Genre: TV Pilot – Horror/Procedural
Premise: When the Governor’s daughter goes missing, the FBI believes the Occult may be involved.
About: This project was shepherded by Michael Bay, with X-Files alum James Wong writing. The multi-talented Wong also produced and wrote Final Destination 3, and wrote for American Horror Story. The project was set up at A&E, who ultimately passed on it, despite Josh Lucas starring. See, this is what I don’t understand about TV. You have Michael Bay shepherding a project. A guy who’s responsible for the 5th biggest franchise of the past decade. You have a movie star in the lead role. And a tiny network like A&E says, “Ehh, not interested.” Is this because it’s understood Bay is only adding his name to the show and not actually involved? What’s the reasoning here? TV guys? Help. I guess the show could’ve just been bad. But it sounds pretty cool. I guess it’s time to find out the truth.
Writer: James Wong
Details: 7-26-2012 draft (5th draft) – 52 pages

josh-lucas-protagoniza-occult-frikarte-e1363472665436

A&E seems unsure about how far they want to dip their toes in the scripted waters. The network known for reality hits Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars and Hoarders, only has one scripted show that I’ve ever heard of, the well-received “Bates Motel.” It’s only other show, a dark-looking drama starring Chloë Sevigny called “Those Who Kill,” was recently shuttered off to its sister network, LMN, which I’m guessing you’ve never heard of. Cause I sure haven’t.

That makes me believe Occult never had a shot at getting on the air in the first pace. Which is too bad. Because it sounds interesting and Wong is an established writer. Let’s see if a good show got the shaft from a network who wimped out of the scripted television derby, or if the script was never up to snuff in the first place.

We’re in New Orleans (where everything seems to be set these days – ever since they started offering all those filmmaking tax breaks), and LSU student and Governor’s daughter Alana Hutchins is out partying. She leaves the club with Abercrombie Model Dude, and while they’re walking to their cars, someone jumps out of the forest and snatches Alana away. Uh oh.

Naturally, the New Orleans FBI unit is all over this. So much so that they bring back suspended agent Dolan, a guy with a mysterious past (if you’re writing a TV show, at least one of your leads better have a mysterious past!). They team Dolan up with Bureau headache Noa Blair, a woman obsessed with the Occult. It’s her opinion that these naughty demon-worshipping clans had something to do with this.

Sure enough, Blair and Dolan happen upon an Occult sacrifice ritual, which they’re able to stop, but not before a strange feeling hits Dolan. What Dolan doesn’t know is that he’s just been possessed. Not the best form to be in when you still haven’t found your victim. That’s right, the sacrificial lamb of the ritual was yet another woman. Alana is still missing!

The duo follows a couple of basic leads (some credit card purchases, old acquaintances) and eventually runs into this guy who speaks a language that doesn’t even exist! While Dolan continues to feel stranger and stranger (he starts experiencing things that may or may not be real), Blair uses Mr. Gibberish to figure out where Alana is, who they’re able to save, just in time.

Blair then uses her face time with the Governor to ask for a special Occult Crimes Unit on the FBI. Request granted. And thus, our series begins.

into_the_realm_of_the_occult

These procedural dealios are tough. They’re a little easier to pull off in movie form, I feel, because you only have to come up with one big snazzy story. You can really take your time and figure out a way to make the investigation special.

But with procedural TV, you have to do it week in and week out. There are only so many ways to have your characters follow Lead A to Lead B to Lead C, and finally find the killer. Which is why I don’t generally like these shows. Once you’ve seen about five episodes of the genre, you’ve seen them all. From then on, it’s the same old shit.

That’s why I liked Silence of the Lambs so much. It wasn’t your typical “Lead A to Lead B to Lead C” scenario. They had this X-Factor in Hannibal who you weren’t used to. That rhythm of following leads was thrown off by the fact that Hannibal was giving our hero advice, and after awhile, taking center stage in the story. At a certain point, you weren’t sure if you cared more about Hannibal’s storyline or Clarice’s. It was different. It was fresh.

