Let’s face it, despite earning the “Most Improved” award this year, NBC still has a ton of holes to fill. It’s no wonder then that they have 29 pilots in development. They do need a lot though because NBC has been giving shows lower number of episode orders compared to other networks, especially their comedies. Not to mention NBC is the best network in terms of summer ratings, so they really do need to have a year round focus to take advantage. Bottom line, NBC needs more shows.
NBC’s Bob Greenblatt has sworn that he wants shows with a bigger mass appeal. Okay, but that doesn’t mean originality has to be sacrificed. I don’t see where a lot of these shows stand out, but then again, it’s early in the process and time could prove me wrong. Remember though, this is the network that brought you “Animal Practice” so chances are I’m right too. There are 11 dramas and 18 comedies, but one comedy, “MJF,” the new Michael J. Fox series, has a blind 22 episode order so that’s assured for the schedule. I’m sure they’ll try to come up with something entertaining, but at this point they could have an episode of MJF sitting still blankly watching Animal Planet and it would air.
Here’s my breakdown by comedy and drama. As before, all pilot descriptions are courtesy of the most wonderful The Futon Critic.
- After Hours – Hospital dramas are overdone as much as cop and lawyer shows. However, I’m intrigued by the San Antonio setting in this one. Didn’t The CW try a medical pilot in San Antonio and it was rejected only because the president at the time was a nit wit? Anyway, I’d give this at least a couple of viewings. “Drama about a group of army doctors who return to work the night shift together at a hospital in San Antonio.”
- Believe – It’s JJ Abrams and Warner Brothers, both which know their genre television. Plus NBC needs a good companion to go with “Grimm.” This could work! “Drama about a girl in possession of a great gift/powers – which will come into their own in seven years – and the man who is sprung from prison to protect her from those trying to hunt her down.”
- The Blacklist – Say “Kaizer Soze-like” (I love The Usual Suspects) and I’m interested. Perhaps this would be better though if it actually was Kaizer Soze? I know, Kevin Spacey isn’t available. Anyway, this is a unique concept that could go far if written properly. It could also majorly fail, but for now I’ll call it promising. “Drama about an international, Kaiser Soze-like criminal who mysteriously surrenders himself to the Feds and offers to help hunt down the very men he’s spent his entire life protecting.”
- The Sixth Gun – A comic book inspired Western? I’ve been looking for someone to bring the genre back and comic adaptations are in these days. I’d give it a try. “Drama based on the Oni Press comic about six pistols of otherworldly power in the Old West, the most dangerous of which falls into the hands of an innocent girl named Becky Montcrief who – alongside shadowy gunfighter Drake Sinclair – must battle vile men thought long dead that have set their sights on retrieving the gun.”
- Wonderland – I know it’s an adaption of “Alice In Wonderland” but it’s slated for midseason. This is the right kind of series to throw in for limited midseason viewing. Perhaps even summer. NBC has had some success with these types of series in the past. I don’t exactly see this becoming a regular mainstay, but for a little side entertainment it might work. “Drama billed as a sequel to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” centering on a new character, Clara, who must wage war against Wonderland’s reigning Queen, the woman we once knew as Alice.”
- Bloodlines – This is another one that I’m not pegging for failure, but that the concept on paper hasn’t won me over. Especially when it’s been cast by a lot of unknowns. Still, it’s not an entirely hopeless idea. We’ll see how the writing turns out. “Drama about a young woman abandoned at birth by an ancient line of mercenaries, brigands and killers who must learn to defeat her own mother in armed combat if she ever wants to lead a normal life.”
- I am Victor – They lost me at attorney. Why can’t he be a garbage man or something? Plus they haven’t casted Victor yet. Not a good sign. “Drama about a high powered divorce attorney with a unique view of relationships.”
- The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives – Oh boy, murder in the suburbs. Ooh, ooh, gotta watch (yes, that’s sarcasm). Part of me wants to mark this as Doomed for Failure, but sadly there are a lot of people out there that would watch this crap. I am not one of them. “Drama about a murder in suburban california and the secrets exposed in its aftermath.”
- Untitled Hatfields and McCoys Project – I guess they can’t call it The Hatfields and McCoys since that was the title of the recent highly rated mini series about the very same families on the History channel. I can only assume this is NBC riding a wave, especially throwing it in a contemporary urban setting. Desperate networks do that (I’m looking at you CW). “Drama which reignites the centuries-old family feud in a contemporary urban setting.”
- Untitled Rand Ravich Project – Who? No matter, because again “untitled” dismisses it for me. That and the Secret Service. Ugh, mall cop sounds better. “Washington, D.C.-set drama about an idealistic Secret Service agent who finds himself at the epicenter of an international crisis on his first day on the job.”
