The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 -- 5
TV needs pilot lessons
Ben Affleck runs this'Town'
This week is one of the
best weeks of the fall. We
are currently amid the
releases of new fall TV lineups.
like "Glee," "30
ily" are back
this week along
with a whole CAROLYN
crop of new KLARECKI
is the welcome
week of TV, and I'm pumped.
Sixteen new shows are premier-
ing this week on NBC, ABC, CBS
and FOX. Most likely, 80 percent
of them will not be renewed for a
second season. That means maybe
three of these shows have staying
power. And this week, TV fans
will be judging each pilot to decide
what's worth tuning back in for.
That's a lot of pressure to put on a
pilot episode, but everyone already
knows what weight it holds. The
writers, directors and producers
understand this first episode must
be outstanding - otherwise they'll
be canceled mid-season.
So what makes a pilot success-
ful? I'm no Hollywood big shot.
I don't know the formula for hit
television - nor do I claim there
is such a formula -but there are a
few things I look for when watch-
ing new TV.
First and foremost, new TV
shows must have a captivating
premise. If you look at the lineup
of shows this fall, you will see
that some people have definitely
forgotten this. I keep getting
"Lone Star," "The Defenders,"
"Outlaw," "The Whole Truth"
and "Blue Bloods" confused. Why
is that? Because they're pretty
much the same, at least in terms
of promotions. Their commercials
are all incredibly similar, making
it nearly impossible to tell them
apart. After racking my brain, all
I can remember without turning
to Google is that the guy in "Out-
layed Matt Santos on "The In all actuality, most of the
fing," "The Defenders" is shows this fall seem so unorigi-
:wo lawyers with opposing nal there shouldn't be much
alities and "Lone Star" is problem keeping them moving
y reminiscent of "My Own with recycled ideas from past
Enemy," a show with Chris- sitcoms, crime cases pulled from
ater that flopped in '08. the headlines and tons of love tri-
fall's biggest hits were easy angles. If one of these seemingly
ember because they had a standard shows surprises me, and
ea. You saw one commercial it seems like they know where
ee" or "Community" and they're going, I'll consider sticking
ew that it was going to be around for the end of the season,
watching, if only because but there's one more thingI need
dn't seen it before. So in the before I'm on board with a show
"Lone Star," "The Whole and will watch it loyally.
" etc., either their premises I need characters. I need fas-
r their advertisingsucks. If cinating characters with real
see the difference in these problems. I need to know them
now - and I can't - the or even just want to know them,
better convince me there's but the characters are what make
hing worth sticking around or break TV. We felt for the kids
on "Glee," we fell in love with
second thingI need in a Troy and Abed's antics on "Com-
V show is sustainability. munity" and we wish our family
"S#*! My Dad Says" has was as adorable as the one on
ue premise. It's a show "Modern Family." I doubt we'll
ad by a Twitter feed after fall in love with all of the new cop
come on, it's a show characters to hit TV this week.
ad by a Twitter feed. The Though "White Collar" was a
version of Shit My Dad surprise last year, so let's stay
orks when it's 140 char- open-minded. Perhaps "Mike and
every few days, but can Molly" will prove a loveable pair,
or maybe Will Arnett ("Arrested
Development") and Keri Rus-
sell ("Felicity") will have enough
i's time for a chemistry to keep me glued to the
screen for "Running Wilde."
ietwork TV Of course, there are many more
factors that can make a show
taste test. hit or miss. Sometimes the best
shows have lackluster pilots. It
really isn't completely fair for me
retch that into a whole to judge an entire season on one
? William Shatner will episode, but with the hustle and
gry and offensive and the bustle of college life, who has the
Nill struggle to move past time (or patience) to sit through
sitcom plots. While this an entire season of "Chase" just
speculation, last fall's to make sure it's as crappy as it
Forward" proved the looks? This is our week of sam-
ance of sustainability. The pling. I'll taste as many shows as
et itself up to depict only a Ican, and if they're unique, have
nth span of time based on potential for development and
r into the future everyone have appealing characters, I'll sit
d." So as soon as it became down for a meal.
