Tag: cbs

Carol’s Second Chance, Bob <3 Abishola… CBS 2019 comedy pilots ranked from best to worst

Next year will be crucial for CBS since it will be their first without The Big Bang Theory, which is ending this spring after 12 seasons of success. It’s the end of an era, but the franchise will still be a small part of their slate thanks to Young Sheldon enterings its 3rd season. It’s the only sitcom that really benefited from its lead-in after years of multiple attempts (who remembers The Great Indoors for example?). Other than that, the Eye Network can still count on Mom, which was recently renewed for two more seasons (7th & 8th), which may or may not be the last… and that’s it!

This year’s new entry The Neighborhood did a tad better than expected but calling it a hit would be very generous. Other new comedies didn’t get enough traction, that includes the Murphy Brown sequel series, as well as Nina Dobrev’s Fam & Damon Wayans Jr.’s Happy Together. Probably way too generic to find a large audience these days. And then there’s two pity renewals trying to survive: fully-owned Man With The Plan and now Disney-owned Life In Pieces. If the Matt Le Blanc-starrer still has a chance, the family single-cam seems to be dead. It leaves CBS with only one single-cam: Young Sheldon. The network definitely needs a new hit to fill The Big Bang Theory‘s void. They definitely take out their checkbook to lure some star. We’ll see if that translates into ratings since it’s rarely how it works…

 

 

  1. CAROL’S SECOND CHANCE (CBS Television Studios)

around Carol Chambers (Patricia Heaton), who after raising her two children and retiring from teaching, embarks on a unique second act: she’s going to become a doctor.

What you think you’ll get is exactly what you get with Carol’s Second Chance. It’s funny and comfy, and yet a little different since it’s set in a hospital and no comedy since Scrubs got that right. Patricia Heaton is playing the same kind of mom character you loved in Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle; she’s just older and ready to leave home to go back to work. Every scene is at the hospital, by the way. It’s a workplace comedy, but the medical cases are not at the center. It’s very much about how annoying and yet adorable she can be surrounded by younger people, at the exception of Kyle MacLachlan. Yeah! I still don’t know how CBS managed to convince him to join the sitcom but here he is. Of course, he will be great, even if it’s a waste of his talent. There’s no way it doesn’t get picked up. I can totally see it paired with Mom, or sandwiched between Young Sheldon & Mom. No other project has the strength that this one has.

 

2. OUR HOUSE (Sony Pictures Television & CBS Television Studios)

a devoted mom and dad (Katherine Heigl & Malcolm Barrett), who are committed to raising their children with the love and support the mom never got as a kid but discover how difficult that is with her insane parents (Nancy Lenehan & Phil Hendrie) and siblings back in the picture.

So now, Katherine “movie star” Heigl is doing comedy… multicamera comedy! I mean, there’s no shame in this but it’s quite surprising. After two drama flops and a short stint in dying Suits, perhaps it was the only way to go. I’m really curious to see if she would be a draw for the audience and if she can be good at it. I have a feeling she has found the right fit. And also that it could be paired with The Neighborhood and doing okay. Anyway, it’s a good sitcom, that doesn’t really feel new, or inventive, it’s the same story over and over again (ABC & NBC have similar projects), but there’s heart in there. The “house” of the title really is the central character and the heart of the show. And somehow that’s the refreshing element. The pairing of Heigl and Malcolm Barrett seems odd on paper but I’m confident they didn’t put them together for no reason. There must be chemistry. To my own surprise, Our House is one project I’m betting on!

 

3. THE UNICORN (CBS Television Studios)

A widower (Walton Goggins) is eager to move on from the most difficult year of his life, only to realize he’s utterly unprepared to raise his two daughters on his own and equally unprepared for the dating world — where, to his shock, he’s suddenly a hot commodity.

Didn’t expect to like this one as much either. By the way, it’s the only straight single-cam CBS has in its roster. That may help its chances somehow. Again, it’s pretty generic and NBC also has a show based on a widower’s experience (The Kenan Show) but I feel like this one is less manipulative and funny enough. The central character is quite interesting and charming but not in a obvious, easy way. Yes he’s a widower, and yes it’s hard but that’s not really the point and they’re not even trying to make us cry a little between two laughs. The writing is sharper than you would expect in a CBS sitcom. And yet it’s not tonally different from their other shows. Plus, they have Walton Goggins in the lead role. Not sure how they convinced him, but that’s a very good news for the project. He may transcend the material.

 

4. THE EMPEROR OF MALIBU (Warner Bros. Television)

When the son (Max Willems) of a Chinese billionaire (Ken Jeong) announces his engagement to an American woman, his outrageous family descends upon the couple to win their son back and test drive the American dream.

