Pilot Script Review of Triangle
Easily ABC's most ambitious pilot this development season, Triangle has already drawn more than its fair share of comparisons to another ambitious series from the same network: Lost. Frequent ABC collaborator Jon Harmon Feldman (Designated Survivor) is behind the project, which is co-written by Sonny Postiglione (Bloodine, No Ordinary Family) and directed by McG, who's no stranger to big budget action projects. He was behind the Lethal Weapon, Chuck & Fastlane pilots, as well as Charlie's Angels movie franchise.
During this winter's TCAs, ABC's new Entertainment President Karey Burke started her presentation with a montage of some of the network's biggest hits, opening with a clip from Lost's third season finale where Jack tells Kate that they needed to "go back" to the island, one of the show’s most memorable moments and arguably one of the most jaw-dropping twists in TV history. Asked by a reporter whether the audience should read anything into the choice of this clip, she said “you should,” which those in attendence interpreted as a joke. In retrospect, she may not have been joking, since she must have known at the time that the Triangle pilot pick-up was on its way. This is clearly a special project for the network: the casting process went on longer than any other pilot, and they only started shooting on April 15th, when most other pilots were long done. The unusual shooting location might have something to do with it: New Zealand. The end result is that ABC will have to decide whether or note to order it to series based on an unfinished pilot.
WRITTEN BY: Jon Feldman & Sonny Postiglione
DRAFT DATE: 3/30/19
PAGE COUNT: 50 pages
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: DAVID ROMAN (30s), an orphan who bounced between foster homes growing up, is hoping to begin a new life with his teenage daughter, NATALIE (15), and his fiancée ALEXANDRA (30s). But their tropical vacation is interrupted by a violent storm that capsizes their boat and lands them on a strange, snowy beach. David wakes completely disoriented, face-down in the snow next to a pair of sunglasses and a black ring box. Alex and Natalie are there too, as is the boat. In the cabin, they find the SAT phone: it's static. The radio is dead too, leaving them no choice but to walk toward the unknown. They soon find themselves in a forest, dense and lush greenery. This place is very strange -- it was cold a minute ago, and now it's hot. The topography makes no sense. But they don't really have the time to think it over: five bengal tigers are coming their way, growling and showing their enormous teeth. They're saved by a loud "bang" coming from a smoking musket. It belongs to ULYSSES (30s), who brings them to the edge of the forest, and into the small wooden cabin he shares with his partner GRACE (30s). There, they learn a little bit more about where they are and how they're never going back home, because there's no way out. Others tried to leave the continent -- it's more than an island, you see -- but none have succeeded. Turns out they're in the Bermuda Triangle, where countless people have landed under the same exact conditions ... and they all look the same as they did when they got there, as no one on the continent ever ages.
COMMENTS: Triangle is an exciting mix of survival and adventure with a science fiction twist, the whole thing packaged together as a family fare. And althought it sounds like a Lost reboot, it really isn't. Yes, it starts the same way (if you swap the plane for a boat, and the tropical beach for a snowy one), but it goes in a different direction quickly. They don't wait a full season to meet their "others," for example. There are plenty, and most of them join the party during the second and third acts of the script. They also get straight to the point and make it clear early on that this show lives squarely in a world of science fiction.
Lost became Lost because it put its characters first, and then its mystery. That's my theory, at least. And I think the other, lesser, high-concept shows that followed have proven this, NBC's Manifest included. You won't care about the mystery if the characters who are living it aren't interesting and somewhat relatable. Put the characters of Revolution on the Lost island and you have a bad show on your hands. Which brings us to Triangle's protagonists -- are they worth our attention? Based on the pilot, I'd say they're something of a mixed bag. It's a very diverse cast, with characters coming from various locations across the world (although they are all in their thirties or forties and of course very good looking). David, Natalie & Alexandra are clearly written with a family audience in mind. David is the damaged but courageous hot daddy, Alexandra is the intelligent and empathic hot chick, and Natalie is the rebellious and sarcastic hot teenager. Hopefully they will become more than chiched archetypes over time -- if they don't, I fear we have a problem.
We're only given a taste of the other inhabitants, but most seem to have have potential. We know enough to want to know more,. The easiest way would probably be to present flashbacks on dedicated episodes, but that would mean taking the Lost route and they may want to do it differently. Take Grace for example. There's an exciting twist to her character that I won't spoil, but the minute we learn about it, we want to watch her backstory. Same goes for Ham. He's a former pirate and a rogue who is skeptical of newcomers. Of course we want to learn about his early days on the Triangle. Dr. Owen Patel has been here since 1988. He tells Alex a bit about his family, and I want to meet them and see how they're doing with him gone for so long. There's a Council, but we don't know how it works or who's in charge. There's also Royalty: a King, a Prince -- named Liam -- and his Lieutenant, Priscilla. There are Vikings, too! Queen Neela is their chief, and her son Leif is the cute little thing Natalie will fall for sooner or later. Make no mistake, the writers are in "go big or go home" mode here.
The same could be said of the pacing. It's so fast-paced that at times it feels like the writers are trying to fit a two-hour episode into a single hour. While the show is in more than capable hands with pilot director McG, I do worry that there may be too much happening. Some answers could have been saved for later. Some twists needn't have been revealed this early. I'm guessing that the writers were looking to avoid going down the path of being too mysterious, an accusation that was leveled against Lost, which some say built too much tension around questions that turned out not to be that important. If Triangle is picked up, hopefully writers and producers will be able to strike more of balance between questions and answers. If the material is good, viewers will come back.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Triangle looks and feels like a show that would have been huge a few years ago... especially if Lost had never existed. In today's TV landscape, it will have a harder time. Having said that, ABC needs an ambitious, buzzy drama with the potential to raise curiosity and attract a big crowd. It might have been a safer bet on the new Disney+ streaming platform where the stakes aren't quite as high, but it's nice to see that in the minds of ABC execs, there's still room for ambition on network television.
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] PASS
[ ] CONSIDER
BEST FIT: Midseason. ABC could use The Oscars to heavily promote the show and launch the following Monday or Wednesday in the most appropriate slot available.