Boston-based drama features
strong ensemble cast
Daily Arts Writer
The fine people over at the Warner Brothers market-
ing department proved their cunning while promot-
ing crime drama "The Town." Forgoing the obvious,
they branded their trailers with the
cryptic message "from the acclaimed * *'
director of 'Gone Baby Gone."'
Now, if' you're familiar with The Town
"Gone Baby Gone," you might be
wondering why the studio didn'tuse and Rave
the household name of said director. an
The answer is: that director isn't Warner Bros.
known specifically for his directing,
at least not yet. Because that director is none other
than Ben Affleck.
It's somewhat surprising - but completely appro-
priate - that the studio would let the mega-actor and
inexperienced director rest on his credits and not his
name recognition. No matter how much Affleck's act-
ing has been criticized, even vilified, he has yet to make
similar missteps in his directing career. And while his
name may bring up scarring images of "Paycheck" and
"Pearl Harbor," his modesty as a filmmaker is incred-
ibly endearing and made commendable by the quality
of his work in "The Town."
The setting of "The Town" is Boston's Charlestown,
which apparently produces more bank robbers than
any other neighborhood in the country. The film fol-
lows a team of bank/armored car robbers, led by the
kind-hearted Doug MacRay (Affleck) and-the trigger-
happy James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt
Locker"), while an FBI agent (Jon Hamm, TV's "Mad
Men") is hot on their tail.
After a successful robbery, the team takes hostage
bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall, "Vicky
Cristina Barcelona") to fend off the cops. Once the
coast is clear, they drop the hostage and let her live -
but there starts the problem. Fearing she could help
the FBI, the robbers agree to intimidate her into sub-
MacRay can't resist though, and is so charmed by
Keesey's vulnerability that he falls for her. At that
point, even though MacRay denies it, the story's unrav-
eling is all but inevitable.
The marvelhere is the ensemble cast.It's full of famil-
iar faces, and every actor from Blake Lively (TV's "Gos-
sip Girl") to Pete Postlethwaite ("Inception") exhibits
his or her respective character's tragic flaw with a natu-
ral ease and a (usually) believable Boston accent. Even
Chris Cooper ("Adaptation") puts in a terrific one-scene
In Boston, that "Superbad" shit would never go down.
performance as MacRay's imprisoned father.
The film establishes a high standard for itself and at
times its male leads seem like a mixed bag. Ben Affleck
is still the actor Ben Affleck, and it's become under-
standably difficult to distance his personality from
his character's. His Boston accent and token Red Sox
attire hearken back to his "Good Will Hunting" days,
but don't make up for his simplistic approach to a com-
plex character. He shows a fierce effort, without which
the film would likely fall flat, but doesn't considerably
change up his acting formula.
Jon Hamm suffers from a similar problem in his role
- he doesn't quite fill out his character, allowing his
FBI agent to fall victim to a campy script construction.
He isn't developed quite as well as his criminal coun-
terparts and isn't given as much freedom to show off
his acting chops.
Rebecca Hall, on the other hand, is perfectly cast as
the fragile Keesey, and her abilityto make the audience
quiver along with her is astounding. Likewise, Jeremy
Renner is nothing shortof awesome. He expands on his
performance in "S.W.A.T." with a new troubled inten-
sity and wows with a bloodthirsty rage.
While "The Town" isn't as tightly paced as its
Scorsesian cousin "The Departed," it's a crime drama
that succeeds on both the "crime" and "drama" counts.
The film is a gritty, riveting display and avoids the
cheesy pitfalls of its genre-mates. That each and every
character, no matter how flawed he or she is, inspires
an emotional investment is just as much a testament to
the cast's ability as it is a sign of Affleck's talent as a
director. No matter how dark "The Town" is, it signals
a bright future for Affleck's filmmaking career - one in
which his name mightbecome a mark of brilliance and
no longer a blot upon a film poster.
clear what was going to happen at
that climactic moment, there was
no longer any reason to follow the
Klarecki is making a show based off
Friendster. To question that decision,
e-mail her at cklareckiumich.edu.
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