Logline: Follows Presence Foster, a former Army veteran who finds herself interacting with a widely divergent, and highly colorful cross-section of Los Angeles as she unintentionally begins a career as an unlicensed Private Investigator.
Cast: Colin Woodell, Rick Gonzalez, Stephanie Sigman
Creators: John Ridley (Writer/D/EP), Michael McDonald (EP)
Studios: ABC Studios TV, International Famous Players Picture Corporation, Stearns Castle
This is the one ABC pilot I received with the writer’s name in the PDF file. I guess you get the honor once you’ve won an Oscar. But Ridley is also responsible for American Crime, a well-respected show that scored an increasingly rare second season order. If Ridley writes a pilot, you might as well shoot it.
Presence continues ABC’s trend of focusing on female leads. Where was this last year? Yes, I’m still bitter about Blood & Oil, Kings and Prophets and Wicked City. I warned you Paul!
Sorry for the digression. Presence has a kinda fun logline, the kind you usually see on basic cable. We start with a very brief flashback to Presence when she was in the military. Back in the present, she’s pressuring a devout Jewish man into granting his wife a “get”, so she can move on to another relationship. She works as kind of a hustler PI-for-hire.
Her next case is a little more personal – her former fiance is missing. Things go a little slowly until she takes on the case. The dialogue is crisp and authentic. It captures Los Angeles nicely. And by the end of the episode, she’s decided to give this quasi-detective business a real shot.
Ridley’s writing is good, but this pilot is pretty serious. Usually with a Ray Donovan-type show — though this focuses on a Hispanic female — you’ll have a bit more humor. Or at the very least you make things a two-hander, like on Castle. This pilot is very competently done, fairly interesting, well-written. And yet, it doesn’t quite seem sticky enough to get a greenlight with a hook that gets you back every week.