Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Coming Soon - Timeless on NBC!

An unlikely trio traveling through time to battle unknown criminals in order to protect history as we know it.

Timeless premieres Monday, Oct 3rd on NBC!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Premiering This Week - Mavel's Luke Cage on Netflix!

Given superstrength and durability by a sabotaged experiment, a wrongly accused man escapes prison to become a superhero for hire. 

Premieres Friday, Sept 30th on Netflix!

Friday, September 23, 2016

New Fall TV - FOX's Exorcist is a Don't Miss Compelling Watch

TV show based on William Blatty's 1971 novel about a priest who performs exorcisms on demonic spirits. Written and created by television newcomer Jeremy Slater, whose writing credits include films such as the Lazarus Effect, Fantastic 4 and Pet.

Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera, “Sense8,” “The Chosen”) is the new face of the Catholic Church: progressive, ambitious and compassionate. He runs a small, but loyal, parish in the suburbs of Chicago. He has no idea that his quiet life is about to change forever. Deep in the slums of Mexico City, another priest has found himself locked in a life-and-death struggle with evil. Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels, “Flesh and Bone,” “House of Cards”) is a modern-day Templar Knight, an orphan raised since childhood by the Vatican to wage war against its enemies. Father Marcus is everything Father Tomas is not: relentless, abrasive and utterly consumed by his mission – and he constantly butts heads with his adversary within the church, Father Bennet (Kurt Egyiawan, “Beasts of No Nation”).

Most of us are familiar with the original Exorcist movie starring Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn. Truth be told, when released on December 26th 1973 it scared the pants off of the entire movie watching population. People were sick, exiting the theater in hysterics, being offended and running for church as soon as possible. There have been very few movies having a such a hard impact since then. The Exorcist became the horror standard for creepiness and just plain portrayal of evil. Trying to replicate the phenom has been basically impossible.
Knowing all of this, when FOX announced The Exorcist adaptation in its 2016 Fall lineup I was giddy and oddly reserved. Being completely honest, given the current technology and entertainment climate this show was going to either be amazingly good or horribly bad. So sitting down this evening to watch it live was a tough choice. I also chose to participate in the twitter feed while watching which is a first for me. 

So the good news is this, I was scared, I jumped, and I got creeped out. So were the other viewers watching the show and live tweeting. The pilot, Chapter One: And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee, engaged and hooked me in from the moment the dogs arrived and the inhuman wailing began. There are several reasons for this, so lets talk about why The Exorcist pilot worked.

The writing, and this is so very important in any show, particularly a horror drama. If the dialog and or the scenes are not delicate and yet strong the genre comes off as hokey and unbelievable. The scare has to be rooted in a tangible fear for it to resonate. While most of the audience will be on the fence as to whether they believe in the demonic and or have religious ties makes this a particularly tough job for this show. You do not want to alienate anyone, however you want be able to deliver a truth when needed. Again, very well planned and executed by the writers room, bravo!

Where you have excellent writing you need a superior cast to deliver the story. The casting is magnificent, the two lead actors, Alfonso Herrera and Ben Daniels are seasoned enough actors to be able to portray the characters with a depth they need. Making them believable and giving the audience empathy for them. These two actors are also not well known enough for the audience to have their resumes prevalent in their mind when watching. The only people in the cast easily recognizable are Geena Davis and Alan Ruck, both veteran film actors who add credibility to the show.

Lastly, some (namely uneducated television executives) will want to push the technology side of genre over the top. Kill them with the impossible! This can be very easily done and ruin a movie or show. I still have a little bitterness for the use of technology in the recent movie The Conjuring 2. An otherwise awesome movie, the use of technology to create the crooked man as a form the demon liked to take to terrorize the family completely threw me out of the experience. This is why in these cases, less is more. In tonight’s The Exorcist pilot I think the production staff and director made the best choice of using technology on a limited basis. Kinda like the demon, only showing itself when absolutely necessary. Good job!