On the TV end, that’s the trick you’re looking for. Think of a spin on the genre that’s different enough that all those “old” scenarios become new again. “Occult” attempts to do this by having a demon possess one of its main characters, Dolan. Now, whenever the partners come onto a scene, there’s this x-factor of Dolan being able to sense things, being able to use his possession to discover clues. The question becomes, is that enough?

I don’t think so. Actually, it kind of backfires. I like it when characters have to figure shit out themselves, when the odds are stacked against them and the only way for them to thrive is to outsmart the baddies. When information is just handily given to them via the demon’s powers, it’s kind of boring and feels like a cheat. It erases all the drama from the scene. “Oh, the clue is over there.” How is that interesting?

In other words, Occult stays a lot closer to the traditional format than it tries to invent a new one. And this is something I’ve actually been battling lately. More and more people are sending me pilots, and a lot of them feel like shows I’ve already seen a thousand times before.

Just the other day, for example, someone sent me a sitcom about family life, and my big note to him was that it felt too familiar. That we weren’t breaking any new ground. If he wanted to stand out, he needed something fresh.

But a few minutes later I turned on the TV and saw an ad for “The Millers,” a show about a grown man living with his parents. In other words, the same sitcom they’ve been making for the past 20 years. I thought, “Do I have it wrong?” Maybe TV audiences enjoy that comforting familiarity a familiar set-up brings. It certainly makes it easier to relate to the characters and the situations.

The more I thought about it, the more I could see that making sense to TV people. With a movie, you have to physically get up and drive to the theater (and pay money!). So they have to give you something new and exciting to entice you. But with TV, the viewer is already on the couch. They don’t have to go anywhere. And it’s free. So maybe familiarity IS the best route? I don’t know. You TV folks looking for new shows, help me out here.

Whatever the case, all I can say about Occult is that I wasn’t drawn into it because of its familiarity. It was yet another straight-forward procedural. I wanted that HBI – that hot beef injection of something unique that made the show stand out. The occult stuff sort of did that. But it wasn’t game-changing enough to disrupt the typical “Lead A to Lead B to Lead C” formula.

Now keep in mind, I don’t watch procedurals. I don’t watch CSI or NCIS or LFYK. So I may not be the target audience here. But my gut tells me this needed something extra to make it worth going to series for.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Whatever TV show you’re thinking of writing, create a setting, or give the concept a twist, that makes every situation we’re used to seeing in these shows feel fresh. For example, in Pushing Daisies, the main character was able to bring the dead back to life for a minute. That made every single procedural episode different from what we’ve seen before – our detectives could actually communicate with the dead victim of every crime. It’s my belief that this gives you a better shot at selling your pilot than if you give them the same ole same ole.

  • Maxi1981

    I think other shows have been doing this better already. To mind comes True Detective, which blew me away by how every episode just built and built until the finale and how well they managed the time jumps, plus the superstar power of Mcchonaughey and Harrelson
    undoubtedly helped get this over the line. The other thing is that this type of show has in one way or another been done before with the X Files, Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow ( the series ), Millenium, The Following, Fringe, etc. I feel A&E just felt they would be risking too much by taking this on with so many shows doing something similar or better.
    Funny how Carson mentioned Hannibal the movie. Would like to know what you think of Hannibal the series.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Glad to see we’re done with discussing made-up shit and can get back to discussing made-up shit.

  • leitskev

    One thing that I think can be a problem for people in the business is that their “familiarity” meter is too sensitive. People that analyze movies, or TV, or read a lot of scripts have seen pretty much every situation many, many times. They’re understandably starved for something different. But for the average person, who doesn’t read scripts and maybe goes to a handful of movies a year, that sensitivity is not the same.

    The only way to make something not familiar to someone in the business is often to make it absurd. That’s a hard choice…between making something familiar or making it absurd. That’s what the movie Seven Psychos seemed to be about to me, and I actually got a kick out of it for that reason. The main character was trying to write a script about 7 psychos, and he wanted to make sure each psycho was unlike anything that had been done before in film. The result is some pretty silly psychos.

