Ah, February. This is the time when networks get out the giant white boards with the schedule, look at the gaping holes in their ratings deteriorating lineups, and have visions of just a few good pilots changing all that. However, they also know most are bad pilots that will never see the light of day, but they make them anyway just because they can.
Welcome to a series of articles running from now until the upfronts in May looking at this year’s pilots. Which ones will emerge as frontrunners, which ones will get a series order, which ones will fizzle into that pile of laughable concepts that you knew made the early cut because of a few vodka martini lunches.
Up first, I’m taking a look at the initial pilot orders at ABC. They have ordered twelve comedy pilots and twelve drama pilots.
All information about these pilots, including episode descriptions, is coming from the most amazing Futon Critic site. They have a the best show in development tracker on the net and without this resource I would be quite lost. Here is the full list of the ABC shows up for Pilot:
Where is ABC Currently?
ABC is the network I watch the least, and I must not be alone because in the coveted 18-49 demo, ABC is in fourth place, only ahead of the not-quite-a-real-network CW. Stupid NBC for gaining a few hits this year. Actually, when I look at their list of shows, I don’t watch any of them, although my family and I do watch Wipeout in the summer, so they have that going for them! However, when I look at their ordered to pilot list for the 2013-2014 season though, they have the most promising pilot of the year. So perhaps they’ll be gaining one hour from me in the future.
Out of the current lineup, ABC could use comedies more than dramas. For one, they need those convenient little half hour shows to plug in those half hour holes as “Dancing With The Stars” progresses. The half hour comedies are good at filling in rerun gaps and summer programming as well. Out of the shows that haven’t been cancelled yet, the ratings challenged ones are comedies. However, ABC did have three hour long dramas cancelled so far and the reruns that are filling those slots isn’t helping.
There are also a few reality shows in development too but seriously, doesn’t ABC have enough reality? I guess given those long holiday breaks and summer, having a few more in reserve can’t hurt. I won’t look at reality shows here, just because I don’t give a damn.
Below is my look at their pilot list, going purely off of the sketchy pilot descriptions to form an opinion. Chances are very real my views will change later as casts are chosen and production of the pilots progresses. But for now, flimsy impressions are all I got!
This Better Be Picked Up Fast Because I’m Dying To Watch This NOW!!!!
Come on, it’s the most buzzed about pilot this season. “S.H.I.E.L.D.” How can I, and millions of others, not watch this show? Okay, there’s the very real possibility that the network will balk at the idea of spending a fortune on special effects and very expensive stunts like the movies, but it’s Joss Whedon! The always reliable Jed Whedon too will be the man in charge. I hear ya, Dollhouse was a flop, but this isn’t Dollhouse. The Avengers are hot, in this series Phil Coulson is alive, and scoring Clark Gregg in the cast is vital to tying this television chapter to the wildly successful Marvel movies. If this series does fail, it will be the biggest blunder ever for this (or any) network that really can’t afford a big blunder right now. Plus no one wants Joss Whedon to never work in television again. Good thing he has The Avengers movies to fall back on.
The “What were they thinking?” List
- Big Thunder – Yes, I’m unfairly judging, but a supernatural themed concept based on a Disney ride? Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean worked, but that’s because they got Johnny Depp! For this show, so far there’s not a hunky, A-list brilliant actor in sight. Plus there’s no big name tied to the production either. Yeah, my hopes aren’t too high.
- Lucky 7 – This is a drama about seven service station employees who win the lottery. This has been done before. The show was called Windfall on NBC. It miserably failed. As did the 9th season of Roseanne when they won the lottery. Why? Because who wants to see a show about lottery winners? We want to be lottery winners.
- Murder in Manhattan – A mother and daughter teaming up as amateur sleuths. Ugh. Aren’t there enough crime procedurals on TV? In the history of TV? Isn’t this network trying to pull themselves out of fourth place?
- Reckless – A drama about a man who’s wife is kidnapped overseas and he teams up with a dangerous mercenary to get her back. Really? ABC wants to succeed by running with series ideas that failed at NBC? CBS? Fox? Cable? Insert “obnoxious tourist” with “dangerous mercenary” and you might have something there.
