All the networks have been super busy ramping up pilot production, starting with announcing casts and conveying a bit more information on what their shows are all about. Now that some vital missing pieces have been filled in, I’m going back through the network pilots and seeing if my initial perceptions based on flimsy discriptions were right on or totally off base. Up first, ABC!
I’m leaving one show off the analysis, because as I said in my first look (https://www.tvfortherestofus.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=389;its-rabbit-season-its-duck-season-its-pilot-season&catid=54;general-television&Itemid=28), S.H.I.E.L.D. is a slam dunk. For the rest, I’m listing the casting, any new info that’s surfaced about the show, and my confidence level on the pilot’s chance for getting picked up as a series.
- Casting: Ed MacLiam, Alex Meraz, Ruth Bradley, Spencer Locke.
- New info: A brilliant late 19th century New York doctor are given the opportunity to relocate to a small mining town. The town isn’t what it seems, and some strange mysterious tycoon is behind it all.
- Confidence level: Low. I’m still keeping this in the “What were they thinking?” category. All depends, is this a Sunday at 7pm show, a 10pm on the edge thriller, or something tame that’s in between? The unknown cast is always a risk, but I like the idea of giving newcomers a try. They’re going to need some damn good material though.
- Casting: Summer Bishil, Anastasia Phillips, Christine Evangelista, and Lorraine Bruce.
- New info: None really. They only have three of their seven lottery winners by the sound of it.
- Confidence level: Very low. This is looking worse than Big Thunder.
Murder in Manhattan
- Casting: Annie Potts, Bridget Regan
- New info: This is being labeled as a dramedy. With Annie Potts, no wonder. The premise is the same, mother/daughter amateur sleuths in New York.
- Confidence level: Mild. The casting of Potts helps, as does the light hearted approach of a dramedy, but murder mysteries are still overdone. This will be a tough sell given all the other choices.
- Casting: Patrick Fugit, Eloise Mumford, Naveen Andrews, Ashton Holmes, Lou Taylor Pucci, Bess Campbell, Ernie Hudson, Lyndon Smith, Parminder Nagra
- New info: Other than the wife has been captured as part of a coup in East Myanmar? This description from Deadline sounds very interesting: “The thriller centers on David (Patrick Fugit), a resourceful problem solver who, when his wife Sarah (Eloise Mumford) is unjustly imprisoned during a political uprising overseas, resorts to entering a world of political intrigue, dangerous alliances and high emotional stakes in order to get her out. Andrews will play Brit Roland Shaw, former SAS and a renegade who will do whatever it takes, for a price, to rescue Sarah.”
- Confidence level: High. This is evolving to be quite the project, and the cast looks amazing. Of course, throw a Lost alum in the cast (Naveen Andrews) and suddenly the profile goes up. I might actually watch this show. Just as long as they don’t turn it into another Missing.
- Casting: Greg Grunberg, Rockmond Dunbar, Kacey Rohl
- New info: None really. It’s still about a guy named Vincent who is a cop turned low rent lawyer who knows how to work the system al l while battling personal demons and his ex-wife.
- Confidence level: Shaky. At first glance this looked promising. I mean, David Shore and Tommy Schlamme being on the project won me over. They still haven’t found their lead guy to play Vincent yet though. It’s getting a little late in the game for that.
- Casting: Omar Epps, Kurtwood Smith, Landon Gimenez, Frances Fisher, Devin Kelly, Mark Hildreth, Nicholas Gonzalez, Sam Hazeldine, Samaire Armstrong.
- New info: Here’s some word on Omar Epps’ character. According to TVLine, “Epps’ Immigration Agent Martin Bellamy is in town to figure out the identity of the mysterious kid claiming to be the long-dead child of Harold (Smith) and his wife Lucille (Frances Fisher).”
- Confidence Level: Good. I liked the premise of this before, dead loved ones suddenly appearing back to life, and the casting looks really good. They have a few more slots to fill, but what they have so far is strong. Still, the key is going to be where they can take this beyond the pilot. That’s burned ABC with shows before (Flash Forward anyone?).