Challenges ahead for the show will be numerous. Tonight they have set the bar pretty high. We will see if they can maintain the critical balance of creepiness, scare and want. You have a tough audience and only time will tell how it shakes out. My advice, center your focus on the writing, the core of good against evil and showing the hope and faith in humanity. 

The Exorcist can be seen on Friday’s 8pm CST on FOX, check your local listings. The Exorcist is being put to the three episode test, will it be compelled to stand up in the end or be defeated by lack of faith?

Sneak Peek of My New Romantic Suspense - Little Angels

What if saving little angels meant becoming the monster?

When Special Agent Nick McFarlane receives news his partner of eight years in in trouble he doesn’t hesitate. Throwing himself into a deep cover operation to expose and shut down The Micahs, a child trafficking ring, Nick enters unprepared for the reality that awaits.

Special Agent Meredith Richards took the assignment fully aware of the consequences. Leaving her life behind, she wouldn’t be able to get out with her life until she shut the Micahs down for good.

When Meredith’s informant is murdered and her contact inside the organization starts to lose control, Meredith is forced to make choices she can’t take back. On the edge of sacrificing herself, her principles, and her life, she begins to wonder if she will survive the case or if she even wants too.  


The flashing lights of first responders and local police bounced off the brick walls of a crumbling complex. The Federal Special Response Unit, led by Special Agent Nick McFarlane, arrived on scene ten minutes prior. Suiting up, McFarlane and Special Agent Meredith Richards silently counted to seven. At seven, they pushed into the decrepit apartment building, listening closely for any signs of life. Nick signaled left. Meredith nodded, taking the first door on the right. Pushing the door with her foot, heart pounding, Meredith cleared the room, finding no sign of the missing boy.

The boy, Kevin, nine years old, had been kidnapped and held for ransom four days prior. The agreed-upon exchange went south just hours before, and now they were out of time. An anonymous tip had led FSRU to this location. Meredith guessed it was an accomplice trying to clear their conscious. Meredith entered the hallway. Nick moved on to the third room. Meredith moved to the next room and heard a small whimper. She froze, her breath lying still in her chest. A cry of pain. Running toward the noise, she rounded the corner, surveying the open room. The smell of thick mildew hit her nose. Stacks of aging cardboard boxes, plenty of places to hide. Meredith took a step further into the room. The sound of gasping stopped her movement. All of her focus turned to a single box.  
Meredith moved slowly, shifting the box out of her way. 


His face bloodied and bruised, he gasped for breath again. 

"Nick!" Meredith rushed to the child's side, searching for the source of blood. She found a knife slice half across his neck and placed her hand over the wound. Hearing Nick stepping through the doorway and  calling for an ambulance, Meredith turned. Their suspect stood over her partner with a gun. The man twitched nervously. He's going through withdrawal. This was all about the money. He’d kidnapped the boss's son for the fix. The kidnapper was so dazed by his success he let the gun sway. A gunshot went off. Meredith hit the floor, covering Kevin. The suspect fell, his gun discharged and Nick yelped in pain. Special Agent Hawthorne and Special Agent Alan Wright rushed in. 
"Fuck! Goddamn it!" McFarlane cursed, Meredith released a breath, dashing out the door with Kevin in her arms.

Hang on baby, hang on...

The child's hand gripped her shirt tightly. Her legs couldn't move fast enough. The crisp city air hit her lungs and she vaulted down the stairs. The bus, or the short name for ambulance, was within sight. The pulling on her shirt lessened. Meredith couldn't breathe. Her stomach twisted painfully. Kevin's small body grew heavier in her arms. Laying the boy on the stretcher, it took everything in her to look at him. 

His face covered in blood, his eyes stared back at her, clouded and lifeless. The paramedics immediately went to work, but she already knew he was gone. 
Her heartbeat thundering in her head, the events around her hummed. She searched for relief, pleading for silence, peace. Nick walked out of the building with Hawthorne holding pressure on his shoulder and her heart ached again. Her gaze was resting on the stretcher. The paramedics pulled the sheet gingerly over the boy's body. 

