts, like last year Most Likely To. Maybe it would have had a chance with a better cast but it’s a really weak one, with no recognizable faces. They have better options!


MULTICAMERA COMEDIES

 

 

  1. NANA (20th Century FOX Television & ABC Studios)

After the death of his wife, an obsessive, overprotective dad (Josh Lawson) is forced to invite his brash and bawdy mother-in-law (Katey Sagal) into his home to help raise the two granddaughters she barely knows…

Loved Nana! Made me think a bit of One Day At A Time, shamelessly cancelled by Netflix just a few days ago. It’s both (very) funny and emotional, though it’s less diverse. It’s set in Minneapolis and it’s not about a wealthy family but about midwestern americans having real problems. It’s easy to imagine it paired with The Conners. It’s the best option they have in that regard, with a central character that is different from Roseanne but who still could be compared to her because she’s an irreverent and noisy woman with lots of love to give… but in her own way. It’s so easy to close your eyes and imagine Katey Sagal knocking the part out of the park. She’s perfect for this. It would be a nice addition to ABC’s line up and it could help them expand the multicam genre. It’s not original or anything, it’s just good. And sometimes that’s just what we ask for.

 

2. UNITED WE FALL (Sony Pictures Television)

Based on writer Julius Sharpe’s life, the parents (Will Sasso & Christina Vidal) of two young kids struggle to achieve the ordinary. When two people with young children and overzealous extended families truly love each other, barely anything is possible, even with an extremely judgmental mother (Jane Curtin) at home….

The writing here is strong. Some lines and situations really made me laugh out loud, it’s a bit more racy than ABC’s usual comedies, more realistic too, and with the right chemistry it could be a really enjoyable sitcom. The problem with United We Fall is that there’s no hook. What’s different? Seems like a sitcom from 15 years ago, except it’s multicultural! It might do the trick behind The Conners, but Nana has a slight advantage because of Katey Sagal and a more modern feel. Then again, the writing is top-notch.

3. PASTORIZED (ABC Studios)

Leslie and Hope (Leslie Odom Jr & Kelly Jenrette) are joint pastors at a young, hip, diverse church in Los Angeles. Through their services, online streams and books they are experts at uniting people across different races, genders, orientations and opinions. But when it comes to uniting the people in their blended family, they are way out of their comfort zone and as a result, the teachers often find themselves the pupils…

This one is a clear disappointment. The concept seemed cool and modern based on the pitch, and in some ways it is. But the jokes will only make you smile, best case scenario. There’s a B story with the kids that is really uninteresting and too weak for a pilot. And well, it doesn’t fit with The Conners. It would have been great for TV Land, when the channel still had original sitcoms on its roster. On ABC, it’s a huge pass.

 

 

NYPD Blue (ABC) pilot preview: more than a reboot, a family affair

SERIES TITLE: NYPD Blue
NETWORK: ABC
GENRE: Cop Drama

LOGLINE: Andy Sipowicz’s son, Theo, tries to earn his detective shield and work in the 15th squad while investigating his father’s cold case when new information arises. Theo seems to have taken after his father as he too is a hard-drinking, hard-headed and quick-witted cop…

Pilot Cast: Fabien FrankelAlona Tal (Seal TEAM, Supernatural, Veronica Mars), Kim Delaney (NYPD Blue, Army Wives), Bill Brochtrup (NYPD Blue, Major Crimes), Rick Gomez (Band of Brothers, What About Brian), Ashley Thomas (The Night Of, 24: Legacy)…
Series Creators: Matt Olmstead (NYPD Blue, Prison Break, Breakout Kings, Chicago PD) & Nick Wootton (NYPD Blue, Chuck, Scorpion).
Pilot Director: Jesse Bochco (NYPD Blue, Agents of SHIELD, Raising The Bar).
Producers: Dayna Bochco, Jesse Bochco, Matt Olmstead & Nick Wootton.

Studios: 20th Century Fox Television & ABC Studios

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: NYPD Blue (duh!), SouthLAnd, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago PD

Likely Timeslot: Tuesday at 10, of course! The iconic timeslot on ABC where the original series stayed from the first episode to the last. And nothing really worked there since then…

 

WRITTEN BY: Matt Olmstead & Nick Wootton.

PAGECOUNT: 56 pages

DRAFT: Revised network draft 9/18/18

BACKGROUND: For those unfamililiar with it, the original NYPD Blue first aired in 1993 and is considered by many to be one of best television shows of all time. It was never a ratings juggernaut for ABC but it was a stable player and a critical darling. It won 20 Emmy Awards and 84 nominations over its 12-year run, including best drama series, and was lauded for its realistic portrayal of cops’ lives. It also generated controversy for its use of foul language, partial nudity, and its raw depiction of alcoholism, among other things.