    I don’t see an easy solution to this…people in the business of analyzing scripts/shows/films are always going to have a much higher sensitivity to the “familiar” than the average person. It might help a tiny bit if those doing the analyzing keep it in mind.

    • jw

      I couldn’t agree with this more. And, I think there’s a solid argument actually that not only are you right in the thought process, but the concept itself is correct. If it wasn’t, why would it be so difficult to create a series that stays on the air? Or, to what Carson has mentioned, you can’t do the same thing the same way week after week and expect audiences to stay around. Yo C, get David Caruso on the line and ask him to give you a quote on that, brother! Or shit, get Mark Gordon on the horn. It also depends on the network. Could Once Upon a Time succeed on AMC? Doubt it. Could Game of Thrones be brought to NBC? Negative. All of these things matter, so it largely depends on how they come together.

    • shewrites

      Such a fantastic point. Thank you!

    • G.S.

      I think this is right on, with just a small caveat. I tune in for the first episode because of the premise which should be something I’ve never seen before. I tune in every week thereafter because of the characters.

      I also think these things must go hand-in-hand. The situations built upon the premise must be such that they highlight and bring dramatic realization to the character. There needs to be a tension between who the main characters are and the very root of the world they live in day-to-day. Monk is a great example of this (speaking of procedurals) where his mental/emotional foibles made him both perfectly suited and ill-equipped to investigate murders.

      • leitskev

        That sounds like the best strategy: hook em with concept and hold em with character. The question is just how original does the premise have to be?For example, say you love the X Files, so you tune into the show discussed above not because it’s fresh, but because you like those kind of shows. Is that possible? So you are drawn in actually because it’s somewhat familiar, and once you are watching, if you find the characters original and compelling, you come back for more episodes. I don’t watch much TV so would love to know if you think it could work that way.

    • garrett_h

      This is true. I’ve been devouring network TV shows lately in an effort to find one I liked to spec for a fellowship. And with just about every show, I’m miles ahead of the story. I can see the jokes, the set ups, everything, way before they happen.

      Then I go online and check out what people think about the shows and they’re talking about how this storyline was incredible or that joke was hilarious, etc. The same exact plot points I saw a mile away caught the average viewer off guard.

      Sometimes we just have to turn off that writer’s voice in the back of our heads.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    I disagree with Carson here. It’s not about freshness or reinventing the wheel when it comes to procedurals. It is ALL about character. You can have the show do the same thing as every other procedural but if the character pulls you in, you’ve got a hit. Its the freshness of the character that matters, not the context of the show itself. Take a look at the best of the best when it comes to procedurals. Columbo, in my opinion, tops them all, and that was pure character. Monk, psych, elementary, they all revolve around cool characters with depth. Find a unique fresh character that can support a show for multiple seasons, and you’re more than halfway there.

    • ScottStrybos

      Agreed. No one cares who murdered the heiress. Or why that man is couching up pennies. No ones tunes in because they find the familiarity of the medical industry or the police force comforting. The audience tunes in to watch the character live. To watch the character interact with his or her surroundings and the supporting characters. It just so happens that all these characters are doctors or police officers.

      They could have made Colombo a shrimp boat captain and people would still have tuned in to watch him.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        The tv world could use a new Levinson & Link.

        • brenkilco

          Not in their Murder She Wrote dotage.

      • Nicholas J

        “they could have made Colombo a shrimp boat captain and people would still have tuned in to watch him”

        Sure, but not to the success of what the real show was. I agree with the ‘all about character’ comments, but Columbo was about that character IN THOSE SITUATIONS. It’s super satisfying to watch a character as likable as Columbo take down the rich murderer who wanted to get richer. Watching him repair leaks on his shrimpboat would not be nearly as exciting.

        And Columbo also fits right in to Carson’s What I Learned. It turned the familiar into something different. It was a twist on the whodunit, where we knew who did it in the opening scene. Watching these bad people try to get away with it, knowing Columbo’s on their trail, playing his inept detective card the whole time, while we the audience know better… really fun to watch.

        In case you haven’t noticed, I love Columbo.

