Pilot Season Frenzy

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Amazingly, the 2012-13 television season is quickly becoming a distant and somewhat disappointing memory. Many shows either didn’t take (CBS’s Partners; NBC’s Animal Practice; CW’s Emily Owens M.D.) or were outright disasters of historic proportions (I’m looking at you NBC’s Do No Harm and CW’s Cult). I’m not saying it’s been a complete wash as a few new shows (NBC’s Deception and Guys With Kids; FOX’s The Following) but they have failed to set-my-TV-heart-on-fire like the broadcast television of old.

That’s why I’m especially excited for the 2013 pilot season. It’s that time of year when the networks decide which scripts they want to order to pilot and possibly offer a series to for the upcoming fall television season. These past few weeks e loads and loads of casting announcements hit the entertainment news outlets as networks made their moves to try to save their networks (NBC), establish better rankings (ABC, FOX), keep their lead (CBS), or get a pulse (The CW).

Now, the following is definitely not a complete list of all the pilots in contention this season, they are just the ones that stick out for me for better or for worse:

The usually stable CBS has only a few holes to fill on their schedule, but they didn’t limit  their options. Not surprisingly, most of their drama options, are procedurals. The ones that intrigue me most are the Beverly Hills Cop drama adaptation, the NCIS: LA spin-off, and the return of Josh (Sawyer from Lost) Holloway as a microchip enhanced cop. For their comedies they have the series adaption of Cameron Diaz’s Bad Teacher (sans Diaz, sorry fans), Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as father and daughter in Crazy Ones, and Up All Night refugee Will Arnett in a comedy about a recently divorced single father (which sadly is very much art imitating life in his case).

NBC, on the other hand, has a very leaky line-up and consequently has developed a good number of shows for consideration. At first glance not all of them sound like winners on paper (Girlfriend in a Coma stars Christina Ricci who wakes up from a coma to find Miranda Cosgrove is her daughter.) But neither did Lost, so who knows? A series adaptation of the movie About a Boy sounds like a nice potential fit for NBC. And, at this stage of the game, I totally believe NBC could (and should) just bring back the original Law & Order as it would get better ratings than most of what they currently have on schedule and in development. Having said that, the one drama that I could get excited about is the modern day Hatfields & McCoys series which, if it’s as layered and ruthless as the History Channel movie, will make for a great primetime soap to rival ABC’s Revenge (season 1 Revenge that is; season two’s Emily has been a bit soft).

ABC is having comedy problems. The B in Don’t Trust the B….  and Happy Endings are all but kaput so the network isdeveloping accordingly. They have over 10 comedies to consider, including the Rob Corddry led Spy about a dad taking a job with the Secret Service to impress his highly articulate and intelligent son. Hilarity will ensue! Of the dramas, we all know Joss Whedon’s S.H.I.E.L.D. is a lock unless it proves just too expensive to produce. Of the other contenders, the horror soap Gothica about classic horror monsters reinterpreted in modern day might have legs as does Tricia Helfer as a Texas Ranger in Killer Women. Most recently ABC let the rumor spread that a Once Upon A Time spin-off starring the Mad Hatter (but not as Sebastian Stan) was in consideration. But I say no Sebastian Stan? no thank you! He WAS the Mad Hatter!

You’d think FOX and The CW would have a bit easier time programming with only two hours per night to think about instead of three, but they have their woes as well. The X-Factor and American Idol can’t be on-air the entire season and so FOX must fill time slots. Mob Doctor is already gone and unless something magical happens to improve the ratings Touch will be as well. Of the dramas, JJ Abrams has a contender with his untitled futuristic cop show where LAPD cops are partnered with highly evolved human androids. Also up is a modern day Sleepy Hollow, Felicity Huffman as the matriarch of a family of government sanctioned assassins in Boomerang (obviously not based on the Eddie Murphy/Halle Berry film), and Greg Kinnear as a House-like (read: rude but brilliant) lawyer in the drama series Rake. Comedy wise, FOX still has the un-aired episodes of The Goodwin Games on the shelf and eight comedies in contention, the funniest of which will pair the stoic Andre Braugher with the lovable doofus Andy Samberg.

The CW has already disappointed me by pushing the Wonder Woman television series, Amazon, to next year’s development cycle, but they could redeem themselves with what they still have left on the table. It appears they went the other way in terms of development – last year was light and frothy, teen/young adult shows and this season is mostly about fantasy, sci-fi, dystopia, and grit. Of their eight drama pilots the ones that catch my eye are The Vampire Diaries spin-off The Original, the Roswell evocative Oxygen about alien teens in high school, Reign, a historical drama series following the rise of Mary Queen of Scots and The Tomorrow People, which, yes, sounds like another Heroes or teen X-Men but I dig the sci-fi/fantasy genre so I’ll allow it.

In a mere few months time some of the above will be picked up to series (having dashed the hopes of the fans of several bubble shows) and on our television screens by the fall.

Which pilot do you hope gets picked up to series?
NCIS: LA Spinoff
Hatfields & McCoys
The Originals

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