I have spent the past two days talking about some of the disconnect between development and needs. Regardless, the networks will be announcing some new shows in a few weeks, and based on pilot descriptions and no insider knowledge, here are the ones that stood out to me. A couple of observations before I blindly pick some pilots I think may get on the air in the fall.
- There is a heavy emphasis on procedurals. They account for more than half of all pilots.
- There are a lot of female-driven projects, and in the procedural world we still have a lot of pilots that use the “she’s a/he’s a” structure, where one is a cop or agent and the other has some unique “power.”
- CBS relies heavily on the procedural format, while NBC seems to have a somewhat more eclectic mix.
- Of all the networks, The CW has the most “out there” drama development.
- There is a heavier reliance on reboots or reimaginings than in recent years.
- In comedy, there are few “stable” nuclear family shows and a lot of emphasis on busted families and groups of adults who help each other raise children.
- NBC seems to be looking for another “Friends” and CBS a new “How I Met Your Mother.”
- Even when a show is not a reboot, several of these concepts seem to have been done before, and often quite recently.
- FOX comedy development remains a head-scratcher to me.
Again, I am judging these on auspices, whether it feels like a TV show with multiple episodes and if there is a promotable hook. Here are the pilots that I expect to hear announced as a series pickup.
ABC has three dramas and two comedies I think will go to series.
“The Rookie” (which has a straight-to-series order): Nathan Fillion as a 40-something rookie cop in L.A. Go with it.
“Staties”: Fish out of water cop show. Could be for cops what “Northern Exposure” was for doctors, and it has the “she’s a/he’s a” thing going on.
“Holmes Sisters Project” (aka “The Finest”): African-American “Blue Bloods” with five sisters, all NYPD cops.
“Greatest American Hero”: It’s a reboot, and it has Hannah Simone.
“Tim Doyle Project”: Closest thing to “Roseanne,” and it’s a period piece, which ABC loves. One drawback — the kids in this family comedy are all sons.
CBS is easy because they will put on all their reboots and reimaginings, so unless they are disasters, we will see “Cagney and Lacey,” “Magnum, P.I.” and “Murphy Brown” (which was ordered straight to series) announced in May. The network gave a straight-to-series pickup to “FBI,” from Dick Wolf. Also, I have a feeling that “Pandas in New York” will make the cut. It’s a family of successful Indian-American doctors who are trying to arrange a marriage for their son. It’s “9JKL,” but hopefully watchable and funny.
The CW will announce a reboot (“Charmed”) and a spinoff (“Wayward Sisters” from “Supernatural”). I’m not so sure about “Roswell” since they did a similar show a few years ago with “Star-Crossed.”
I think there are two more you may hear about in May.
“In the Dark”: A sightless woman and her dog, Pretzel, solving crimes and with a good family back story. Maybe the next “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (or maybe not).
“Skinny Dip”: If you’re familiar with the Carl Hiaasen novel, you have to be excited for this. If you’re not, and if they pull it off, this could be a sleeper.
It’s hard to know what’s going on over at FOX. Maybe they pick up nothing, given the transitional phase they’re entering. But if they pick up something, it will be the Ilene Chaiken drama starring Katie Holmes as a tarnished FBI agent. They have her and “from the executive producer of ‘Empire'” to promote it.
NBC had the most promising pilots just based on concepts:
“LA’s Finest”: Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba with a “Bad Boys” pedigree? Hard to see how you screw this one up.
“New Amsterdam”: Yeah, CBS bombed with “Pure Genius” last year, and this one also has a title that doesn’t signal medical drama (note to NBC: if you pick it up, change the friggn’ title), but it was the only medical drama, so expect to see it next season.
“The Between”: in the tradition of “Medium” and “Ghost Whisperer,” which is all you need to know.
In trying to re-create the “Must-See TV” comedy tradition, two stand out: “Abby’s” (unconventional bar in San Diego) and “Bright Futures,” with 20-something friends making the transition from goofballs to successful professionals (that will be all in the casting).
I could be totally off-base, and for all I know some of these projects have already been shut down or pushed to midseason or next fall. Let’s all watch.