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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
EDGAR FLOATS (ABC)
(written by Rand Ravich; directed by Jace Alexander; TRT: 44:08)
The network's description: "Does every man need to get punched in the face at least once? After a lifetime of playing it safe, police psychologist Edgar Floats suddenly feels something's missing from his drab, grey, civil servant life. Overwhelmed from days of listening to troubled cops, he starts moonlighting for his ex-wife's bail bond company. Sandra, his tough-cookie ex, is less than thrilled with this arrangement, but technically it's her father Nicholas' company. Nicholas still has a soft spot for Edgar, so despite his daughter's objections and Edgar's complete lack of qualifications, he hires him. Edgar is an amazing psychologist, but with his Clark Kent glasses and soft-spoken manner, how will he fare on the mean streets of Los Angeles?
It turns out, even criminals love to talk and Edgar is the perfect listener. He gradually earns the respect of Sandra and her team but nothing beats a black eye to impress his 9-5 co-workers. What none of them know is that Edgar's seeing visions of a cop who killed himself a couple of months ago a cop who was one of his clients. They also don't know that he's giving money from his second job to the policeman's widow and five-year old son. All anyone knows is that for the first time in his life, Edgar Floats is taking a stand. Created by Life's Rand Ravich and Far Shariat, Edgar Floats is a unique, off-beat procedural that is as funny and touching as it is action-packed. Edgar's police clients and bail bond jobs will cross over as he continues to discover what it takes to be a real life hero."
What did they leave out? As widely reported here and elsewhere, this pilot has been scrapped and the cast - save for Robert Patrick - has been dropped.
The plot in a nutshell: "Let me ask you a question: why do you think you're here?" bespectacled LAPD psychologist Edgar Floats (Tom Cavanagh) asks each one of his patients. It's a question he's also been asking himself a lot lately. Between his immaculately clean house, his insulated job at the department and his meager retirement account, life hasn't been, well... very lively for Edgar. Hell, as one of his patients points out, he hasn't even been punched in the face. And while his only friend/fellow therapist Eugene (Derek Webster) warns him of doing anything drastic to get out of his funk, Edgar decides to reach out to his hard-edged ex-wife Sandra (Alicia Witt) about working for her family's bail bond business.
She scoffs at his request but her father, Nicholas, (Robert Patrick, sporting some interesting blonde highlights), nevertheless welcomes him with open arms. "When a man comes to me and says he wants to be a man, then I'm going to let him be a man," he explains about his decision. There Edgar is shown the ropes by the strong-and-chatty Mason (Alex Solowitz) and the strong-and-silent Jesus (Raoul Trujillo), who are looking for meth dealer Darren Gibbs (Joe Reegan), a skip whose bail the company is on the hook for. They likewise are puzzled by Edgar's addition, not to mention how exactly he hooked Sandra back in the day. After all, he's Clark Kent, not Superman, and has no applicable skills for their line of work.
What he does however have is keen powers of observation and an ability to talk to people, both of which come in handy during a standoff with Bob (Miguel Ferrer), a polished criminal who's also looking for Darren. Said act causes Bob to take a keen interest in Edgar as he winds up taking him on as his own psychologist, and by taking I mean kidnapping. It seems Bob's got some anger issues he needs to work out, ones that are particularly rooted with Darren. Ultimately, Edgar's unique brand of fugitive retrieval starts to win over his newfound co-workers. And for Edgar himself, while his new job may not answer all of his philosophical questions, at the very least it will get him punched in the face.
What works: The show is filled with so many wonderfully ethereal qualities and quirky developments that you can't help but get mesmerized at various points. Whether it's Edgar doing battle with a raccoon that's infested his attic; Nicholas offering up his rules about fugitive retrieval (via various interstitials that have him talking to the camera in front of a chalkboard no less); Edgar being haunted by hallucinations of a patient (David Paluck) he failed; the overly large titles that introduce the lead characters; or the earnest, hypnotic way Edgar manages to help both Bob and a troubled patrolwoman (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), it's just a giant smorgasbord of fascinating elements.
And when all of the above is wrapped in Jace Alexander's distinctly stylish direction and Rand Ravich's unabashedly philosophical dialogue, it's easy to see there's a show in here somewhere. As for the cast, Cavanagh is great as always: his Edgar is a nebbish but brave soul, one who has the answers for everyone but himself. Patrick, interesting hair or not, is likewise a hoot: a folksy father figure who sees what Edgar is going through and is happy to lend a hand. I'm less sold on Witt, if only because we never get the sense of her feelings about Edgar beyond what's stated. While that may have been intentional, there's never the sense they once shared a spark.
What doesn't: On the flip side the pilot plays more like an independent film than the opener to a television series. "Edgar Floats" is definitely a not a misnomer as the show is very much a meditative exercise, one whose central drive isn't very pressing. While most procedurals hinge on plot twists and the like, "Edgar" is about marinating on the spaces in between. To that end, Ravich's previous series "Life" was a much more complete show. It had many of the aforementioned trappings (this scene in particular still haunts me to this day), but it also moved things along in an efficient way. Here "Edgar" starts and stops as if - forgive the obvious here - floating in a dreamlike state. All in all, and I say this having initially watched the pilot before ABC even announced their schedule, one definitely gets the sense why the changes are being made...
The bottom line: ...but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate its current vision.