THE RUNWAY – YOUR 2017 PILOT SURVIVAL GUIDE: CBS DRAMAS

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S.W.A.T.

Logline: Procedural follows a locally born and bred SWAT lieutenant torn between loyalty to the streets and duty to his fellow officers when he’s tasked to run a highly trained unit that is the last stop for solving crimes in Los Angeles. Inspired by the 2003 Sony movie that was based on the 1970s TV series.
Cast: Shemar Moore, Jay Harrington, Stephanie Sigman, Lina Esco, Kenny Johnson, Levi Fiehler, Alex Russell
Creators: Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (W / EP), Shawn Ryan (EP), Justin Lin (D / EP), Marney Hochman (EP), Neal H. Moritz (EP), Pavun Shetty (EP), Danielle Woodrow (EP), Shemar Moore (EP)
Studios: CBS TV Studios, sony Pictures TV, Perfect Storm Entertainment

Finally.

This pilot hooked me from the start and kept me engaged all the way through. The writing is evocative, and character development is significantly stronger than the average CBS pilot. Structurally, there are plenty of reversals and surprises, so the plot didn’t feel quite as mechanical and by-the-numbers as The Get.

The dramatic element that elevates S.W.A.T. above CBS’ other pilots is strong internal conflict. African-American and raised in a neighborhood that’s the setting of tense racial conflict, Hondo is in difficult, suspenseful situation: Should he be loyal to his law enforcement colleagues, or to his friends? It’s a strong dilemma that could easily power a series. Similarly, Hondo’s lover Jessica has a strong internal struggle of her own when Hondo starts reporting to her: Should she sacrifice love for her , or her for love?

The only aspect about this pilot that worries me is that with its largely episodic and procedural structure, it might struggle to maintain the credibility of its racial themes, which feel more suited to serialized storytelling.

That said, I’m definitely for giving this a chance. It reminded me a bit of NBC’s Chicago in terms of series design, even though I’m not quite sure S.W.A.T. has the potential to grow into a franchise. 

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