Until Grey’s Anatomy broke the record recently, it had been the longest-running ABC prime-time drama. Longevity isn’t the only thing the two series have in common: they’re both soap-like, revolving around the characters’ professional lives intertwined with their personal ones, although Grey’s is lighter in tone where NYPD Blue was grittier and darker — especially compared to other TV series at the time. Both series also survived multiple cast changes with actors leaving and characters dying, although like Meredith Grey, Andy Sipowicz (played by Dennis Franz) stayed central from start to finish, proving to be the glue that held the show together.

NYPD Blue was co-created by Steven Bochco, one of the most important and prolific series creators ever, whose credits include Hill Street BluesL.A. LawDoogie Howser MDMurder One and the short-lived but infamous Cop Rock, a musical cop show. In 1987, he struck a $15M deal with ABC to create 10 series pilots over 10 years, which was unheard of at the time. Before he died last April at the age of 74, Bochco met with the co-writer of this new iteration and gave it his blessing. It stays in the family since Bochco’s son, Jesse (who directed 10 episodes of the original series) is executive producing and directing the pilot. Matt Olmstead and Nick Wootton, the co-creators of the new show, also worked on the original NYPD Blue at the start of their careers, reteaming with Bochco on two of his later series, Brooklyn South and Blind Justice.

Fun fact: this is not the first reboot ordered for NYPD Blue: In 2004, ABC picked-up to pilot NYPD 2069, a futuristic spin-off about an NYPD detective named Alex Franco who is declared brain-dead after an “accident”. Taken off life support, his heart continues beating, and he is cryogenically frozen for 66 years. Awakened in the year 2069 to find his wife dead, his son an aging vegetable, and his grandson a cop, Franco pleads for the right to do what he does best: police work. The pilot starred Josh Hopkins, Anna Gunn, Danny Pino, Kevin Dunn and Giancarlo Esposito, but it failed to win a series order. Go figure.

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: After 26-year-old police officer THEO SIPOWICZ mishandles an undercover case, he’s kicked off the 30th District’s Narcotics squad. Theo is one of the best detectives on the force, but he drinks a bit too much and can be reckless on the job. He’s also mourning the death of his father ANDY SIPOWICZ of the 15th Precinct, who was murdered in a brothel 2 years ago under mysterious circumstances. After new details surface about Andy’s murder, Theo talks his way into helping the detectives of the 15th: NICOLE LAZARUS, CHRIS GAMBLE and CRAIG PETTIBONE. Ultimately, Theo’s work on his father’s case leads CHIEF ARTHUR FANCY to transfer Theo to the 15th Precinct as a squad detective, where he’s under the supervision of LIEUTENANT DIANE RUSSELL, who made a promise to her dear friend Andy to help Theo get his gold shield when he’s ready. And now he is.

COMMENTS: This new series’ link to the original NYPD Blue is both a blessing and a curse. For those who watched the original series, there’s an instant familiarity (and the opportunity for characters from the original series to return). For new viewers, it’s more challenging, as the writers have to bring them up to speed on who Andy Sipowicz was and what he represented for his colleagues, without being too obvious and boring for those of us who already know. I’m sorry to report that this pilot script struggles to find the right balance. With so much time spent on backstory, there’s simply not enough left to properly introduce most of the new characters. Theo is everywhere, but his co-lead Lazarus stays in his shadow. And the others are in the shadow of his shadow. What this means is Theo had better win the viewer’s hearts from the get-go if ABC wants them to stick around. On the bright side, the producers of the new series seem to understand this, having performed an exhaustive three month casting process before selecting Fabien Frankel for the role.

Here’s the thing with Theo Sipowicz: the creators of this reboot want him to be so much like his father — the same temper, the same struggles — that it can feel at bit insincere. I didn’t feel like he was his own character, but rather a character playing the part of another one. Perhaps that’s his actual psychological state, but it feels risky. The two would have been compared to one another anyway, so why force it? To be fair, the pilot is all about Andy’s murder, so it makes sense that he would be at the center of it. And to the producers credit, his death will not be the core mystery of the series or even the season — it’s solved by the end of the 42-minute episode. Along the way, we’re introduced to Theo and his soon-to-be colleagues in the 15th precinct, who will presumably be more at the heart of subsequent episodes. A little advice to ABC: launch the show with a two-hour premiere so people can have a better taste of what’s to come.