        • Gregory Mandarano

          There are so many amazing episodes of Columbo, and some of them were just stupifyingly brilliant.

          SPOILERS:

          One thing I particularly loved, were the times where Columbo had to trick the person into making an admission. In one there was a bomb in a cigar box, or at least, the killer THOUGHT the bomb was in the box, and as they rode in a sky car, he made the killer think it was going to explode, forcing him to admit to making the bomb. Amazing! In another this woman had hidden the murder weapon on top of an elevator, but Columbo found it, but it didn’t prove she did it. So he had the gun placed ‘in sight’ so that the shadow of the gun could be seen from inside the elevator. So the woman panicked and went to retrieve it – BUSTED! In another Columbo had absolutely no proof these two people committed murder, so he postulated that when the victim’s necklace broke, an umbrella, which was later donated to a wax museum could have been left open, and maybe, just maybe, one of the pearls wound up inside, and that would prove they were the killers. The umbrella opens, out comes to the pearl, they admit they did it, and off to jail they go. Some other detective there is like HEY COLUMBO – how’d you know the pearl would be in there. And he says some witty line, and flicks the pearl with his thumb five feet into a cup. LOL! You sly devil! In another a guy escaped from the house he committed murder, but a blind guy was walking his dog and ‘heard’ him leave. The murderer knew the guy was blind though, so he didn’t care. Later Columbo invites him to the guys apartment, and says THIS GUY SAW YOU. and the guy comes out. And the guys like THIS PERSON IS BLIND HE SAW NOTHING! And the guy sits down, and reads from a newspaper. He calls shenanigans and opens to a random page. And the guy can see that too. Oh shit! He wasn’t blind after all! He admits his guilt and screws himself. Just then it turns out the blind guy HAD AN IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHER, and Columbo used the brother to trick the guy into admitting guilt. Just wow.

          • filmklassik

            Love it. That climax featuring the blind dude and his brother comes at the end of “A Deadly State of Mind”, with George Hamilton as a suave and oh so arrogant homicidal shrink who commits not one but two murders in the course of the episode. It is by far my favorite COLUMBO ending of all time.

      • brenkilco

        Columbo succeeded first and foremost because of the Falk character. But thinking back it truly was a unique. It was the first and so far as I know the only reverse mystery show ever. You knew from the start whodunit and how. The question was what mistake had the killer made that would trip him up. In the best episodes there were a series of small gaffes that raised Columbo’s suspicions and then at the climax the revelation of a fatal error that caused the audience to say how did I miss that. And the show was all disguised class warfare. The villain was invariably rich, cultured and smug alternately tolerant and contemptuous of the apparently simple minded, working class schlub pursuing him. Series TV hasn’t come up with many formulas as good.

        • filmklassik

          Agree 100%. Columbo as a character was a magnificent creation (and a tip of the fedora to creators Richard Levinson and William Link) and Falk’s performance in the role was indelible, but let’s not kid ourselves: The “open mystery” format of the show was brilliant, too (so much so that I’m surprised it hasn’t been co-opted innumerable times since, although the TV series MONK managed a credible job of it) and people tuned in at least as much for the mesmerizing “cat & mouse” quality on display in each installment as they did for the Lieutenant’s working-stiff likability.

          In other words, I couldn’t DISAGREE more with Mr. Strybos when he insists that audiences would have tuned-in if Columbo had been a shrimp boat captain. I may be wrong about this — God knows I am often wrong (and how could we possibly ever hope to prove it anyway?) — but to me this seems like so much nonsense.

          The craft and inventiveness of the STORIES on that show — at least when it was firing on all eight cylinders (and there were certainly some clunkers in the bunch) — was peerless.

          And no one was more aware of the importance of the stories and the clues than Peter Falk himself, who often refused to let the cameras roll on a teleplay until the clues and mystery were clever enough.

          As Falk himself said: “The Columbo movies could go on forever if we can get the scripts. That’s always been a problem. Starting from the very first season going way, way back. They’re just hard to write. I don’t find it any more difficult to find a Columbo script now than I did 20 years ago. Clever, fresh new clues with a pop at the end are just as tough now as they were then. And I don’t find a lot of young writers coming up with ideas. I don’t know why.”

