The pilot season for 2012 has started, this is the time of year that hopeful studios, execs, writers, etc, pitch their tv pilots and what results is akin to a plate of mash potatoes being thrown against the wall… we see what sticks.
There isn’t a lot to go with right now but EW.com has given us a handy-dandy list of this year’s hopefuls. These write ups don’t give us a lot to go by but here is my initial reactions to some of them.
Logline: An imaginative and thematically rich ensemble “what if” drama set 10 minutes in the future where families of mechanical human beings exist to service the human population — that is, until some of the mechanicals begin to “awaken.”
From: Writer-EP Michael McDonald; EPs Robert M. Sertner, Stephen Hopkins; Universal Television and ABC Studios
Been there, done that. Terminator and I, Robot pretty much covered this for us.
The Munsters Mockingbird Lane Logline: From writer-executive producer Bryan Fuller, Mockingbird Lane is an imaginative reinvention of The Munsters as a visually spectacular one-hour drama.
From: Writer-EP Bryan Fuller; EPs Bryan Singer, John Wirth; Universal Television and Bad Hat Harry Productions
So… if it’s not a half-hour comedy but an hour drama without the monster make-up… then it’s not really The Munsters then. I see by the name change they noticed too.
Logline: In an intense tale of survival a group of disparate travelers embark on an incredible cross-country adventure through the West, where danger stalks them at every turn.
From: Writer-EP Shaun Cassidy; EPs Thomas Schlamme, Jeff Kwatinetz, Josh Barry; Sony and Prospect Park
I assume this is a pre-gps era period piece but how long do they think they could run this concept? Unless it’s 24 style then there is only so many wolf attacks and land slides we can watch until we get sick of it.
Logline: This thriller follows the mysterious disappearance of a group living on a commune in Alaska. Based on an acclaimed Israeli format, a female FBI cult specialist starts an investigation that uncovers a larger conspiracy.
From: Writer-EP Lisa Zwerling; EPs Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan, Alon Aranya, Efrat Shmayadron, Minit Toovi, Noah Stollman, and Oded Davidoff; Universal Television
Initial thoughts: The Event meets Alcatraz. Also, Americanizing a foreign show can work but often goes horribly wrong.
Logline: A high octane action drama from J. J. Abrams following a group of characters struggling to survive and reunite with loved ones in a world where all forms of energy have mysteriously ceased to exist.
From: Writer-EP: Logline: Eric Kripke; J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk
You know, I got my BS in History, but even I’m pretty sure that ‘all forms of energy ceasing to exist’ is pretty impossible, especially since the 1st Law of Thermodynamics is quite clear about how energy can not be created nor destroyed. I mean, just breathing takes energy of a sort. The Earth spinning. Gravity! Inertia! Flowing water! This is one is so full of fail…
Logline: From the producers of Shameless, and adapted from the long-running U.K. hit series of the same name, Bad Girls follows the ins and outs of a group of unlikely women in a federal prison: a scandalous female warden, her new protégé and a host of inmates – some mothers, some friends—who struggle with loyalties to people on the inside and the outside.
From: Writer-EP Nancy Pimental; Warner Bros. Television, John Wells Productions, and Shed Media U.
Maybe on a cable channel… but NBC? Sorry, if they can’t keep Playboy Club on the air then this has no chance.
Logline: This multi-cam comedy brings Roseanne Barr back to series television as the proprietor of a mobile-home park and surrogate mother to all of the unique people who live there in a challenging economy.
From: Writers-EPs Eric Gilliland, Roseanne Barr; EP John Argent; 20th Century Fox Television
Roseanne is back in her wheel house of representing the downtrodden middle and lower classes. While this is practically revolutionary in the 80s and 90s, I’m not sure how relevant she’d be today. Perhaps too relevant and that might not bode well for her.
Logline: A young woman returns home from overseas to find that her father is seriously dating the “mean girl” from her high school.
From: Writer-EP Dana Klein; 20th Century Fox Television and Kapital Entertainment
Isn’t this bordering on illegal? Ick.
Logline: A modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes, with Sherlock now living in New York City.
From: Writer Robert Doherty; EPs Robert Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly; CBS Television Studios
It worked wonderfully for the BBC and while I think you can never have too much Sherlock… I don’t mean that literally. How would it work anyway? Sherlock a transplanted Brit or an American version? What about Watson? Why couldn’t they just make another Sherlock rip-off instead… like House?
Logline: A common-sense mother turns New York state trooper.
From: Aron Eli Coleite; EPs Aron Eli Coleite, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman; Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television
Don’t know what the format is, but if it’s a dramedy then this could be awesome. Otherwise, yawn.
Logline: A show about the making of a man. Tracks one cop’s meteoric rise from officer to detective to police commissioner.
From: Writer Nicholas Wootton; EPs Nicholas Wootton, Greg Berlanti; Warner Bros. Television
Don’t they know that these style cop shows are just not popular right now? Chicago Code failed and Blue Bloods is barely holding water.
