Tread Perilously — L.A. Confidential: Pilot

Tread Perilously continues its tour of failed TV pilots with 2003’s L.A. Confidential.

Hard boiled Los Angeles detective Jack Vincennes (Kiefer Sutherland) will do anything to get transferred back to Narco and bring down a heroin racket. But since he’s in stuck in Ad-Vice, he tries to uncover the source of the heroin anyway. Meanwhile, Detective Ed Exley (David Conrad) takes his job in the Internal Affairs Division way too seriously. As a consequence, he gets reassigned to deal with an extortion threat against Marylin Monroe. Officer Bud White (Josh Hopkins) gets noticed by Captain Dudley Smith (Tom Nowicki), who could use Bud’s propensity for violence on a new taskforce. But first, he must play bodyguard at a luau hosted by Pierce Patchett (Eric Roberts), where Bud meets the new-in-town Lynn Bracken (Melissa George) and catches wind of a murder.

Erik and Justin reveal they are both fans of James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet — and it informs all of their opinions of the pilot. Justin tries to figure out why Sutherland is in this despite 24 being on the air. Magneto shows up to take over directing duties. The game L.A. Noire gets nothing but praise; as does the L.A. Confidential feature film. Dick Stensland gets re-envisioned as “Stenz the Menace” while Dudley Smith becomes an Odin worshiper. Erik points out the difficulties in making a film about The Hat Squad and Justin suggests a page-one rewrite.

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Tread Perilously — Aquaman: Pilot

Tread Perilously continues its month of failed TV Pilots with the 2006 pilot for Aquaman — aka Mercy Reef.

Occasional SCUBA instructor and animal liberator A.C. (international heartthrob Justin Hartley) spends his days as a lovable rogue and helping his friend Eva (Amber McDonald) run her seaside bar until forces from Atlantis arrive in town to deal with loose ends. When a siren (guest star Adrianne Palicki) makes killing A.C. a priority, he must finally face the truth of his past and take hold of his destiny. Luckily, a friend of his parents (Ving Rhames) appears to train him, not unlike a Watcher, and aid him in freeing Atlantis. Meanwhile, Air Force pilot Lt. Rachel Torres (Denise Quiñones) is out of her depth despite being headhunted by an X-Files type agent interested in the mysterious goings-on in the Bermuda Triangle.

Justin and Erik invent a more standard drama series called Mercy Reef about broken people trying to rebuild their lives in a scenic paradise. They also get lost in the ethnic ambiguity of actor Lou Diamond Phillips. Justin complains that international heartthrob Justin Hartley stole his allotment of hotness. An in-depth discussion of Jaws 3D and Jaws: The Revenge breaks out. The use of “A.C.” reminds Justin of Al Cowlings. Erik praises McDonald’s performance as one of the pilot’s highlights and Hartley as its winning feature. But is it possible this vision of Aquaman isn’t sexy enough?

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Tread Perilously — Fearless: Pilot

Tread Perilously begins a special experiment with a month of failed television pilots. Up first, The WB 2004 pilot for Fearless starring Rachel Leigh Cook.

Gaia Moore was born without the “fear gene.” Consequently, her reflexes are heightened to compensate for the lack of a fight-or-flight response. While it makes little sense, it makes her an ideal candidate for the FBI and a special taskforce handling “young crime.” Her first case sees Gaia and the team on the trail of a major identity thief. But when the confidential informant helping on the case turns out to be the ID thief’s son, Gaia will have to use her lack of fear to save the day. Meanwhile, her knew partners try to uncover her secret.

Justin and Erik discuss the importance of beta readers for writing projects of all types. Ian Somerhalder becomes “Ian Smoulderhalder” because of course he does. Justin points out the supporting cast made notable guest appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Erik begins his fantasy casting for Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune. He also points out how far away 2004 feels. Justin defends Cook despite the terrible dialogue she speaks throughout. Erik considers how the careful application of cyberpunk would solve many of the pilot’s problems and both attempt to find better roles for Cook.

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Tread Perilously — Quantum Leap: The Play’s The Thing

Tread Perilously rounds out Sci-Fi month by taking a long overdue look at Quantum Leap with an episode called “The Play’s the Thing.”

September 9th, 1969. Sam leaps into the body of Joe, a 25 year-old struggling actor who happens to be dating Jane – a woman 25 years his senior. She recently moved to New York to become a singer, but her son and daughter-in-law are quite unhappy about it. Not that it really matters as Ziggy determines Sam is there to help Joe overcome his sudden bout of stage fright and become a successful actor. But Sam is convinced he must keep Jane from a fate worse than death – a long, loveless life in Cleveland. Will Sam be able to save Joe and Jane at the same time?