          • brenkilco

            It was also perfectly designed for the 90 minute tv movie format. The entries in the series revamp in the nineties featuring an older, more self indulgent Falk clocked in at two hours and were just too slack.

          • filmklassik

            Very true. Many of the 70s-era COLUMBOS were 2-hours also, and these, too, often felt “padded.” Falk himself even admitted as much.

          • brenkilco

            Also have a fondness for the old Banacek show from the same period despite the presence of the cosmically irritating George Peppard. Actually I believe it and Columbo were originally the same show with the characters alternating weekly with a couple of others. Banacek burned out after a year or two. It featured locked room/impossible crime stories and there are only so many variations of those to be run.

          • filmklassik

            Yeah, BANACEK and COLUMBO were both part of NBC’s “mystery wheel” line-up back in the early and mid-1970s which also included — at various times — MCLOUD, MCMILLAN AND WIFE, HEC RAMSEY, etc.

            BANACEK was a show that seemed to work better in theory than in practice, each installment boasting a tantalizing “impossible crime” for Peppard’s suave insurance investigator to solve before invariably limping toward an unsatisfying “Give me a break!” solution to the caper.

            Actually, USA Network’s MONK and the BBC’s JONATHAN CREEK MYSTERIES owe as much to the BANACEK “impossible crime” format as they do to COLUMBO… maybe more, as COLUMBO was a purely open mystery and BANACEK was not.

            In fact COLUMBO’s open-mystery format has to date never been duplicated by any show on any network, and for the life of me I still can’t figure out why.

          • mulesandmud

            The open format was brilliant for Columbo because it offered direct access to the antagonists, allowing them to become fully realized villains instead of skulking shadows whose goals only became clear at the end when the closed mystery would be revealed. Fleshing out these villains was critical for a show where the main character remained so wonderfully unchanged from mystery to mystery; Columbo was the rock the bad guys broke against.

            Sadly, open mystery has been out of vogue for a long time now, especially on TV, where the primary strategy has become more of the mystery box approach: explain as little as possible and use the vague promise of answers as a lure to keep people tuning in. Possibly because we’re in the age of information, where secrets are the most valuable currency. Or maybe because twist endings are easier to write than dramatic irony.

          • brenkilco

            Think that’s a good point. One of the weaknesses of traditional mysteries is that they have clues and suspects but no visible antagonists. By definition they really can’t.

          • mulesandmud

            True! Any apparent antagonist is by definition a false lead.

            Reminds me of Van Dine’s ‘Twenty Mystery Rules’, a great blast from the past that I come back to now and then to remind myself of how tastes and genres develop over time: http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/vandine.htm

          • brenkilco

            If you haven’t already, you need to check out the Kennel Murder Case, maybe the most ridiculously elaborate murder mystery ever, in which Van Dine’s Philo Vance(William Powell) determines that the poor victim was actually murdered three times by three different people.

          • mulesandmud

            Wild. Will add it to the list!

          • filmklassik

            Actually, mules, open mysteries have never been particularly fashionable. COLUMBO was the only example of the form back in the 1970s and nothing — NOTHING — followed suit until the Lieutenant himself returned for a disappointing swan song 20 years later. (And the fact that TV — a veritable shameless clone-factory — never saw fit to copy this template is kind of amazing to me; I still can’t account for it).

            Open mysteries are somewhat more common onstage and on the big screen — somewhat — with such titles as DOUBLE INDEMNITY, DIAL M FOR MURDER and BODY HEAT being (for this viewer, anyway) the most inspired examples of the form.

            But for the life of me, I still can’t think of more than a handful of them.

            So what does all this tell us? It tells me that these kinds of stories are incredibly difficult to pull off, but the results — when people get them right — are enormously satisfying.

          • mulesandmud

            Wow, you’re right. Google ‘open mystery format’ and the first hit is Columbo. So much for ratiocination as a plot engine.

            Long live the mystery box?

