2012 Pilot Watch
I’ve barely had the opportunity to check out this current season’s new shows (damn you, full time job!), but it is indeed February which means the networks are busy ordering pilots for next fall. After studying the lineup provided by EW.com, I’ve made the following observations. Warning: harsh and perhaps unfair first impressions ahead!
- Remakes are no longer en vogue but are still extant: NBC has producer Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies) putting his own spin on The Munsters in a pilot called Mockingbird Lane, and ABC and the CW are both developing Beauty and the Beast adaptations.
- Some pilots’ titles are very literal, which can either be a good thing (Fox’s comedy Prodigy Bully) or a bad thing (CBS’s drama Widow Detective and ABC’s drama Devious Maids).
- Other terrible titles abound throughout the list. I love the idea of ABC’s period drama from Shonda Rhimes (about the opening of a luxury New York hotel in 1895), but I can’t stand the title, Gilded Lillys. CBS’s comedy about a playboy blogger who lands a hosting gig on public radio sounds funny, but the title Living Loaded makes it sound like low-rent entertainment. And though it’s a great word and super-fun to say, Scruples is just too weird of a moniker for ABC’s drama about a woman who goes from zero to Beverly-Hills-boutique-owning hero.
- I have no inclination to watch another Dick Wolf procedural. Can you guess what NBC’s Chicago Fire is about?
- That said, NBC has a lot of potential on its dramatic slate. Beautiful People chronicles an uprising of a robot servant class. The Frontier satisfies all my Oregon Trail nostalgia. Bad Girls sounds like a grittier version of the “Cellblock Tango” sequence in Chicago. County, a story about a hospital struggling with both its morality and its funding comes from producer Jason Katims and star Jason Ritter, whose joint work on Parenthood rocks. And hey, Midnight Sun has Alaska and communes and conspiracies!
- CBS’s drama Quean has two strikes against it. The title, which I presume to be the protagonist’s surname, sounds like a fetishistic sex act. And the description is seriously dated: “An edgy and independent millennial-hacker girl teams up with an Oakland police detective to solve crimes.” Uh, “millennial-hacker girl”? Hey, 1999 called: it wants its logline back.
- Furthermore, dear writers of CBS’s Friend Me, making Groupon your protagonists’ employer—and, frankly, calling your comedy Friend Me—reeks of a desperate ploy to appear current.
- Roseanne Barr is returning to scripted TV in NBC’s comedy Downwardly Mobile, in which she plays the mother hen of a trailer park filled with down-on-their-luck characters. I’m down with that premise, but I’m seriously biased against multi-camera sitcoms (i.e. sitcoms with three-sided sets, unnatural lighting, and laugh tracks). I think this show would be a lot more appealing if the trailer park were more of a world and less of a set.
- Otherwise funny people like Jimmy Fallon, Sarah Silverman, and Mindy Kaling are writing comedies that sound pretty blah. Then again, I can’t imagine Friends had an exciting logline either.
- The supernatural once again gets a lot of play this pilot season, especially on ABC. In Gotham, a woman discovers an unseen, magical world in New York City that reinvents familiar landmarks in an “otherworldly manner”. (Consider my curiosity piqued.) And in 666 Park Ave., a couple becomes the managers of a historic and supernatural apartment building. (Sort of an old conceit, but an evergreen one.)
- The CW is creating a prequel to Sex and the City based on author Candace Bushnell’s novel The Carrie Diaries. Bear in mind that the network already tried doing an 80s-set spin-off of Gossip Girl, and that never got off the ground.
- The Selection, a drama pilot in the works at the CW, is about a young girl from a poor family who is, well, selected to compete to become an embattled country’s queen. It’s not The Hunger Games, but it sounds awfully close.
- Continuing TV’s fixation with the 1960s (read: Mad Men, The Playboy Club, Pan Am), CBS is developing a drama about Ralph Lamb, a real-life rodeo cowboy in who became a Las Vegas sheriff in that decade. I love the era, I’m curious about the premise… might I be lassoed in?
- I’m also intrigued by J.J. Abrams’ latest project, NBC’s drama Revolution, which features a society suddenly devoid of energy. (I’m assuming we’re talking energy sources here.)
- But my favorite premise is that of ABC’s Last Resort, a drama about a submarine crew that goes rogue, stations the craft in a NATO outpost, and stakes their place as a new nuclear nation.
Tagged as Friends, Gossip Girl, Mad Men, Pan Am, Parenthood, Sex and the City, The Playboy Club + Categorized as Series, Previews