Friday, April 17, 2009

Pilot Script Review - Washington Field

Hey! Guess what I finally remembered to do?

Actually, it's really a combination of being truly exhausted from writing my own stuff. Not that any of it is completely done, but, well, my brains are tired. So... apologies for the delay (but, yes, I'm getting to it before screeners start pouring out).

Part of me wishes I'd posted reviews as I was reading the scripts (or, rather, that night after I got home from reading on the elliptical... yes, I'm *that* guy). I'm fairly certain you wish I had, too.

But as a side effect, the amount of time between reading the scripts has actually made certain projects stand out more (for either their awesome or their suck). It's now about three weeks since I read the last of the network drama pilots, and I'm going to start out with those that, for me, still really stand out, and work my way back to those than I was just like "meh" to.

Without further delay...

Written By: Ed Bernero
Draft Date: unknown (but before January 29th, which is when I got it... yes, I know, I really should've been doing my reviews as I read them instead of reading everything and letting things stack up)
Pages: 64
Network: CBS
Category: Thumbs Up

Let's get one thing out of the way. I do not like Criminal Minds. I have to say that because Ed Bernero has run CM since the post-pilot episode (the pilot and the first five minutes of the Super Bowl episode are all I've really watched of that series). The fact that I do not like CM will in no way, shape, or form color my opinion of WF.

So let's get right out and say it... this pilot script rocked when I read it months ago, and the impression in my head remains the same. I have every reason to believe, screener unseen and purely based on the page (like all of these reviews will be), that this is going to be on CBS's schedule next season. Potentially after CSI on Thursdays. Why? Because...

Washington Field is a high-adrenaline, explosive crime-drama about a unit of FBI agents in Washington, DC featuring (at least what the script indicates... still up to casting) a very multi-ethnic cast. The elite team of agents has a very hi-tech, flashy command center featuring "The Board", of which the script tells the reader to think of Minority Report. It's "a repository for clues and information as the investigation progresses" and, besides being really flashy in and of itself, will allow for what will hopefully be some pretty neat, smooth transitions from the command center to the field agents. All of which screams, to me, easily marketable and potentially very successful.

The pilot case involves a serial bomber / maybe-terrorist in the DC area. 'Nuff said. I mean, you know how this plays out. Things blow up. People die. They get him or her or them in the end.

The opening act, of course, starts off with an explosion. This is a crime show, after all. Immediately after, we get a typically staggered, intended to be iconic introduction to each of our main characters as they get the news that they've got work to do. I'll note where names have been changed, either to go with casting choices or because of legal clearances (at least per the IMDb page, which doesn't have all of the characters nor all of the roles cast).
- Special Agent Jackie Palmer (played by Gina Torres), a pilot, is driving a motorcycle around an FBI practice course (conveniently right next to a highway, so once she gets the message she can just kick her bike outta there and into action)
- SA Tommy O'Donnell (renamed Eddie Lopez, played by Eddie Cibrian), an investigator, and SA Amanda O'Donnell (now Amanda Lopez, played by Teri Polo), a medical forensics doctor, are on some form of vacation / leave, celebrating their 10th anniversay. It's cut short.
- SA Pham Nyugen (renamed Mark Chen, played by Matthew Yang Kim) is teaching some marines how to not get themselves blown up
- SA Richard Stone (renamed Raymond Stone, played Cole Hauser) is the squad leader
- Dean Jameson (played by Adam Jamal Craig) is the IT guy in control of The Board
- Rasha Hamali, a linguistics expert and analyst for the FBI
- SA Terri Toner, the media liaison

I still don't know if I'm going to watch the series. I have to wait for the screener. You know me and CBS... I just don't watch any of their crime dramas. They solve a murder or a missing person's case every week and... with few exceptions there's nothing else there to engage me. I love me some serialized content, even if it's just a continuing UST relationship (see FOXs Bones). I remember loving The Mentalist pilot then being massively let down by the extremely formulaic, open-and-shut second episode (I've heard Red John has reared his head in a couple episodes, so I may eventually find my way back to TM over the summer... but in-season Tuesdays at 9pm are very crowded for me!)

What was my point? Oh, yes. It remains to be seen whether this show will give attention to the characters, or whether every episode is just a terrorism case or murder or what have you to be solved and little more, with characters simple cogs in the narrative machine. I'm hopeful, with the inclusion of the death of a member of the team in the pilot, that there will some continuing threads. In addition, two members of the team are married, so there's definitely potential for relationship stuff, rather. But this being CBS, I'm sure it won't be much. And, frankly, for the success and longevity of the show... it shouldn't be. CBS obviously knows how to do these shows and do them right.

Still. Can't wait to see the pilot.

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