Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pilot Script Review - The Crossing fka Crossroads fka Reconstruction

Network: NBC
Written By: Josh Brand
Draft Date: January 19, 2011
Pages: 57

I... don't know how to review this script.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that, at the end of act one, I declared my preference for watching linoleum curl, on an entertainment level.

Yes, the script got more engaging after act one. But, if filmed as is... no audience in the world is gonna sit through it to get to the slightly more interesting sections.

It's 90% atmosphere. Honestly. And I wanted to shoot myself to make the script reading experience stop. Or at least yell "get on with it."

Also? It doesn't end. I asked on Twitter if anyone else had read because the script ends at the end of Act Four... but it doesn't feel like the story does. It feels like I'm missing the last act. But, no, it turns out I had the whole script.

Here's the deal. It's set in Missouri. In 1866. We're following Jason Eddings. He did a lot of horrible things in the war and is haunted by them (in the harrowing teaser - which, wow, how far and fast things went downhill - he walks through a burnt field with dead people stuffed inside the bodies of eviscerated cows... which, um, yeah, that's gonna go over real well on network TV...)

Jason gets off a train in Circle Bend, but not before proving he's a good person deep down by giving a coin to a veteran begging for money or food on the train. Jason is headed to Hastings. To get there, he finds employment driving a tanner's wagon full of hides. We're told that this is Missouri and he needs to be armed for his travels. This turns out to not be true, as the trip is entirely uneventful, but for Jason deciding for no reason at all except that "it's eerily quiet" to stop at a farmhouse. There, he picks up Irene, a teenager girl whose father was murdered by the coward Tom Chaney. Wait, this isn't True Grit. Though, while I was reading, I certainly was thinking how fortuitous NBC might think the timing of this piece of development is, considering how much money True Grit made at the box office.

Irene's father was murdered by the "The Colonel" aka "The Grey Ghost." Your standard shadowy local villain. She sees panthers that may or may not be there for some reason. It turns out Irene's father betrayed the Grey Ghost.

Anyway, Irene and her dog tag along with Jason on his trip for no reason, but before they get to Hastings, we meet some of the town residents. It's not even worth going into, except that there's a not-so-likable sheriff. Some outlaws ride into town, they're working for the Grey Ghost (the script calls them Greycoats), and they demand protection money from various vendors. Just around the time they're about to chop off the hotel owner's leg because he can't pay, Jason shows up with Irene and her dog. And they shoot the dog. So, y'know, they're evil. Don't worry, the dog isn't dead, he just has three legs now. Still, if it weren't clear because, now you know they're evil.

The Greycoats ask Jason to take the axe and do it because he looks at them funny. Wouldn't you know, Jason walks past the man he's supposed to amputate and heads for the lead Greycoat, Seamus. Seamus fires his gun and it jams. It jams again. Jason decapitates Seamus with the axe, takes Seamus's gun, and shoots one of the outlaws.

So, clearly something mystical is going on here, right? Yes/no?

We never really get into it. Sure, people ask the question. The town preacher suspects Jason of being sent by the Devil. Also, Jason and the leather goods store owner, Anna, look at each other and share some sort of instant connection, which leads to sex. Y'know, just because.

Oh, and having seen Jason, the sheriff commits suicide by drowning himself in the river, and in his suicide note, leaves Jason the post of sheriff. Only the Grey Ghost secretly shows up in the middle of the night and it turns out that Anna's daughter is his daughter, too, and her has Anna convince Jason to leave town or a terrible vengeance or something will come down.

Also the church is struck by lightning (which is constantly spelled lightening) and burns down in flames. Then Jason leaves town, leaving I. And he sees a bunch of Greycoats riding into town. And decides to go back.

And the script ends.


I sincerely hope this was a foiler script and whatever the hell NBC is spending money on is something much, much better / different.

A gunslinger with a tortured past in the frontier West with fantastic elements.

When are the Dark Tower movies / TV series coming?


DuMont said...

I was really rooting for this one to succeed. Mr. Josh Brand is such a talent, and I really have a deep affection for the western genre that Mr. Brand is trying to rescucitate. Perhaps the script circulating is a "foiler" script, or some sort of placeholder, to prevent other networks and producers from borrowing from its genius.

NBC's bigger dilemna is where does the Peacock slot a westerner? I would guess that they may be planning a genre-busting evening with "new" types of series premiering. I would think 10 pm would be the best timeslot, perhaps out of one of their procedurals.

Anonymous said...

how wonderful words can be. I read that script and loved loved loved it. I thought "wow, finally someone writing a dramatic story about strong characters in a setting that excites all my myths"
We both probably read lots of scripts, but we probably would never go see the same movies.
I am hoping for a hit here.
PS I was raised on Dr. Quinn...this one is certainly less G rated, but still, I can't wait.
I hear they are shooting it like a movie, and if the production values are high, there are several stories in there that look like they will make good television.