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Televisionary Exclusive: First Look at FOX's "The Oaks" Script

Ask and ye shall receive. That's always been my motto and there's a reason why it's true.

In this case, I'm talking about the script for FOX's just-announced new series The Oaks, the first series order for newly installed president Kevin Reilly, which will pit The Shield creator Shawn Ryan on a network series that's... high-concept, to say the least.

By Monday afternoon, I had gotten my greedy hands on David Schulner's script for The Oaks and eagerly devoured the supernatural/relationship drama. It's ambitious, layered, and eerily suspenseful; nothing like it currently exists on network television (in the States, anyway). It certainly doesn't feel like a FOX series, but I think that's Reilly's intention: to steer the audience away from those stereotypes of what makes a FOX series just that.

The quick 411 on The Oaks, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television: it's about three married couples who live in the same house in three different decades. The three couples, separated by time, are linked by spirits that seem to haunt the house that they all share. It's an overlapping narrative that presents three distinct time periods side-by-side and will definitely test the strength of the production crew to carry off three period feels (not to mention having to constantly age and de-age the house, depending on the scene).

Some more specifics but I refuse to spoil anything concrete (sorry!). In 1967, estranged couple Sarah and Mike live in the house but both harbor deep feelings of resentment and isolation towards each other following a certain family tragedy. In 1987, the house is inhabited by sexually frustrated Molly and Frank and their two children, Lucy and Brian. Finally, there's the expectant couple Dan and Hollis, who move into the house in 2007 and, during their ongoing renovations, quickly make a discovery that shines a light on just what exactly is going on inside the house.

The pilot script is titled "Amelia," and there's a clear and concise reason for selecting that title. It also goes a long way towards explaining just what is haunting this house and why, along with setting up several intriguing mysteries along the way. People are continually drawn to this house and drawn BACK to it; several characters have unexpected connections to the past in some very novel ways. But lest you think that this is a ghost story, it delves deeply into the relationships between the central couples, making this an emotional exploration as much as a metaphysical one.

What I read was an early writer's draft of The Oaks and the script should go through several revisions before a pilot is shot in November. But in the meantime, I can't help but wonder what director Michael Cuesta (Dexter) and showrunner Shawn Ryan have up their sleeves. While several networks have made announcements about pilot orders and the like, The Oaks is definitely one project to watch during the course of the next development season.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said…
Hm. Sounds like a BBC series. That could be a good thing. Oh, especially if there's accents! Are there accents?
Anonymous said…
So it's being developed for NEXT season? I thought FOX was rushing it and ordered more scripts because they wanted it for this season at midseason?
The CineManiac said…
It sounds great, but again I show my deep resentment towards Fox and ask, will Fox really give it a chance?
Anonymous said…
Definitely sounds more like a British series...which is a very good thing. I'm looking forward to checking it out. Thanks for the sneak peek and please keep us updated!
Anonymous said…
This sounds really cool so I am sure Fox will cancel it after two episodes. Am I right?
Anonymous said…
Anonymous, it was never being developed for Fox this season. They are rushing it to write and shoot at least 13 eps for next season in case of a strike.
Anonymous said…
It's not unheard of for shows to get late pickups to air within a season. That's why I was asking. I just find it strange that they would so soon shoot episodes for a show that won't be airing for over a year...because even if there's a strike wouldn't it be over by then, most likely? No one is going to want a repeat of 1988.

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