Logline: Carter Morrison, the brilliant but rebellious daughter of a Clinton-like political family, is forced into taking a job as the head of Los Angeles’ newly created Conviction Integrity Unit. She, along with her team of lawyers, investigators and forensic experts, has two weeks to examine cases where there’s credible suspicion that the wrong person may have been convicted of a crime. Cast: Emily Kinney, Hayley Atwell, Shawn Ashmore Creators: Liz Friedman (Writer /EP), Mark Gordon (EP), Nick Pepper (EP), Liz Friedlander (D/EP) Studios: ABC Studios TV, eOne, The Mark Gordon Company
Before we jump in, three interesting facts on this pilot: 1. It’s the rare procedural at ABC. This is the type of logline I would expect from CBS. 2. Hayley Atwell has this pilot in first position over Agent Carter, which tells you all you need to know about ABC’s future plans for Agent Carter Season Three. One of the actresses starring in this is the sister of ABC President Channing Dungey, which means holiday dinners might get a whole lot more interesting this year.
From the logline, I could picture this series quite easily. It sounds a bit like the long-running and very profitable Cold Case. We meet Carter Morrison (presumably Atwel, playing another character with Carter in their name) singing Hotline Bling. Dapper Wayne Wallis blackmails Morrison into joining his new LA forensic investigative unit that looks into wrongfully accused. There’s a press conference. It also has an air of expository coolness, but lacks the punch of say Scandal’s tense pilot teaser.
Then we meet the rest of the team, each explaining what they do. Then one of the teammates (Sam) gives the rundown on the first case. The case-of-the-week guy who needs to be exonerated is named Oxford. Act One ends with Carter giving a speech on why she doesn’t want to be there but is… and then Oxford’s mom shows up at the precinct.
I’m not going to go into the rest of the case details, because if you’ve seen a procedural, you know how this works. The cool thing would have been if Oxford really did it… but alas, wasn’t meant to be. With procedural pilots, I look for three things: 1. Are the characters cool on their own? 2. Do the characters interact with each other in an interesting way? 3. Is the case of the week somewhat interesting and a blueprint for future episodes? On Number 1, yes. Carter is a very modern, fun character. The rest of the characters are OK. On Number 2, there’s some good verbal sparring, especially between Wallis and Morrison. On Number 3, meh. Nothing special.
I think the greenlight on this is highly, highly execution dependent and based on ABC’s desire for a female-led procedural. Conviction was good, not great, above average.