UNTITLED SUSANNAH GRANT PROJECT
Written By: Susannah Grant
Draft Date: January 7, 2011
This feels, very, very much the prototypical CBS procedural pilot with one minor (and, in my opinion, completely superfluous, but it's the only thing that makes it anything other than completely normal) twist.
This is a medical procedural about Michael Halstead, wealthy neurosurgeon to the rich and the famous. He's got his own surgical center. Yeah, he's that guy. All work, no family to go home to. The closest thing is his sister, Didi, and her troublemaking teenage son, Milo (who Michael does not want to play father figure to... so, guess what, at the end of the episode, Michael allows himself time to start bonding with Milo). Michael doesn't need family. Again... he has work. And he's the best.
But all isn't good in Michael's life. He's been having a recurring dream about a bouncing red ball with a smiley-face and car bumpers. Quelle horreur! He also bumps into Anna, his ex-wife, when he's picking up some take-out — the usual — from a fancy Beverly Hills restaurant. She's apparently been in Los Angeles at a free clinic for 8 years and hasn't told him. He's insulted, but she follows him home, they talk... and he wakes up to find her gone. When he looks into her free clinic... he finds out she's dead. Killed in a hit-and-run (while chasing a ball some kids were playing with).
Being a neurosurgeon, Michael researches what this hallucination might be and even goes so far as to get an MRI done and evaluate himself. No tumor. Perhaps it's the side effects of the Percocet he's been taking for pain in his shoulder following a surgery (if that were the case, it'd be way too similar to a development on House a couple seasons ago, where the acerbic doctor was seeing the ghost of Cutthroat Bitch because of his vicodin addiction... not that the script points this out because why would it). He doesn't know, but it definitely seems like Michael is seeing a ghost or a spirit (Didi's boyfriend Anton, a Native American faith healer, "confirms" this).
Anna keeps popping up asking him to do things. She asks him to go to her clinic and give them the password to her computer so the clinic can keep operating (because she didn't train a replacement). Nevermind the fact that the clinic has called the Geek Squad and her password is six symbols and all letters. The Geek Squad just hasn't gotten there yet. Anyway, while Michael is there, he overhears a social worker trying to help a poor, scared mother of five and he eventually / begrudgingly tells them to come to his medical center and they'll get help for free (cue my eyes rolling at the plot about rich white man finding his soul and helping some poor minorities free of charge).
My problem is that the paranormal is utterly unnecessary to this. And, so, it comes across really forced and really, really bald (industry-speak for "not subtle"). Michael already knows what the password is, Anna tells him it's the same one it's always been. The only thing she ever does it shove him somewhere he's unwilling to go... and even then it takes a couple pushes. And when she's not pushing him to go somewhere or do something, she's playing conscience, at one point literally asking "Doing the right thing for the wrong reason — is it still virtuous? What matters more? The intention or the act?")
After a couple moments of Michael being told by Didi to see Anton about this ghost problem, Michael eventually goes and Anton begins to excise Anna... and then Michael stops him. He can't give up the ghost. So, y'know, she'll be sticking around. Hooray...?
Also really "bald" is the opening exposition about Michael and one of the cases of the week... a billionaire in a car crash, news footage of the exterior of the surgical center, reporters we never see explaining said billionaire is "presumably in the care of renowned neurosurgeon Michael Halstead..." In fact, that's not just "bald." That's what we call "pilot-ese."
Beyond Anna there are three cases of the week. The introduction is the rich billionaire who got into a car crash and almost severed his optic never. Then there's a 19-year old female tennis star on the verge of winning an in-season Grand Slam (she's won all but the US Open, which starts soon) but who, after a car crash, may have a brain aneurysm — treatment for which would mean she'd miss the tournament and her pushy father won't have that despite her meek mother's objections. And, finally, there's the case of Ines's family.
Again, it's all very standard. I imagine there's an audience for this. I'm just not among that audience.