Logline: After losing three partners in the line of duty, a decorated police detective becomes surrogate husband, lover, and father to their families.
From: Writer David Hubbard; EPs David Hubbard, Carol Mendelsohn, Julie Weitz; CBS Television Studios
This is statistically improbable, just saying.
Untitled Ralph Lamb
Logline: Period piece set in the 1960s centered around the true story of Ralph Lamb: rodeo cowboy turned longtime sheriff of Las Vegas.
From: Writers Nicholas Pileggi and Greg Walker; EPs Nicolas Pileggi, Greg Walker, James Mangold, Cathy Konrad, Arthur Sarkissian; CBS Television Studios
Has promise but will all come down to the style and tone of the show. Viewers love Vegas.
Logline: An edgy and independent millennial-hacker girl teams up with an Oakland police detective to solve crimes.
From: Ilene Chaiken; Ilene Chaiken, Joel Silver; Silver Pictures in association with Warner Bros. Television
Can we say Girl with the Dragon Tattoo rip off?
Logline: A character-driven drama set in the CIA’s New York City station, focusing on a female agent with a very specialized and controversial area of expertise.
From: Writer-EP Josh Friedman; Twentieth Century Fox Television
So… what? She gets ‘close’ to her assets? Nothing really here to work with but I guarantee everyone is going to compare it to Alias.
Logline: After being falsely convicted of fraud and stripped of his legal license, a brilliant, morally questionable defense attorney uses his unusual methods to solve the cases he’s been prohibited from handling and ultimately to exact revenge on the man who set him up.
From: Writer Marc Guggenheim; EPs Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, McG, Peter Johnson; Bonanza Productions / Berlanti Productions / Wonderland Sound and Vision, and Warner Bros. Television
So… Life, except it’s a lawyer?
Untitled Karyn Usher
Logline: The orphaned 17-year-old daughter of a CIA operative encounters a mysterious rogue agent-assassin who serves as both her surrogate father and professional mentor in the spy world.
From: Writer Karyn Usher; EPs Marty Adelstein, Shawn Levy, Becky Clements; 20th Century Fox Television / 21 Laps
So… Leon: The Professional meets Hanna?
Untitled Kevin Williamson
Logline: An edge-of-your-seat thriller about the complex relationship between a diabolical serial killer and the damaged FBI agent who took him down. After the killer escaped, the agent is reactivated and discovers that he is no longer just hunting one man, but a massive cult of serial killers created and manipulated during his time in prison. Kevin Bacon is near a deal to star as the agent.
From: Writer Kevin Williamson; Warner Bros. Television
So… Silence of the Lambs meets White Collar? Yeah, I know, the joke is getting old but Fox is making it so darn easy right now!
Beauty and the Beast
Logline: A fantastical reimagining of the classic fairy tale set in a mythical, dangerous world wherein a beautiful and tough princess discovers an unlikely connection with a mysterious beast.
From: Writer Jon Steinberg; EPs Gary Fleder, Mary Beth Basile; ABC Studios
ABC Studios HQ: “Freaking heck! Once Upon a Time is a hit! Quick, what other fairytale stories we have the rights to? Sleeping beauty sleeps all the time. Mermaid would be too expensive. Wait, Beauty and the Best, we can work with that!”
Logline: After pursuing a seemingly unsolvable case, a female cop discovers a magical world that exists within New York City. A world that goes unseen by normal humans, and takes all of the familiar NYC landmarks and reinvents them in a magical otherworldly manner.
From: Writer-EP Michael Green; 20th Century Fox Television
No Batman? I.am.disappoint. (on a side note this is kinda similar to a book I wrote in 2010… hhmmm…)
An international action-thriller-soap that follows the story of establishing a new society in a world held hostage by the crew of a ballistic missile submarine. Basically, a U.S. nuclear sub crew refuses orders to fire their missiles and escapes to a NATO outpost and declares themselves the smallest nuclear nation.
From: Shawn Ryan, Karl Gajdusek
So, what happens when the sub needs to refuel and resupply? Freaking send Seal Team Six on their butts and call it a day.
Logline: A bizarre twist of fate pulls a man who’s spent 20 years as the editor of a skeptics magazine into one of the most compelling conspiracies in human history.
From: Writer-EP Paul Scheuring; EPs Lorenzo DiBonaventura and Dan McDermott; ABC Studios
Has potential in the X-Files kind of way as long as they don’t go the cheesy routes of… everything that tried to capitalize on X-Files’s success.
Logline: Based on the Dutch format, Penoza centers on the widow of an assassinated criminal who is forced to adopt her husband’s role in an organized-crime syndicate in order to protect her family.
From: Writer-EP Melissa Rosenberg; EPs Alon Aranya and Howard Klein; ABC Studios, Endemol Studios
I never watched it… but isn’t this kinda like Sopranos? And isn’t being on a network just going to water it down?