Erik and Justin immediately talk about Kennedy conspiracies and one of the more uncomfortable elements of the show – Sam’s ability to consent. They also discuss the overall premise of Quantum Leap and its few conventions. Erik also ruins The Time Machine and Back to the Future by thinking fourth-dimensionally. A very young Anna Gunn makes a special appearance as a Jane’s daughter-in-law. Erik and Justin define “The Ted” – a film or television romantic interest who looks good a paper, but will become controlling and abusive. Also, the pair realizes they have no idea when buffalo wings became popular.

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Tread Perilously — Supertrain: Express To Terror

Tread Perilously corrects an error by finally taking a look at the Supertrain pilot, “Express to Terror.”

Noted industrialist Winfield Root’s wish to create an atomic powered transcontinental train service comes to fruition with the maiden voyage of Supertrain. It has a disco, a gym, a salon, a pool and a weird babyman for a concierge. Not that any of this matters to Mike Post (guest star Steve Lawrence), a junior agent trying to secure a role for his boss’s client (special guest star Vicki Lawrence). He also owes 40 large to Big Ed back in Los Angeles and someone may have put a hit on out him. Will he survive the Express … to terror? Also guest starring Don Meredith and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson.

Sarah Madden and Seth Linker join Erik and Justin to experience the majesty of Supertrain. All fall over themselves to talk about the raw sexual magnetism of weird babyman Dave Noonan (Patrick Collins). Justin learns about Jon Peters’ secret origin and the movie Shampoo. Seth defines the word “barbicide.” Passenger Jack Fisk (Don Stroud) easily wins Most Valuable Character thanks to his suspenders, comb-over and constant cigar. Erik cannot keep the name “George Hamilton” in his mind. Sarah keeps the gang on the tracks even as the Supertrain itself tries to fly off them.

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Tread Perilously: Special Review Unit — Wildlife

Tread Perilously once again opens the case files of the Special Review Unit with an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit known as “Wildlife.”

SVU detectives are called to the scene of a murder victim who was apparently mauled and licked by the perp — an exotic tiger. The trail leads to a night club called “Supple,” a z-list rapper named Gots Money and, oddly enough, an international animal smuggling ring. Detective Elliot Stabler allies with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to go undercover in that dangerous world and uncover who let loose the tiger upon the initial victim. But will his actions endanger an even more wide-ranging investigation?

Executive ADA Louis Allred joins the SRU squad to make Rudy Giuliani and the Charmin Bears added guest stars. He, Erik and Justin attempt to determine the first 33 rules of the internet. Erik warns against Scarface posters. The quality of Gots Money’s flow gets criticize. Justin asks one of the most important philosophical questions of the day: “Why would Kanye lie?” Erik explains why Creed is a film apart from the rest of the Rocky film series. Justin recommends the CHUD theaters of New York and presumes “tiger” is a codeword for a very specific sort of sexual partner. Also, Justin discovers he can do a good Jimmy Stewart impression.

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Tread Perilously — Doctor Who: The Ultimate Foe

Tread Perilously wraps up its look at Doctor Who‘s 23rd season, “The Trial of a  Time Lord,” with part 13 (by Robert Holmes) and part 14 (by Pip & Jane Baker) — collectively known as “The Ultimate Foe.”

When the Valeyard enters a charge of genocide against The Doctor, Mel and Sabalom Glitz are pulled out of time to appear as witnesses. Their testimony is never taken into the record as The Master appears to break up the trial and accuse the Valeyard of malpractice … and of being The Doctor himself. It all leads to the Matrix, which the Valeyard was manipulating the whole time, as part of a plot by the Time Lord High Council to prevent The Doctor from revealing the truth about Ravalox. It is about as confusing as you might think.

Justin wants to join the Liverpool Doctor Who Appreciation Society. He and Erik try to figure out The Master’s actual motivation across the two episodes. Justin praises the return of Sabalom Glitz and actor Tony Selby. Erik somehow figures out how the Time Lords tying Thetans to volcanoes on Earth led to The Doctor’s trial. “A bob for a tuna?” becomes your new favorite bit of Cockney slang. Erik and Justin begin breaking a new BBC prestige series called The Adventures of Eustace Popplewick, and Justin suggests classic Doctor Who would work better as three-part stories.

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