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When Bad Things Happen to Good Pilots: ABC's Edgar Floats

It was inevitable, really.

One of the quirkier pilots this season, ABC's Edgar Floats is getting reconceived. It's a shame as the pilot, from creator Rand Ravich (Life) was one of the few beacons of hope (and creativity) in a season that's otherwise overflowing with formulaic procedurals and tired professional-based genres (doctor, lawyer, cop) rather than genuine originality.

Other than Robert Patrick, the entire cast--including the perfectly cast Tom Cavanagh and Alicia Witt--will be replaced and the potential series--which received an order for six additional scripts--will likely be refashioned to be less edgy, less quirky, less smart.

In other words, all of the very things that made it stand out from the pack in the first place.

I had the chance to watch the original pilot for Edgar Floats a few weeks back (after loving the pilot script) and instantly fell head over heels in love with it, raving about the shot pilot on Twitter and to anyone I happened to be talking to about pilots at the time.

Egdar's pilot was the standout of the broadcast bunch, an intelligent and quirky drama that pushes Cavanagh's titular character, a police psychologist, into the dangerous world of bail bonds, pitting him against his kick-ass ex-wife Sandra (Witt) and her tough-as-nails father (Patrick) as Edgar learns that his skills might not extend to bare-knuckle brawling but might serve their team of bounty hunters quite well indeed.

Cavanagh's Edgar was a mild-mannered police psychologist, the sort who wears Clark Kent-style heavy-framed glasses and a short-sleeved shirt with a tie but he's perhaps even more wimpy than Superman's alter ego. He's also haunted by the ghost of a dead cop, one who blew his brains out, though it's unclear in the pilot whether what Edgar is seeing is a ghost or something more akin to a full-blown hallucination... or a manifestation of his own guilty conscious.

Yin to Edgar's yang was Alicia Witt's Sandra, a sexy and deadly bounty hunter who just happened to be his opposites attract ex-wife. That it was hard to imagine Edgar and Sandra together is part of the fun of the pilot; these two are so diametrically opposed that it's not hard to see why their marriage crumbled around them. Sandra's a completely physical person--all curves and roundhouse punches--while Edgar lives inside his head. It was a match that was doomed to fail, really.

I will say that all three of the series leads--Cavanagh, Witt, and Patrick--were all fantastic in their roles. Patrick seems born to play this role, a gruff but caring paternal figure to both Sandra and Edgar, whom he seems to genuinely care about, even if he's in way over his head.

Direction by Jace Alexander (Burn Notice) kept the whole thing moving along at a brisk pace (and with a nicely stylized palette), with the actors seeming to relish the quick-witted banter and well-crafted dialogue that Ravich brought to the table. (It's a shame, really, that people won't get to see this shot pilot as it was absolute perfection to me.)

It's the rare series that can juggle humor, violence, quirky characters, and heart, but Edgar Floats's pilot did just that, creating a world that's at once heightened and accessible, beautiful and deadly, all at the same time.

Edgar Floats may still make it to the airwaves but it will be a very different beast than this pilot. Which is where my depression starts to set in again. It's rare to see a pilot and need to see the second episode straightaway but Edgar Floats had me wanting to see the third, fourth, fifth episodes right now.

In a season that's going to be filled with more run-of-the-mill procedurals than you can shake a psychology degree at, it's all the more heartbreaking that ABC would have to tamper with a good thing.

Stay tuned.


rockauteur said…
I was able to see this pilot too... and thought it was great. While I thought it did move slow at times, I still loved the show overall and Cavanaugh, Witt, and Patrick were awesome. Witt was totally kick-ass and great to see her outside her comfort zone in this sort of role, ditto for Cavanaugh who is used the funny man and now plays it very straight. He is almost a sort of anti-hero as well, not in the same way that Vic Mackey or Tony Soprano is, but in a nerdy, almost unlikeable sort of way. The dork who has been picked on way too many times, kind of like Michael Douglas' character in Falling Down.

Shame on ABC for getting rid of the edge, something it so badly needs with its stale hits and watered down pilots.
Smithy said…
Oh no! I was so looking forward this. It's an absolute shame that they didn't even give it a chance before messing with it.
RTA said…
I'd say the producers should cut and run from ABC and head to basic cable. This sounds like a fun show for the USA network.
Jarz said…
Not that I want to defend the network suits but if the cast is being replaced, except for one actor, why do you automatically conclude there was something they found wrong with the premise of the show? Perhaps they just found something wrong with the casting. And is it also possible that the show that was pitched and approved for a pilot, was not pilot they got?
Jace Lacob said…

I didn't "automatically conclude" anything. Both Deadline and Entertainment Weekly reported that the show will be "reconceived," hence my comments that anything from tone, character, overall quirkiness, etc. can be ditched, along with 95 percent of the cast.
Anonymous said…
It'll probably turn into contrived garbage. I'm not watching it!
JanieJones said…
Whenever I hear of something like this, it inevitably annoys me. I was looking forward to seeing this show and now I'm turned off as a viewer.
Broadcast television-pay attention to what basic/pay tv is doing. Those who have it spend more of their time watching it than some (not all) of the drivel served up by big networks, imo.
Dollars and cents, advertising, the whim of executives and perhaps poor testing for some shows?
Drives me bloody nuts :)

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