This current TV season saw a glut of serial dramas flood the networks, yet only one yielded any real traction – NBC’s “Heroes”.
As a result next year’s pilots are opting out of that particular genre. Instead, along with the stock standard glut of legal, medical and police/detective procedural dramas, the trend is high concept twists on familiar genres – often with major feature film directors in tow.
Forty-five pilots have been ordered by the five networks, only about 50-70% of which will make it to air – and less than a dozen of those will last next season out. Amongst the offerings:
NBC: Pilots include the “Sex & the City”-esque “Lipstick Jungle”; a more cynical take on the old “Quantum Leap” time travel formula entitled “Journeyman”; a slightly comedic geeky spy drama called “Chuck”; the wrongly imprisoned cop (Damian Lewis) who’s back on the force drama “Life”; and a light-hearted procedural/ensemble drama led by “X-Men” actress Famke Janssen and produced by “House” creator David Shore.
Picks of the Bunch: Three shows really stand out on concept:
The first is “The Bionic Woman”, a re-imagination of the 1970s series with focus on women’s place in the world today.
“Ft. Pit” sees Denis Leary return to TV in a show about one of the worst and most corrupt police precincts in Brooklyn.
Finally “M.O.N.Y.” sees an everyman (Bobby Cannavale) suddenly becoming mayor of New York and making mistakes – Barry Levinson is producing and Spike Lee directing.
ABCThe network which made serial dramas into a hit are opting out this year in order to get a better balance and avoid disasters like “Six Degrees” , “The Nine” and “Daybreak” again (they still haven’t screened the solid pilot from last year “Traveler”).
Some don’t exactly strike with much interest. One follows a family of Southern lawyers; “Judy’s Got a Gun” has a single mom balancing family and detective work; “Suspect” is a pure CSI-style procedural; “Dirty Sexy Money” has an idealistic lawyer representing a morally reprehensible family; and “Eli Stone” has an attorney who starts having delusions of grandeur.
“Sex and the City” creator Darren Star tries mining the same material in “Cashmere Mafia”; Jon Feldman is trying the same about CEOs who socialize at the same golf club; and “Pushing Daisies” follows a detective who also happens to be a healer.
Picks of the Bunch:
“Footballers’ Wives” – US remake of the sexy, saucy British soap opera about the extravagant and raunchy lives of a leading football team and their leading ladies.
“Life on Mars” – David E. Kelley produces the US remake of superb British import about a modern day cop who finds himself in the 1970’s and rushes to figure out what’s going on.
“Marlowe” – The character that embodies noir, Philip Marlowe, gets his own series but the setting moves to contemporary LA.
“Mr. & Mrs. Smith” – A TV series take on the hit Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie action movie.
“Women’s Murder Club”
– Best-selling Alex Cross novel series author James Patterson will produce this series based on his books about four girlfriends who solve tough murder cases
CBS: The bastion of the CSI franchise has always been very stable and predictable in its shows. After their failures this season though, that’s all changed with some rather wild concept shows planned for the Fall.
Amongst the more out there shows are “Demons” which has a ex-Jesuit priest/psychlogist regularly performing exorcisms whilst dealing with his own demons; and “Twilight” about a vampire P.I. who’s fallen in love with a mortal.
More conventional fare include “Los Duques” about a three-generation family who run a rum business in South Florida; LA street cop drama “Protect and Serve”; “Swingtown” about married couples exploring open relationships in 1970’s suburbia.
Two standouts are “Skip Tracer” which has Stephen Dorff as an LA man who finds people that attempt to disappear. There’s also a public defender drama with both Ridley Scott & his brother Tony producing whilst Janeane Garofalo stars.
Picks of the Bunch:
“Babylon Fields” for what has to be the season’s strangest concept – a comedic drama where the dead come back to life and try to restore the familial and personal relationships.
“Viva Laughlin!” based on BBC import “Blackpool”, a musical comedic drama about a family man dreaming of opening a Nevada casino.
Fox: Despite none of their shows surviving this past season, Fox is trying hard again with ten pilots ordered.
A bunch of rather bland procedurals are on offer involving cops (The Apostles), lawyers (Canterbury’s Law) , medical lawyers (The Cure), and nurses (Philadelphia General).
“Supreme Courtships” follows the lives of six Supreme Court clerks, whilst “NSA Innocent” has a family man turned corporate mole for the NSA. “K-Ville” looks at police officers in post-Katrina New Orleans where the cities infrastructure has collapsed.
Picks of the Bunch:
“Sarah Connor Chronicles” continues the “Terminator” franchise on the small screen as Sarah and her son John fight attackers from the future.
“Them” centers on an extraterrestrial sleeper cell that has infiltrated the human race, but is compromised when they start feeling emotions.
Finally, “New Amsterdam” which follows a New York homicide detective (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who also happens to be a centuries old immortal.
The CW: Amongst those on offer is “O.C.” creator Josh Schwartz doing a similar drama called “Gossip Girl” which moves the action to the kids & parents of upper society New York.
“Gravity” which follows rookie cops in training, whilst the “Dead Like Me”-meets-“Brimstone” sounding “Reaper” follows a slacker turned bounty hunter for the devil.
Pick of the Bunch: An untitled show based on British series “Wild at Heart”. Follows a New York veterinarian who moves his family to a South African game reserve run by his father-in-law.