Tag: netflix

Snowpiercer (TNT/Netflix) pilot preview: Welcome aboard, voyagers!

SERIES TITLE: Snowpiercer, “All That Remains
GENRE: Futuristic Thriller Drama

LOGLINE: Seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, the remnants of humanity inhabit a gigantic, perpetually moving train that circles the globe. The show questions class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival…

Pilot Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Susan Park, Mickey Sumner, Iddo Goldberg, Timothy V. Murphy, Sasha Frolova, Katie McGuinness, Alison Wright, Annalise Basso, Sam Otto, Sheila Vand…
Series Creators: Josh Friedman (The Sarah Connor Chronicles, War of the Worlds, Emerald City, Avatar 2).
Pilot Director: Scott Derrickson (Doctor StrangeThe Day The Earth Stood Still), reshoots by James Hawes (The Alienist, Black Mirror).
Producers: Josh Friedman, Marty Adelstein, Becky Clements, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Lee Tae-hun & Dooho Choi.
Studios: Tomorrow Studios, ITV Studios, Studio T. &  CJ Entertainment

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.




WRITTEN BY: Josh Friedman

PAGECOUNT: 72 pages

DRAFT: 7/7/16

BACKGROUND: Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette (which was previously adapted by Bong Joon-ho for his acclaimed 2013 movie starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton & Octavia Spencer), Snowpiercer the TV series has a bit of a tortured history. Having been in development for almost four years, the show has faced a number of delays arising from creative differences between the series’ creative teams and the network. Not a good sign if you see the glass half-empty, but you could also see it half-full: it may just mean they’re taking great care with the property.

About that tortured history: Original writer and showrunner Josh Friedman was fired in January 2018, and replaced a month later by Graeme Manson (Orphan Black). Reshoots of the pilot were ordered, but the original director Scott Derrickson refused to proceed, saying: “The 72-page Snowpiercer TV pilot script by [Josh Friedman] is the best I’ve ever read. The feature-length pilot I made from that script may be my best work. The new showrunner has a radically different vision for the show. I am forgoing my option to direct the extreme reshoots.” James Hawes joined the series in July 2018 as an executive producer and a director to oversee the reshoots. A few days later, Netflix picked up the rights to stream the series outside of the United States and China. The show is currently slated to start airing on TNT in the summer 2019.

Please note that this review is based on the original version of the pilot script, before the rewriting and the reshoots. I don’t know what’s been changed, although I do have my ideas.

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We open on the image of a snowstorm and text on the screen explaining what happened on planet earth before it became frozen. We quickly see the massive snowpiercer train, which is leaving a frozen city in the midst of the storm. Then we look into the eye of a cow, which has the number 18 written on its forehead. She’s with a dozen of other cows. Welcome now to the tail section of the train, a place of starvation and hopelessness. We follow a little boy named Fergus, who’s playing with rats, and a man named Layton, who may or may not be his father. A woman’s voice is heard over the loudspeaker, wishing the passengers good morning on behalf of Wilford Industries and Transport.

We’re introduced to five workers who are stripping off their filthy work clothes under the supervision of security guards known as “The Brakemen.” Their skin is covered with industrial waste. They enter the tail section, where they’re reunited with their families. Fergus hugs one of them: it’s his father, Ian. We then meet the Anderson family: Jack, Lilah and their teenage daughter LJ. They’re eating breakfast peacefully, in a pod that looks nicer than the tail section. Once he’s done eating, Jack joins the agricultural supply car, through a railed transportation tunnel. Turns out he’s a farm worker, soon to feed our cow number 18. Meanwhile, Lilah goes to her job at a high-end nail salon. A client is waiting for her, and it’s Melanie Cavill, the voice of the train announcements. She’s a member of the train’s First Class and she’s fascinated with the other half.

It’s naptime in the Brakemen’s car, but two of them, Bess Till and John Osweiler, are awake. They’re partners and they seem close. They move toward the prison car where Pixi Aariak has lived for 3 years. She’s screaming, agitated. Till and Osweiler help her on her way out. After a much-needed shower, Pixi is sent to the Nightcar where’s she welcomed by Miss Audrey with warmth and kindness. A few minutes later, the passengers are warned to brace for impact. A large iceslide is blocking the track, and the train will have to smash its way through.

