Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - The Body Politic

Status: Busted...? (been a while since I heard anything, and can't remember if it was still in consideration for midseason or just completely dead)

For script review, see The Body Politic.

The impetus for my finally starting these screener reviews. I'll be honest, nothing has truly jumped out at me that I felt DEMANDED to be blogged about. Until I (finally) got my grubby hands on The Body Politic, a 30-minute presentation of the only CW drama pilot not picked up to series (besides the shocking Lily / Gossip Girl Spin-Off fiasco).

What a shame. What a horrible, crying shame that this presentation will not be completed and aired and loved by, um, millions? What passes for successful first-run programming on CW these days? 2.5 million? Yeah...

Presentations are challenging because a lot of connective tissue is lost. There's a full pilot script, but only about 2/3 of it is shot (TBP was shot in 8 days, I believe, while most drama pilots average 14) in order to save precious, precious money. You try and hit the big scenes, and some of the other stuff falls by the wayside to, in success, be shot or recast later (in TBP, much of the dealings with the older characters... the two Senators featured as well as Brian Austin Green's character who, literally, was only in the presentation for a half-second). You sell the show.

And, boy, did they sell me on this show (recall from my script reviews of the "Jury's Out" CW shows that I said it's all about chemistry and casting).

Minka Kelly, as I've said, is a TV star waiting to breakout and this was a great vehicle for her (though I do wish that the pervasive voice over had been toned down). That lady could have chemistry with the bannister if she wanted, so it's not hard to buy a love triangle involving Jason Dohring and Jay Hernandez. She is lovable and innocent and you really do feel for her in the moments before, during, and after her character (once named Lily, then Hope, now Frankie / Francesca) meets her biological father (though she does not tell him this). You want this girl to thrive on Capitol Hill.

The rest of the more heavily featured cast works well. Dohring's reporter character (Charlie) and Gabrielle Union's experienced staffer (Jessica) get the most air time of the other characters. The show tries to buy back some audience love for Jessica with some character history about being a young leader for women's rights, but I don't think it's enough. Plus, it's always a good thing to have a character who might backstab your lead and smile while doing it. That's politics, baby. Had the pilot gone forward, I'd have recast the woman (I couldn't even find casting information on her to give you the actress's name) who played Senator Buckley (the Democrat Majority leader who is pissed that the President is nominating a Republican for Attorney General... this plotline was very much incomplete in the presentation) as she just did nothing for me (though she got very little screen time). Also missing from the presentation was much of the plotline about a foreclosures freezing bill that Buckley was trying to stop because of a Democrat Senator was told to sponsor the AG nomination by the White House. I recall, in the script, that added some weight to the emotional proceedings.

The Body Politic has been called the best pilot not picked up by some. At this point, I've got to agree. I have no idea why this wasn't picked up to series. If I had any sway at CW (and I don't), the mistake would be corrected.


Teri said...

Thanks for doing a review. I'm bummed because it did seem like it had a lot of potential. Oh, well.

Anonymous said...

It could be picked up by ABC or NBC for mid season but it's very not sure, let's hope evrybody !!
This show was too smart fort and prestigious for CW network.

Anita said...

I saw the presentation last month and I couldn't believe it wasn't picked up to series! As you mentioned, I think the fact that it's a presentation and not even the full pilot that was shot and it's still great enough that people are dying to see it, says so much! I hope the CW's loss is ABC, NBC's or HBO's gain, but with ABC and NBC having great pilots this year, it doesn't help if it's stuck in a vault somewhere.

This script sounds like what HBO wanted Sarah Jessica Parker to do when they asked her to re-write Washingtonienne to be less jaded, etc.

Annie said...

I'm pretty sure Lisa Darr played Buckley. She's had guest spots in pretty much every show ever.

I really hope the full presentation becomes available to everyone sometime, because I'm dying to see it. Really curious why BAG was only in it briefly. The scenes between him and Union and then later with Buckley at the funeral were really big parts of the pilot. Interesting how they had to work around it but the presentation was still enjoyable. I haven't heard any negative reviews from anyone who's seen it.

Thanks for taking the time to watch it and posting this!