Let’s adress the elephant in the room first: yes, it’s a rip-off of mega hit Crazy Rich Asians. There’s the similar East-meets-West theme as in Kevin Kwan’s popular book and its movie adaptation. And Kwan is the writer as well, while Ken Jeong is back in the father role. They found a cheaper version of Henry Golding in Max Willems, and he seems just as good-looking. And maybe he’s funnier, which wouldn’t be that hard. I prefer ABC’s attempt (Untitled Jessica Gao Project) ‘cos at least they tried to re-arrange it so it doesn’t sound exactly the same, plus it’s female-focused, but The Emperor of Malibu works too. It’s predictable as fuck -even if you haven’t seen the movie, which was predictable as well, and quite boring if you ask me- and that’s a pity because other than that, the characters are engaging and they tone down the romantic aspect to focus on the family and more importantly on the funny.

 

 

4. BROKE IN RESEDA (CBS Television Studios)

Two siblings (Pauley Perrette & Nathasha Leggero) are forced to reconnect when an outrageously wealthy trust fund baby (Jaime Camil) is cut off by his father, and he and his wife move into her estranged sister’s Reseda condo.

It’s hard to picture CBS giving a greenlight to both Our House and Broke In Reseda, which are very similar offers. Here, the star is not Heigl but NCIS’ Pauley Perrette. It would be her first project since she left the long-running show, and that’s a draw in itself for a lot of CBS’ viewers. Would it be enough though? There’s also a tiny Jane The Virgin vibe, thanks to Jaime Camil playing exactly the same role as in The CW series and Jennie Snyder Urman producing it as well. But Jane is not exactly a huge hit, even by The CW standarts, so I don’t think CBS should bet on Broke In Reseda for that reason. There are other ones, like the fact that it’s funny sometimes and pretty much on-brand. It may be too generic but playing the “we’re broke” card might resonate with viewers these days so…

 

5. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN (CBS Television Studios)

Evan (Michael Angarano) sets out with his group of 20-something friends to accomplish a list of challenges he wrote for himself years ago in an effort to turn around his banal life.

Like every year since How I Met Your Mother went off the air, CBS tries to find the perfect formula for another romantic hybrid comedy around a group of friends which would be different enough to warrant a series order. And it never happens because one way or another, they are the same, but less original. They could have tried last year with History Of Them from One Day at a Time creator Gloria Calderon Kellett which had that special thing going for it. But the pilot wasn’t picked up to series for some reason and they’re back at it with new propostions. To Whom It May Concern is okay, and the concept of the “list of challenges”, though not entirely new, is working. It’s the characters who are not totally working. They’re not special. They’re expected. How I Met Your Mother worked because they had Barney, and Robin, and Marshall, and even Ted. Where are they here? Nowhere, I’m afraid. Performances could change everything but I’m not convinced.

 

5. SUPER SIMPLE LOVE STORY (Sony Pictures Television & CBS Television Studios)

a story told through interviews and vignettes spanning 10 years, about how an unlikely couple (David Walton & Elizabeth Alderfer) becomes an unlikely family.

Well. Here’s another candidate in the never-ending How I Met Your Mother‘s replacement race, from One Day at A Time executive producer Mike Royce. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t like it either. I found it messy on the page, and what’s messy on the page is messy on the screen too, in general. As the title suggests, it’s a super simple love story. Is it ironic? I’m not sure. My take on it is that it is indeed a super simple love story but told in a way that makes it way more complicated than it really is. It’s irritating sometimes, frustrating also, and the only real thing that differentiates it from HIMYM in the end is that there are those interview scenes and it’s not something groundbreaking as you know. So, neh. Let’s keep it even more simple CBS: don’t order it!

 

6. BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA (Warner Bros. Television)

after having a heart attack (Billy Gardell), a man falls in love with his Nigerian nurse (Christine Ebersole) and sets his sights on getting her to give him a chance…

After an unconvicing trip to Netflix with pot comedy Disjointed -I’m pretty sure the network version of this with the same cast could have worked- and critical darling The Kominsky Method -that nobody I know watches- hit-maker Chuck Lorre is back at CBS with Bob <3 Abishola, which is somewhat original because of its title but that’s about it. It’s a romantic comedy that turns into a family comedy, like he did before with Dharma & Greg and Mike & Molly. He even called back Billy Gardell! It’s not bad – CBS doesn’t really have any bad comedy pilot this year- but its potential for a long run seems quite low and he have had way better ideas in the past. They needed to be four to write this? Damn! It should be funnier… Also, maybe that’s just me, but I found the way the hero tries to seduce his nurse very pre-#MeToo. He’s a little too insistant. He’s not creepy or anything and there’s nothing to be furious about in his behaviour but I don’t know, it made me a bit uncomfortable for a little while. Let’s just say CBS has better options. But I’m not stupid: they will want to make Lorre happy and order it anyway!

