Pilot Script Review of Tommy
In its first pilot season without longtime chief Les Moonves at the helm, is CBS is finally ready to give a chance to projects that are more female-driven? Tommy is one of this year's contenders that would appear to fit the bill, but just because it's on the development slate doesn't necessarily mean the network has turned a new leaf. Inspired in part by a real-life surge in the number of female police chiefs (LA County alone had a record seven last year), the network developed two female-led cop projects last year: Chiefs, starring Jorja Fox, Alana De La Garza and Aunjanue Ellis as (you guessed it) three female police chiefs, and a Cagney & Lacey reboot starring Grey’s Anatomy‘s Sarah Drew. In the end, neither project made the cut. (The Magnum, PI reboot did). Will Tommy succeed where those projects failed? Read on...
PILOT SCRIPT TITLE: In Dreams Begin Responsibility
WRITTEN BY: Paul Attanasio
DRAFT DATE: “In Dreams Begin Responsibility” Revised network draft 02/1/19
PAGE COUNT: 62 pages
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We open on MARIA DE ANGELES (20’s) picking up her ten year-old daughter MADISON from school. LAPD and ICE are both watching her, but just when ICE is about to move in, LAPD officer ADAM REED (30) breaks Maria’s taillight, putting her under arrest before ICE can get to her. The following day, we are introduced to ABIGAIL THOMAS (known as TOMMY), 48, soon to be the next Chief of Police for the City of Los Angeles. Tommy takes the arrested woman's young daughter into her protection, housing her with her own grown daughter, KATE WELCH (30). As the strange and mysterious circumstances surrounding the arrest are uncovered, Tommy finds herself in the middle of a political firestorm, facing pressure from both inside and outside the department.
COMMENTS: Tommy may be the perfect example of a project that doesn't sound particularly compelling until someone great signs on to star. That's not to say that having Edie Falco attached sudddenly makes Tommy my top pilot pick for the season -- not by a long shot -- but her involvement helps. Simply put, she has what it takes to singlehandedly increase any project's chances of survival. The only person to have earned an Emmy Award for Best Actress in both the drama and comedy categories, Falco is beloved for her portrayal of Carmela Soprano in HBO’s groundbreaking series The Sopranos and for her nuanced performance in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. I don’t know whether her role in this project was written with her in mind, but it's hard to imagine any other actor being a better fit.
With a New Yorker’s gift for being tough and sarcastic while still remaining likable, Tommy loves being a cop more than anything. Her dedication to her work, however, has clearly taken a toll on her personal life, where she's been a less-than-stellar wife and mother. Moving to Los Angeles for work, she's geographically closer to her daughter Kate and her grandchildren, and it might be time to make amends. Also living in LA is Tommy's ex-husband, who’s an actor and a totally charming human being. They have an easy intimacy and have become close friends over time. These two relationships form solid ground for more serialized storylines. Tommy herself is an interesting character and an unusual lead: she’s a woman of a certain age, a lesbian, and is considered as a “feminist icon” by many.
So, as you can see: Tommy is a lot more ambitious than your typical network procedural. And although my personal interest in the pilot's investigation waned along the way, it ends up being more ambiguous and complex than it appears at the beginning. And clearly Tommy is a complex character. Is that enough to carry a show that will inevitably fall into the more generic "case of the week" formula? To be honest, I'm not sure. Also of concern in the pilot script are the office politics and hierarchy of it all, which I found cumbersome and confusing.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Tommy could become an important asset for CBS, which is in need of more strong female-driven programming. And it's hard to envision anyone better than Edie Falco playing the complex, titular character. Still, this one is not a slam-dunk. My interest in the procedural part of the pilot script waned along the way, and the jumble of supporting characters were just that. In short, I'm not convinced this project has what it takes to retain a network audience. CBS may have better options
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] PASS
[ ] RECOMMEND
BEST FIT: Sunday night might be the best way to go. It'll likely skew old, anyway.