The highlight of the pilot for me is Kim Delaney’s character, Lieutenant Diane Russell. She had a complicated history with the original show: she joined NYPD Blue as a recurring in Season 2 and was a series regular from seasons 3 to 8 before leaving to topline another series for Steven Bochco, Philly, which didn’t last. She then returned as a recurring in the final two seasons. In any case, as one of the original series’ most beloved characters, it’s great to have her here as a mother/mentor figure for Theo. She has the power in the precinct, and having a woman in this position in the reboot makes total sense. Same goes with Bill Brochtrup’s PPA John Irvin. The actor recurred on- and off- during Seasons 2 to 4 before becoming a series regular in Season 5 for the rest of the show’s run. He’s one of those characters who became essential over time. He’s gay, which was quite something in the original show, especially since Andy was initially homophobic but they became friends to the point where he babysat Theo. John can definitely add something to the reboot, although it’s not clear exactly what that will be just yet.

 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: The original NYPD Blue owes its success to its writers ability to portray the show’s characters as humans who happen to be cops, and the whole gamut of emotions that come with that. That’s a tall order, and the pilot script for this reboot doesn’t quite get us there. The question is: can it/will it ever? Unlike some of the more cynical projects to crop up in recent years, this project is more than just a reboot, it’s a family affair. That should help.

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[  ] PASS
X ] CONSIDER
 ] RECOMMEND

ABC 2018/2019 Schedule (THOUGHTS & TRAILERS)

 

MONDAY

8- DANCING WITH THE STARS

9- DANCING WITH THE STARS

10- THE GOOD DOCTOR

TUESDAY

8- ROSEANNE / THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

9- BLACKISH / SPLITTING UP TOGETHER

10- THE ROOKIE

WEDNESDAY

8- THE GOLDBERGS / AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE

9/ MODERN FAMILY / SINGLE PARENTS

10- A MILLION LITTLE THINGS

THURSDAY

8- GREY’S ANATOMY

9- STATION 19

10- HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

FRIDAY

8- FRESH OFF THE BOAT / SPEECHLESS

9- CHILD SUPPORT

10- 20/20

SUNDAY

7- AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS

8- DANCING WITH THE STARS: JUNIORS

8- THE SHARK TANK

10- THE ALEC BALDWIN SHOW

 

MIDSEASON

AGENTS OF SHIELD (summer) | FOR THE PEOPLE | WHISKEY CAVALIER | GRAND HOTEL | THE FIX | SCHOOLED

 

THOUGHTS

– 2 new dramas, 2 new comedies in the fall: that’s pretty much what we expected from ABC, with few moves and a conservative schedule overall. If The Rookie, A Million Little Things, The Kids Are Alright & Single Parents are as strong as they seem to be, the alphabet network could be having a good year.

– Moving American Houseviwe to an ealier slot makes all the sense in the world and paired with The Goldbergs it should be doing a bit better than this year. Two newbies back to back on wednesday from 9.30 to 11 is a bit worrying, though both shows seem compatible. The return of comedies on friday is also a good move.

– An all-scripted sunday waiting for American Idol to come back is probably the wisest move they could have come up with. But it means all three new dramas plus For The People will have to air midseason. It’s a bit much.

– ABC may have a comedy back-up problem in the spring if their newbies fail in the fall since they only have Schooled at his time.

 

TRAILERS

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

https://twitter.com/SeasonZeroCom/status/973686654992109569

Grand Hotel (ABC) pilot preview: One More Lazy Soap

Written and executive produced by Brian Tanen (Atypical, Devious Maids, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty). Based on spanish series Gran Hotel. Also produced by Eva Longoria (Devious Maids, Telenovela, John Wick), Ben Spector (Telenovela, Wedding Band), Oliver Bachert & Christian Gockel (Velvet). Directed by  Ken Olin (This Is Us, Brothers & Sisters, Alias, Thirtysomething). For ABC, ABC Studios, UnveliEVAble Entertainment & Beta Film. 64 pages. Draft 1/17/2018.

Description: The Riviera Grand hotel is a famed Miami Beach establishment, filled with beautiful people masking dark and explosive family secrets. The hotel’s façade of perfection begins to crumble on the night of a fateful hurricane when a woman mysteriously disappears after a heated dispute with the charming hotel owner…

With Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids, Without a Trace, Rush Hour 2), Demian Bichir (Weeds, The Bridge US, The Hateful Eight, Machete Kills), Chris Warren (The Fosters), Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Game The Steve Harvey Show), Shalim Ortiz (Magic City, Heroes), Bryan Craig (Valor, General Hospital), Denyse Tontz (The Fosters, Incorporated), Justina Adorno (Seven Seconds), Lincoln Younes (Love Child, Home And Away), Anne Winters (13 Reasons Why, The Fosters), Feliz Ramirez

 

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Devious Maids, Ugly Betty, Revenge…

Likely timeslot: sunday at 8 or 9, or wednesday at 10

 