- Casting: Bruce Greenwood, Dean Winters, Jennifer Beals, Lincoln Lewis, Michael Graziadei, Ming-Na Wen, Odette Annable,
- New info: Westside is being called “soapy”, and no wonder given this description from the Hollywood Reporter. “The drama will focus on rival families the Nances and the Carvers and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the two clans battle for control of Venice. Winters will play Robbie Carver, a local legend who runs the Carver family surf shop in Venice and is the brother-in-law of Lisa Carver (The L Word’s Jennifer Beals). He also carries the family vendetta and wages a one-man war against Gordy Nance’s (Star Trek’s Bruce Greenwood) empire.”
- Confidence level: Semi-good. The names associated with the project are recognizable, but this hasn’t been a high profile project. Still, the guy who was cast as the lead plays Mayhem in the Allstate commercials. That’s got to have some sort of strange appeal. Not to mention, soaps are ABC’s wheelhouse.
- Casting: Stuart Townsend, Hannah Ware, Chris Johnson, Wendy Moniz
- New info: Considering I don’t even remember what this is about, how about this description courtesy of Deadline. “Betrayal centers on Sara (Ware), a beautiful but unhappily married female photographer who begins a torrid affair with Jack (Townsend), a charming, quick-witted lawyer for a powerful family that raised him when his parents died in an accident. When he turns out to be defending a murder suspect who is being prosecuted by her husband (Chris Johnson), the relationship and the case begin a spiraling series of betrayals with cataclysmic results for everyone involved. Further complicating things is the fact that Jack is married to his boss’ daughter (Wendy Moniz).”
- Confidence level: Poor. Nothing stands out here, except the fact that Patty Jenkins is directing.
- Casting: Janet Montgomery, Tom Ellis, Emma Booth
- New info: This gets interesting. The story is a mash up of Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Jekyll and Hyde, and Dracula all to the setting of hometown newspaper.
- Confidence level: No idea. This has potential to be either great, or a total disaster. Given the strong competition, I’m not sure.
- Casting: Christian Slater, Steve Zahn.
- New info: Deadline once again has a better description than I could possibly provide. It’s complicated. “A provocative workplace ensemble centered on the complicated relationship between two brothers — Clark (Zahn), a bipolar genius in human psychology, and Ross (Slater), a slick ex-con — who head a unique agency designed to solve their clients’ problems using the real science of human motivation and manipulation. Ross is described as a brilliant schemer, recently out of prison after a two-year stint for fraud. Roiling with ideas, given to rationalization, high-wired, often charmingly persuasive, divorced three years ago, also an inveterate ladies’ man, Ross has come up with a business model that he believes can make him and his team millions.”
- Confidence level: Shaky. You remember the old website, jumptheshark.com? How Ted McGinley was their patron saint of sure fire failure of a series after he was cast? Our modern day Ted McGinley is Christian Slater. I don’t think he’s a bad actor. It’s just all his recent high profile projects have failed miserably. That instantly taints this project as well.
- Casting: Tricia Helfer, Michael Trucco, Alex Fernandez, Marc Blucas, Marta Milans.
- New info: Surprise, surprise. The female Texas Ranger is a badass on top of being the perfect woman. She’s smart, holding a doctorate in gender studies, but she’s also a former Miss Texas who can interrogate better than the Iraqis, is a forensics expert and shoots with machine like precision! That must have been what she did for the talent contest to win Miss Texas. Don’t worry though, she’s divorced too, living with her brother and nieces, just in case we’re afraid she’s too Mary Sue for us. She has issues.
- Confidence Level: Poor. But hey, what do I know? I didn’t think ABC was going for the drooling horndog male population on any given night, but this actually could end up being a companion with S.H.I.E.L.D.
On page 2, how are ABC’s comedy pilots looking?