COMMENTS: So does Snowpiercer live up to the hype? Is it in fact the best pilot script I’ve ever read? While I wouldn’t go that far, one can’t help but marvel at this new world and each section of the train as its revealed. The wide shots of the ice-covered landscape should be magnificient, and I can’t wait to see what the Aquarium Car looks like (complete with a sushi bar!). It’s a rich universe, and writer Josh Friedman makes the best of it at a good pace. You get enough time to enjoy the different atmospheres you’re brought into — to really feel them — but it’s never boring. There’s a good balance between the every day life of the train and the extraordinary events that occur. Spoiler alert: at one point, someone is murdered and one of the first ongoing stories will be about the investigation that ensues. That may not sound particularly original, but in this context, with these characters, it’s interesting.

The characters themselves are also introduced in a compelling way, with enough time given that we learn in a nutshell who they are, and what their role is in this giant puzzle. Some of them are instantly appealing, while others will need a little a more time, but they all have something going for them, whether they’re coming from the tail section or first class. A few of them are mysterious and others are not who you think they are. Like the movie, Snowpiercer the TV series is about conflicting human impulses, social organization, disparities and power. It’s not a highly political show at the outset, but it’s poised to become one.

You can tell a lot of effort has been made to honor the source material. The series format gives more time to explore areas that were only hinted at in the movie, and it’s pretty captivating. It also answers a few questions, like: how do they make love in the tail section? Can they? (Answer: they do it quietly in a dark corner.) The show clearly wants to be smart entertainment, but it’s also dark, and at times very adult. I suspect that’s the part TNT tried to soften, to ensure it can reach a wider audience. At one point we’re introduced to a group called “the hand”, which is a “family” of adults engaged in one big polyamourous relationship. We meet them in a scene that’s described as “pastoral, like Monet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe“. How great does that sound? But unless those characters are supposed to stay in the background, I wouldn’t get too attached to them. I can’t find their names in the list of the regular characters, so they may not have made the cut.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Ambitious, smart and at times dark, Snowpiercer is the type of show that runs the risk of being lost in the endless shuffle of Peak TV. And if it were only TNT airing it, I’d be genuinely worried, but with Netflix in the loop, there’s a good chance it will reach the wide audience it deserves. The pilot script is everything you want from a futuristic, post-apocalyptic thriller. Is it in the right hands? Will this train go in the right direction? Only time will tell, but here’s hoping it’s not just the pilot… and that the budget is as ambitious as the storytelling!



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The Society (Netflix) pilot preview: Lord of the whys???

SERIES TITLE: The Society (aka Hamelins)
NETWORK: Netflix
GENRE: Teen Adventure Drama

LOGLINE: A group of teenagers are mysteriously transported to a facsimile of their wealthy New England town, left without any trace of their parents. As they struggle to figure out what has happened to them and how to get home, they must establish order and form alliances if they want to survive.

Pilot Cast: Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies, Lady Bird, Ben is Back), Rachel Keller (Legion, Fargo), Gideon Adlon (Blockers, Mustang), Kristine Froseth (Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, The Truth About Harry Quebert), Jose Julian (A Better Life, Shameless), Olivia DeJonge (The Visit), Jacques Colimon (Duat), Grace Victoria Cox (Heathers, Under The Dome), Sean Berdy (Switched at Birth), Alex MacNicoll (Transparent), Alex Fitzalan (Slenderman), Toby Wallace
Series Creators: Chris Keyser (The Last Tycoon, Tyrant, Party of Five
Pilot Director: Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man, Limitless
Producers: Chris Keyser & Marc Webb.
Studios: Unknown

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.




WRITTEN BY: Chris Keyser

PAGECOUNT: 62 pages.

