It’s that time of year! It’s Pilot Season! Unless you’re Fox, then it’s just normal show development season. Just like last year, I’m taking a look at the pilots network by network and giving my initial thoughts based on nothing more than a flimsy description and possibly casting.
I’ll be the first to admit, I got a ton wrong last year. Shows I thought were good didn’t get picked up or imploded before the pilot was even shot, or the few that were picked up on my “like” list turned out to really suck. My most classic, completely epic blunder though was mocking Sleepy Hollow as the absolutely stupidest idea alive and it would never fly. Here I am one year later, and I have a new favorite show that I’m totally obssessed about. In terms of mythology, it turned out to be one of the best written and most cohesive seasons I’ve ever seen in terms of Sci-Fi/Fantasy (yes, even if they went a bit Raiders of the Lost Ark-ish over George Washington’s tomb), the cast is perfect and Tom Mison is a Revolutionary War throwback dream! That goes to show, TV is a place where stars are born. So don’t let the casting fool you.
This year, I’m starting with CBS first. They have nine comedy and nine drama pilots ordered, and once again a miniscule amount of slots. However, their comedy slate has weakened a bit this season, so there could be some big openings there. On the drama side, nothing is new. Multiple plots, few slots. First I’ll look at the nine comedies, and then move onto the drama pilots in this 2014 pilot development season.
When examining at the comedy front, CBS on the surface has room for probably two or three pickups, but it could be a lot more if they end up losing any or all of The Millers, The Crazy Ones, Two and A Half Men (please go now, please?), Mom or Mike and Molly. The safest one out of the group looks like to be The Crazy Ones, but you never know what direction a net will take when money is involved. They are losing How I Met Your Mother, but when you see this list, they’ve already got a replacement in mind. I’ll note which are multi-camera (shows shot in front of an audience like The Big Bang Theory) or single camera (The Crazy Ones).
Here they are in alphabetical order:
Cuz-Bros (multi camera): A successful ladies man whose perfect life turns upside down when his of a cousin moves in after saving his life.
Prognosis: Sketchy. There’s no one casted for it yet, and we all know casting is crucial for any type of sitcom. Also crucial is solid writing, but that isn’t so bad since it’s coming from two Happy Endings vets in David Caspe and Erik Sommers. This doesn’t sound like a very high profile pilot, and fans are reacting by asking (still) why did ABC cancel Happy Endings?
Gaffigan – 2014 Version (single camera): Comedy about a husband and wife trying to raise their five kids in a New York two-bedroom apartment.
Prognosis: Likely. Anytime a sitcom is retooled, that means the network wants it. I’m not even sure if a pilot ever got filmed last year given the production issues in getting this started. The cast is in place and they’ve had plenty of time to work out the kinks.
Good Session (single camera): Using the couples counseling premise, we explore the relationship of a thirty something couple from their first meeting. Their current struggle – whether or not to have children.
Prognosis: No idea. There’s no cast, but I love Matthew Miller. It’s single camera, which gives it a real chance to run with a Go On type theme. The trouble is, Go On was cancelled after a season. It wasn’t that it was a bad show, it was actually amusing. But given the days of short attention span theater with viewers and their multitudes of choices, mildly amusing doesn’t cut it. This better have a strong ensemble or the premise won’t fly with mass viewers.
How I Met Your Dad (multi-camera): DING, DING, DING, here’s that How I Met Your Mother replacement I mentioned. It’s HIMYM told from the female POV. MacLaren’s Pub again serves as the center of it all.
Prognosis: Not sure. You know, this really reeks of desperation. Then again, How I Met Your Mother, despite it’s super flimsy premise, actually turned out to be really funny and wildly entertaining. You’ve got to credit Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for pulling that off, and it’s hard to doubt they can’t do it again. But, as a viewer, do I really want another show with a premise like this? I feel like nine seasons was more than enough for HIMYM. I’m not familiar with the lead person cast either, Greta Gerwig, but hey, it’s not like I knew who Josh Radnor was either. It’s the rest of the cast that made the show and we’ll have to see how that turns out.
The McCarthys – 2014 version (multi-camera): Another recycle from last pilot season! A comedy about a sports crazed Irish-Catholic family that shares a three decker house in Boston and one person dares to move out on his own.
Prognosis: Lukewarm. Again, if it’s a retool, the network believes in the project. Looks like the cast is firmly in place, and Laurie Metcalf is the promising name that stands out for me. This sounds like the kind of comedy CBS likes to make. The trouble is, will it stand out among all the other type of family ensemble comedies CBS is doing? That will be the challenge.
The Mistake (multi-camera): Multi-camera comedy centered on a couple with adult children.
Prognosis: Poor. No cast, no buzz, no good info. CBS has so few slots and so many higher profile projects.
More Time With Family (multi-camera): A comedy about a guy who gives up his life on the road to spend more time with his family. When he gets there he realizes no one asked him to do that.
Prognosis: Pencil it in on the schedule right now. This is a Put Pilot, and it’s tied to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Plus it’s starring Alyson Hannigan! There we go, the three reasons why this one is a lock. To be honest too, the premise sounds interesting.
Save The Date (multi-camera): A comedy about Katie, a newly single woman who drunkenly books a wedding venue and now has to meet the right man in time.
Prognosis: Yeah, don’t know. Maggie Lawson is the star. It reads like a tired idea, but most comedies do. It’s a joint between ABC Studios and CBS Television studios, so it’s cheap. Perhaps it’s an ideal summer run or midseason filler show.
Taxi 22 (single camera): About a cranky and politically incorrect cab driver, an Archie Bunker type of guy.
Prognosis: Taking bets this doesn’t even make it to pilot production. They have no lead, cranky jerks are kind of the norm anymore, and it’s a remake of a French-Canadian show. Honestly, they could make this a reality show too and it would work better.
Coming up next, the drama pilots.