Doomed For Failure From The Word Go
- Ironside – Yeah, how’s that old TV series revival thing going? Considering almost all of them have not only failed but crashed hard and burned (remember The Bionic Woman, Knight Rider NBC?) you’d think NBC would have learned their lesson by now. Especially the overdone cop show thing. I guess not. “Revival of Raymond Burr-led 1967-1975 series about a San Francisco police detective who’s forced to find new ways of fighting crime after being paralyzed by a gunshot.”
I’m just leaving “MJF” off the list, because it’s going to series and because it’s Michael J. Fox, I’ll watch at least a few episodes. Maybe it’ll strike me like “Go On” and become a DVR mainstay.
- About A Boy – Jason Katims. Need I say more? (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) Dude knows how to develop character right scripts, and he’s already cast Minnie Driver. Sounds like this will be a win. “Single-camera comedy based on the feature which follows the relationship between a bachelor man-child and the young boy who moves in next-door with his kooky single mother.”
- Brenda Forever – I’m going with this just because they’ve cast Ellie Kemper. It might work, if anything because it’s different. “High-concept comedy which follows the title role both as a 31-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl.”
- Gates – I find this concept hilarious, but then again I can see why this would work as a British show. The thing Brits talk about at the gates of a school. This one is going to be highly dependant on creative writing because the setting grows old very quickly. The ensemble potential is huge though and I love ensemble comedies. “Single-camera comedy based on the U.K. series about the hijinks that ensue when parents drop off and pick up their kids at school each day.”
- Girlfriend in a Coma – I’m giving this show a chance for two reasons. For one, Christina Ricci has been cast. Two, every time I see that title the Morrissey song plays in my head. If that ends up being the theme song, I’ll definitely watch. “Single-camera comedy about a 34-year-old woman who, after almost two decades, wakes up from a coma to find out she has a 17-year-old daughter from a pregnancy she was unaware of when her life was put on hold.”
- Happiness – I hate the description for this one, but it’s James Burrows! That dude can do no wrong in my comedy eyes. With Sean Hayes and Linda Lavin already on the project, I gotta at least give this a chance. “Multi-camera comedy about a man who must figure out how to parent his 14-year-old daughter, who just moved in, while navigating a temperamental new boss at work.”
- Assistance– It just doesn’t sound interesting to me. With no big names involved in the project, I don’t see where it’s going. “Single-camera comedy about an idealistic assistant, and her daily efforts to try to find balance in her life as she strives to please her larger than life boss.”
- The Donor Party – Just…no. I can’t see something like this replacing something like Community. “Single-camera comedy about an irresponsible man forced to grow up when he discovers he has children resulting from his days as a sperm donor.”
- Holding Patterns – Another underwhelming concept description. Maybe it’ll take off if we know more and when casts are decided. “Multi-camera comedy about a group of friends whose lives change on the way to a destination wedding.”
- Joe, Joe, and Jane – Huh? “Multi-camera comedy about a conflict-avoidant children’s book author caught in an ongoing tug of war between two needy, flawed people: his wife and his co-author/best friend.”
- Undateable – Crap, I was all ready to write this off as a Big Bang Theory skewing ripoff, but then I saw that Bill Lawrence was tied to the project. However, I know Lawrence doesn’t bat 1.000, and you can’t top the bromance of J.D. and Turk. There’s no cast yet, so I’ll keep it in least promising for now. “Multi-camera project described as a bromantic comedy about two very different guys who are bonded by their common inability to attract women.”
- Untitled Craig Robinson Project –Untitled. Next! “Comedy about a talented musician with rough edges who adjusts to his new life as a music teacher in a big-city middle school, where he encounters teacher politics and the temptations of single moms.
- Untitled Robert Padnick Project– See above. “Single-camera comedy about four hopeful city-dwellers who step through the endless mine field of their romantic entanglements.”
Could Go Either Way
- …Then Came Elvis –80’s themed shows are in these days and I are a child of the 80’s. But this again sounds like The Wonder Years set in the 80’s. Isn’t ABC doing a show like this too? Too early to tell. “Single-camera comedy set in the 1980s about a family that finally comes together when the parents divorce as told through voice-over from the adult son’s perspective.”
- The John Mulaney Show – I had to Google John Mulaney, but it turns out he has quite a pedigree as a comedy writer. He has just spent the last five years at Saturday Night Live. Granted we have no flipping idea what this is about, but no one new what Seinfeld was either and that turned out brilliant. I’ll remain neutral on this for now. “Young ensemble multi-camera comedy loosely based on his life.”
- Welcome to the Family – I have no opinion on this one. It just doesn’t grab me, especially when there’s no names tied to it. “Single-camera comedy about how cultures collide when a white family and a Latino family are bonded together by their children who fall in love followed quickly by an unplanned pregnancy.”
I’ll tell ya, for a network that a few years ago didn’t want to pay for pilots because they were too expensive, NBC really went all out this season, didn’t they? Coming up next, the open timeslot strapped CBS.