 

The Republic of Sarah (CBS) pilot preview: Escape To Rural Mountain Town

SERIES TITLE: The Republic Of Sarah
NETWORK: CBS
GENRE: Political Soap Drama

LOGLINE: Morrisville, a small New Hampshire rural mountain town, is thrust onto the world stage when the discovery of a valuable resource within its borders compels the residents to utilize a cartographical loophole to declare themselves an independent nation, thus setting the unlikely young mayor Sarah Chambers and her cabinet of inexperienced locals on the path of running a brand-new country…

Pilot Cast: Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy, Everwood, Mad Men), James Lesure (Good Girls, Las Vegas), Carlos Leal (El Internado), Jonathan Slavin (Better Off Ted, Santa Clarita Diet, Dr Ken), Daniel Ings (The Crown, Lovesick, Instinct), Annie Funke (Criminal Minds Beyond Borders), Kirsten Nelson (Psych), Victoria Gabrielle Platt, Kimberly Guerrero
Series Creator: Jeffrey Paul King (Elementary). 
Pilot Director: Marc Webb (500 Days Of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man, Gifted, Limitless, Instinct, Lone Star).
Producers: Leo Pearlman, Jeff Grosvenor, Jeffrey King, James Corden (Carpool Karaoke, The Late Late Show) & Marc Webb.

Studios: CBS Television Studios, Marc Webb Productions & Fulwell 72.

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: Northern Exposure, Everwood, Men In Trees, Providence…

Likely Timeslot: Sounds like a sunday show; or pushing it after Survivor on Wednesday could make sense thematically.

 

WRITTEN BY: Jeffrey Paul King.

PAGECOUNT: 61 pages

DRAFT:  Revised network draft 1/17/19

 

BACKGROUND: While a Northern Exposure revival is in the works at CBS -which would be centered on Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) returning to Cicely, Alaska, for the funeral of an old friend and staying (again) longer than he expected- the network has decided to move forward with a project in the same vein, already compared to it. The Republic of Sarah would reunite Sarah Drew, who’s the female lead, with CBS & CBS Television Studios after playing one of the title roles in another drama pilot last season, Cagney and Lacey’s remake, that was not picked up to series. Drew was a very popular Grey’s Anatomy cast member and she exited -not by choice- at the end of season 14, after nine seasons on the hit medical drama playing Dr. April Kepner. Before that, she was best known for her portrayal of Hannah in The WB’s Everwood. Now she’s back to a mountain town.

 

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: SARAH CHAMBERS (30s) is a community sweetheart, she gets along with everyone in Morrisville from mayor to barista. Open on her in a Tiananmen style standoff with the governor of New Hampshire OTTIS TAGGERT (50s) and several earthmovers. The first half of the pilot shows the previous two days, beginning when rich mineral deposits are discovered under Morrisville. Sarah, part of the town council, urges her companions to resist the corporation that the governor has chosen to open a mine in their town. That corporation‘s key lobbyist is Sarah’s older brother, DANNY (30s), returning to the town after a tenyear absence, leaving behind an alcoholic politician mother ELLEN (60s) and a fiancée, CORINNE (30s)Sarah’s best friend. Sarah doesn’t like the idea of being a politician, but shows true promise as she supports a crazy strategy to saving their town from the intrusive miningdeclaring independence. The siblings face off to get the townspeople on their side, with the governor breathing down Danny’s neck. A vote is held and the townspeople narrowly declare independence thanks to a 1800s topographical loophole. After all is said in done, the people overwhelmingly want Sarah to be their leader. Coming to terms with her mother’s past and her brother’s reemergence, she resigns to give leadership a go, knowing that the true test of the resilience Morrisville is just beginning…

 

COMMENTS: There’s nothing that makes me happier this pilot season than the return to good ol’ serialized relationship dramas, based on family values and emotional issues, far from always failing high-concept shows with endless mysteries and tired detective TV series piling up corpses. We can probably thank This Is Us & A Million Little Things for that. A few years ago, CBS might have developed such a show, but they wouldn’t have picked it up to pilot. The Republic of Sarah is the perfect illustration of this trend, with the “wow effect” that could help it stand out from the crowd. Because it’s not just about townspeople doing townspeople’s things, it’s also very much political, deeply rooted in today’s America, offering an escape and a beacon of hope to viewers who don’t think there’s any left. It might seem radical but the script refers a few times to the official motto of the U.S. state of New Hampshire: “Live Free or Die“. There’s definitely a wind of freedom blowing on this town and on this script. And I think it’s beautiful.

Apart from the fact that it starts with a flashfoward -which I hate in general but it’s an intense one- The Republic of Sarah takes first the right amount of time to establish the bucolic beauty of its rural mountain town, with our leading lady having her morning routine which consists of a wild run from the valley bathed in sunrise to the forest, and finally up to the hills. It’s supposed to be magnificient and I’m pretty sure the production found the fitting landcapes around Vancouver. But this run is not just about the atmosphere, it’s also about introducing us to some of the secondary (and quirky) characters Sarah meets on her way, like a salt-of-the-earth elderly couple Betty and Ralph, or Russell, a 50 year-old naturist painting completely naked in his garden. The quirkiness is all around in the script, but just like in Northern Exposure it doesn’t feel fake. It’s part of the town’s identity and charm. There’s this restaurant, the Sweetie Pie, with meals and treats named after video games. There’s the Moose Manor, a hotel where everything, really everything, is based on moose, from lamps to wallpapers and pillows. And there’s also the character of Paula Judge, a gruff mountain of a woman who’s… a judge. Judge Judge! See. Those are sweet details that help you fall in love with the place and make it so alive and special.