          • filmklassik

            That “mystery box” you mentioned is a reference to the JJ Abrams thing, right? It remains a meme or idea or whatever-you-care-to-call-it that I still don’t fully understand.

            All I know is, I truly miss the open mystery format and dearly wish that someone — somewhere — with some degree of talent would attempt to do it again.

          • mulesandmud

            Yep, the term comes originally from Abrams’ TED talk, I believe. The gist is simple: a narrative strategy that presents a question and then delays the answer as long as possible to keep people curious. More often than not the resulting story ends up feeling narratively lazy; a stack of questions in place of actual developments, with the answers often half-hearted or totally absent because, hey, we’ve already gone along for the ride.

            By contrast, the open mystery is hugely intimidating; it asks you to keep things interesting without hiding anything up your sleeves. Probably why it feels so satisfying when executed well.

          • brenkilco

            Hugely intimidating. In effect you put all your cards on the table and still defy your audience to guess the outcome. In a traditional mystery you must provide clues to the audience while working to conceal their significance. In a reverse mystery, which is how I would describe Columbo, you must let the audience see all the villain’s actions while somehow concealing how those actions will provide clues. Like the man said, if it was easy everybody would be doing it.

        • ScottStrybos

          Dramatic Irony is a powerful tool.

          • brenkilco

            But letting your audience know more than your main character isn’t hard. Letting your audience know oodles more than your main character while insuring they’ll still be two steps behind the main character at the end. That’s impressive.

          • filmklassik

            Absolutely. So impressive, in fact, that you can count the number of times it’s been pulled off successfully on the fingers of one hand.

            But anytime someone does get it right…well, in terms of narrative satisfaction, nothing else even comes close.

        • Poe_Serling

          “The villain was invariably rich, cultured and smug alternately tolerant
          and contemptuous of the apparently simple minded, working class schlub pursuing him.”

          So true. Just recently I’ve been catching up on some of the old Columbo shows on MeTV. Also, I’ve noticed a lot of the guest villains are having a great time playing against type…. Robert Conrad, Dick Van Dyke, etc.

          • brenkilco

            And some of the other villains who appeared multiple times were perfectly cast to type like Jack Cassidy, Patrick Mcgoohan and Robert Culp.

          • Poe_Serling

            Totally agree. Jack Cassidy played the “invariably rich, cultured and smug” villain to perfection each time!!!

      • Hephaestus

        There are a couple of loose ends I’d like to tie up. Nothing important you understand.

        I mean, little things bother me. I’m a worrier. I mean, little insignificant

        details – like the name “Jumbo shrimp.” It’s confusing – everyone can see they’re very small.

        And one more thing… as an Italian, I prefer the term “Scampi Captain.”

    • leitskev

      I think you might be right, or certainly there is something to it. For example, if you loved Columbo, you might turn into the first episode of Monk precisely because it is familiar to Columbo. Obviously you expect the character to be original and compelling, and that’s part of what brought you into Monk, but the underlying concept is pretty similar.

  • Logline_Villain

    Interesting how premise for Occult appears similar to one for 2013 pilot “Second Sight” (based on the UK series of the same name that starred Clive Owen, with the location here switched to NEW ORLEANS):

    Key people: Stars Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl), Kim Dickens (Treme), Jill Scott (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), Christina Cole (Hex); creator/producer/director Michael Cuesta (Dexter, Homeland); producer Carol Mendelsohn (CSI).

    The pitch: A crime PROCEDURAL that centers on a top police detective (Lee) who is hiding a rare eye disease that leaves him slowly going blind and subject to terrible DREAMS AND HALLUCINATIONS, but that also OPENS UP HIS MIND IN WAYS THAT HELP HIM TO BETTER SOLVE CRIMES.

    Is it possible that the existence of “Second Sight” had any influence as to whether A&E Execs passed on Occult series? Probably not… but the thought crossed my mind after reading Carson’s review.

  • Linkthis83

    Sounds like they could’ve titled this The Following of a True Demon Detective.

    The Following has a guy who is no longer with the FBI with a mysterious past and also a female agent who is a cult expert. So in the case of things being similar, this is pretty spot on. Minus the demon.

