We’re about a week from starting to get more definitive feedback on this year’s pilots when the networks start screening them. That is probably my favorite part of pilot season, when dark horses and underdogs that had stayed largely under the radar suddenly race to the front of the pack. Until then, here are how pilots stack up now based on inherently subjective intel.
Chuck Lorre’s Mom stamped its ticket to the fall schedule with a very well received taping on Friday night, so there goes the assured multi-camera CBS slot for next season, likely Mondays 8:30 PM. The Robin Williams starrer Crazy Ones looks pretty solid on the single-camera side. If CBS decides to go with multiple new multi-camera series, Friends With Better Lives and the untitled Greg Garcia project appear particularly strong (It is still early on the Tad Quill pilot starring Matthew Broderick). On the single-camera side, The McCarthys has buzz, with Ex-Men, Bad Teacher, Super Clyde and Rottenberg/Zuritsky also in the mix.
On the drama side, Beverly Hills Cop is entering the screening stage as a frontrunner. Hostages also looks strong, possibly for midseason given its serialized nature. The in-house CBS contenders include the NCIS: LA spinoff, The Surgeon General and The Ordained, while Intelligence is led by the type of hunky actor, Josh Holloway, CBS brass love. (Alex O’Loughlin anyone?) Wild cards include Hart Hanson’s Backstrom.
The Andy Samberg-starring cop comedy Mike Schur/Dan Goor and light legal drama Rake remain leading contenders. Fox could go for a cop-Army male-skewing combo with the slapstick military half-hour Enlisted joining Schur/Goor. Also garnering strong buzz are the female-friendly Assistants aka To My Future Assistant and Us And Them. Guy/family multi-camera comedy Dads, which has a six-episode order, is undergoing retooling after the taping of the first episode, while dating comedy I Suck At Girls has been quiet but should be kept in consideration because of star Christopher Meloni and exec producer Bill Lawrence.
On the drama side, Boomerang seems to be heating up, with Gang Related and Human strong. Sleepy Hollow and Delirium remain wild cards.
Corporate synergy drama pilots continue to get the strongest buzz at ABC. That includes Marvel-Joss Whedon’s S.H.I.E.L.D., Big Thunder, based on the Disney ride, and the Once Upon A Time spinoff, set in Wonderland, which is getting good preliminary notices for its just-wrapped short presentation. Heating up is mother-daughter dramedy Murder In Manhattan, whose premise is very on-brand for ABC, as is the Romeo and Juliet-esque soap Venice. Also looking solid is Gothic soap Gothica, though it is unclear whether ABC would put three fantasy-driven series on the air with Once, its spinoff and Gothica. Gaining momentum is the Christian Slater-Steve Zahn vehicle Influence, from Kyle Killen, while Betrayal and Doubt have been quiet but can’t be discounted.
The battle is shaping up to be fierce on the comedy side with most ABC projects in serious contention. The David Spade starrer Bad Management,, the Cullen Bros. project starring James Caan, and Adam Goldberg’s How The Hell Am I Normal are strong. Also very much in the mix are Mixology, Spy, early pickups Trophy Wife starring Malin Akerman, which has been rumored to be getting backup scripts by producer ABC Studios, Super Fun Night, which is created by and toplined by red-hot Rebel Wilson, and Middle Age Rage. Then there is the John Leguizamo-starring multi-camera pilot King John, which has come in pretty strong. But with only two multi-camera pilots (the other, Divorce, is yet to be completed because of a recent recasting), the question is what ABC’s multi-camera scheduling strategy will be. The network had two multi-cam sitcoms on this seasons, Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing and Reba McEntire’s Malibu Country. Last Man is fully expected to return. Malibu Country also has been in contention. Could King John bump it for a male-centered family sitcom block?
NBC seems to be looking to replicate the success of Revolution with more high-concept dramas. Rand Ravich‘s conspiracy thriller is rising fast, joining the Carlton Cuse-produced graphic novel adaptation The Sixth Gun and J.J. Abrams’ good vs. evil saga Believe as projects to watch. Also getting attention are odd-couple crime drama The Blacklist and the Pete Berg-directed Bloodline, whose concept is similar to that of Believe — both center on an young girl with a gift who is mentored/protected by an older man. Additionally, off-cycle medical drama After Hours has been heating up and has received an order for four backup scripts. It’s too early on the planted Chicago Fire spinoff, which is still filming, but it has got to be an automatic contender.
On the comedy side, the Victor Fresco/Sean Hayes comedy continues to look strong, along with Jason Katims/David Walton’s About A Boy, Leslye Headland/Krysten Ritter’s Assistance, the untitled Greg Daniels/Craig Robinson project and Bill Lawewnce/Bill D’Elia’s Undateable. Also in the mix are Welcome To The Family, The Gates and Brenda Forever, based on the appeal of star Ellie Kemper, with the John Mulaney and DJ Nash project, Holding Patterns as possibilities. Overall, it’s been a bumpy road for many NBC pilots this season.
The Vampire Diaries-planted spinoff The Originals appears a lock for next season, with the final validation expected this week when the spinoff episode of The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday night. (Watch the trailer below.) Julie Plec and Greg Berlanti’s Tomorrow People remake, 16th Century Reign and human-alien love story Oxygen look solid. Early frontrunner The 100 seems to have lost some steam but is still very much in contention, as is The Selection, which I hear came in OK not great.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.