The Runway – Your 2016 Pilot Survival Guide: CW Dramas




Logline: A female police detective in 2016 discovers she is able to speak via a ham radio with her estranged father (also a detective) who died in 1996. They forge a new relationship while working together on an unresolved murder case, but unintended consequences of the ‘butterfly effect’ wreak havoc in the present day.
Cast: , ,
Creators: Kevin Williamson (Writer / EP), (D/EP), (P)
Studios: Warner Bros. TV, Outerbanks Entertainment

A female cop with a dead father who may’ve been a good or bad undercover cop. Hello again, Quantico. Are we becoming the Taken of the pilot world?

Honestly, the thought of a Frequency remake irks me. But it also makes sense in a post-HTGAWM and post-Quantico world with ubiquitous flashback structures. The director Brad Anderson has a stellar TV record, and is attached to Tony Gilroy’s High Wire Act. Going in, my expectations from this pilot were pretty high, and…

I was not disappointed. This was satisfying. Other than a gender-switched protagonist and the father Frank being a cop rather than a firefighter, the narrative remains largely unchanged. It’s well-written, propulsive. Changing the father’s occupation is a stroke of genius in some ways, as it makes the show more focused. It also creates one of television’s most unusual central relationships.

That said, there are aspects that worry me. Serializing this storyline will be no easy task. Once they’re through with the original film’s Nightingale storyline, would this turn into a procedural? Father and daughter catching serial killers in investigations spanning several decades? I’d like to think Carver has something cleverer up his sleeve. The quality of the writing certainly suggests he does.

The biggest concern going forward would be stakes. The pilot is all about Raimy trying to avert her father’s death. It’s urgent. The stakes are personal. The pilot pushes the story forward by using other relationship-based stakes. Once those are exhausted, where will Frequency head?

Built-in audience. Strong cast and crew. Tense and thrilling storyline. Extremely satisfying for fans of the original film, maybe even a little too safe in this regard. Frequency has a lot of strengths. That said, this is far from a lock considering how far it exists from the CW’s comfort zone.

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