The Runway – Your 2016 Pilot Survival Guide: CW Dramas

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kevin williamson project

Untited Kevin Williamson Paranormal Project

Logline: Centers around a young woman who seeks help from a parapsychologist who is now just an attraction at local ghost conventions. but when he meets a mysterious young woman, everything begins to change.
Cast: ,
Creators: (Writer / EP / SR), (EP), (D / EP)
Studios: Warner Bros. TV, Outerbanks Entertainment

Superstar creator/EP Kevin Williamson has spread his net wide this season. Along with this pilot order at the CW, he’s got Time After Time at ABC (creator) and Recon at Fox (EP).

Though Williamson is well-respected and prolific, his portfolio is desperately in need of a hit. He’s had two cancellations in 2015 (The Following and Stalker). Scream isn’t screaming as loud as he would’ve liked. The Vampire Diaries has been renewed, but its eighth season is likely to be its last (the show has struggled to find its feet since star Nina Dobrev’s departure).

Set in New Orleans, this pilot follows Sarah, a mysterious young woman, who interns for Clark Patterson, a parapsychologist, seeking his help to understand her newfound ability to communicate with the dead. The plot line involves Sarah, Clark, and a couple of other characters investigating a haunting. Clark has lost his faith in his abilities, and doesn’t believe a ghost exists. But Sarah and the others finally bring him around to believing in the paranormal once again. No prizes for guessing what happens to the ghost.

This one didn’t quite work for me. The pilot combines serial and episodic elements in a rather uncomfortable blend. I didn’t care for the pilot plot line, which felt wholly generic. A ghost in the attic, laying out a trail of breadcrumbs for the investigators to discover its horrific past. The ghost does all the work, leaving very little room for our heroes to show their resourceful sides.

Characterization is thin, much like the Untitled Mars Project. A key detail about Sarah is withheld until the end of the pilot, which feels like an odd narrative choice. We have no idea who she is or what she’s going through for 55 pages.

The tone is uncertain as well. Is this going to be a paranormal drama? Or is it horror? If so, it’s seriously low on dread and thrill. As for an engine to power future episodes, there are subtle mysterious surrounding Sarah and Clark’s pasts. But the pilot’s missing a compelling argument to return.

In sum, I doubt this paranormal drama is going to be the hit Williamson’s waiting for. Andrew had mixed feelings about Time After Time. Maybe Recon will be the one to keep Williamson in the game? We’ll find out next week.

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