But more importantly, there’s a family drama within. Or a family within the family, ‘cos the whole town forms a giant family in a way. The Chambers are very much at the center of the story, between our heroine Sarah and her complicated relationships with her mother, her brother and her father, who may or may not be back after decades of disappearance into thin air. Nothing here is completely earth-shattering but it works and it’s not emotionally manipulative, as This Is Us can be sometimes. It goes straight to the point, probably because there’s a ton of other things going on. Like creating from scratch a micro-nation. Just so you know, even though the idea seems far-fetched and unrealistic, it’s something that happens in the real world, more and more. And it’s quite exciting. The script takes the time it needs to make it believable. Sometimes it’s a bit technical, and it could bore people, but at least they’re not taking too many shortcuts. It wants to be a credible political drama. The real political part will have to wait for the subsequent episodes though, once Sarah will officially be the new Mayor. Or the President, I’m not how sure how we’re supposed to call her. It really has a ton of potential, both on the personal soapy stories and the bigger picture. Did I tell you about the secret lesbian love story? There’s that too. And many other secrets.

I didn’t introduce you to the characters properly. It’s a lot of strong women and it’s particularly notable for a CBS drama. Sarah is a quintessential New Englander: sharply intelligent, fiercely loyal, and always willing to lend a hand. Perfect for Sarah Drew, isn’t it? She’s a force nature and natural-born leader, she just doesn’t known it yet. We talk a lot about positive leading roles these days, like The Good Doctor, as opposed to the anti-heros. She could become a part of this group. Corinne is Sarah’s devoted, bubbly best friend. Like Sarah, she’s a teacher and possesses warmth, wit and savvy. Mary is a self-reliant badass whose steady support has made her the strong maternal figure in Sarah’s life. There’s also Francine, Morrisville’s sheriff. Unflappable and resolute, she lives her life according to old-school principles of honor and duty and isn’t afraid to speak her mind when she feels those principles are being ignored. We love them all!

On the men side, there’s Sarah’s brother Danny, who had to endure a difficult childhood at the hands of his mother. When he returns to his hometown, he must confront the faces of his troubled past. He was fragile, he’s stronger now. But he’s still vulnerable and that’s a sensible portrait of a male character. Tim is Sarah’s new antagonist: a banker who has always been considered as the smartest and most powerful guy in Morrisville… until the town chooses -against his advice- to put its faith in Sarah and her plan for independence. So he fights to stop her and her new nation. We hate him of course. He’s here for that. But maybe he’s more complex. We’ll see. Last but not least: Eugene. A brilliant, bizarre librarian with a hummingbird energy and encyclopedic knowledge of sociopolitical minutiae. He’s a invaluable asset to Sarah and her team as the brand-new government of Morrisville gets up and running. He’s her Giles (from Buffy), but quirkier. And believe it or not, there’s no real love interest waiting for Sarah. Or I missed it. That’s good. She has other -and better- things to take care of for now.

 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Symbolically, CBS would really make a point by ordering The Republic of Sarah to series. It would show their indepedence now Les Moonves is gone and it would be fierce. Yes, they can put a show on the air that is not a crime drama and that is mostly centered around women. More realistically, it’s a riské proposition for them that may not fit with the rest of their line-up. But they desperately need to evolve and that could be a first, smart step to take. I declare The Republic of Sarah one of the best scripts of this pilot season.

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[  ] PASS
[  ] CONSIDER
[ X ] RECOMMEND

Evil (CBS) pilot preview: The good mother, the good priest and the DEVIL

SERIES TITLE: Evil
NETWORK: CBS
GENRE: Supernatural Thriller Drama

LOGLINE: The battle between science and religion is in full force when Kristen, a skeptical female clinical psychologist, joins David, a priest-in-training and Ben, a blue-collar contractor as they investigate supposed miracles, demonic possessions, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there’s a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural is at work…

Pilot Cast: Katja Herbers (Westworld,The Leftovers, Divorce), Mike Colter (Luke Cage, The Good Wife, Ringer), Aasif Mandvi (Shut Eye, Jericho, Blue Bloods), Michael Emerson (Lost, Person Of Interest, Saw), Skylar Gray

Series Creators: Michelle & Robert King (The Good Wife, The Good Fight, Braindead). 
Pilot Director: Robert King.
Producers: Liz Glotzer (Castle Rock, The Good Fight), Michelle & Robert King.

Studios: CBS Television Studios & King Size Productions.

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: X-Files, MINDHUNTER, The Exorcist, Person Of Interest, The Following

Likely Timeslot: A 10pm slot is mandatory! But a sweet spot on CBS All Access would be something to think about…

 

WRITTEN BY: Michelle & Robert King.

PAGECOUNT: 63 pages.