666 Park Ave.
Logline: When a young couple accepts an offer to manage one of the most historic apartment buildings in New York City, they unwittingly begin to experience supernatural occurrences, which complicate and endanger the lives of everyone in the building.
From: Writer-EP David Wilcox; EPs: Leslie Morgenstein, Gina Girolamo; Warner Bros. Television, Alloy Entertainment
The title is going to upset the sensitive people and I’m not sure they can drag this idea out into a full season and not get repetitive. At least with Supernatural they drove around and went after all manner of demons and stuff.
Untitled Roland Emmerich
Logline: Set in New York City against the backdrop of the presidential race. Follows a young astrophysics student who finds out that his destiny lies not in science but somewhere between hell and heaven.
From: Writer-EPs Emmerich and Harald Kloser; EP Nicholas Pepper; Mark Gordon Company
I have no idea what this means… but it could be cool if Emmerich is involved.
Logline: Based on the 1978 novel Scruples that follows the life of Wilhelmina Hunnewell Winthrop, a.k.a. Billy, a previously plump woman who loses weight, becomes fabulously cool, and survives a very rich (and very old) first husband. She ends up opening up a Beverly Hills clothing boutique called Scruples.
From: Writer-EPs Bob Brush, Mel Harris; EPs Tony Krantz, Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch; Flame Ventures LLC in association with Warner Bros. Television
Why watch a tv show when I can just watch entertainment news?
Logline: A family soap set against the backdrop of the Nashville music scene that follows one star at her peak and one on the rise.
From: Writer-EP Callie Khouri; EPs RJ Cutler, Steve Buchanan; Gaylord Entertainment, ABC Studios, and Lionsgate
Country Song rip off?
Set in 1895, this epic love story follows the opening of the first grand luxury hotel in NYC, against a backdrop of vicious family rivalries, scandalous secrets, and conflict and comingling of classes.
From: Writer K.J. Steinberg; EP Shonda Rhimes; ABC Studios
Another stab at recreating Mad Men and if I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, you can’t recreate success. Usually these shows become big because there is nothing like them on when they air. So maybe studios should think about what we don’t have and less about saturating our screens with what we have.
Only Fools & Horses
Logline: Based on the iconic British series, this classic comedy chronicles the misadventures of two streetwise brothers and their aging grandfather as they concoct outrageous, morally questionable get-rich-quick schemes in their quest to become millionaires.
From: Writers Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley; ABC Studios.
No, just no. The humor won’t transfer, they will get it all wrong. Office was easy because it was universal… this is not.
Logline: Based on the DC Comics comic book, this hour-long drama is a modern retelling of the legendary DC Comics character Green Arrow. Stephen Amell to star.
From: Writer-EPs Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg; Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television
It worked for Superman, right? But this could be perceived as an attempt to recreate Smallville so best of luck to them.
Logline: Drama set at an historic New England summer resort where the new and returning staff attend to the practical, emotional, and often comical needs of the guests while navigating friendships, rivalries, and romances of their own.
From: Writer-EP Mark Schwahn; EPs J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk; Bad Robot Productions, Mastermind Laboratories in association with Warner Bros. Television
Faulty Towers, the teen years abroad?
Logline: Based on the forthcoming series of books by Kiera Cass, The Selection is an epic romance set 300 years in the future which centers on a poor young woman who is chosen by lottery to participate in a competition to become the next queen of a war-torn nation at a crossroads.
From: Writer-EPs Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain; Warner Bros. Television
The logic of The Phantom Menace meets the wildly inappropriate subject matter of Hunger Games?
Logline: After a rash of disappearances and a likely murder, an inquisitive, young female production assistant on a wildly popular television show called Cult joins a journalist-blogger in investigating the rabid fans of the series who might be re-creating crimes seen on the program, in real life.
From: Writer-EP Rockne O’Bannon; EPs Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Len Goldstein; Fake Empire in association with Warner Bros. Television
Someone has been watching too much Supernatural, but true, that was an awesome episode. “So now you’re Polish?”
Beauty and the Beast
Logline: Loosely based on the CBS’ Beauty and the Beast series from the 1980s, this is a modern-day romantic love story with a procedural twist. (Yes, this is in addition to ABC’s Beauty and the Beast project.)
From: Writer-EPs Jennifer Levin, Sherri Cooper; EPs Paul J. Witt and C. Anthony Thomas, Ron Koslow, Bill Haber; CBS Television Studios
CBS Studio Office: “Freaking Heck! You see that ABC has a hit with Once Upon a Time? They have all the Disney properties tied up, what do we have?” “You do realize the fairytales are common domain right? We just have to avoid anything specially made by Disney.” “Hey, remember that tv show with the Terminator chick? Let’s reboot that.”
And that is it for the initial showing for pilot season. I’ll have updates once we get to pilot orders and more plot details. So far, nothing really grabs me. A lot of obvious rip offs or completely out there shows. Who knows, I like surprises and there could be a few in there.