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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2008-2009 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot - or in this new post-strike/straight-to-series world, reading the pilot script. We'll start with the ones that were actually filmed and move on to the others in the coming weeks.
For our final two weeks, we're going to shift gears a little and look at the scripts for 10 high-concept projects in the works for midseason. All of them have just started or recently completed production so it may be some time before we hear when and if they make the cut.
As always a lot can change from what's on the page right now but we couldn't resist taking a peek.
(written by Shaun Cassidy; 61 pages)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out: FOX infamously began casting the project during the WGA strike, tapping Toby Stephens for the lead role. The option on Stephens subsequently ran out by the time the strike resolved, forcing the network to find a new lead in Lloyd Owen.
The plot in a nutshell: Justin Lambreaux (Lloyd Owen) is a consultant for the San Francisco Police Department. A former detective for said department, Lambreaux is a shell of the man he once was... literally. Shot in the line of duty, Lambreaux now suffers from Brown-Sequard Syndrome - a condition which confines him to a wheelchair (or, on occasion, a set of giant, stainless steel crutches), makes it hard for him to breathe, forces his head to be perpetually hung at a 60 degree angle and mixes his body's signals so that (as he notes) "My left side can't move, but feels everything. My right side's mobile, but feels nothing." In other words as the script puts it - "the overall effect is not unlike Ironside meets the Elephant Man." Despite all of his ailments, he's still an amazing investigator and a loving father to his daughter Emily (Morgan Turner). In any case, Lt. Curtis Callas (Malik Yoba) has requested Lambreaux's services after the discovery of two dead bodies - both stabbed to death in the home of one of them, the chief administrator at St. Francis Hospital. Lambreaux however - much to the amazement of newbie detective Ryan Farber (Warren Kole) - deduces that one was actually there to murder the other. Now they must find whoever hired the man to do so. But Lambreaux has bigger problems - his ex-wife Camille (yet to be cast) has taken him to court over claims that he's been abusing Emily (she often comes home with cuts and bruises on her body). Even worse, Herman Goode (also yet to be cast) - one of the bad guys that Lambreaux put away a few years ago (but still maintains he's not crazy) - has been leaving creepy messages like "YOU'RE PATHETIC" that taunt him.
But wait - as they say - there's more. Intercut between Lambreaux's adventures are those of Clyde, a brash, confident criminal who's behind the murders Lambreaux's been investigating and seems to be working toward a larger agenda. Lambreaux's investigation then gets further derailed after another brutally murdered victim turns up - Richard Solomon, the douchebag lawyer for Lambreaux's ex-wife - and he's the top suspect. Lambreaux however insists that he's innocent and that it's Goode who's responsible. Callas thankfully believes him but demands that Lambreaux see the department's psychologist Mason Wicks (Tricia Helfer). She and Lambreaux turn out to have a history - she was the one who helped put the aforementioned Herman Goode away. She's not as convinced as Callas though - her research turns up that Lambreaux himself once had some psychological issues (disassociation disorder, better known as multiple personality disorder) tied to his sister's murder when he was a boy. Plus there's the mysterious suicide of Lambreaux's former assistant/driver, a fact which the now dead Solomon brought up during Emily's custody hearing. Wicks however has no idea how deep Lambreaux's psychological issues run - you see, this Clyde character - insert drumroll but you're undoubtedly aware - is Lambreaux (Clyde is his middle name) and somehow emerges free from all of Lambreaux's ailments while the man sleeps. And he's behind everything we've just watched, using Goode as the fall guy. It's a fact that Lambreaux is just starting to realize as "Goode's" messages start turning up - written by his own hand. Oh, that and Emily saying things like: "It's okay. It'll always be our secret."
What works/What doesn't: Much like "Section 8," there's a lot of interesting ideas at work here that don't ever quite come together. The show's concept - a man who's literally investigating himself - is most definitely intriguing. But, in some ways through no fault of its own, Cassidy's script suffers from the-cart-before-the-horse syndrome in that we the audience/reader are fully aware of the central twist and have to await impatiently for the characters to catch up. Not helping matters are all sorts of knowing winks from the dialogue like - Wicks: "You still haven't told me all your secrets." Lambreaux: "Careful what you wish for." The script also sets up the bold choice that Clyde actually interacts face-to-face with people who actually know Lambreaux, meaning this will have to be one hell of a Jekyll/Hyde transformation. Again, not helping things are overly suggestive notes in the script like: "Clyde is Justin Lambreaux if every suit fit him like an Armani. Clyde is Justin Lambreaux if he had all the charm and confidence of Jude Law. Clyde is Justin Lambreaux, taller, stronger, sexier... Re-Born." At the end of the day, we get what the script is going for...
The bottom line: ...it's now on the actors, producers and director to actually sell it.