Tradecraft: Exit Strategy Makes an Exit
This is a surprise. When it was announced last winter that Fox had landed movie star Ethan Hawke to star in a spy TV series from red-hot producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, I assumed that casting (which recalled the network's 2001 coup of luring Kiefer Sutherland to television) guaranteed the show a spot on the fall schedule. Turns out it didn't, but last we heard it was still a strong contender for mid-season after a little retooling. Well, apparently that's not to be either. Deadline reports that "Exit Strategy is now dead after the producers determined that, even with tweaks, the project won't be very different than the original pilot they delivered and opted to focus on new development instead." Wow. I'm surprised, but far from crushed. As the spy team came together for what was clearly envisioned (right down to the distinctive means of receiving assignments and the mission briefing) as a 21st century Mission: Impossible, this was the spy show I was most looking forward to seeing on the air. But after reading the original pilot script (prior to a rewrite by Kurtzman and Orci, I have to make clear), my expectations diminished considerably. It was an hour of every spy cliche you've ever seen. Even that would have been okay with me if the writer had in some way acknowledged the fact, but they were annoyingly presented as if it was the first time these tropes had ever been seen. The Mission: Impossible formula honestly doesn't really require much in the way of character development, but it was clear that Exit Strategy hoped to change that... and failed miserably at its initial script stage. Still, a lot can happen between the draft that's bought and the pilot that airs, so I was rooting for the show to improve... but I won't lose sleep over the fact that now we'll never see it. If you're disappointed, I highly recommend queuing up the original Mission: Impossible series on Netflix streaming (where it's all available) and immersing yourself in that instead. And for the sake of posterity, I'll probably post a full review of the Exit Strategy script at some point, for those like me with a keen curiosity for What Might Have Been.