Thursday, May 15, 2008

That Script Thing

So, most of the networks have announced all the shows they're picking up for this season.

Except ABC, which has barely shot any of them.

I've got scripts for all of the dramas (because... comedies? on ABC?) and have read them all... so let's have a little round up, shall we? Please note that none of these are final drafts... so plenty can change by the time the pilots get shot (I'll report back when I've seen screeners).

"Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas" - Billed as Harry Potter for TV, it's actually more like the sucky version of Pan's Labyrinth, or more accurately like The Spiderwick Chronicles (a movie I did not see). Plus, the lead character is a 13-year old girl. Production nightmare. It may be different than other stuff on television... but that doesn't mean it's good.

"Castle" - A practically unreadable script (seriously). I stopped after the first act, but then decided to read the last 5 or so pages to see what the series set-up was. I'm interested in seeing what Nathan Fillion does with the lead character, who is a kind of philandering cheap thriller novelist who gets called in by the NYPD to help with a series of murder mysteries that reflect those in his books (zzzz). The dialog needs work. The series set-up after this murder investigation is that Captain Tightpants' character is going to base a new series of crime novels off the detective he worked with on the pilot case, and thus will be tagging around. The show wants to be the crime show version of House. It falls short... but after reading the other crime shows, I think it may stand out in a way ABC will be interested in.

"Cupid" - We all know, basically, what this show is going to be. I like Bobby Cannavale as the lead... I think he'll be more approachable / less abrasive than Jeremy Piven's Cupid was, which was part of the fun but also a turnoff for many. They're moving the show to New York City and the script I read was set in Los Angeles, so who knows, this all may change. Plus, who is going to be playing Paula Marshall!?

"Finnegan" - Los Angeles set hardnosed female detective who heads an Organized Crime & Vice unit. ABC needs a serialized crime show like it needs another season of Cavemen. It needs a franchise procedural crime show. This ain't it.

"Good Behavior" - Think Brothers & Sisters is the Walker family were lower-middle class nogoodniks, and all the gloss replaced by grit. It's the other side of the family drama/dramedy coin. It's got heart, and it's got funny (especially with Catherine O'Hara as the matriarch/Sally Field...) It's the kind of show ABC normally would go for... but does the network really need another ensemble family show? Based on the script I hope so, but the programmer in my isn't certain. At least it stands out from basically every other show on television because the main characters aren't incredibly wealthy people.

"Prince of Motor City" - Hamlet on TV. While it's always interesting to see modern adaptations... we all know how this one ends, right? Plus they don't even get to the ghost telling the son to avenge him until the end of the pilot. I dunno. It's intriguing. But also not. I'll have to wait to see the screener to really judge.

"Untitled David Hemingson Legal Dramedy" - I could do without the first 5 pages of set-up before the main character starts his job (the first five pages establish Dylan Hewitt as valedictorian at Columbia Law, introduce a seemingly neerdowell brother / family, and have Dylan easily convinced to take a job at a firm in Los Angeles instead of working at the tax firm he was supposed to). With Boston Legal ending, a legal dramedy seems a tad slap-in-the-face-ish... but I can see this show skewing younger, with the leads being 20somethings, not James Spader and William Shatner. It's exceedingly silly. I don't really buy what it's selling. If Eli Stone tanks on Tuesdays at 10pm and ABC is really gung-ho about having a legal show on... okay, I guess by default they'd have to go here. But eh...

"The Unusuals" - I like the writer, Noah Hawley. He's done good work on Bones. This, however, is your run-of-the-mill New York set police procedural. Not bad, but nothing special. And I think that's an unforgivable sin in a television landscape with procedural crime shows ranging from L&O, CSI, and The Closer.

"Section 8" (title may change because of some lawsuit) - So apparently ABC has already given this show a episode order. I hope they can rescind it. This is trash. I mean, really, what were they thinking? Unless I got a foiler script. It is, as it's logline suggests, about a secret government group that solves crimes and has "advanced mental abilities". Problem is it basically amounts to CSI with superpowers. I don't even like CSI, but part of what makes it interesting is the human element... people like like you and me figuring murders out. Plus, the scripts starts of so very Heroes (voiceover about the human mind and the things it's capable of... come on). Problem is they left out the humanity and the "discovery" elements that were present in Heroes at the get-go. You know, the stuff that really made it good? Ugh. Such. Crap. Maybe it'll be really cool on screen.

ABC's needs at midseason will ultimately be dictated by what works out on the fall schedule (I'm specifically looking at some part of Wednesday failing, the questionable Life on Mars, and probably Eli Stone). ABC might choose to use some of these series (the ones ready, anyway) on Mondays between DWTS cycles instead of the middling and piddling Dance War.

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