The Watchman: ‘Village’ People Rock Brooklyn, ‘Pretty Little’ Spinoff Aims for Perfection

Senior content producer Michael Malone’s weekly look at the programming scene
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NBC's "The Village"

NBC's "The Village"

Brooklyn drama The Village starts on NBC March 19. The title refers to an apartment building in that borough, where residents not only speak with each other, unlike in many other New York City buildings, but get immersed in one another’s lives as well. “An unlikely family,” is how NBC puts it.

Why Brooklyn?

“I’ve visited for years, and been fascinated with it,” Mike Daniels, creator and executive producer, said. “I’m curious about the small-town aspect of it — you see people you know on the street every day.”

The diverse cast includes Warren Christie, Sarah Campbell, Frankie Faison and Dominic Chianese, previously known as Uncle Junior on The Sopranos. The show is shot in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, nestled against the East River. The cast could walk to each other’s rented apartments.

Those residing in The Village include a disabled war veteran, a chatty superintendent, a woman dealing with close-to-home immigration issues and a single mother getting by with a rebellious teen girl.

The idea for the show came from a number of people in Daniels’ life who were dealing with exceedingly difficult things. He liked the idea, he said, of “everyday heroes.” He aimed to tell “big-city stories with a small-town feel.”

There’s a neat twist at the end of the pilot that you probably won’t see coming.

There’s also “a ton of humor in the show,” Daniels noted. “It runs the gamut of human emotions.”

Freeform's "Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists"

Freeform's "Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists"

Also tapping a few emotions is Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, starting on Freeform March 20. “Nothing in Beacon Heights is as it appears to be,” teases the network. That includes a dead girl who might not even be dead.

Executive producer I. Marlene King calls the spinoff “incredibly cinematic and big and bold,” and maybe a wee bit more sophisticated than Pretty Little Liars. The kids are in college, where perfectionism is expected. Social media doesn’t suffer mistakes gladly either. It makes for some stress in the characters’ lives.

“The young people have to be perfect in everything they do,” King said.

Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish reprise their roles from the original. The Perfectionists is shot in Portland, Oregon, while the original was “a Warner Bros. backlot show,” according to King. It is adapted from the book series The Perfectionists, by Sara Shepard, with fresh mythology baked in.

Pretty Little Liars went for seven seasons, long enough that it launched back when the network was ABC Family. King has been there since the beginning. She devoured the first Pretty Little Liars novel and couldn’t wait to adapt it.

“I read it all in one sitting,” she said, “and I just clicked with ABC Family.”

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