It's too much, too much...

Gasping for air, her carefully-bound control unraveling, she began breaking in half.

"Meredith," she heard someone say, but the voice seemed far away. "Meredith."
Everything moved back into real time, and a warm hand touch her arm. Special Agent Hawthorne, kind hazel eyes and rounded face, looked at her in concern, "Hey, you okay?"

Meredith anchored her pooling emotions down into her gut, away from her conscious mind. She couldn't let her team see her fall apart. "I'm good." The steadiness of her voice seemed to convince him, and the creases in his forehead smoothed. "Where's McFarlane?"

"Over there," Meredith followed Hawthorne's gaze. A paramedic wrapped McFarlane's shoulder in the back of an ambulance. She nodded her thanks. 

"You okay?" Meredith asked, reaching the ambulance with her partner sitting in the back.

"Just a flesh wound." McFarlane glanced over the paramedic's work. "How's the boy?"

"He's–" the pain in her chest spiked. "They're still working on him." She focused on the area behind the ambulance, a small path of green in a world of concrete, desperate to still the creeping pain threatening to take over. McFarlane handed her a warm moist towel from the ambulance. Confused, Meredith looked down the sight of her blood-stained hands, catching the breath in her chest. Hands shaking, she wiped the blood away before tossing the towel into the ambulance.
McFarlane stayed silent. Special Agent Nick McFarlane, team lead, stood 6'4, broad shoulders, tight stance, everlasting 5'oclock shadow, and intense ice-blue eyes. Patiently waiting for her to give in and admit defeat, she refused. Her lips parted, with a prepared comment on their suspect, but his wordless gaze stopped her cold. 

It was like hitting a brick wall when he looked at her like that–knowing what she's thinking without words. Having an eight-year history of seeing some of the worst scum on the earth created a wordless connection between colleagues. Her eyes brimmed with unshed tears at the exposure. Knowing she'd been caught. Angry at her own weakness, Meredith fought like hell to keep her composure intact. The guilt ripping through her unfettered, she dropped her chin in defeat.
Nick's consoling arm rested on her shoulders. He pulled her in, her forehead resting on his chest. In the small cocoon of his embrace, she pushed down the emotion threatening to take over.

* * * *

Thursday, September 22, 2016

New Fall TV - Designated Survivor Blows Us Away!

Designated Survivor – ABC

A low-level Cabinet member becomes President of the United States after a catastrophic attack kills everyone above him in the Presidential line of succession.

Where to begin, let’s start with the cast. The list is long, which is not always a good thing—too many chefs in the kitchen but in this case I am impressed.  We have got Kiefer Sutherland, famously known for his role as Jack Bauer on the television series 24.  Next we have Kal Penn, best known as Kumar in the Harold and Kumar movies, also known as Dr. Lawrence Kutner on House MD and more recently as Fontanelle White on Battle Creek.

Playing Jessica Kirkman is Natascha McElhone, most recently known as Karen on Californication and previously for her roles in the movies Solaris, Ronin, and The Truman Show.  Also popping her head in is Maggie Q as FBI Agent Hannah Wells– loved Stalker, so disappointed it got cancelled- I digress. Maggie Q was recently seen on the big screen in the Divergent movies, she is also the queen of the action drama portraying badass women in Nikita and Stalker.

That is a snip of the cast as there are a lot of moving parts on this show. It is well paced giving you gulps of information and anxiety at a time. Making you empathize and feel for Tom Kirkman the once cabinet member and now President of the United States.

Right off the bat everything happens very quickly which many times is a bad opening. A lot can be lost in translation if it is not paced and scripted diligently. Thankfully this was not the case in the pilot of Designated Survivor. The episode moved flawlessly taking you through the calm, the disappointment, the shock, the awe, the confusion and the nausea of what our government could possibly look like if an event of this magnitude were to take place. At the same moment we are reminded this is television and we settle into our new reality with hope. Hope for the characters, their struggles and their choices. 

