Fall TV: Limitless
Let’s talk about what makes a good television show. First off, just because a movie does well at the box office doesn’t mean that it will make a great TV series. In fact, they usually don’t. Why? Well, there’s a reason it was written as a movie and not a television show; there’s just not enough of a plot line to carry it through three seasons. Three is the magic number for a lot of things entertainment. In this instance Producers want to know that a show can last at least three seasons. One way to convince a TV producer of this is to tell them that it’s like another show, but with specific differences. Or convince them that there is enough plot in the film you’re adapting it from, and make sure it’s a film that did well at the box office.
So let’s talk money. Limitless the movie crushed it at the box office its opening weekend banking almost $20 million. The film cost $27 million to make. To date it’s made over $160 million worldwide. Can you see the dollar signs rolling over in the producer’s eyes? As I mentioned above, if you can tell/show a producer that a TV show is like another successful show, you’ll increase your chances. What TV show is Limitless like? It tries to be like Castle. Castle, up until this season, held steady at 2.5 with Nielsen. That’s roughly 12 million viewers. But creating a TV show based on a box office smash and likening it to another successful TV show aren’t the only ingredients needed to create a successful pilot.
First let’s talk about what Limitless did right. To start with they didn’t try to use the same characters from the film. Yes, Bradley Cooper made an appearance in the pilot episode, but I doubt he’ll be in too many more of them. He’s only scheduled to be in one more episode out of nine the first season. Aside from Cooper they have an entirely different cast. This makes it kind of like a side story to the film instead of trying to spread that cast and storyline into a series.
What else did they do right? If you follow my blog then you know what you need to make a good story, right? You need a likable/relatable protagonist. They have one with Brian Finch, unfortunately the actor portraying him (although he’s not a bad actor) isn’t strong enough to pull off the two separate identities of “Everyday Joe” vs “Super-Smart-NZT-user.” There just isn’t that clear contrast like Cooper brought to it. Oh, wait, I was supposed to be talking about what they did right. Well, that is about the extent of it.
Another glaring defect is the dialogue. It’s a toss up as to whether the writers just aren’t smart enough to write smart dialogue or the actor isn’t believable enough to deliver it. There are a couple of scenes in which Finch is rattling off information that’s supposed to sound intelligent and then says something like, “and then there’s that guy, can’t remember his name…” Wait just a cotton pickin’ minute! Doesn’t NZT give you total memory recall? Come on, guys. How could you let something that obvious slip through?
To wrap up, Limitless isn’t horrible. In fact, with what we have to choose from this season, it’s definitely watchable. We’re only 5 episodes in, the halfway point of 9. It is listed as a drama, but it’s got more humor. That’s another thing that makes it reminiscent of Castle. So if you haven’t seen it yet, go on over to CBS and catch up on it. Let me know what you think. Until next week, happy writing.