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So you've seen all of the new shows this fall - but what about the ones that didn't make the cut? For the next 30 days we're going to take a "first look" at a collection of 30 pilots that didn't land on the 2009-10 season schedule. Are there any gems that got passed over or are they all deservedly locked in the networks' vaults? Stay tuned.
NIGHT & DAY (TNT)
(written by Todd Robinson & Joel Surnow; directed by Milan Cheylov; TRT: 37:00)
What is it? A drama about an ATF agent who faces struggles both at home and at work.
Who was behind it?: "24" co-creator Joel Surnow penned the hour alongside screenwriter Todd Robinson ("Lonely Hearts"). Milan Cheylov ("24") directed.
The plot in a nutshell: "Night. Day. Two worlds. Two stories. One man. My husband," explains Elizabeth Hollister ("ER's" Sherry Stringfield). The man in question: Dan Hollister ("Prison Break's" William Fichtner), head of field operations for the Special Threat Intervention unit, a joint task force between the ATF, DEA, FBI and local law enforcement. He's out to catch bad guys like Antone Bello (Antone Pagan), an arms dealer looking to bring a shipment of Stinger missiles into the country. Aiding him in his quest are his veteran lieutenants, Bobby Kohl ("Lights Out's" Holt McCallany) and Dave Preston (Michael Beach). Essentially autonomous because they get things done, Dan is surprised to hear from his boss Bill Greer (Conor O'Farrell) the higher ups want some fresh blood - Pollard (Riley Smith), Talbot (Dondre Whitfield) and Hicks (Charles Michael Davis) - to accompany them on their latest mission.
It's a move that results in Dave putting in his transfer papers, as he can't believe the brass is screwing around when such a big fish is in play. The newbies nevertheless carry their weight but at the cost of Hicks taking a few rounds in the chest and their target nearly dying before giving up the location of the missile exchange: just across the Fortuna River in Mexico. It's a bust that requires the STI to go off-book as they don't have jurisdiction there. Thankfully everyone is more than willing to follow Dan's lead as Bello is ultimately arrested and the Stingers are intercepted. Mission accomplished, Dan heads home for a different type of battle - his family. There we find youngest Jackson (Asher Axe) is more interested in video games than doing his chores and middle child Alison (Kaili Thorne) has developed a habit of dressing inappropriately and stealing the family car. Holding it all together then is Liz who also makes sure Dan leaves work at work, even if he comes home in a bloody shirt. She's also got some news of her own: she might be pregnant with their fourth child.
Tonight's task however is to survive dinner with their eldest Sarah (Jessy Schram), her boyfriend Eric (Ian Nelson) and his college professor father Jay (Xander Berkeley) and girlfriend Skye (Wendy Glenn). And despite warnings from Eric of a difficult night ahead, things go off swimmingly... that is until Jay begins badgering Eric about his life decisions (go to med school instead of teach, what a waste!) and Dan has the gall to defend him. Said dust up quickly escalates as Jay provokes Dan about his Medal of Valor he received after the Waco incident. The breaking point comes when Dan slams his sidearm on the table and asks Jay to leave, shocking Liz and Sarah but impressing Eric that someone finally stood up to his bully father. And really that's about it until the closing moments when Dan and Liz learn the pregnancy was a false alarm followed by Dan getting a call informing him Hicks (the newbie who got shot) died from complications due to a blood clot.
What works: It's a very weird show...
What doesn't: ...and I don't mean that in a good way. The best way to describe "Night & Day" is pick just about any procedural cop show then imagine if one of those characters went home after the second act and a family drama - that makes nary a reference to the previous two acts - took over for the second half of the show. The transition, which includes title cards for "Night" and "Day," is literally that jarring. Not helping matters is that neither part is particularly engaging: "Night" is fairly lightweight cop stuff (no detective work, just straight takedowns) while "Day" is melodramatic homefront foibles (Alison throws a fit that dad doesn't understand!). Even worse, Fichtner never quite sells Dan's supposed dilemma: he's a team player at work who's routinely asked to do more with less, the frustrations of which come out at home during the most inopportune times - like during dinner your daughter's potential in-laws. Theoretically there's a show in that premise however its connections are so tenuous (I'm honestly just taking stabs at the dark here) and the events so are ham-fisted (Dan gets baited by a college freshman-esque argument over Waco, really?) that "Night" and "Day" come across as two unrelated elements juxtaposed together...
The bottom line: ...instead of a cohesive show.