    All these stories are trying to do is find INTERESTING ways to involve the brain and evoke emotions. Unless someone invents a new emotion, we are pretty limited here. Plus, I think a lot of these things now are rushed to be made once something seems like the next great idea. I get the sense that there isn’t much story development going on anymore to get THE MOST out of an idea. Now they are focused on getting JUST ENOUGH. I think I’m getting this from listening to Lindsay Doran – who used to be a big part of story development.

    I agree with Leitskev when he talks bout the “familiarity” meter being too sensitive. However, while these family shows feel like they’ve been done before, they have, but they haven’t. As our common places and technology changes, there are new elements to add on the same old familiar. There are new ways to introduce drama and conflict and comedy. The typical family is no longer the typical family. The challenges facing families and relationships these days are vastly different than just a decade ago. And of course these changes are true across the board, not just for family type shows. All these changes in life create new elements and tests of relationships.

    Anyway, just wanted to throw some perspectives out there.

  • cjob3

    Yeah, TV seems crazy sometimes. NBC passed on a pilot that reunited John Goodman and Roseanne! I mean, I know Roseanne was a long time ago but still! It would have to be better than half the shit they put on the air.

    • ScottStrybos

      I don’t know, I don’t think the charisma that John and Rosanne had on Roseanne is reproducible. Nor is it possible to recapture any past-magic. See: Cosby (1996-2000)

  • ElectricDreamer

    OT: Nominating a Black List 2013 script for a Carson review…

    I see that a screenwriting “newcomer” has landed the Chronicle 2 writing gig.
    http://www.deadline.com/2014/03/fox-hires-scribe-for-chronicle-2/

    How about a review of the script, SWEETHEART, that got him noticed?
    Let’s see what it took for him to get his work sent around town.
    The script was part of that special gift Carson packaged up for the SS faithful.
    So, that means most of us can play along!

    Thoughts?

  • Mallet

    “But that’s not why people watch TV. Clever things make people feel
    stupid, and unexpected things make them feel scared.” – Fry, Futurama

  • UrbaneGhoul

    The thing with TV shows in general, they will always become familiar. What was once an innovative way to solve a crime will become repetitive and tedious.

  • Randy Williams

    I don’t find it odd that any network would shy away from a series that centers on a character being demon possessed. That’s a pretty touchy subject. Also, story wise, a male being possessed is much less interesting than a female being possessed. Not many people, well, at least outside my circle, cozy to the idea of invading a male’s body.

    The location of the story, too, doesn’t seem to provide much conflict. New Orleans smells of snake breath and dried blood. The occult is as common as crawfish. Much more interesting if this evil kidnapping cult was operating in Charlotte, North Carolina or somewhere.

  • Poe_Serling

    From A&E:

    “Occult centers on a FBI agent who returns from administrative leave after going off the deep end while investigating his wife’s disappearance. Eager to be back on the job, he is paired with an agent with her own complicated backstory who specializes in the occult.Together, they will solve cases for the newly formed occult crimes task force.”

    Sounds like Wong took Fox Mulder from The X-Files and split his character into two to create the leads for this new show.

    If I’m not mistaken, Mulder was consumed with finding his ‘missing sister’ and focused a majority of his time to solving crimes involving the ‘occult.’

    “…despite Josh Lucas starring (who would go on to star in the similarly conceived hit, The Conjuring).”

    Patrick Wilson was the star of The Conjuring, but it’s easy to see how people could get the two actors mixed up.

  • carsonreeves1

    Oh my God. I’m pretty sure I’ve always thought Josh Lucas and Patrick Wilson were the same person until you guys just told me. Wow.

    • Linkthis83

      I think Josh Lucas looks like Ralph Fiennes and Ryan Gosling had a son.

      • Hadley’s Hope

        Starring together in Nicholas Winding Refn’s remake of “Junior”.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      I used to always confuse the two of them as well. Which is odd because Josh Lucas speaks with a bit of that southern drawl.

    • John Bradley

      I just googled them both…wow, they are like twins. I thought they were the same actor! really crazy.