DRAFT: Network draft 1/4/19

 

BACKGROUND: If you’re not familiar with Michelle & Robert King’s work, first be ashamed, second go to your room and binge watch popular and critically praised The Good Wife and then its incredible spin-off The Good Fight. Then we can talk. The Kings, as we fans like to call them, have been creative collaborators for 20 years and married for over 30 years. Impressive. So far, they were mostly into legal dramas. They created the 2006 ABC drama series In Justice, starring Kyle MacLachlan, which only lasted a short season, and the two brilliant shows I already recommended you just three seconds ago. In the summer of 2016, they launched on CBS something different, both for the network and for them, a little show called Braindead starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead. It was a quirky and funny horror dramedy. Pure genius. But the ratings were horrendous. It was cancelled.

Last fall, they inked a new overall deal with CBS Television Studios. Now, they are busy with multiple shows at different stages of development. There is an upcoming Showtime legal thriller series Your Honor, which they are executive producing alongside writer Peter Moffat, based on an israeli format and starring Bryan Cranston. There’s also Girls with Guns at the script stage, produced with Scott Free Productions for CBS All Access. And Evil, which would mark their return on CBS with a show that is not a legal drama, though it’s one of its component. It could be summarized as a religious-themed supernatural thriller. It’s intriguing and worrying at the same time. Is another Braindead-like ratings disaster is coming?

 

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: New Orleans. KRISTEN BOUCHARD (34), a criminal psychologist and mother of four, interviews ORSON LEROUX (38), who is accused of murdering seven people. Kristen testifies in court that Orson is sane but the prosecution blindsides her on the stand their expert witness claims Orson is possessed by a demon named Roy. After she is fired by the DA’s office, Kristen investigates with DAVID DACOSTA (37), an assessor for the Catholic church. Kristen is skeptical at first, but after she meets with EMILY LEROUX, Orson’s wife, who plays Kristen, David, and BEN SCHWEIGER (30), a recording of whispers in her home, she starts to question if Orson is possessed. As Kristen dives deeper into Orson’s case, she begins to see GEORGE, probably a night terror but possibly a ghost, at night. When Kristen interviews “Roy”, and he tells her details about her encounters with George, she realizes someone has stolen her therapist’s notes and feed the information to Orson. LELAND TOWNSEND, the prosecution’s clinical psychologist, may have played a part in the devilish scheme…

 

COMMENTS:  It wouldn’t be far-fetched to bill Evil as a cross between cult series X-Files and David Fincher’s Netflix show MINDHUNTER. I don’t know if that’s the way it’s been conceived by the Kings, if those are references they had in mind, but once you’ve seen it you can’t unsee it. You have the thrills of the investigations on mysteries combined with the psychological depth. Reading this pilot script gave me the same conflicting feeling I had when I read Braindead‘s. You’re so happy and excited to read something that has been written by those two geniuses that you expect every line to splatter your brain with brilliance. And even though brilliance there is in there, and splatterring too (!), it’s not everywhere on every page. The best compliment I can make about Evil is that’s it’s a boiling, riveting, bedazzling show hidden behind a stark, unimpressive, already seen concept. 

It’s not saying though that the formula is ill-conceived. It’s well-crafted and smart, but it’s also very traditional and a bit mechanical at the start. Which might be a requirement if you want to survive on CBS. The Good Wife was like that in the beginning. Same with Person Of Interest. You need to give CBS’ viewers what they want before surprising them and choosing a more deviant path. The predictable thing is that it can only end up one way: with Kristen accepting to continue working with David and Ben after their first investigation together. This pilot script is never boring despite all that. It has to do with the fast pace the Kings always get right and the interactions between the characters that always work so greatly on paper. And then on film since they always get the best actors for the parts. I’m really not afraid of the finished product. I’m more scared of how the audience will react to the graphic scenes, if they’re filmed and edited the way they’re described. The cold open is a blood bath. It’s spilling through fingers and on the polished floor. It’s a nightmare. There are also flashes of severed flesh and exposed brain. Can network television allow that?

But it doesn’t stop there because later on, our heroine Kristen has to deal with a dark figure that haunts her at night. And we’re in full horror movie mode, believe me. It’s scary and appalling because of what the ghost that calls himself George says and does to her. He’s obsessed with the hot and sexy connection between Kristen and the soon-to-become priest David. As we all are. He wants to know if she’s all wet between the legs when she sees David. And so he takes off her underwear to make sure he’s right. It definitely makes you uncomfortable… especially because you can’t repress a laugh at the same time since this ghost is funny too! It’s weird and it can’t leave you indifferent, that’s for sure. You know what else is damn creepy? The whole Michael Emerson’s Leland Townsend character. Remember his Ben in Lost? Same kind of ambiguous man. He’s the best incarnation possible for the role. Townsend is a seemingly kind and trustworthy man with a twinkle in his eye and an appealing manner. But outward appearances couldn’t be more deceiving: he’s an agent of evil who spurs his followers to acts of unspeakable violence and murder. It’s called “a connector”. He’s reminiscent of James Purefoy’s serial killer character in The Following. He’s like a guru, and he tells Kristen that there are 60 people online who could come to her house and cut her heart out right now, if he asks them to. Guys, you’ll get a thrill up your spine at this very moment!

