Creating characters with a sense of self and putting them in a mileau which puts the notion of identity to the test is the landmark of any great new series because personas need room to grow or else they are of no consequence to the audience. Whether it be secret computers, new roommates or traveling 85 million years in the past, if the mystery and energy is not there, no narrative can save a misguided concept.
Person Of Interest Melding ideas of “Big Brother” with a vigilante intention has different angles to pursue but only with the plot device to push it forward. A supercomputer which configures possible motives insinuates the plot. With exceptional actors like Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson [of “Lost”] there is always interesting character work but the line that the creators want to create between reality and high drama is short lived. The comparison can be made to “Life On Mars” which, while still trying to be grounded and slick, varied because of a sliver of disbelief that creeps into the progression (much like “Unforgettable”]. Uncovering a secret past in the gist of Caviezel’s soldier character keeps the intrigue going but the mythology of Emerson’s eccentric billionaire needs to be expanded because without the mystery and stakes, the series feels simply like another procedural with a couple new neat toys.
The New Girl Throwing a girl (and a weird one at that) into the mix always makes for interesting television if the actress can sell it. Spinning a reverse “Three’s Company” in an age of cynical relationships and quick bedding with a sense of innocence though is not an easy sell. Zooey Deschanel has the ability to play out the backstory of eccentric and uncool while still being cute and likeable (which is helped by her friend in the series who happens to be a hot model). The key is watching her extrapolate the indiosyncracies of the men without losing her own identity which she does by forming a relationship with a similarly weird violin player. The series works in its quirky way because of its relatability whether being at a wedding or picking up stuff from an ex’s house. Add to this essence a killer music supervisor who can mix nostalgia with a sense of new and that gives this show a consistent spin.
The Secret Circle Making a witch’s haven comparable to the “Buffy” universe is always a difficult persistance especially if humor cannot play as much of a placement in your arsenal. The idea of high school witches unable to Cope with an onslaught of demons threatening their town feels like an ode to “Witches Of Eastwick” more than anything else without the comedy. The angle here is to key it into CW’s young demographic and make it slick while also vivid enough to appeal across the board. While the soap essence overwhelms the show at times, the characters are aware enough to make their dire circumstance personal to the audience depending on the interrelation of what the characters actually want to accomplish.
Terra Nova The big wait is over in terms of this highly anticipated series that has been watched for like the second coming of “Lost”. The problem is that no series can live up to that type of scrutiny. Granted the pilot is impressive but it is necessary to sell the world. It is not so much the element of the dinosaurs and the prehistoric period that the money was spent on as it is the future world coming to ruin. One can tell that the latter angle took most of the special effects budget there but as the series progresses into subsequent episodes, it becomes truly “Swiss Family Robinson” with some high tech gadgets. While the family is interesting, it doesn’t carry the cool attitude or simple energy of say the family from “Lost In Space”. The addition of Stephen Lang as the commander of the post keeps the tension running as an ongoing feud between him and a rebelling faction keeps the ammo firing as does various prehistoric creatures. However, the immersion factors feels both authentic and yet fake at the same time despite the modern family take.
The texture of comedy versus drama placates itself in the idea that people act and function a certain way because of notions of situation, upbringing and general perceptions of morality.
With the greatest market share of viewers, CBS uses their intentions to pick shows that both reflect the brand but progress the narrative to create a sense of tension, both sociologically and psychologically.
With “2 Broke Girls”, creator Whitney Cummings envisions an ideal of life that is prevalent very much in youth culture today in the aspect of doing bad jobs against a better thought process. Whitney herself dictates that the concept is very relatable. What motivated her though was the opportunity to mix with Michael Patrick King, the creator of “Sex In The City” saying that his “work formed me as a person” adding that after consuming “Sex” she “went and bought 100 Christian Louboutin shoes”. The key for this series she says King came up with and would not back down from is “two girls in yellow uniforms” and the fact there “was a diner and places where you put trays down” alluding to his style as more “visceral”. For her, the original names of the two girls were “Black” and “Blonde” which evolved when one of her descriptions for “Blonde” became “Homeless with a Horse”.
King, for his part, wanted to try to make “Girls” as “contemporary and edgy as it could be”. He did what he deems his “Scarlett O’Hara search” before integrating with Whitney in terms of the style. One of the cruxes that drew him to this specific concept was the idea of the “scary dynamic of talking about money on TV”. In terms of comparison with his earlier show, King says Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex” and these girls are very different in their DNA. If Carrie Bradshaw and her closet were Narnia then “2 Broke Girls” is their evil twin with chick lit. “Sex”, he interrelates, was playing with “the reality and fantasy of girls in their 30s”. Whereas the girls in “Sex” have check lists, the girls on “Broke” barely have checks.