    • jbird669

      I was going to say, are we really calling Josh Lucas a movie star?

  • John Bradley

    As far as familiarity in TV shows, I think your first instinct was right Carson. Maybe you can make a carbon copy and get a decent amount of views (which I guess is probably the most important thing) but it’s hard to say that carbon copies will be remembered as all time greats. I look at my favorite shows of all time, The Shield about a team of dirty cops, or the X-Files, or Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead, and can say, at least in my opinion those were all some ground breaking tv shows. Maybe NCIS gets more views but is it really better than the shows I’ve listed.

  • Hadley’s Hope

    While it probably wouldn’t have reached the heights of “True Detective” I would have given this show a look. I enjoy a procedural or a detective show in my TV diet. The CBS stuff isn’t my thing, but an X-Files kind of show like this interests me.

    Speaking of Satanic cults, back in my grade school days there was a cult that met in the woods behind the elementary school I attended. They used these old worn down cabins that were initially built for cub scouts or girl scout outings. Eventually the police stepped in, and the cult was raided or disbanded. From what I heard the cabins were shuttered and then demolished. I probably wouldn’t have believed any of it, but a couple friends of mine decided to go looking for the cabins after hearing the cult rumors. Naturally, being curious myself, I went along with them one day after school was out.

    From the outside, the cabins looked like any old abandoned wooden structures that had been sitting in the woods, rotting and alone. The walls inside were painted black, with multicolored markings and pentagrams and other strange symbols painted from floor to ceiling. I believe there were at least three cabins, maybe four. The largest cabin had a giant pentagram painted across the floor. One of my pals spotted some animal bones (rabbits?) arranged in a corner. At that point we decided to get outta there. It was mid afternoon, but best to not linger around since we didn’t want to run into any weirdos from the cult.

  • garrett_h

    The “familiarity” of a lot of TV shows, procedural and comedy, is precisely the reason they’re so popular. Kind of like why McDonald’s is the most successful “restaurant” in the world. People know EXACTLY what they’re getting.

    Are there better burgers out there than McDonald’s? Sure. Are there better shows on TV (mostly cable) than the CSI’s and HIMYM? Of course. But the greater access to network TV and the lack of extensive serialization on most of them make the network shows so popular. You don’t have to watch every week. You can just pick up the remote, get a decent mystery or problem-of-the-week, and forget about your boss or the kids or whatever drove you crazy that day.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Actually, Mcdonalds is successful because their ‘food products’ are highly addictive, and they market directly to children creating life long consumers. Consumers actually have no idea what they’re getting when they go to fast food restaurants because their actual ingredients / manufacturing process are trade secrets. Consumers just expect the same thing because the ‘foods’ are mass manufactured.

      I mean sure, I understand on the surface the point of what you’re saying. EXPECTABILITY. Perhaps the parallel / lesson to be learned here, is that going after what’s familiar and predictable is harmful for your health, either physically, or in the case of television, mentally / creatively / intellectually.

  • Cuesta

    Completely offtopic warning.

    Hey Mr. C, how about an article about the finale of How I Met Your Mother?
    Seems it pissed and surprised a lot of fans, but I think, screenplay-wise it was very predictable.

    Perhaps we, the sons of Blake Snyder, have adquired a talent to foretell in the fiction world. Which leads me to think about what are the consecuences of this, overcomplicated and usually stupid plots and characters to surprise the savy reader e.g.

    • Nicholas J

      Was never a big fan of HIMYM, and have only seen around 10 episodes, but I get the gist of it. It seems to me the failure was deciding on the ending when the show started, filming the ending years and years ahead of time, and then sticking with that ending when the time came, even though by then the plot had developed way differently than the creators originally intended. I’m so glad it wasn’t a show I followed, that was pretty much the worst ending to a sitcom ever.

  • fragglewriter

    I hate procedurals but I like Like & Order. I guess cause it has something else to it, like L.A. Law.

    I think a twist to a TV show works good but not alienated a segment is what everyone is looking for because who doesn’t want longevity in TV Land.