Send As SMS

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Pilot Script Review (2 of 2)

The following is written by Polter-Cow and is based on an earlier version of the script. It contains spoilers, but no more so than what has been released previously.

Lost meets The Amazing Race. Magnolia meets North by Northwest. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Two of these could be used as pitches for Drive, the new series in development by Tim Minear (Buffy Angel, Wonderfalls, The Inside) and Ben Queen (Century City). The other has no relevance that I know of, but the beauty of this show is that you can't discount the possibility that Abbott and/or Costello may be behind the whole thing. The pilot script draft I read presents the Race as a mysterious and dangerous event whose mystery is only exceeded by its danger.

Pithy references aside, the pilot does a fantastic job of plunging the audience into the world of the show and then expecting it to keep up, in exactly the same way the participants of the Race have been. Following a short introduction, the teaser kicks off with the camera frantically flying from vehicle to vehicle, briefly giving us a glimpse of the cast of characters. Even these brief scenes show the diversity of personalities among the teams. A reluctant father and his disaffected teenage daughter, who has no idea what her dad has gotten her into. A pair of bickering brothers, whose constant "Shut up"/"YOU shut up" exchange is one of my favorite recurring jokes, both because it's so true to brotherly interaction and for the payoff at the end. A mother and infant who aren't where they're supposed to be. All sorts of interpersonal relationships are accounted for.

All by himself, however, is Alex Tully, who begins the show as our partner, the Exposition Conduit. He has the amazing ability to have the camera on him when characters are explaining to him the rules, both official and unofficial, of the Race! Through him, we learn the shady, unnerving intricacies of this most dangerous game, and I would not dream of explaining any further. Suffice it to say that participation in the Race requires much more than simply hitting up Yahoo!Maps to find the dopest route.

One of the major strengths of the pilot is its breakneck pacing. You cannot have a show called Drive and have it be slow. That is a show called Stuck in Traffic that nobody wants to watch. The premise here demands scenes of people running to their vehicles, revving their engines, threading through traffic: whatever needs to be done to get to the destination. In addition, the pilot deftly juggles its multiple characters so that you're always jumping from one set to the next; not long after you're hit with a surprising revelation, BAM! you get another one. It had me turning pages excitedly, and if it's that thrilling on the page, I can't wait to see it on the screen.

The other major strength is the sense of discovery that is inherent to pilots but promises to pervade the entire show. Minear and Queen have set up a rich, complicated world where nothing is what it seems. One particularly brilliant move is that no one knows who else is in the Race. This lends the show a healthy vibe of paranoia, as any new character is met with immediate suspicion. Is he a participant? Is she an operative? Are they, perchance, completely unconnected? Even the characters we meet firsthand are suspect. Why are they in the Race? What's at stake? Is it just for the money, or is there something more? How far will they go to win? Although we only get a small taste of it in the pilot, it will be especially delicious when the competitors begin to get wise to each other and actually start...competing. Or even collaborating. I'm rooting for Alex, myself. Or maybe John and Violet Ashton. Or the Salazar brothers.

Reading the script left me thinking, "Holy crap, that was awesome. I want more." We can only hope that FOX has the same reaction after seeing the pilot and puts it in the midseason line-up. Because this show is primed to grab America by the balls and never let go.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Pilot Script Review (1 of 2)

Warning, although mostly spoiler free this review does allude to previously released information.

Having been blindly following the development of Drive since it was announced in February based on the strength of Tim Minear’s previous work, I’ve finally been lucky enough to read the pilot script, written by Minear and Ben Queen, and it is as good as I'd hoped.

With sixteen characters and the mythology of the premise all needing to be established the script doesn’t waste anytime and by the end of the episode not only are we aware of the race and its rules and trappings, but each character is also given a moment to shine – quite often hinting at their secret or agenda while simultaneously showing their various quirks. This ranges from the pettiness of the two brothers, the bitchiness of Ellie (my favorite character so far) and the air of mystery that surrounds Corinna Wiles.

The greater strengths of the pilot, however, lie in how the audience’s expectations are toyed with as the episode goes along. Suburban housewife Wendy is revealed to be more than just the stereotypical homemaker breaking away in a Thelma and Louise manner, fickle teenager Violet becomes someone who shouldn’t be taken for granted and even the audience’s expectations of the race are shaken out of complacency in the final montage, which sets up what we can expect from the series in future episodes.

Other highlights of the script include Ceal, K Callan’s character, whose final scene of the episode amused me for reasons that will become clear – to spoil it would be to ruin it, as well as Alex Tully’s summation of the first leg of the race, which I also won’t spoil here but I think it’s safe to say it sets up the thematic premise of the series as well as the overall mindset of those in the race. Also, the script consciously makes light of the fact that the premise is similar to a fictionalized reality show and there’s even mention of blogging, which I’m choosing to believe is a direct reference to me. If it isn’t, don’t tell me. I’m choosing to remain in ignorance.

