E: The Nets have recently loosed upon the world a list of the pilots* shooting for the fall season. Most of the 88 shows won’t actually reach the airwaves (the executives use the pilots to decide if the show is worth gambling on), but a goodly number will. We’ll give you more deets on those in the fall, but for now, I’m going to peruse my copy of The Hollywood Reporter, share with my sibs, and give you the low down on a few pilots that intrigue us.
M: Pilots you say? So you’ve got Sully Sullenberger… Who else? Or is it a Greek tragedy and you’re going more of the JFK Jr/John Denver route?
E: Ha ha. He’s so funny. No, not Greek tragedy, though I suppose they’re hoping for some Sully-style adventure. To wit:
“A cinéma vérité drama following a crew through the deep Amazon in search of a missing adventurer.” The show stars Bruce Greenwood, Eloise Mumford and Leslie Hope, among others, and is being written by Michael Green.
E: I’m including this on the “promising” list because I think the premise is really cool, and also because I like Bruce Greenwood. This kind of thing is very hard to pull off, though, so they have a daunting task ahead of them. Also, I’m mistrustful of casts full of glossy unknowns.
C: Like Lost back in the day? Hey, sometimes it works.
M: Well, Lost did have several familiar faces (Matt Fox, Dom Monaghan, Terry O’Quinn), but it’s a fair point. I’ve said it before in these pages, I’ve liked Bruce Greenwood ever since his turn in the before-its-time Nowhere Man, so I like the thought of this.
“The life and work of a professional fixer and her dysfunctional staff. Based on the career of crisis-management consultant Judy Smith.” She show stars Kerry Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Tony Goldwyn and Guillermo Diaz, and is produced by ABC favorites/Grey’s Anatomy soapsters Shonda Rimes and Betsy Beers.
E: I think this is a fun and moderately unusual idea (new crisis every week!), and I like the cast. Of course, I always like Shonda’s casts. I don’t always thinks she succeeds with them, though.
C: Speaking of Lost! Mmm, Desmond… but if it’s a Shonda Rhimes show, that’s pretty much a guarantee there will be too much partner-swapping, hissy-fit-throwing, and sex in closets for me. Blah.
M: I’m with C, I’m totally torn. I have less then zero interest in any existing Shonda Rhimes drivel, never mind any new drivel. Literally, I have negative interest in her stuff, her name being attached makes me instinctively want to make sure that I have two things DVR’ing in the same time slot so there’s no chance anyone in my household could even gain the slimmest interest in it.
M: But then, there’s my “brotha” Desmond (who I just recently found out played Jesus in The Gospel of John! How did I not know this before?). I loved his character on Lost so much, I want to see anything he’s in. Ugh, I don’t like this kind of conundrum.
“Relationship drama revolving around the young people behind the power brokers of Washington.” Starring Jimmy Wolk (formerly James, of the failed-but-pretty show Lone Star) and Boris Kodjoe of another of last year’s pretty failed shows, the spy drama Undercovers, and produced by Josh Schwartz of Gossip Girl and Chuck fame.
E: I don’t even know how to get a handle on Schwartz, and whether his involvement is an indication of something being good or not. But I think it’s got lots of potential for drama, writing about the aides of big power players in DC – reminds me of a little show called The West Wing, actually.
C: Sad that they picked up Kodjoe for a new show rather than his Undercovers co-star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She was appealing; he was handsome but wooden, and dragged down the show. But a Josh Schwartz series probably deserves at least a glance, since his shows are stylish.
M: Again I agree with C… the guy from Undercovers was lousy. I’m not sure I agree with any Josh Schwartz show deserving a shot, since I have no interest in Gossip Girl, Chuck was fantastic but has been a mixed bag for two seasons now, and I thought the same thing about J.J. Abrams before Kodjoe’s Undercovers… I’m taking a wait-and-see approach on this, and will skip if it looks lousy.
“Dysfunctional family drama set in the world of pro dance.” Featuring Eric Roberts and Debbie Allen, and helmed by Grey’s Anatomy‘s Krista Vernoff and Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Anne Inaba.
E: Scripted dance TV! I love it! Yes, oh yes I do. Bring it on! Is Eric Roberts actually going to dance? That I would pay to see. Now, I won’t lie. I’m not going to be surprised if this sucks horrifically. Arts shows are hard to do. But hope springs eternal.
M: Eric Roberts dancing? Eric Roberts and Debbie Allen in a family drama? This has train wreck written all over it, but the question is – will it be one of those “can’t take your eyes off it, so bad it’s good” train wrecks?
C: I need a bit more information to make the call on this one. Drama? Comedy? How much dancing? How much dysfunction?
E: Indeed. Such a curiosity.
“A stranger arrives to bring justice and peace – and restore faith in the world – to the small town of Halleluijah , Tenn. Episodes punctuated by gospel choirs.” Starring – hello, mother load – Jesse L. Martin, Frances O’Connor, Terry O’Quinn, Donal Logue and Della Reese.
