Friday, April 15, 2011

Pilot Script Review - Poe

Network: ABC
Written By: Christopher Hollier
Draft Date: January 19, 2011
Pages: 64

My goodness, there really were a number of "crime procedural with a supernatural twist" pilots picked up by the networks this year!

If you read my twitter, I may have prematurely indicated that I disliked this script. It took a while to slog through, but by the end, I was interested enough and it started to pick up the pace. Getting there was a challenge (and this is an industry that tends to stop readying at page 10), so we'll see if that can be trimmed or fixed on screen.

We all know of Edgar Allen Poe as the master of mystery and the macabre, as well as possibly the inventor of detective-fiction. Well... what if he consulted with the Boston Police on mysterious cases potentially involving the supernatural? Set in 1840, the script plays fast and loose with some of the details of Poe's later life (for instance, he doesn't seem to have married his 13-year old cousin in 1835... rather, he is still pining after first love and best friend Sarah Royster), but contains the requisite references to several famous stories and characters. As presented in the script, he is somewhat reminiscent of Robert Downey Jr's take on Sherlock Holmes. Probably fun on screen but a pain to be around and always causing headaches for others. The consternation he causes several police officers throughout is at times too much, but I imagine it at times and in small doses will be amusing.

Poe's partner in... consultant detectiving... is Celeste Chevalier. The Scully to his Mulder, and I mean this is almost every sense. The show, genuinely, wants to be a period piece supernatural (rather than aliens) version of the X-Files. Poe believes in the supernatural, Celeste in scientific explanations. Poe is wildly imaginative. Celeste is grounded in reality. They banter. They have UST and will probably pine after each other for years.

Celeste has her own tragic recent past. Her paramour, Marcus, died. She apparently met both Poe and Marcus at the same time, initially was attracted to Poe, but wound up with Marcus (Poe was occupied with Sarah).

There were times in the script I rolled my eyes. Mostly at some anachronisms and ways of talking that are very modern and not very 1840, but I made my peace with that. Also during the numerous references to some action being the 1840 version of modern crime investigations (white rope, not yellow tape... a squad with revolvers and lanterns instead of a SWAT team... a moving chalkboard instead of windows on a computer screen, etc). None of these things will be pointed out on screen (no one is going to speak the line "in 2011 I'll bet they use plastic yellow tape instead of white rope), so I think it will only be my own personal issue with the read.

There's an audience for this show. You have the elements of supernatural / genre stuff, straight-forward crime solving (versus Grimm, where the police side of the equation I felt was poorly executed), and the banter/UST in the primary relationship. Plus, there ought to be a lot of style to the visuals. It's highly familiar, but also slightly different, and that seems to be a good formula on network TV. Maybe not a show I'd tune into every week, but there seems to be some "mythology" and a series-(or at least season)-long mystery arcs planned for Marcus's death as well as Poe's mother's death when he was a child that could keep me interested for a while beyond what's sure to be a crime of the week format.


DryedMangoez said...

It'll be very interesting to see how all these supernatural crime procedurals turn out, if they get picked up at all.

I'm looking forward to this one in particular mainly for Chris Egan (of the late Kings).

Anonymous said...

hey, any chance of reviewing 'Hart of Dixie' script?

Anonymous said...

Eh, why didn't they just bring Sherlock Holmes over instead?

This sounds dull.

Undine said...

It sounds like a prerequisite for liking this show will be having absolutely no knowledge about the "real" Poe.

For people like me, I suspect the real horror is the script.

Anonymous said...

From all ABC pilots, I was most interested, I hope it picks up.

Travis, will you be reviewing new Charlie's Angels and Terra Nova?

Travis Yanan said...

@ Anonymous (4/19/11 @ 11:33AM)

Yes to Charlie's Angels (haven't read it yet, and in rewrite hell so reviews delayed until I'm through this script), no to Terra Nova. Read the original one-hour version a year ago (and that's still the one people have/are reading), but it's gone through way too many writers, revisions, and expansions to two-hour that it wouldn't be worth it... the final product won't be much like what's in that script.

Anonymous said...

You are being too kind here, this script is not only TERRIBLE but ANNOYING. And messy, I had to re-read things a few times to understand what was going on. The dialogue is embarrassing as well. THUMBS DOWN.