I got excited by this Grand Hotel project, based on the spanish hit series, like 10 minutes when Roselyn Sanchez and then Demian Bichir were cast in the two most prominent roles of the ensemble. Roselyn Sanchez was just hilarious in Devious Maids & Demian Bichir is a really good actor with a wide range of acting. That was reassuring. And then they kept on casting young actors and actresses mostly based on their looks, I suppose. Which is fine if you’re doing a daytime soap, I guess. But not when you want to make a great primetime soap, with a strong comedic aspect, which will obviously be compared to Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty or Devious Maids. And those became iconic thanks to their solid writing and their skilled cast, not just because the women were sexy in their dresses and the men hot with their abs out. So maybe they’re really beautiful AND talented, BUT this script is weak and I don’t think they will be able to save it.

Look, I’m a sucker for good soaps. I was raised by Amanda Woodward on Melrose Place! So what I’m gonna tell you is not coming from someone who doesn’t like the genre and doesn’t unsterdand it. I really do. But ABC just can’t put this on their schedule and hope for a miracle. It’s just not gonna work. If they didn’t keep Devious Maids for themselves back in the days and sent it to Lifetime, it was for a (good) reason. There was like zero chance it worked for them. I was frustrated at the time but ultimately I got it. And actually, we can’t even say it really worked for Lifetime either, as great as it was. Ratings for the first season were okay but then it fell quickly. Grand Hotel is really lazy, rarely funny and it lacks so many things to make it appealing, starting by characters you can care about, that I don’t see how ABC could even consider a series order. But hey, maybe it’s just me… Of course, there’s the international appeal because Gran Hotel was a success all over the world but I suspect it was for the most part because it was a period soap set in 1906. Like a lighter Downton Abbey of some sort. But here, and I get why ABC did it, it’s set in the present days. The upstairs/downstairs aspect has disappeared and it’s mostly about the family that owns the hotel, the people who work for them and the guests are not that important overall. Making it more like a traditional family soap kinda makes sense so the american audience will feel more comfortable with it, but it looses its charm along the way and nothing really makes it distinctive. I didn’t like the new Dynasty‘s pilot either. But then it got better. So who knows? But it doesn’t work for The CW. Why would this for ABC?

Gonzalo Cardena, the owner of the hotel -who decided to sell it- is decribed as “one of those people who can talk to anyone and make them feel like fast friends; he has built himself up from nothing and will do anything to keep what he has”. Well, that’s a waste of Demian Bichir. Of course, he’s worth better than that but most of all, his character doesn’t come out as charming to me; it’s just an uninteresting and coward man. It would have been fun if he were a really bad guy, even a cliché of a bad guy, but so far in this pilot he’s just nothing much. Then there’s Gigi Cardena, his second wife “impossibly stylish with a flair for excess, unapologetically fabulous but never frivolous, smart, cunning and fiercely loyal to her twin daughters”. Well, this is a dreamy description but the reality is far less exciting. I’m pretty sure Roselyn Sanchez can improve the writing by her comic genius, but the problem is: Gigi’s not a fun bitch; she’s not even a very bad bitch. She’s just a bitch. Like a bitch in a bad ABC Family/Freeform drama. A WASTE! The only character that I like is Mrs P., the no-nonsense staff manager, tough on the outside -with great lines- and lovely on the inside. That’s a character you want to follow. All the others are just bland. Not nasty enough to be fun, not nice enough to be loveable. They’re just right in the middle of nowhere.

Are the twists good at least? Nope! You just go from one cliché story to another, and you know exactly how it’s gonna end the moment one of the character appears. Not gonna spoil it just in case ABC picks it up, but let’s just say Danny, the gorgeous new waiter at The Riviera, can’t hide very long why he’s really here, what are his ulterior motives. Devious Maids did similar stories not that long ago with more flavour and cleverness. There’s a wedding happening during this pilot. They had what they needed to make it explosive, crazy… It just falls flat. We had so many weddings in soaps, some very epic, they had to top that at least. They didn’t even try. It’s just one disappointment after another. And I can’t wait to watch the opening sequence happening during a hurricane! I’m pretty sure ABC Studios special effects team will do it justice…

You really need to be a virgin in the soap opera/telenovela world to appreciate Grand Hotel. When you’ve already seen really great ones, it’s just one bad more, and we had many through the years, oh boy! And if you’ve watched something like Jane The Virgin, that plays with the genre to make it more unique and fresher, you can only find this pilot very pale in comparison. If ABC has to choose between Grand Hotel and False Profits, there’s no doubt the latter is a far more interesting option! It has depth and a feel-good vibe, something Grand Hotel lacks among many other things.