In all, the pilot script is a great introduction to a series that will hopefully break Tim Minear’s unlucky streak with Fox and will remain on the air long enough for us to see who wins the race (go Ellie) and hopefully beyond that. The potential is here for a funny, yet dark and dramatic series that will appease fans of Minear’s previous work and hopefully even the Fox execs who should put it on the schedule ASAP (January is such a better month than March).

For variety, a review of an earlier draft by Polter-Cow will be up in a few days.

Celebrating Me

So, this blog has just made it as today's Blog of Note and in the spirit of celebrating our first major accolade look out for a review of the pilot script in the next few days. Don't want to give too much away now but it lived up to expectations.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Inside: A Supplementary Post

Okay, with news on Drive a bit scarce recently I've decided to fill the lag with a post collating little known info and stuff on Tim Minear's last show, The Inside.

Tim on if The Inside had continued (source: Buffistas):
I figured [the Pony Man would] be the big bad of the season. One thought was to have Pre-Filer either get released or escape and have him offer Pony Man up to Rebecca.
Oh, and Rebecca would have totally gone for it. And there would have been some Faith-like cutting with the knives. 'cause, always funny.
And I never got to the Melody assault, which made me sad. I wanted her interrogating the suspect and she knows he assaulted her, and he knows that she knows, but there is no proof. But he ends up dead in ghastly ways and Danny, who, um, found the body, is all, "he musta slipped."
If I wasn't clear before, my notion was always that Danny is the one who does the deed. A way to get some Danny/Mel motion in one pinging ricochet of an episode.

And a brief interview with Tim on writing from the CS Weekly newsletter that can be subscribed to here:

Metaphors and Murder: Tim Minear on Reinventing Angel and The Inside

In handing the Angel characters the power of their former enemies, they discovered their metaphor. "Once you're out of college," showrunner Minear observes, "you go into the real working world to work for Greenpeace -- and now Shell Oil has offered you a job. Does it mean that you have to give up your values, or does it mean that you can actually apply your values to the thing that you thought was corrupt? That does seem like a metaphor."

While re-imagining Angel proved to be a case of focusing on an idea already present, Minear's work in bringing The Inside to television was a little more complicated. Often described as a twenty-first-century 21 Jump Street, The Inside had a lengthy development before Fox executives brought Minear onboard. The network executives "didn't necessarily want it to be a high school every week. They wanted Rebecca Locke [series lead Rachel Nichols] to go undercover every week.

"My feeling was that it's impossible -- you can't do that every week," responds Minear, detailing a common problem in the television industry. "When networks buy these show ideas, what they're really buying is an episode of a show. If the premise of the series itself sounds like it could be an episode of a show, it's probably not a series idea. CSI is a brilliant concept for a series, but it's not an episode of a show." According to Minear, the key to creating a television series is that "it's specific, but at the same time it's very broad."

And finally some fan videos that have recently been put on YouTube by mnemosyne23:

And that's it for non-Drive things, hopefully the next post will be announcing the pick-up.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Status Update

After a fortnight away on holiday, I'm back with another update:
Stay tuned for news on the pick-up announcement that should come in the near future.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Minear Racing with 20th TV for 2-Year Deal

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Minear has signed a new two year deal with 20th. The relevant info is below:
Writer-producer Tim Minear has inked a new two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Under the seven-figure pact, which has an option for a third year, Minear will work on existing series and develop new drama projects for the studio. Minear's priority is "Drive," a one-hour pilot for 20th TV and Fox, which he co-created and is executive producing. The project, about an underground road race across America, recently wrapped production. If it is picked up to series, Minear will stay with the show as executive producer/showrunner. "He has done such an incredible work for us," 20th TV president Dana Walden said. "He is always interested in stretching beyond the comfort zone, whether it's going deeply dramatic or writing with great levity. He is very versatile, a great team player and a skilled showrunner who is always willing to help." (Nellie Andreeva)
So Fox-pending, this should ensure Drive's safety through to season 3.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Minear Talks Drive in SFX

In the latest SFX, Tim Minear talked Drive and the Spike film. I had a chance to read the article yesterday and the gist is that had it not been for the financial problems and Drive being greenlighted the Spike movie would have been being filmed and written now. He also added that there's a possibility of it still happening, but it all depends on scheduling... and, of course, the minor problem of financing it.

The final point was that Minear said Drive should satisfy fans of all his previous shows and that it was more him than anything he'd written before.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tim Minear to Attend Screenwriting Expo 5

Tim Minear will again host his Breaking the Story seminar where the audience will break an episode of Angel, Firefly or Wonderfalls. This was great last year and well worth going to and there's bound to be news on Drive there.

Be warned: post link will take you to a long PDF - go to page 11.