How great is it not to have Mother’s Day on the Sunday before Upfront Week this year but a week earlier? Let’s enjoy it as it will get pretty crazy pretty fast. There is speculation that Fox may pick up its hot comedy pilots THE NEW GIRL and FAMILY ALBUM as soon as Monday or Tuesday. Two other notes before we check out the standings at each network heading into pre-upfront week. It’s shaping up to be a bitchy development season as both pilots with “Bitch” in their titles — ABC’s GOOD CHRISTIAN BITCHES and THE BITCH AT APT. 23 – are read-hot and certain to land on the schedule (obviously with new titles). And it looks like the first major Comcast-NBC synergy move will find its way to primetime as NBC appears high on the pilot from E! star Chelsea Handler. Here is the rundown network-by-network:
With only one freshman drama, Body of Proof, having a shot at returning next season, ABC is rumored to pick up as many as 6-7 new hourlong series. And word is the network’s brass like so many of their pilots, they may have a hard time narrowing down their choices. Of the drama pilots screened today, only procedural PARTNERS, which had been cold for a while, didn’t do well. Two pilots that had been garnering mixed early reaction — Marc Cherry’s HALLELUJAH and the Count of Monte Cristo-inspired soap REVENGE — both did better today, with HALLELUJAH still drawing mixed reaction in some rooms but also getting strong approval in others. And the Phillip Noyce-directed REVENGE got solid feedback, though some question the long-term prospect of the central revenge storyline. Paranormal Activity-style thriller THE RIVER, helmed by Jaume Collet-Serra, was liked by most who call it “cool.” On the comedy side, APT. 23 was a hit, described as being laugh-out-loud funny. Two years after he directed the pilot for Modern Family, APT. 23 helmer Jason Winer has done it again. And WORK IT, the cross-dressing comedy that had been getting positive buzz in the past few days, did well today too. The UNTITLED TIM ALLEN multicamera comedy will not screen until Monday, but its buzz is so strong that it is considered a frontrunner, with some even speculating that ABC may use it to launch another comedy block, possibly on Tuesday. Also slated to screen next week are two drama pilots with solid early buzz, the magical tale ONCE UPON A TIME and 1960s airline soap PAN AM, as well as the DC drama GEORGETOWN that has been awfully quiet. Here is a recap of the rest of ABC’s pilots that have screened so far:
GOOD CHRISTIAN BITCHES – red hot.
CHARLIE’S ANGELS – a lock
IDENTITY – hot
POE – strong
Shonda Rhimes’ SCANDAL – despite mixed reaction in some rooms, continues to be in serious contention.
GRACE – not perfect, but amazing dance sequences and strong female appeal make it a contender for a Dancing With the Stars companion.
SUBURGATORY, SMOTHERED – both solid, with SUBURGATORY‘s buzz a bit stronger
BAD MOM – Everyone loves Jenna Elfman in this, mixed on the rest.
MAN UP – mixed
MY FREAKIN’ FAMILY, OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS – don’t look good.
THE NEW GIRL screened very well and, along with FAMILY ALBUM, is considered a lock on the comedy side, with I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER close behind. Medical drama WEEKENDS AT BELLEVUE continues to gain momentum for a pickup, with the the Ethan Hawke-starring spy drama EXIT STRATEGY also strong. Graphic novel adaptation LOCKE & KEY impressed today with the way it was shot, but there are questions about its potential as a series. The project was originally developed at DreamWorks as a feature — maybe that was the way to go. There is no final word on LOCKE & KEY or ALCATRAZ, but their chances are said to be 50/50.
TAGGED, COUNCIL OF DADS - not good
TWO BROKE GIRLS screened well today as it continues to generate strong buzz on the comedy side along with HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN. After humble beginnings, UNTITLED PETER KNIGHT keeps rising steadily thanks to a great testing, with THE ASSISTANTS faring OK in its recent screening, while VINCE UNCENSORED is pretty much written off and HOME GAME is fading.
On the drama side, the James Mangold-directed ROOKIES appears a shoo-in, with PERSON OF INTEREST continuing to gain momentum and P.I. show HAIL MARY still strong. Procedural THE REMEMBERER had a solid screening to remain in contention, while the re-cut UNTITLED SUSANNAH GRANT medical drama will screen Monday but most are already betting on it going to series. RINGER, which screened early, has been pretty quiet, while THE DOCTOR doesn’t look very good at the moment.
Not much new information from this year’s Fort Knox, which has been in lockdown under orders from Bob Greenblatt, with SMASH and PRIME SUSPECT as prime drama contenders alongside rising REM. While not locks, PLAYBOY and WONDER WOMAN remain in contention, followed on the buzz meter by another pair, Stephen Gaghan’s METRO and the fantastical GRIMM. A MANN’s WORLD and Western RECONSTRUCTION have an outside chance, while 17th PRECINCT is pretty much done.
On the comedy side, the star-studded EMILY SPIVEY pilot has finally been delivered, and we’re awaiting word on how it has been received. (Not that that’s relevant as this pilot would have to be a disaster not to go.) From the others, the two chick comedies, UNTITLED WHITNEY CUMMINGS and Chelsea Handler’s ARE YOU THERE VODKA still look good, along with BENT, UNTITLED DAN GOOR and UNTITLED KARI LIZER, while word is that LOVELIVES, BRAVE NEW WORLD and MY LIFE AS AN EXPERIMENT don’t look that good.
In today’s screening, Kevin Williamson and Andrew Miller’s pilot THE SECRET CIRCLE lived up to the hype and now firmly holds the frontrunner position with medical drama HART OF DIXIE. HEAVENLY and procedural COOPER & STONE are still behind, followed by zombie drama AWAKENING and DANNI LOWINSKI, with the latter not as bad as many think but probably not good enough to make the cut to series.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.