BACKGROUND: The Society is one of many originals aimed at teenagers/young-adults that Netflix will release in 2019/2020, alongside The Umbrella Academy, Sex EducationI Am Not Okay With This, Jinn… and returning series Stranger Things13 Reasons WhyElite, and The Rain. These are some of the streamer’s biggest and most talked about series, and you can add to them Riverdale, a Netflix original in countries outside of the US, and their latest hit, the saved-from-Lifetime-obscurity You. While the younger demo is barely watching network television anymore, there seems to be plenty of demand online; so much so that streaming rival Amazon is also making a big push for programming in this space under new exec Jennifer Salke. So, does The Society have the stuff to be Netflix’s next big hit? Read on…

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We’re in a cornfield in rural Connecticut. It’s 1966. Young men and women are working under the sun. There’s a river over there, and an ancient burial ground here. A female narrator tells us about the town, the houses, the suburban streets, the school, the gas station, and the mountains all around… Now we’re in 1684. Same place. One day, the hills begin to move. We’re told one hundred and nine children were buried while they sat at their school desks, by 200,000 cubic yards of waste.

But let’s go back to nowadays, and the privileged West Ham high school. In the auditorium, parents, family and friends are hugging their children at the end of a performance of the school’s play. Meet Cassandra, the lead actress, a crowd around her. She’s popular, a natural born leader. Nearby, Harry, her longtime rival, also has a crowd around him. He’s handsome, wealthy and ambitious. Allie, Cassandra’s sister, a little less confident, is there too, watching. She’s lived her entire life in the shadow of her sister, but they love each other deeply. Backstage, we’re introduced to most of the other principal characters.

The next morning, it’s the great departure for our high schoolers. Luke, the quarterback, is passing along the side of the town’s church when something catches his eye. It’s a bible quote, spray-painted on the wall: “You’ve been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” Not far from here, six buses are lined up. It’s time for goodbyes between the children and their parents, at least those who came. Soon, they’re out of town. An hour later or so, a bibilical storm is in full force. There’s a blinding crack of lightning and a boom of thunder. On the inside of the buses, the kids are groggy and disoriented. The bus driver, whose face is hidden from camera, tells them there’s been a change of plan: they’re back home. It’s night, the town is dark and empty. The children return to their respective homes, to find them empty as well. Where are the adults?

COMMENTS: Described as a modern take on Lord of the FliesThe Society definitely has a compelling hook, but the pilot script is all over the place. There must be 15 principal characters, each a cliché, and virtually all unlikable. As a consequence, we want them to die. Quickly. Atrociously. But they won’t, and we’re as stuck with them as they are to each other.

I can’t say I’m not interesed in the mystery that surrounds this town but I’m not convinced the show’s answers will be satisfying. There aren’t a lot options: the origin of the event is either mystical or natural. Or both. Religious references are thrown at us without any kind of subtlety, and the premise that the kids being sent out of town without their parents is confounding.

The rest of the script is no better. Once they’re back in town, all the kids want to do is party, drink, and cruise in cars. They don’t seem scared or taken aback that their parents are missing, which is hard to swallow. Okay, they’re teenagers, and we know they can be frivolous and reckless, but could they be just a little less stupid? The pilot’s most important goal seems to be surfacing potential couples, and as much as I understand that’s inevitable in a teen drama, as written, the mystery takes backseat. Most of the end of the pilot is about rivalries and leadership with Cassandra, who’s inspired by her sister Allie to take charge of the group. There are a lot of similarities with The 100 in this area and that doesn’t help the show feel any fresher.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: A good pitch doesn’t always make a good show, and from the looks of it, The Society is not as ambitious or as good as it should be. It’s one of those shows that would likely never survive on broadcast or cable, but may just find an audience online, especially if Netflix decides to push it hard. And I have a feeling they will.



[ X ] PASS


The Politician (Netflix) pilot preview: Do you miss Glee? Ryan Murphy does apparently…

SERIES TITLE: The Politician
NETWORK: Netflix
GENRE: Political One-Hour Dramedy

LOGLINE:  The political aspirations of Payton, a wealthy Santa Barbarian who’s ultimate goal is to become the President of the United States, one step at a time. And for now, he needs to a/ become the student body president of his college b/ be accepted to Harvard. To achieve that, he’s ready for anything. Literally.

