The Runway – Your 2017 Pilot Survival Guide: CW Dramas




Logline: The boundaries between military discipline and human desire are tested on a U.S. Army base that houses an elite unit of helicopter pilots trained to perform clandestine international and domestic missions. The drama unfolds in the present as well as in flashbacks to a failed mission involving one of the first female pilots in the unit, ultimately uncovering layers of personal and government/military secrets and leading to a season-long plan to rescue a group of MIA soldiers.
Cast: Matt Barr, Christina Ochoa, Charlie Barnett, W. Tré Davis, Nigel Thatch, Corbin Reid, Melissa Roxburgh
Creators: Kyle Jarrow (W / EP), Bill Haber (EP), Michael Robin (D)
Studios: CBS Studios

VALOR is the first military-themed pilot we’ll look at on The Runway this year. The focus is on military helicopter pilots, and like a lot of new-ish pilots, has a mysterious flashback that will be fleshed out over the course of the season. (I’m having PTSD from Quantico — pun intended).

We open in Somalia, meeting who I presume are our leads, Nora (meticulous) and Gallo (scruffy). It’s like a rom-com, except their helicopter is getting shot down by an R.P.G. (Side note: this script has more acronyms than I’ve ever read in a script before. It is b.a.n.a.n.a.s) We learn in the next scene, set one month later, that she’s actually got a boyfriend named Ian, also military, but clean-cut & handsome to Gallo’s shaggy dog looks. Gallo, too, it turns out has a girlfriend. Her name is Anna and she likes raucous sex.

Nora is honored with a medal, but immediately is given desk duty. She heads over to Gallo’s to discuss what happened in Somalia — it turns out they lied when being debriefed. It’s then revealed the other officers from the opening crash scene are all P.O.W.s currently.

We get some interesting reveals in flashbacks to the opening scene (ie. they had a prisoner on the helicopter, but he wasn’t Somali, he was American, and he had previously been listed in the military as dead). Nora and Gallo treat this like a case that they have to solve. The leadership on the base gets a bit suspicious. Nora and Gallo narrowly escape a helicopter training accident (another reversal/reveal). We end on a scene that both explains a lot (why they lied during debriefing) and leaves a lot of open-ended questions (why was that guy a prisoner).

Wow — this one’s tough. Of all the CW shows, this one had my attention the most. I wanted to find out what happened next. I wanted to learn more through the reveals. The suspense was palpable. This was a very well-written script.

But… it will be expensive. And is highly serialized. And doesn’t pair with other CW shows. I’m wondering if this was originally pitched at CBS, since they’re the studio, and it was passed on? Regardless, like with Homeland or The Americans, I’m curious to see what happens next. I’m just not sure a network, let alone CW, is the right home for this.

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