Birds fly south for the winter and actors fly west to Hollywood for Pilot Season, when the television networks shoot potential new series in the hopes that they will be picked up to be added to the lineups of the big network broadcasters. Here's a look at what's in development. Which of these will make it to the airwaves?
The biggest pilot at the alphabet network, which is owned by Disney, is S.H.I.E.L.D., based on the covert law-enforcement agency set in the Marvel Universe seen in the Avengers movie and some of the other superhero flicks in recent years. Joss Whedon is directing the pilot and fans are already hoping to see some hints of fringe characters brought to life from the pages of the comic books. The cast includes Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennett, Elizabeth Henstridge, Brett Dalton, Iain De Caestecker, and Arlene Santana, but most exciting is the involvement of Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson who was believed to have been killed off in heroic fashion in Marvel's The Avengers.
Two other pilots grabbed my attention -- Gothica, a "gothic soap" set in the world of classic monsters (Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, etc.), and The Returned, in which deceased loved ones suddenly arrive safe and sound as if nothing had happened.
Other titles on ABC's pilot list include: Bad Management, Betrayal, Big Thunder, Divorce: A Love Story, Doubt, Influence, Killer Women, Lucky 7, Middle Age Rage, Mixology, Murder in Manhattan, Pulling, Reckless, Spy, Super Fun Night, Trophy Wife, and Venice, as well as untitled projects from Andrea Abbate, Mark and Robb Cullen, Adam Goldberg, and John Leguizamo.
The most interesting pilot on the slate at the "eye" network might be the reboot of Beverly Hills Cop. It's a "next generation" continuation of the hit movie trilogy and Eddie Murphy will reprise his role, at least for a cameo, as Axel Foley. The true star will be Brandon T. Jackson as his son Aaron, following in his footsteps as a police officer. The cast also includes Kevin Pollack and Christine Lahti. Barry Sonnenfeld is directing the pilot. It remains to be seen if anyone else from the film franchise will make an appearance. I hear Judge Reinhold is available.
CBS has a bunch of other intriguing options in production, such as an NCIS: Los Angeles Spinoff following a mobile team of agents led by John Corbett; Intelligence, featuring Lost's Josh Holloway as a government agent with a microchip implanted in his brain that allows him to access the entire electromagnetic spectrum; Bad Teacher, based on the movie that starred Cameron Diaz, this time starring Ari Graynor and David Alan Grier; Crazy Ones, a sitcom about a father and daughter, played by Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, who work together at an advertising agency; Ex-Men, a comedy about a young guy who becomes friends with others in a short-term rental complex, with a cast that includes Chris Smith, Kal Penn, Tony Shalhoub, and Jerry O'Connell; Mom, starring Anna Faris as a newly sober mother in Napa Valley; and Super Clyde, about a meek fast food worker who decides to become a superhero.
If that's not enough, CBS is also looking at The Advocates, Anatomy of Violence, Backstrom, Friends with Better Lives, Hostages, Jacked Up, The McCarthys, The Ordained, Reckless, Second Sight, and The Surgeon General, not to mention untitled projects by Jim Gaffigan, Greg Garcia (starring Will Arnett), Tom Quill, and Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky.
The "little network that could" has a few projects loaded with potential. The Tomorrow People is a reboot based on a cult favorite British science fiction series, as young people enter the next stage of human evolution and use their special powers to fight evil. The Hundred is based on an upcoming book series by Kass Morgan and follows the adventures of a team of juveniles in the future who return to Earth after it has been decimated by nuclear war to see it's read to be re-colonized. The Selection is also set in the future, based on a book by Kiera Cass, and tells the tale of a young girl competing to become the next queen. Oxygen is a love story of a human girl and alien boy and Blink follows the aftermath of a car accident that leaves a family patriarch in a coma, unable to speak or move, but able to see and hear all.
The CW also has Company Town and Reign in development.
I'm curious to see what FOX does with Sleepy Hollow, a modern retelling of the Washington Irving's Headless Horseman story, this time having Ichabod Crane solving contemporary mysteries. Delirium is a futuristic tale set in a world where love is illegal and treatment can eradicate it -- the story's heroine, of course, falls in love before her scheduled procedure. J.J. Abrams'Bad Robot and J.H. Wyman are filming an action-packed buddy cop series set in the near future when Los Angeles police are partnered with human-like androids.
Other FOX pilots include Boomerang, Dads, Enlisted, Family and Friends, The Gabriels, Gang Related, The List, Rake, To My Future Assistant, Two Wrongs, and Wild Blue, as well as untitled projects by Dan Goor and Mike Schur and Justin Halpern and Patrick Shumacker.
The "peacock network" attempts to dig itself out of the ratings cellar with some new programming. Hatfields and McCoys is not another remake of the legendary blood feud that the History Channel recently told so well, but a fictional modern version of the descendants of the two families continuing their bitter rivalry. The cast features Virginia Madsen, Jesse Lee Soffer, Patrick John Fleuger, Rebecca De Mornay, and Nick Westrate.
Another interesting remake is Ironside, reviving the adventures of the wheelchair-bound detective immortalized by Raymond Burr. Also in production will be The Sixth Gun, based on a graphic novel, a supernatural western about weapons with other-worldly powers, and Wonderland, a Lewis Carroll-inspired fantasy with a modern day Alice. Meanwhile, Girlfriend in a Coma stars Christina Ricci as a woman who wakes up from a coma to discover she has a 17-year-old daughter.
If those don't work, NBC also has About a Boy, After Hours, Assistance, The Blacklist, Bloodline, Brenda Forever, The Donor Party, The Gates, Holding Patterns, I Am Victor, Joe Joe and Jane, The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, Undateable, and Welcome to the Family, plus untitled projects from Owen Ellickson and Craig Robinson, John Mulaney, D.J. Nash, Robert Padnick, and Victor Fresco and Sean Hayes.
There you have it. In a few months, we'll know which of these will live to see the light of day and which will fade to the dustbin of failed TV pilots of the past.
Welcome to the online journal of Nick Leshi, his official daily blog about pop culture and the wide world of entertainment in all media. Nick Leshi is a writer, actor, media professional, and aficionado of entertainment. Contact him at email@example.com (or search for him on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google+, and LinkedIn)
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