Pilot Cast: Ben Platt, Zoey Deutch, Lucy Boynton, Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, January Jones, Dylan McDermott, Laura Dreyfuss, Rhane Jones…
Series Creators: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck & Ian Brennan (American Horror Story, Pose, 9-1-1, Glee).
Pilot Director: Ryan Murphy.
Producers: Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Platt, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck & Ian Brennan.
Studios: Fox 21 Television 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.




WRITTEN BY: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck & Ian Brennan.

PAGECOUNT: 68 pages

BACKGROUND: A few months before mega TV producer Ryan Murphy left 20th Century FOX Television for Netflix in what is believed to be the biggest TV pact ever, the streaming giant granted him a rare two-season straight-to-series order for The Politician, one of the biggest TV package sales of 2018. Everything’s BIG when it comes to Murphy, it seems. At the time, Barbra Streisand was set to play one of the female leads but Murphy stalwart Jessica Lange has since stepped into her role for unknown reasons. Described as “a one-hour long comedy with social commentary”, The Politicanwill focus on a different political race each season. Word has it that straight-from-Broadway series star Ben Platt will have musical numbers in several episodes of the show, but other details have been kept tightly under wraps. With a copy of the pilot script in hand, let’s see if we can’t unwrap them a little…

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: Two great looking 17-year-olds are making out in an upscale house in Santa Barbara, California. Meet River and his girlfriend Astrid. While on the surface, things may seem hot between them, something doesn’t seem quite right. Turns out Astrid is faking it. When River asks her why, she explains that she’s madly in love with him and doesn’t expect him to be perfect in bed because of his young age and lack of experience. After she leaves, a clearly upset River goes to his father’s office and opens a safe where there’s cash, jewelry and a gun. Then he goes back to his bedroom, looks around, and puts the gun in his mouth.

At that very moment he hears a car screech, followed by someone banging on his front door. In comes Payton, our leading man, filled with rage, tears streaking down his face. After calling River a traitor, he reveals the reason he’s there: he’s just learned that River is competing against him to become the student body president of their college. He warns him that this is HIS dream, that he is A WINNER and that he will win this at all costs. River is mortified, and so are we.

COMMENTS: So this is the project that Netfix won in a high stakes bidding war against Amazon and Hulu. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — they all wanted a Ryan Murphy show. The problem is, while this is indeed a Ryan Murphy show, it isn’t American Horror StoryAmerican Crime Story, or Feud. Instead, alongside frequent collaborators Brad Falchuck & Ian Brennan, Murphy has returned to the mileu of one of his earlier series: Glee. To be fair, The Politician is bit more adult-oriented than Glee — after all, the characters are not in high-school. But what happens in their Santa Barbara college could just as well have happened at McKinley High. In fact, many of it did. Payton, the central character, is our new Rachel Berry: ambitious and opinionated, his goal isn’t to become the best singer in the world, but instead the President of the United States.

The Glee feeling doesn’t end there. It becomes even more pronounced when Payton starts looking for the perfect Vice-President from a shortlist of disabled and the minority classmates. Oh, and did I mention he sings, too? He performs a musical number at a funeral and it’s apparently the best thing ever. (In the script, he sings Joni Mitchell’s River. We’ll see if that one sticks.) Most of the other characters are caricatures: the witty best friend, the bitchy one, etc. Astrid, who’s Payton’s nemesis, is a bit more fleshed out, and should become even more important in later episodes since she’s not just River’s girlfriend (no spoilers here). Finally, there’s Infinity Rose — yep, that’s her name — a colorfurl girl who has cancer…. all different kinds of cancer, to be precise. Payton wants her as his VP, but she’s not interested, at least not for now. But she clearly has some tricks up her sleeve.