Basic premise right of the bat is intriguing, however what is the staying power of such a show? Crisis management can only last so long until you start treading into the weeds of non- reality. We saw it happen in Revolution fairly quickly with no recovery. This was and is my major concern about this show. I will say, upfront the pilot episode did ease my inhibitions a little. Good writing will do that.

Speaking of good writing, Designated Survivor has a few aces in the writers room for whom I have faith to pull out the stops. All seasoned pros, as a writer myself I would love to witness the energy of that dynamic. For example, you have the brains of West Wing, Suits and The Unit, the creativeness of No Ordinary Family and Tru Calling, the out of the box mentality of Lost and Cold Case and a gutsy, greenish producer who is looking to conquer the television medium. It will definitely be interesting. 

More to come, Designated Survivor is on ABC, Wednesday nights, check your local listings. Designated survivor is being put to the three episode test so stayed tuned for the results!

New Fall TV - NBC's This is Us Starts off Strong

This is Us is a group of people born on the same day, Rebecca, played by Mandy Moore and Jack, played by Milo Ventimiglia, are a married couple expecting triplets in Pittsburgh. Kevin, played by Justin Hartley, is a handsome television actor growing bored of his fly bachelor lifestyle, Kate, played by Chrissy Metz is a woman struggling with her life, and her weight, and Randall, played by 2016 Emmy Winner Sterling K Brown, is a successful business man looking to prove himself better than the father who abandoned him.

Writer / Producer - Dan Fogelman

First off This is Us is listed as a comedy. So NOT a comedy most definitely a drama with a small side of humor.  I was on the fence about this series, I am not a huge fan of NBC drama, also not a fan of Milo Ventimiglia. All of that being said I gave it a shot.

The pilot was interesting, a few more laughs than expected and some great writing. Without giving too much away the show is not what you think it is and I can say that with confidence to anyone reading this because there really isn’t anything like it out there.

This is Us has potential, it has the makings of a groundbreaking series if they stay the course. The ‘they’ I am referring to are the producers and NBC executives. There is a sliver of raw truth, a glimmer of true honesty rarely seen on network television being developed within this show and it will either spark greatness or be drowned by mediocrity.  

There are a few choice scenes in the This is Us Pilot that stood out for me, Kevin’s breakdown on the set of ‘The Manny’.  Kate’s episode in the bathroom and then at the garbage can, the dialog between Randall and his long lost father, and the story told by the OBGYN. All of these were very ‘real’ moments captured on the page and enacted on screen. If the level of writing and acting continues through the season you are looking at a potential Emmy favorite.

Writer / Producer Dan Fogelman is working double duty this year with the release of Pitch on FOX and This is Us for NBC. Fogelman’s background is rooted in a mix of television and film producing and writing films such as Tangled and Danny Collins. Before this year he received writing credits for The Neighbors, Galavant, and Grandfathered.

If you look at the producers of the show you have a few hits and a few misses so the curve could go either way, the most promising note is two producers; Dieter Ismagil and Steve Beers who both have solid production and producing backgrounds in television. Unfortunately, while I have enjoyed several of their credits, like Bones, Dead like Me, Revolution, and ER they are also associated with recent failures like Minority Report and Constantine.

The fate of the show could go either way there is no way to tell after only one episode, thus the three episode test.  Now we wait and see if This is Us will be become DVR staple or a ‘could have been great’.

Come Find Me!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall Television is Here - The Exorcist

The Exorcist

Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera, “Sense8,” “The Chosen”) is the new face of the Catholic Church: progressive, ambitious and compassionate. He runs a small, but loyal, parish in the suburbs of Chicago. He has no idea that his quiet life is about to change forever. Deep in the slums of Mexico City, another priest has found himself locked in a life-and-death struggle with evil. Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels, “Flesh and Bone,” “House of Cards”) is a modern-day Templar Knight, an orphan raised since childhood by the Vatican to wage war against its enemies. Father Marcus is everything Father Tomas is not: relentless, abrasive and utterly consumed by his mission – and he constantly butts heads with his adversary within the church, Father Bennet (Kurt Egyiawan, “Beasts of No Nation”).