Let’s talk about those three central characters now. Kristen is young but she’s already the (single) mother of four girls, and her own mother lives with them in the house that is both her home and her workplace. She works in her basement, her female version of a man cave, cold and messy. Kristen herself is not cold, and she’s not messy though her life is starting to become messier than she has expected to. She’s desbribed as a walking contradiction. She’s friendly, pretty and sunny on the outside, but probably darker in the inside. She’s a woman of science, while David is a man of faith. It’s Scully and Mulder all-over again, though David does not believe in aliens, but in God, and angels, and devils. He’s rugged and handsome, the kind of sexy priest you only see on television. We don’t learn much of anything about his past in the pilot but there’s probably a lot to say. Ben, our third main character, is a carpenter who was recruited for David’s team early on. He has a deep skepticism about all things supernatural and he is a genius at uncovering the organic reasons behind reported “hauntings,” but there may be things outside his understanding that will rattle his belief system sooner or later… He finds his place in the pilot right away, as the side-kick, but I don’t know what could be his role in the future, other than the light presence and the problem solver. Anyway, all three form a team you want to spend more time with, especially if the show becomes heavily-serialized and batshit crazy later on. They could if they would.

 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Only the Kings can elevate such a traditional concept in the supernatural arena to the next level. And they did, quite brilliantly. Evil is not your typical CBS show and it’s not something you find these days on the other networks either. It’s a leap of faith that should be taken, but with a back-up plan in case it gets rejected. There should be a spot waiting for it on CBS All Access. With those writers, this cast and this strong potential, nothing can really go wrong. 

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[  ] PASS
[  ] CONSIDER
[ X ] RECOMMEND

Tommy (CBS) pilot preview: Edie Falco is great, but is she enough?

SERIES TITLE: Tommy (aka Nancy)
NETWORK: CBS
GENRE: Cop Drama

LOGLINE: When Abigail Thomas, a former high-ranking NYPD officer, becomes the first female Chief of Police for Los Angeles, she uses her unflinching honesty and hardball tactics to navigate the social, political, and national security issues that converge with enforcing the law…

Pilot Cast: Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie, The Menendez Murders), Michael Chernus (Orange is the New Black, Mercy), Russell G. Jones (The Americans, Godless), Adelaide Clemens (Watchmen, Rectify), Olivia Lucy Phillip
Series Creators: Paul Attanasio (Bull, Homicide, House, Quiz Show, Sphere).
Pilot Director: Kate Dennis (The Handmaid’s Tale, Secrets & Lies)
Producers: Paul Attanasio, Steven Spielberg, Darryl Frank & Justin Falvey.

Studios: CBS Television Studios & Amblin 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: Madam Secretary, Bull…

Likely Timeslot: Sunday night might be the right way to go. It will skew old anyway.

 

WRITTEN BY: Paul Attanasio.

PAGECOUNT: 62 pages

DRAFT: “In Dreams Begin Responsibility” Revised network draft 02/1/19

BACKGROUND: In its first pilot season without longtime chief Les Moonves at the helm, is CBS is finally ready to give a chance to projects that are more female-driven. Tommyis one of this year’s contenders that would appear to fit the bill, but just because it’s on the development slate doesn’t necessarily mean the network has turned a new leaf. Inspired in part by a real-life surge in the number of female police chiefs (LA County alone had a record seven last year), the network developed two female-led cop projects last year: Chiefs, starring Jorja Fox, Alana De La Garza and Aunjanue Ellis as (you guessed it) three female police chiefs, and a Cagney & Lacey reboot starring Grey’s Anatomy‘s Sarah Drew. In the end, neither project made the cut. (The Magnum, PI reboot did). Will Tommy succeed where those projects failed? Read on…

 

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We open on MARIA DE ANGELES (20’s) picking up her ten year-old daughter MADISON from school. LAPD and ICE are both watching her, but just when ICE is about to move in, LAPD officer ADAM REED (30) breaks Maria’s taillight, putting her under arrest before ICE can get to her. The following day, we are introduced to ABIGAIL THOMAS (known as TOMMY), 48, soon to be the next Chief of Police for the City of Los Angeles. Tommy takes the arrested woman’s young daughter into her protection, housing her with her own grown daughter, KATE WELCH (30). As the strange and mysterious circumstances surrounding the arrest are uncovered, Tommy finds herself in the middle of a political firestorm, facing pressure from both inside and outside the department.

COMMENTS: Tommy may be the perfect example of a project that doesn’t sound particularly compelling until someone great signs on to star. That’s not to say that having Edie Falco attached sudddenly makes Tommy my top pilot pick for the season — not by a long shot — but her involvement helps. Simply put, she has what it takes to singlehandedly increase any project’s chances of survival. The only person to have earned an Emmy Award for Best Actress in both the drama and comedy categories, Falco is beloved for her portrayal of Carmela Soprano in HBO’s groundbreaking series The Sopranos and for her nuanced performance in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. I don’t know whether her role in this project was written with her in mind, but it’s hard to imagine any other actor being a better fit.

