Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Eastwick

EASTWICK (script review: Eastwick)
Status: Wednesdays @ 10pm on ABC, premiere date unannounced

Well, David Nutter is 15 for 15 in getting pilots he directs picked up. However, just because a pilot gets picked up to series doesn't mean it doesn't get cancelled quickly (Dr. Vegas). Or burned off during the summer (Traveler). Or surprisingly picked up for a second season (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Not everything David Nutter directs turns into a long-running series like Smallville or The Mentalist (yes, I'm making an assumption here).

Eastwick is a curious case. We all know what it's about. Three women, three witches. A small, New England community. And some devilish guy who storms into town and changes everything.

You won't be surprised by the story.

You won't be surprised by much of anything besides Jamie Ray Newman's star turn as Kat, a nurse and mother of five. And I think that the surprise comes from unfamiliarity. The TV audience is rather familiar with what Rebecca Romijn and Lindsay Price bring to the table. They're both great to look at (which makes Price's Plain Jane reporter Joanna highly unbelievable... the transformation from mouse to vixen literally involves taking her hair out of its bun) but don't exactly overwhelm in the acting department.

So, Jamie Ray is a breath of fresh air.

She's just about all that's fresh here (particularly compared to Paul Gross's Darryl Van Horne, which channels Jack Nicholson far too much).

Which saddens me. Because I enjoyed the script (knowing Nutter was directing it) and I love the movie on which the series is based. But instead of easy-viewing fun, it all adds up to a big pile of cliché (which can be amusing, but the tone isn't campy enough to pull it off) and, pretty much, a far less awesome Gilmore Girls with magic powers.

Eastwick has a further challenge on its path to a full-season pickup or a second season: being a part of ABC's all new Wednesday lineup. Though I haven't done my full reviews of any of the four comedies that are running from 8-10pm, Eastwick lucks out that ABC saw fit to put the (far, far) better of the four comedies on from 9-10pm, with the season's strongest new show (yes, including any / all dramas such as the hyped up Flash Forward) on at 9pm. Um, guess you know my opinion of Modern Family now. Anyway, launching a totally new night is always a gamble and this is pretty much the third attempt by ABC in as many years at a total makeover. Maybe parts of this lineup will stick. We'll see.

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