I Might Give This A Chance
- Doubt – “A former cop who’s now a cunning but charming low-rent lawyer who uses his street smarts to work the system for his clients while battling his own demons and wooing his ex-wifeAnything involving the word “cop” or “lawyer” usually forces my attention to wander, but this comes from a creative team of David Shore of “House” and Tommy Schlamme, who earned his stripes in my all time favorite show, “The West Wing.”
- Returned – “A worldwide event in which loved ones return from the dead exactly as they last were in life.” “Supernatural” did an episode about that. I liked it. There’s a risk here that the concept could go stale fast but if it’s written right, they might have something here. There no cast yet, but the EP list is pretty impressive (Brad Pitt?).
- West Side – “”Romeo and Juliet”-esque drama about two rival families and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the two families battle for control of Venice, California.” Normally I would dismiss this as another desperate attempt at a “Romeo and Juliet” revival, but this comes from McG and Peter Johnson at Wonderland Sound and Vision. Considering I’m an avid fan of three of their shows, Supernatural, Chuck, and Nikita, they do get the benefit of the doubt from me.
Not My Thing But I Wish Them Luck
- Betrayal – “Drama about an unhappily married woman who begins a torrid affair with the lawyer for a powerful family.” Could be a good companion with Revenge but then again, do they need another Revenge?
- Gothica– “Drama about a woman searching for her own identity in modern-day San Francisco who delves into a world of supernatural mystery and horror, guided by an enigmatic playboy named Dorian Gray.” This is another that highly depends on writing and casting. There’s gotta be sparks, but anything set in San Francisco has big potential in my eyes. The city has a ton of character for television. No cast announced yet.
- Influence – “Drama about the complicated relationship between two brothers – a bipolar genius in human psychology and a slick ex-con – who head a unique agency designed to solve their clients’ problems using the real science of human motivation and manipulation.” Meh. Might work. Might not.
- Killer Women – “Domestic take on the Argentine series which follows the exploits of a female Texas Ranger.” This has some potential, but what exactly does “Domestic take” mean?
I’m not a big comedy watcher, plus a synopsis rarely gets to the heart of what the comedy is about. The key to a good comedy is writing and a great ensemble. So, I’ll get rank them based on what sounds the most interesting to me to the least.
- How the Hell Am I Normal? On the surface it sounds like an 80’s version of The Wonder Years, but I loved The Wonder Years. Plus I’m a child of the 80’s and will get every joke.
- SPY “Comedy based on the U.K. series about a hapless single father who, trying to impress his horribly precocious nine-year-old son, quits his job as a junior sales assistant in a computer shop but then gets accidentally recruited into the British intelligence agency MI5.” This will either be incredibly stupid or ridiculously funny. Plus they won me at Rob Corddry.
None of the rest really grabbed me, so I’ll just list them here alphabetically:
- Bad Management – Bad premise, but The Drew Carey Show made department stores funny so who knows. “Single-camera comedy about a slightly self-centered female boss at a high-end luxury goods department store who finds her ways challenged when the boss’ son comes to town and makes youth and sex the new company focus.”
- Crazy Gene – Hmm, this sounds more like a dramedy, cause I’m not laughing. “A woman who, with her brother behind bars, tries to raise his kids as well as her adopted African American teenage son”
- Divorce: A Love Story – Title says it all, story of a divorced couple I loved War of the Roses. If they go for that, it might work.
- Middle Age Rage – This could work if instead of the fed up middle aged wife and mother speaking her mind and demanding respect, she goes bat shit crazy and starts riding with a motorcycle gang.
- Mixology –This one especially has failure written all over it.
- Pulling –Sounds like Friends with three Rachels.
- Super Fun Night –Who thought it was a good idea to take a failed concept for CBS, make it single camera, and then sell it to ABC? I don’t care if this comes from Conan O’Brien, who I worship.
- Trophy Wife – It’s the modern day Brady Bunch! “About a reformed party girl who finds herself with an insta-family when she falls in love with a man with three manipulative kids and two judgmental ex-wives
- Untitled Cullen Brothers Pilot – Anything “Untitled” doesn’t win my confidence.
- Untitled John Leguizamo Project –I guess ABC is feeling nostalgic for the monster ratings days of “George Lopez.” (Yes, that’s sarcasm).
That’s my impression for now! Share what you know about ABC pilots and what you think will be good. Coming up next, FOX.