It’s that time of year. Pilot season is over and with Fall 2017 comes a slew of new television projects that sound tried, true, and a little unbelievable.
Entertainment Weekly dropped the full list of this year’s pilots late last week.
Some will rise to fame and some will plunge to the depths of oblivion… of course I’m talking about this year’s new television pilots. One thing’s for sure, there is a lot of star power behind most of these fledglings, so it will certainly be fascinating to see what comes out on top.
I gotta say, at first glance this list looks like a series of comedic bits, or a selection of ideas born of a “pitch room” improv scene. Some sound borderline racist, like The Crossing or the untitled Mark Cherry project. More than one hinge on a lead role who is a single parent. We’ve got several American remakes of tried-and-true European favorites, and we’ve got a new Shonda project. Yes Queen Shonda.
Frankly some of the synopses sound downright unrealistic. For example, read EW’s summary of the drama Doomsday:
"In the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. government instituted a secret think tank composed of the most creative minds in science and entertainment, tasked solely with dreaming up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. The ideas they invented were so dangerous that the list was sealed and the program shut down. But when a catastrophe ripped from the pages of the missing doomsday book occurs, the team is brought back years later to prevent the disasters of their own making."
Now, I’d put money on a bet that this was the byproduct of some stoned riffing. I stopped watching stoner movies and TV after my junior year of high school. However… I have to see this pilot. I have to see whether it’s a train wreck or a total success. Could it fall somewhere in between? Maybe. Maybe it suffers a similar fate as Fringe (apologies to Fringe fans, I just found that show neither good nor bad, just floating around somewhere in the ether of uninteresting and overly complicated episodics. I am a simple person, I can only focus on like three things at a time). Either way… what? Gotta see it. It’s too weird to not see.
Similarly weird in the comedy genre, a multi-cam called Household Name:
"This multi-camera comedy follows a family who has an opportunity to buy the house of their dreams but under extremely abnormal circumstances: They must live with the previous owner, an eccentric, larger-than-life actress (Carol Burnett)."
First of all, Carol Burnett is coming back to TV. There is little other news that makes me happier. Musical comedy fanatics worldwide, rejoice. That combined with a killer executive producer team, helmed by Amy Poehler, should insure success for this little bizarro sitcom. Let’s hope Michael Saltzman’s writing will keep this boat afloat.
The Good Doctor
Back in the drama sector, David Shore seems to be developing his House follow-up with The Good Doctor:
"Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a young surgeon with savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital’s surgical unit. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, Shaun uses his extraordinary medical gifts to win over his skeptical colleagues and save the lives of the patients he deeply cares for."
Knowing the success of House, I can imagine this doing well with young cutie Highmore in the lead role of Broken Asshole Doctor. The cast also includes Richard Schiff and Hill Harper among other seasoned stage and television actors. This is going to be good. If it’s not, I owe you a soda.
In ongoing Marvel news, we’ve got the straight-to-series project, Inhumans, which will be the debut of the Inhuman Royal Family to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With comic adaptations, there’s always the assumption of a built-in audience, therefore success; however, according to the Inhumans IMDb page, this might be Marvel’s riskiest project to date. Inhumans is probably the least well-known facet of the Marvel franchise, and there’s already been a lot of buildup for the introduction of this family in the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So if this one doesn’t work out, it’s going to be more than a financial failure.
The Mother Court
"Set in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Federal Court, a.k.a. “The Mother Court,” this legal drama follows brand new lawyers working on opposite sides — for both the defense and the prosecution — as they handle the most high-profile and high-stakes cases in the country, all as their personal lives intersect."
They’ve got a stellar cast list lined up, including one of my personal favorites, performance-artist-cum-actor Anna Deavere Smith.
Most of the comedies coming out sound good if a little unoriginal; many of the premises sound like stories I’ve already seen (for example Charlie Foxtrot, which will star Jason Biggs, sounds like a comedic redux of the super-f’ed-up 2009 wartime drama Brothers). However one such pilot, titled Raised By Wolves, is written and co-produced by Diablo Cody, and I am always excited to see what she has up her sleeve. Her writing is like candy, so I feel like this will be a guaranteed pleasure.
Okay, so admittedly a lot of these pilots interest me. Some of them just sound a little outlandish, but who knows? Maybe in a year we’ll be seeing rave reviews of Doomsday on every social media outlet. Will the outlandish dramas win, or will the grounded sitcoms find more success? I guess we’ll see at the end of the year.