Premieres Friday, September 23rd on FOX - Check your local listings. Look for the scoop on the new FOX drama and my review of the first episode on Saturday, the 24th!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Fall TV - CBS's Bull is On Trial

BULL stars Michael Weatherly as Dr. Jason Bull in a drama inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, the founder of one of the most prolific trial consulting firms of all time. Brilliant, brash and charming, Dr. Bull is the ultimate puppet master as he combines psychology, human intuition and high-tech data to learn what makes jurors, attorneys, witnesses and the accused tick. 

Bull employs an enviable team of experts at Trial Analysis Corporation to shape successful narratives down to the very last detail. They include his quick-witted brother-in-law, Benny Colón, who plays a defense attorney in mock trials; Marissa Morgan, a cutting-edge neurolinguistics expert from the Department of Homeland Security; former NYPD detective Danny James, the firm's tough but relatable investigator; haughty millennial hacker Cable McCrory, who is responsible for gathering cyber intelligence; and Chunk Palmer, a fashion-conscious stylist and former All-American lineman who fine-tunes clients' appearances for trial. In high-stakes trials, Dr. Bull's combination of remarkable insight into human nature, three Ph.D.s and top-notch staff creates winning strategies that tip the scales of justice in his clients' favor.

Executive Producer - Steven Spielberg

Pilot Episode – The Necklace

Initial thought – House MD meets Scandal?

Michael Weatherly is charming, witty and even asks the client to call him boss, which made me think of Gibbs and NCIS. A talented actor in a two dimensional role.  The rest of the casting is well placed, Geneva Carr as Marissa Morgan is almost a translator for the audience. 

In the pilot episode, The Necklace, Bull takes on a murder case involving a privileged rich kid. The episode goes through the initial headlines of the crime and then gets down to the first meeting of Bull and the clients defense team. Bull and his team then go about explaining what they do at TAC (Trial Analysis Corporation ) and how they will get save the son’s future utilizing psychology to procure the perfect jury. 

TAC apparently has some serious alliances as they have a list of all potential jurors and do wide and deep analysis into those individuals lives. Have to admit, got a little scared knowing somewhere out in the real world this technology probably exists. 

From there, they create a mirror jury (people who literally mirror the real jury with 94% accuracy) they watch the testimony along with the jury and TAC analyzes the responses. Tracking the jury movement and how they are feeling every step of the way. This methodology is called trial science. 

So right off the bat, no question whether this kid is guilty or not, the parents spent the money so Bull is going to get the kid off. 

In this instance, the kid was innocent as reveled by Bull and his team. Bull’s team also identifies the real murderer, showing their arrest at the conclusion and everyone goes home happy. 

As a first episode it wasn’t bad, plot, characters, background all there. In the beginning of this article I asked the question if this is a House MD meets Scandal scenario? At this time I am going to say no. In Scandal you have a political cleaner who may not always be on the right side, but she wears a white hat and is looking for true justice (usually). In House MD we had a severely flawed character who despite his failings was utterly brilliant and worked to save lives, not for a price but for the challenge. 

If I am being honest I do not like the premise of Bull. I realize trial analysis is a real thing, but it completely mocks the US Justice system by illuminating how juries can be manipulated to sway a verdict. For instance, in one of the early scene’s Bull compares the statement, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to the Big Mac song. Stating its old hat and not reality. Granted he is right, however I do not like the glorification of trial science within the show. The vibe I get is ‘look at how cool this is’ and it really isn’t. I might be a little harsh in my initial judgments but this is what my gut says. Bull, thus far, is in it for the money and the challenge and so I have no affection toward the character. 

In a time where people are protesting, enraged and even killing due to the alleged unfairness of the justice system, showing the court system can be rigged (albeit fictional) is a big leap.

Bull is part of the three episode test, and has two more episodes to hook me. Bull is on Tuesdays,  8 PM CST – Check your local listings

Love to hear what you think! Comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with my assessment.