Here’s my write-up from Blogcritics based on the TV, eh? Blogtalkradio interview with Intelligence and Da Vinci’s Inquest creator Chris Haddock:
Intelligence Comes To DVD While Awaiting FOX Fate “‘The cumulative effect of watching this show is powerful. So I’m hoping everyone will run out and buy it. I just want people to watch it, so I don’t care if people steal it, quite frankly. I’m not encouraging it, but I just want people to watch this thing because it’s so much fun.’” Read more.
The TV, eh? Blogtalkradio show went into extra innings today (the live version gets cut off if you do that, but the archive podcast, which is by far the most listened to version, captures the whole thing). Because … how could I cut off Chris Haddock, creator of Da Vinci’s Inquest and Intelligence, when he was not only dishing about the DVD release, but also the FOX pilot version of Intelligence, John Wells, and his plans to take Richard Stursberg’s job? The last part of the podcast is me sitting back and staying out of the way while two of CBC’s biggest personalities – Haddock and Roger Abbott of Royal Canadian Air Farce – surveyed the state of the CBC. Let’s just say they aren’t hoping for the status quo. Cool stuff for Canadian TV geeks out there.
Top of the show: Roger Abbott of Air Farce
About 30 minutes in: TV myths with Bill Brioux
About 45 minutes in: Chris Haddock on Intelligence and much, much more
For a behind-the-scenes geek like me, The TV Set is a fun movie about the process of making television … and sucking the creative spirit out of a show before it gets to air.
As the opening credits state, networks commission hundreds of scripts each year, only a small fraction of which are produced as pilots. Of that small fraction, only a quarter are picked up for the fall season. The TV Set is the story of one such pilot.
Written and directed by Jake Kasdan (Orange County), it’s executive produced by his dad Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill) as well as Judd Apatow (Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Knocked Up), a man who knows something about the struggle to make quality television.
David Duchovny plays Mike Klein, the writer of what I presume is supposed to be a drama with comedic overtones. In his original script, a young man and woman reconnect when he returns home for the funeral of his brother, who committed suicide. The network head, a deliciously horrible Sigourney Weaver, whose favoured child is the reality show Slut Wars, pushes for a broadly comedic lead actor, fears the audience will think suicide is depressing, and complains the character’s mother comes across as too sad. About her dead son.
Klein finds his soul and his show chipped away at bit by bit, as he moans “I’m making the world more mediocre” to his very pregnant wife (Justine Bateman), who is supportive with limits. Her bulging belly makes him acutely aware that taking a bold creative stand won’t support his family. Judy Greer, Ioan Gruffudd, and Lucy Davis are among the other familiar faces in the cast.
The TV Set is the fictional story of one script’s journey through the pilot process, and I happened to see it just as we’re seeing the successes and failures — mostly failures, it looks like — of the current crop of pilots-become-series, and just as I’ve become aware of the first news about pilots for the next television season.
One such announcement shocks me as much as it thrills me. John Doyle of the Globe and Mail breaks the news that Intelligence is being remade as a pilot for FOX, co-produced by Canada’s own Haddock Entertainment and John Wells Productions (yes, the John Wells who broke my beloved West Wing, but even I can’t deny his track record).
Since Intelligence was a surprise second-season renewal after suffering from low ratings even for a CBC series, and is more akin to The Wire, a critically acclaimed show that hasn’t been a ratings blockbuster for Showtime, than to 24, I would never have guessed Kevin Reilly would see it the potential for success on his network. But since it will have to be retooled drastically for an American viewpoint anyway, I’m sure it will end up bearing little resemblance to The Wire and more to, say, a John Wells production. And all 17 Canadians who watched Intelligence here can feel superior that we embraced the original, more intelligent version.
However, bearing in mind the lesson of The TV Set, the fact that a pilot has been ordered is a far different thing from a guarantee that the show will wind up on the FOX schedule.
TV take — which will likely go by a different title — will pick up where the 2006 feature left off. Nick Naylor, having kicked some of his more evil lobbyist habits, will use his rhetorical skills to help people more deserving of aid. … “He’ll live somewhere between the morally ambiguous character of the movie and Robin Hood,” said USA programming chief Jeff Wachtel.
I loved Thank You For Smoking, but it was a brilliantly complete film, I thought. A lesson I learned from my childhood obsession with Anne of Green Gables is that a great work is not improved on by going back to the well over and over again, and by the time you get to Rilla of Ingleside, the magic has been sucked out.
More importantly, I don’t want to see Nick Naylor as Robin Hood. And after watching The TV Set, it’s hard to have faith that the show will end up being faithful to the vision of the original creator. That is, if the idea makes it to script, and then to pilot, and then to series, so it’s a little early to be worrying about it now.
In yet another example of biting off more than I can chew and having the missing weekend to prove it, I’ve posted part two of the fall preview TV, Eh? podcast. This one features an interview by TV writer Denis McGrath with TV writer Chris Haddock of Intelligence and Da Vinci’s Inquest, plus my conversation with Caroline and John Callaghan about fall series like Heartland, The Tudors, Da Kink in My Hair, Whistler, and Blood Ties.
So this is a little late, but I just ran across this blurb from last year’s PROSALES, the official publication of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association. I’d had a funny, friendly e-mail exchange with the editor after he came across one of my Intelligence reviews mentioning Jimmy Reardon’s lumber yard – he wasn’t terribly surprised to hear that the show might not be the greatest PR for the industry:
Calling All Canadians! We’d like to hear your opinions regarding the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. drama Intelligence, which appears likely to be the only TV series playing in North America in which the lead character owns a lumberyard. Of course, it’s not your typical yard, even for British Columbia: It’s a front for the owner, slickly coiffed Jimmy Reardon, to launder drug profits. Like many LBM dealers, he’s a 3rd-generation member of the family business (at least the bad parts of the business), and Reardon’s character bio on the Intelligence Web site describes him as having “a diligent work ethic, which has resulted in the family business flourishing.” He’s also said to be “gentle and ruthless at the same time.” Canadian TV blogger Diane Kristine says the lumberyard set appears every few episodes, but usually not as often as another of Reardon’s “legitimate” businesses: a strip club. Kristine runs a blog called TV, Eh? So to her fellow Canadians, the question is: How good is “Intelligence,” eh?
Intelligence returns on Monday.
A message from Chris Haddock and Ian Tracey:Here’s a clip from season 2 (some spoilers):