E: Great cast, really unique premise. Kind of like Allie McBeal meets Touched by an Angel, except not. I’m super interested in this one.
C: Sounds more like Eli Stone actually – a prophet of sorts, musical numbers – so that could be a good thing.
M: David E. Kelley immediately popped to mind when I read the blurb for it, which is not a bad thing. Unlike Georgetown, this one I will check out just based on the cast, especially if they find a way to get Terry O’Quinn to scream “DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO!”
Once Upon A Time
“When a young boy who purports to be her son shows up, a woman is drawn into a town where the magic and mystery of fairy tales might be real.” Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Carlyle and Jennifer Morrison, among others, and created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.
E: Love, love love the premise! It’s so nice when your interests become pop culture phenomenons, isn’t it? Even if the logline is a bit garbled. Writer/executive producers Kitsis and Horowitz are J.J. Abrams protegees, and they tend to do pretty well.
C: Fairy tales on TV! Is it me or do they seem to be taking more chances on fantastical premises in recent years? Whatever the reason…
E: Lost! Lost is the reason!
C: I love the trend – keep ’em coming. I’d certainly give this the chance to win me as a regular viewer.
M: Agreed, this one sounds right up our alley, and sticking with ABC’s theme for this batch of pilots, it has ties to Lost, which is also right up our alley. As for the networks taking more chances on fantastical premises, I think that they have become far less expensive to make than they used to be, and Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have shown how profitable they can be.
“Period crime procedural with supernatural elements tells how some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous stories came to be.” Stars Chris Egan.
C: Yes yes yes! I’m no big fan of Poe, but “period crime procedural with supernatural elements” is all you need to hook my attention. In fact, any two of those three elements would do!
E: Despite the fact that I’m highly dubious about the lead, what’s not to love about the idea of Edgar Allen Poe solving mysteries? I love it. I love it so much. So what if tepid Chris Egan is neither charismatic nor melancholy? Maybe he’ll come through. People do keep casting him, and he was moderately likable as the lead in the gorgeous, fascinating miss Kings. Maybe they’re seeing something I haven’t yet?
C: Never seen the guy act, so I’ll temporarily withhold judgment on the fact that he’s the spitting image of a Ken doll.
M: The only thing I’ve seen him in is Kings, and I thought he was not the problem with that show, so he’s neutral in my book. The guy he’s portraying, however, I’ve never been a fan of, so I’m highly dubious, but like C I like the other elements of the plot.
“A New York girl moves to a cookie-cutter community to discover that life in the suburbs is more frightening than any horror movie she’s seen.” Stars Jane Levy, Alan Tudyk, Cheryl Heines and Jeremy Sisto and is written by Emily Kapnek.
E: This is the one comedy on my list; I’m just fascinated by this cast. I cannot deny it.
C: I’m sure I’d know some of the faces, but none of those names mean anything to me except Jeremy Sisto, and that name means “Elton in Clueless.” Not a powerful draw, per se…
M: Oh, you know Alan Tudyk, he was Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball and Wash on Firefly. His presence alone makes me interested, despite the premise kind of sucking.
E: That’s what I’m talking about.
C: The premise was good as an episode of X-Files. As a whole series? Not so much.
E: Also on ABC – and like to get a pick up – the Charlie’s Angels reboot (loved the original, like showrunners Aldred Gough and Miles Millar, underwhelmed by the cast so reserving judgment), and Kristin Chenoweth’s Good Christian B*tches. Let me state for the record that while I love Chenoweth, I hate the introduction of that word into TV, and hate that my kids can accidentally hear it. I’m a prude. I know.
C: If it’s “prudish” not to want small children to hear swearing, then at least there are plenty of “prudes” to keep you company.
M: Not surprisingly, I’m right there with you. They could at least pull a Shatner and call it Good Christian Bleeps.
E: Also under the heading of “interesting star, dubious premise” there’s Pan Am, a sexy soap about pilots and stewardesses in the 60s starring Christina Ricci (really? shudder) and directed by Tommy Schlamme, and James Van Der Beek (seriously) and The Good Wife‘s Dreama Walker in Apartment 23, about a girl who moves to the Big Apple to find herself “living with her worst nightmare.” Is the nightmare supposed to be Walker? Her Becca from TGW would certainly qualify as the roommate from hell.
C: Um, unless my pronouns are off, wouldn’t the “girl” in question have to be Walker and the “nightmare” Van Der Beek? It could hardly be the other way around…
E: You clearly haven’t see Dreama Walker, then.* Finally there’s a cop show called Partners, featuring Nester Serrano and Frances Fisher; the partners in question are “secretly” sisters. Is it a secret from the rest of the police force, or from each other? I’d actually be interested in the show if it were a sort of grown up version of The Parent Trap. Also, there’s something with Tim Allen being henpecked. Blech.
*The information I’m giving here is definitely not complete; I’ve picked out not just the pilots that interest me, but largely just the cast and crew members that I’ve heard of.