Unpopcult’s Casting Call #4: LA Law 2017

That, uh, was a slightly longer hiatus than I was expecting. But there really hasn’t been that much on, and we probably needed the break. As for what we have been watching: we’ll have more to say about Shades of Blue, Containment, Stranger Things (maybe), and ESPN’s documentary series O.J.: Made in America, in due course. We almost certainly won’t have anything to say about Netflix’s The Get Down, because we haven’t been watching it.

But to get us back under way: my eye was caught by the news that Steven Bochco is working on a reboot of 80s/90s legal drama LA Law. In its original iteration it represented, perhaps, a high watermark for American shows on British television, as ITV broadcast it at peak time and got big audiences, at least to start with. (And I LOVED it, at least to start with.) Since then it’s been rare for one of the mass audience British broadcasters to put an American show on in that sort of slot, although interestingly ITV is claiming that it’s going to try that with Lethal Weapon this autumn; we’ll see if they do, and how long it lasts.

Meantime, though, we need a cast for LA Law 2017 (?). And, I think, a big and strong cast, as the original was a terrific ensemble show. So here’s what I’m thinking. The senior partner needs to be a woman with a bit of star power: Felicity Huffman, maybe, with Lisa Edelstein as the next-in-line to succeed her, being side-eyed by Tim DeKay: great lawyer, a bit dull perhaps, resigned to never becoming senior, wondering if his best days are behind him, and feeling under threat from the younger attorneys.

Such as Jake McDorman – for whom I’m desperate to find a vehicle – as a dissolute and disreputable associate, drinking too much, flirting with attractive female clients and ethical boundaries, but nonetheless getting the business done in court. He wants to be a partner, but how likely is that? And does anyone know what his Secret Pain is? And Columbus Short – comeback! – as the brilliant associate on the fast-track to partnership, torn between the rewards of being at a law firm and wondering whether he should be doing something more with his life.

We also need some connection to the original show. So Harry Hamlin – who showed in Mad Men that he’s still got it – as partner emeritus, and Michele Greene, Blair Underwood, and Jill Eikenberry as occasional guest judges. Throw in a couple of up-and-comers as associates, and someone with a bit of moxie as office manager, and there you go. As for possible plots: as long as someone explains the Venus Butterfly, I’m good.

Unpopcult’s Casting Call #3: Hart to Hart

Unpopcult – 50% of it, at any rate – is beside itself with excitement at the news that 70s/80s millionaire/crime drama Hart to Hart is to be rebooted by NBC, this time with a gay male couple at its centre. The plan is, apparently, for a “modern and sexy retelling”, with by-the-book attorney Jonathan Hart and free-spirited investigator Dan Hartman. So they’re opposites, like in no detective show ever.

Still, it needs a cast, and that’s what we’re here to do. I think Matthew Perry would be ideal as uptight Hart, with Matt Bomer as his maverick husband Hartman. (He can even wear his White Collar hat.)

I’m seeing CCH Pounder as the senior partner in Jonathan Hart’s firm, and Carrie Preston occasionally guesting as Jonathan’s ex-wife from before he acknowledged he was gay. But, y’know, she’s come to terms with it, and is doing her best to move on. (Kids we can leave until we know if we’re getting a full-season pickup.)  And Thomas Sadoski can play Hartman’s ex-boyfriend with whom he and Jonathan are on good terms.

Merritt Wever can be Maxine (see what I did there?), who takes care of both of them – which ain’t easy – and some dog or other can play Freeway, Jr.

I think that works.

Unpopcult’s Casting Call #2: Nostradamus

Picture the scene.

A group of tv execs – down but not out – sit around, scratching their heads. Why did Flashforward fail so miserably, they wonder? What can they do with Joseph Fiennes now?

A lone voice rings out: “But I liked the ‘seeing the future’ angle. What if we tried it with a period twist like Downton Abbey or that Da Vinci’s Demons business?”

Emboldened, another voice pipes up: “How about another old-timey celebrity angle? Famous people from the past who could see the future?”

And lo! Everyone in the room stares at each other and shouts “Nostradamus!”

Or something. However it happened, Joseph Fiennes is now attached to this bizarre new concept for a tv show: 16th century French “seer” Nostradamus is on a revenge mission to kill the people who killed his family.

Um…. what?

Never mind that this sounds like the worst idea ever, how exactly is it going to work as an actual series? Is there going to be a procedural element where he kills a baddie every week – Nostradexter? Or is he going to be the French period version of Patrick Jane and kill time by solving other non-family murders every ep instead, a la The Nostralist?

Regardless, the show sounds like it needs all the help it can get: time to bring back the unpopcult casting call.

I’m going to assume Fiennes comes with the project, so it will be set in the type of Le Olde France where everyone has beautifully refined English accents. Or fakes them. So the King and Queen of France? I’d say Dominic West and Jennifer Ehle, two of the best accents in the business.

Poor King Dominic will, however, be murdered in the mid-season finale (Mon Dieu!) and Nos will be framed for it. Obviously, though, the murders of both Nos’s family and the King will turn out to be part of some big, labyrinthine conspiracy which will get bigger and more labyrinthine every week; how about Simon Baker as the top-tier Cardinal/Church bigwig who views Nos as a dangerous heretic and may be responsible for the murders of both King Dominic and the Family Nos? And who may also be having an affair with Queen Jennifer because it’s a tv drama about the French court in the olden days, you guys, everybody will be having affairs with everybody else.

Which reminds me: Nos himself will need a love interest (or several) to feel guilty about since he can’t move on till he gets justice for Mrs Nos etc – maybe Erica Tazel from Justified as his brilliant, feisty student? Ooh, and to give us a Three Nosketeers vibe, they’ll need an old friend to hang around trying to dissuade Nos from his path of revenge and damnation, so here’s where I think we at least try for a little authenticity and use an actual French actor: Gregory Fitoussi as a troubled priest, torn between his loyalty to Le Church and his loyalty to Le Nos.

And finally, since her murder will be the raison d’être for the whole show, there are bound to be plenty of flashbacks to the late Mrs Nos. Which is where I’m kind of stuck. Anne-Marie Duff? Anna Friel? Louise Brealey from Sherlock? What say you?

Unpopcult’s Casting Call #1: Damascus

The news that America Ferrera has been cast in forthcoming CBS pilot Damascus as a nun who is also a crusading attorney, teaming up with a corporate lawyer to fight an evil organisation – oh yes – has prompted Unpopcult to start a new occasional feature we’ve been thinking about for a while: we’re going to cast the show, saving everyone the bother.

So I’m seeing Josh Charles (assuming The Good Wife has been cancelled by then) as the hotshot corporate lawyer, yielding some shipping potential. With Terry O’Quinn as the tough-but-fair senior partner, Sam Page as an untrustworthy associate – whose side is he on? – and Shailene Woodley as America’s nun BFF, torn between her vocation and her feelings for the order’s chaplain (Milo Ventimiglia).

Also starring: Sharon Gless as Mother Superior (season 1 – recurring; season 2 – regular), and Jack Davenport with a 4-episode arc as a visiting British priest with a dark secret of his own.