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Light 'Whiskey Cavalier' deserves a shot

One of the early scenes of ABC’s new drama, “Whiskey Cavalier,” tells you all you need to know about the series.

An FBI agent, Will Chase, code name Whiskey Cavalier, played by Scott Foley (“Scandal”), is trying to capture a tube that contains a lethal dose of a virus in a chase with a bad guy.

Eventually, the vial gets throw up in the air and just as it is about to fall, Foley turns into acrobatic New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham and makes a miraculous catch to save a portion of the world.

Clearly, this series – which repeats the pilot at 10 p.m. Feb. 27 -- is not to be taken seriously.

The pilot had a sneak preview around midnight Sunday after the Oscars and local news but judging by the weak local rating not many Western New Yorkers cared.

It is a light, mildly amusing series, the kind of show that the broadcast networks think will protect their futures with the remaining people who still go to the networks for entertainment.

The opener is what is called a premise pilot, which explains how the characters who are competing against each other, working with each other or suspects come together to form a team that saves the world.

Lauren Cohan co-stars as a CIA agent, Frankie Trowbridge, who initially is at odds with Chase.

But anyone familiar with pilots that explain premises will realize they will eventually be on the same side.

The twist is that Foley’s character is the emotional one, having just broken up with the love of his life for reasons that will become clearer by episode’s end.

“It was really a great way to introduce a different side to a sort of a leading action man, and I thought it was an interesting way to jump into the show,” said Foley in a press conference in Pasadena, Calif.

“I have a very strong belief that it’s time to sort of reinvent that trope that is the leading man in an action series. To me, at least, something unrelatable to a lot of the tropes you see in the men that we know to save the world on the television shows we grew up on. This is something that I think is modern and more interesting, for me, at least. It’s much more relatable to have a character like this than someone sort of stoic instead.”

Before you say some people might find Chase’s moping over his lost love ridiculous, be advised that executive producer David Hemingson said the twist is based on real life.

It may be the only thing real about this series.

Hemingson said he got a call at 2 a.m. about four or five years ago from one of his two best friends in the last 30 years. He expected the worst – the possibility his friend or his friend’s parents were in trouble.

“He pulled this terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia,” explained Hemingson. “(He said), ‘Listen, I’m breaking up with my girlfriend. I’m having a hard time. I created this, like, a playlist. You know, Gigi and I have been having a hard time. So could you just edit the playlist because the guys from the CIA think it’s way too heavy into The Smiths, and too shoegazey.’”

“And I’m thinking this guy just thwarted you know, he’s off saving the world, and he’s calling me about his breakup with his girlfriend. They’ve been in couples’ therapy. And I started thinking to myself, like, this guy is the first guy through the door, gun out and up. He is an American hero. He is an amazing guy. And at the end of the day, what he wants is what we all want, which is love, which is connection. And I started thinking why do we always portray these guys as cold, hard lotharios? Why aren’t we portraying these men and women as people who are desperate to trust somebody and urgently want connection? And so the whole thing was an outgrowth of a late night phone call.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

Foley was intrigued by the premise.

“I wasn’t interested in just doing an action show or a drama,” said Foley. “I wanted to do a show that reminded me of the shows that I grew up watching, ‘Remington Steele,’ ‘Moonlighting,’ ‘Hart to Hart,’ ‘Simon & Simon.’ I miss those light one-hour shows. And for me, I wouldn’t be interested in doing this if the comedy wasn’t there.”

So off they went to shoot in Prague, which is a stand-in for different European cities. But they also go on location to some cities for realism.

Bill Lawrence (“Spin City”), another executive producer, said one person in the test audience for the pilot wasn’t buying that.

“Scott’s running by the bridge of the Eiffel Tower,” Lawrence explained. “We were there shooting. It was cold. It was really cool. It was a great moment in my career. A very nice gentleman in the test audience said, ‘They did a good job with that fake Eiffel Tower thing. It almost looks real.’ So I just want to put it out there that we’re actually in those places.”

I want to put it out there. I was a fan of all the series Foley mentioned. Unfortunately, he is no Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis or Robert Wagner.

Still, “Whiskey” deserves a shot.

apergament@buffnews.com

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