With a New Yorker’s gift for being tough and sarcastic while still remaining likable, Tommy loves being a cop more than anything. Her dedication to her work, however, has clearly taken a toll on her personal life, where she’s been a less-than-stellar wife and mother. Moving to Los Angeles for work, she’s geographically closer to her daughter Kate and her grandchildren, and it might be time to make amends. Also living in LA is Tommy’s ex-husband, who’s an actor and a totally charming human being. They have an easy intimacy and have become close friends over time. These two relationships form solid ground for more serialized storylines. Tommy herself is an interesting character and an unusual lead: she’s a woman of a certain age, a lesbian, and is considered as a “feminist icon” by many.

So, as you can see: Tommy is a lot more ambitious than your typical network procedural. And although my personal interest in the pilot’s investigation waned along the way, it ends up being more ambiguous and complex than it appears at the beginning. And clearly Tommy is a complex character. Is that enough to carry a show that will inevitably fall into the more generic “case of the week” formula? To be honest, I’m not sure. Also of concern in the pilot script are the office politics and hierarchy of it all, which I found cumbersome and confusing.

 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Tommy could become an important asset for CBS, which is in need of more strong female-driven programming. And it’s hard to envision anyone better than Edie Falco playing the complex, titular character. Still, this one is not a slam-dunk. My interest in the procedural part of the pilot script waned along the way, and the jumble of supporting characters were just that. In short, I’m not convinced this project has what it takes to retain a network audience. CBS may have better options… 

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[  ] PASS
X ] CONSIDER
 ] RECOMMEND

Surveillance (CBS) pilot preview: The Sophia Bush Show

SERIES TITLE: Surveillance
NETWORK: CBS
GENRE: Thriller Spy Drama

LOGLINE: Madeline Yardley, the head of communications for the NSA for 13 years, finds her loyalties torn between protecting the government’s secrets and her own when an investigative journalist she met dies unexpectedly in mysterious circumstances…

Pilot Cast: Sophia Bush (Chicago PD, One Tree Hill), Dennis Haysbert (24, The Unit), Matthew Modine (Stranger Things, Weeds, Full Metal Jacket), Catalina Sandino-Moreno (The Affair, The Bridge), Allan Leech (Bohemian RhapsodyDownton Abbey), Raphael Acloque (Tyrant, 24: Legacy), Nick Blood (Agents of SHIELD)…
Series Creators: David C. White (The Bridge, Sons of Liberty).
Pilot Director: Patricia Riggen.
Producers: Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, The Passage, Planet of the Apes), Sophia Bush, Patricia Riggen & David C. White.
Studios: 20th Century Fox Television, CBS Television Studios & 6th & Idaho.

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: Person of Interest, Scandal, Homeland, 24…

Likely Timeslot: Monday at 9? Thursday at 10?

WRITTEN BY: David C. White

PAGECOUNT: 63 pages

DRAFT: Revised Network Draft, 1/12/19

BACKGROUND: Surveillance was picked up to pilot by CBS back in September 2018, long before the start of traditional pilot season. It was one of the biggest sales of pitch season, and marked a breakthrough in the relationship between CBS and 20th Century FOX Television as the network’s first buy from the outside studio in three years. A different incarnation of the project was originally set up at FOX for development last year, but didn’t make it to pilot stage. Instead, the script was reworked and the studio brought Sophia Bush and Patricia Riggen on board before taking the package out.

The project is a return to television for Sophia Bush, who most recently played Detective Erin Lindsay for four seasons on NBC’s Chicago PD, before exiting in 2017. The set of the cop drama has been described as a tough environment for Bush, who is said to have exited when it was clear that nothing would be done to make things right. In Surveillance, she’s not only the star of the show but also an executive producer. And she may have found a way to send a message or two to her old team through this show and this character.

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: The pilot opens in a convenience store parking lot, with a man named JACK HERBERT leaving a payphone and returning to his mess of a car. There are laptops, cell phones, legal pads and takeout containers everywhere. We next see him cruising down empty downtown city streets, before approaching a large brick wall… and crashing right into it. The car explodes instantly. Is Jack dead? A surveillance camera filmed the whole scene.

Cut to: a hotel room. Separated from her husband and far away from her two children, this is where our heroine MADDY lives. She’s the director of Strategic Communications for the NSA. She was sleeping but is awakened her phone. She grabs it and our question is answered: Jack Herbert is indeed dead. But Maddy has no idea who’s giving her this information. Her next call is from BARRY, telling her to get to work ASAP. Barry is the NSA Deputy Director, basically her boss, but also her mentor/father figure.

At NSA headquarters, Maddy is welcomed by her close colleague and longtime friend NATALIE. Natalie oversees all active operations at the NSA, and is the first woman to do so. Maddy has a favor to ask of her: trace the call she received a few hours before, off book. Natalie accepts, but not without some hesitation. Maddy goes to the conference room, where Barry and a group of other NSA higher-ups are waiting for her. She knows all of them, except one. THE MAN IN THE RED TIE. His identity and true mission are shrouded in secrecy. They have questions for her about Jack Herbert. Turns out she met him, perhaps more than once, and she’s asked to explain what she knows about him, what he was looking for when he came to her the first time… We’re transported to that moment through a flashback and it’s clear that Maddy is lying to the committee. But why?? What is she hiding?