The Politician does have some things to say about politics, ambition and young people, but it doesn’t say them in a way that’s innovative or smart, and it’s hard to take it very seriously when so much of what happens is ripped from earlier Murphy shows. (There are some parallels with Murphy’s Scream Queens here, too.) What’s the point of going to Netflix if it’s to do exactly the same thing he did on FOX? I mean.. The Politician is occasionally irreverent and raunchy (there’s a threesome, you guys!) but there’s nothing here that Murphy and team couldn’t have achieved on network television.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: It’s not the most imaginative or well-crafted of pilot scripts, and if it aired on FOX or FX I’m guessing The Politician would be dead on arrival. But with a two-season commitment from Netflix, with all of its algorithms and a binge-ready audience, it might just work. In fact, despite all of my own misgivings with the project, I can still see myself tuning in to see how it all plays out.



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SCOOP: Netflix preps remake of french series “Ainsi soient-ils” (“Churchmen”) produced by Tom Fontana

David Baïot, Julien Bouanich, Clément Manuel, Samuel Jouy et Clément Roussier in “Ainsi Soient-ils” (“Churchmen”)


Oz creator Tom Fontana is back at work with a Netflix series adapted from french faith-based drama Ainsi Soient-Ils, which ran for 3 seasons from 2012 to 2015 on channel Arte and won the Séries Mania Best Series Award in Paris twice and the Best Film Award winner at the International Catholic Film Festival.

Churchmen is about five young men from very different backgrounds and with different motivations for leaving the lives they’ve known who enter seminary in New York, discovering an institution where ambition and discord could cast a shadow over their strongest belief. Tom Fontana (Borgia, Copper, Homicide) is producing the project through his Levinson/Fontana Company alongside Netflix and Asylum Entertainment, with James Yoshimura, who worked on Homeland & Treme, William Powell and K.C. Warnke. Fontana may have heard about Ainsi Soient-ils for the first time when he came to the Series Mania festival in Paris in 2013. Shooting should start as soon as February in New York. The number of episodes is unclear at this time.

It’s the second time a french TV show is adapted in the US. A&E did “The Returned” two years ago, based on “Les Revenants” from Canal +. It was cancelled after one season. Churchmen will probably have better luck with Netflix behind.



SCOOP: Netflix orders Errol Morris hybrid miniseries “Wormwood” starring Peter Sarsgaard

PETER SARSGAARD as John in Dark Castle EntertainmentÕs horror thriller ÒOrphan,Ó a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Cult documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (Gates Of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line, The Fog Of War, Out Of Control) is working on a miniseries for Netflix starring Peter Sarsgaard which is blending long-form documentary interview with a dramatic reconstruction of pivotal scenes.

Wormwood is based on a true story and explores the mysterious death of Cold War-era military scientist Frank Olson (played by Sarsgaard) and his son’s tireless efforts to uncover the truth. In 1953, Frank Olson was recruited to be part of a secret biological warfare program cryptically referred to as Project MKUltra.

Errol Morris is directing, Molly Rokosz & Steven Hathaway who worked on Morris’ last documentary The B Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photgraphy are writing, Caroline Baron & Robert Fernandez are producing for A-Line Pictures & Moxie Pictures in association with Netflix. Shooting is starting on November 28 in New York for a whole month. Casting is underway.

This is Netflix last effort in the documentary world after hit series Making a Murderer and Amanda Knox hitting the platform last month.

Steve McQueen develops western miniseries “Godless” for Netflix


The Hunger & Shame director Steve McQueen is writing a western miniseries for Netflix named Godless with a interesting twist…

The western genre is hot these days (The Hateful Eight, Jane Got a Gun, Westworld, Netflix’s The Ridiculous Six & Frontier…) and it’s not gonna stop there. After 12 Years a Slave and coming soon HBO miniseries Codes of Conduct, Steve McQueen is working hard on another one, this time for Netflix, a western he is not planning to direct, only write. Scott Frank (A Walk Among the Tombstones, Minority Report) his co-writer, will. Casey Silver is producing. The plan right now is to shoot as soon as next summer for an early 2017 premiere.

Godless is set in 1888 and is about a severely wounded outlaw who ends up in a mining town in New Mexico, where all the able-bodied men have died in the mine. Now it’s run all by women. While some of them are taking care of him, he realizes his old gang members are coming after him…