Adding within the ideal of sociological structure and its reverse intentions, “How To Be A Gentleman” works in the congruence that equal reaction in terms of manners requires a bit of a kick in the pants.
David Hornsby plays the lead character here who is a bit of a stick in the mud. The idea to create this sort of buddy comedy of sorts grew out of a short manners book that crossed his desk. The progression, he dictates, is based in idioms like “When waiting at an ATM, a gentleman does not check his balanc”e. The structure of a gentleman he finds rests within the auspices of Cary Grant or George Clooney who reflect in the ideals of the “strong-jawed but less-misogynistic James Bond” types.
Dave Foley, ever in lighthearted mode, moonlights with gusto as Hornsby’s boss explaining “I think that he knows it is pathetic trying to stay relevant” but that he “is charming in his need to try to appeal to the younger” sect. Part of the notion for him in the character reflects on the idea of being 50 in the workplace because “the intention is hilarious”.
Kevin Dillon, playing the macho structure to Hornsby’s featherweight, was shooting the end of the HBO series “Entourage” at the same time though he said he hardly planned it like this. The irony is that besides the pilot, the first day of the cast being together is right now.
Angling away into the perspective of drama, “A Gifted Man” takes on a more paranormal structure while dictating a grounded scenario where a doctor recently mourning the death of his wife begins to become aware of other possibilities around him as he makes his rounds.
Patrick Wilson, playing the doctor of note, says people will want to assume certain aspects about his character especially in the fact that “he has an answer for everything”. Wilson explains that this man has a connection to the spiritual world and that “this constant struggle will be explored” in the fact that he is battling “being frustrated and being heartbroken”. The biggest challenge for him, as an actor, relies in the fact of not being a film or a play, is that “you have to give it out in small doses” which necessitates not thinking “from an acting perspective too far ahead”.
Exec producer Neal Baer indicates that, as the series progresses, the character that haunts the doctor will be revealed more than simply in the texture of a morning drink. Visually the idea of the show will develop , even though in the pilot, whilst setting up the relationship, doesn’t show the clinic prevalently.
Resolving the idea of a more procedural intention, “Person Of Interest” tries to spin the narrative on its head through the story influx of creator Jonathan Nolan who specifies that “the title for me suggests alot of what the show is about”. This theme, he explains, that fascinates him, is “uncertainty” which “we are all very aware of these days”. The basis for him suggests a-case-a-week structure. While the process within the medium is very different than working in film, approaching these kind of characters in this structure has always been of interest to him in that he “wanted to write something all the more dangerous”. Nolan continues that “the Batman analogy is not so far away” because these ideas were “a small feature of ‘The Dark Knight'” in that “it examined Batman and the lengths to which he will go”.
In reflection of the genesis of “Interest”, Nolan speaks about growing up as a kid in England in the 70s noting that “there was a lot of cameras up in London during the IRA attacks”. His family moved to Chicago a little later but when 9/11 happened, “you started seeing cameras everywhere again. For this reason, he explains, “it was a rich story to tap” but, for him, “the draw of the characters” is within “the way they can build change and grow”.
Michael Emerson’s character is enticed as the catalyst. Emerson describes him as “a shadowy tech millionaire…who wanted to apply himself to a justice mission” but “needs to team up with someone who is more active and skilled than he is”. The actor offers that the character can be called “Mitch”. In reflection of his earlier TV exposure, Emerson says that part of him wants to leave behind the “Lost” perception but “at the same time I have a working method” and “it has a certain sound and feeling to it”. He explains that his character on “Lost” was supposed to be just another guest spot but “I was never allowed to go home from the Hawaiian Island” which for “every character actor would be a secret dream” though it became “a little harder for me to hide”. He hopes though to “still do the odd turn here” adding that “I’d like it to have a limp or an accent”. The key for him though is “the idea that you can never have a life unobserved” because “it doesn’t seem so far out anymore”.
Jim Caviezel who plays the officer that Emerson’s character recruits for his “mission” describes his character as “a former Special Forces/CIA operative on the surface” but “deep down is a guy who is searching for a performance”. Ultimately the ideal for him is about becoming “redeemable” though achieving this through different roles was a “little more controversial than he thought it would be”.
Examining the new shows of CBS leading into the fall, the inherent balance shows the continued predilection towards a movement of both broad comedy but also edgy drama fare which challenges the norms of audience involvement with a definite creative edge.