COMMENTS: As discussed earlier, Surveillance was not originally developed as a vehicle for Sophia Bush, and I can’t help but wonder if she’s the right fit. Part of that may be because I know her from One Tree Hill, where she signed brighter than most of her co-stars, and from the short-lived sitcom Partners, where she proved she could be very funny. And although I’m less familiar with her work on Chicago PD (for which she was also lauded), her character in Surveillance feels very different. For one, she’s described in the script as a woman in her forties. (Bush herself is in her mid-thirties.) In addition, this isn’t just a leading role, the entire show is built her character, with Maddy appearing in nearly every scene of the pilot. That’s a lot to put on Bush in her first go as series lead, but clearly 20th Century FOX & CBS think she’s ready. Let’s hope they’re right.

The first season of the series has a title — “Operation Blackwash” — suggesting there will be one central storyline each year, with most of the cast and characters returning for subsequent seasons, except those who will die. Because this is the kind of show where people die, a lot. And, um, un-die sometimes. This is a big conspiracy thriller, with no holds barred. But as different as that may seem from the typical CBS formula show, it’s not revolutionary, either. At this point, you really can’t make a TV show about the inner workings of a federal institution, whether it be the FBI, the CIA or the NSA, without being compared to what’s been done (and done well) before. Which brings us to Homeland. The Showtime drama is definitely an influence on Surveillance, and there’s a lot of Carrie Mathison in Madeline Yardley, not only because she’s a woman in a world of powerful men — which is resonant with Bush’s own story — but also because she’s basically the same character: brilliant, determined, complex, and married to her job. She also has a messy private life — is an affair going on there? — and the requisite stress that comes with a job where a single mistake can lead to death and destruction.

The pilot plays the suspense card very well, revealing plenty of tantalizing details along the way. This isn’t Scandal — it’s not an over-the-top spectacle with characters over-reacting to everything — but Maddy’s job is pretty similar to Olivia Pope’s: she fixes problems, she sometimes hides the truth for the greater good, she manipulates, she bargains, and she threatens. This is serious stuff, but it’s also quite exciting. That it manages this may be the script’s greatest achievement. The NSA is about people working behind desks, making phone calls, watching, listening, and taking meetings, but the script’s fast pace compensates for that, and then some.

The show’s secondary characters stay mostly in Maddy’s shadow in the pilot script, but that’s not a problem at this point. If the show gets picked up to a full network-sized season, they’ll definitely need to be developed in later episodes to be more than just pawns in this wicked game but also actual human beings with their own stories.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Surveillance is a little risky, but it’s too good a script not to try. It’s timely and captivating, and has the potential to do for CBS what The Good Wifeand Person Of Interest have done in seasons past. Poor execution or an unconvincing performance from Sophia Bush could quickly turn it into something less compelling but let’s be optimistic!

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[  ] PASS
  ] CONSIDER
X ] RECOMMEND

 

CBS 2018/2019 Schedule (THOUGHTS & TRAILERS)

 

MONDAY

8- THE NEIGHBORHOOD / HAPPY TOGETHER

9- MAGNUM, P.I.

10- BULL

TUESDAY

8- NCIS

9- F.B.I.

10- NEW ORLEANS

WEDNESDAY

8- SURVIVOR

9- SEAL TEAM

10- CRIMINAL MINDS

THURSDAY

8- THE BIG BANG THEORY / SHELDON

9- MOM / MURPHY BROWN

10- S.W.A.T.

FRIDAY

8- MACGYVER

9- HAWAII 5-0

10- BLUE BLOODS

SUNDAY

7- 60 MINUTES

8- GOD FRIENDED ME

9- NCIS: LOS ANGELES

10- MADAM SECRETARY

MIDSEASON

ELEMENTARY | INSTINCT | THE CODE | THE RED LINE | LIFE IN PIECES | MAN WITH A PLAN | FAM

THOUGHTS

– CBS apparently got too afraid to break up The Big Bang Theory & Young Sheldon to help new comedies. As a result, the monday ones will have to fight for themselves without any support. That might ugly real quick! Hopefully, they have a few more to launch midseason. Though none of them are strong.

Magnum, P.I. will also have to self start but at least there will be curiosity for it that might help it get sampled the first weeks of its run. Other than that, I’ll probably be a struggle… Dick Wolf’s F.B.I. got luckier with the NCIS’ lead-in. Bull moving to monday at 10 could be a real challenge, facing both The Good Doctor & Manifest, but CBS probably wanted to put something that’s strong and not a dying show. Though Bull could die in the process.

– Not buzzy at all Murphy Brown revival is exactly where it should be: paired with Mom in a slot that’s not so important for them. But wasting Young Sheldon on Mom once again is a bit of a waste.

God Friended Me on sunday? I know it’s church day but this show that’s supposed to skew younger than other CBS dramas will never find this audience here in this slot, between 60 Minutes and NCIS: Los Angeles… Gone by december! Welcome back Instinct!


TRAILERS