The Runway – Your 2016 Pilot Survival Guide: CW Dramas

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mars project collageUntitled Mars Project

FKA Colony

Logline: Follows a team of explorers who arrive on Mars to join the first human colony on the planet, only to discover that their predecessors have vanished. Led by a woman whose husband is among the missing, the colonists are forced to change their mission from exploration and settlement to investigation and survival, while navigating the hostile planet and their own personal demons. The project is inspired by the story of The Lost Colony, the 16th century British settlement on Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina, whose inhabitants vanished without a trace, sparking a slew of theories about their fate.
Cast: , ,
Creators:  (Writer / EP), (EP), (EP)
Studios: CBS TV Studios, Kennedy/Marshall

For the sake of convenience, I’m going to call this Colony.

Earth has setup a colony on Mars. When a new batch of explorers and settlers arrive on a one-way trip to inhabit the colony, they find what they least expect: the colony is deserted, and all the former occupants have vanished. Colony’s pilot covers the explorers’ arrival on Mars, intercut with flashbacks of the their training on Earth.

So Alien meets The 100 meets Sphere meets Quantico. This one’s produced by CBS, and was originally developed at the CW two years ago. The draft I read is undated, I find myself hoping the network develops this a bit more before shooting the pilot.

It took me a while to get into this for some really basic craft reasons. Characters aren’t introduced properly, which makes it hard to keep track of who’s who. Not too many hints at personality and appearance. Settings and visuals are left almost entirely to our imagination.

The character work leaves a lot to be desired. Nine pages in, and we basically have a bunch of millennials competing against each other for a one-way ticket to Mars. We don’t know anything about any of them. Where they come from. Why they want to go to Mars. Their needs, wants, flaws. And when Gina is finally asked why she wants to go to Mars, her response is utterly generic – she wants to explore the universe.

Generic. That’s how the pilot starts, and that’s how it ends. There’s a strong central mystery about what exactly happened on the colony before the explorers’ arrival, but this doesn’t feel particularly groundbreaking. As for characters, the most interesting one so far is a psychologist with a mean streak. And the least compelling is the protagonist, which is never a good sign. Relationships don’t really rise above generic romances and friendships.

This one just didn’t do it for me. The CW has in iffy sci-fi track record, and it’s clear they want to replicate The 100. Unless Bharat Nalluri is able to deliver some really stellar visuals, and the actors are able to convey what isn’t on the page, it feels difficult to imagine this is a series.

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