It's pilot season! As we speak the big TV networks are planning out their fall schedules through the time-honored tradition of filming one episode of every pitched show and choosing the strongest examples (or the most marketable, or the one based on something that was a hit 30 years ago). The list is published by the press -- here are 15 of the more...interesting ideas TV execs are thinking about.

I promise you that, no matter how fake some of these sound, they are all 100% real and all of them are in contention for the Fall 2019 season.

Stray observations:

  1. The biggest loss from last year's crop was the Hannah Simone remake of Greatest American Hero, which I still really want to see and perhaps never will. Abandoned pilots used to leak out of the networks pretty easily. Either the network would run them over the summer, or they would be sold on VHS as stand-alone "mini-movies," or copies would be sent to critics that would later wind up on eBay. None of those things happen today.
  2. Number of our "weird" picks for 2018 that actually got onto the schedule: four. In half of the cases it isn't clear why. We still don't understand why they would put a show on the air called "God Friended Me," but have an aversion to something called "I Mom So Hard."
The Baker and the Beauty (ABC)
Logline: Based on the Israeli series created by Assi Azar, the drama tells the story of the unlikely romance between a blue-collar baker and an international superstar. Theirs is a relationship that not only upends their own lives, but the lives of their two very different families.
Cast: Carlos Gomez, Lisa Vidal, Dan Bucatinsky, Belissa Escobedo Team: W/EP Dean Georgaris (The Meg, The Brave); EP/D David Frankel; EP Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Rachel Kaplan, Peter Traugott
Studio: ABC Studios, Universal Television, Keshet Studios 
Location: Atlanta and Miami 

And that Israeli series was obviously ripping off the Hallmark Channel movie A Star For Christmas. Time to sue!

The Hypnotist's Love Story (ABC)
Logline: After a string of failed romances, successful hypnotherapist Ellen is optimistic about her current boyfriend. But then he reveals a disturbing truth: a stalker ex-girlfriend (Heather Graham) has been following him for years. Ellen finds herself intrigued — and oddly thrilled by the stalker, entirely unaware that they've already met. Based on the book of the same name by Liana Moriarty (Big Little Lies).
Cast: Heather Graham, Liza Lapira
Team: W/EP Katie Wech; EP Heather Graham, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Laurie Zaks; EP/D Francesca Gregorini
Studio: ABC Studios, Mandeville Television
Location: Vancouver

What the what?

Frankenstein (CBS)
Logline: A San Francisco homicide detective is mysteriously brought back to life after being killed in the line of duty, but as he resumes his old life and he and his wife realize he isn’t the same person he used to be, they zero in on the strange man behind his resurrection: Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
Cast: Saidah Arrika Ekulona 
Team: W/EP Jason Tracey (Elementary); EP Rob Doherty, D Uta Briesewitz (Westworld, Stranger Things)
Studio: CBS TV Studios

So....this is actually the second pilot in five years to propose a "modern" spin on the Frankenstein story. The first one actually made it to air under a different title, and spun around for a few weeks before crashing.

Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS)
Logline: Follows Bob (Mike and Molly grad Billy Gardell) who, after having a heart attack, falls in love with his Nigerian nurse (Folake Olowofoyeku, Transparent) and sets his sights on getting her to give him a chance.
Cast: Billy Gardell, Folake Olowofoyeku, Christine Ebersole, Maribeth Monroe, Shola Adewusi, Barry Shabaka Henley, Matt Jones
Team: W/EP Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky (Mike and Molly), Al Higgins, Gina Yashere
Studio: Warner Bros. TV
Format: Multicamera

Chuck Lorre, multicam, racial stereotype potential of premise reading over 9000....warning signs, flashing lights, the clacking of keyboards as Vox writers prepare outrage pieces....CBS, DO NOT ENGAGE!

Stumptown (ABC)
Logline: Inspired by the Oni Press graphic novels, the drama follows Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders), a strong, assertive and unapologetically sharp-witted Army veteran working as a P.I. in Portland. With a complicated personal history and only herself to rely on, she solves other people’s messes with a blind eye toward her own.
Cast: Cobie Smulders
Team: W/EP Jason Richman (Detroit 187); EP Ruben Fleischer, Dave Bernad, Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth, Justin Greenwood; EP/D James Griffiths
Studio: ABC Studios, The District
Location: Portland, Vancouver

When this originally went up, "Location" was blank, and I was like "so help me, if you take this comic that was about Portland, written in Portland, drawn in Portland and published in Portland, and film it in Vancouver BC to save nine cents, there will be hell to pay." So how does one go about paying hell?

I'll give it this: Cobie Smulders is good casting for the main character.

Like Magic (NBC)
Logline: A workplace comedy following an optimistic young woman (Jee Young Han, Station 19) who pursues her dream of becoming a headlining magician in the eccentric and ego-driven world of the Magic Palace.
Cast: Jee Young Han (Station 19), Rory O'Malley (Hamilton), Freddie Stroma, Hayley Magnus
Team: W/EP Bridget Kyle, Vicky Luu (Superstore); EP/D Julie Anne Robinson, EP Matt Hubbard, Kelly Pancho
Studio: Universal Television, CannyLads
Format: Single-camera

I dunno. The best workplace comedies have chosen rather ordinary settings and stocked them with wildly interesting characters. Making the work setting SUPER WACKY AND DISTRACTING is a mistake. It's what sunk Fox's Ghosted last year, and NBC's Powerless the year before that. Like Magic is doomed. But maybe before it ends we'll get a cameo from Paul Dini's wife.

Republic of Sarah (CBS)
Logline: A small New Hampshire town is thrust onto the world stage when the discovery of a valuable resource within its borders compels the residents to declare themselves an independent nation, setting the unlikely young mayor and her cabinet of inexperienced locals on the path of running a brand new country.
Team: W/EP Jeffrey Paul King (Elementary); EP Leo Pearlman, Jeff Grosvenor, Marc Webb
Studio: CBS TV Studios

Whatever this is, I want it. I mean, don't you? It probably won't make it because it's too out-there a premise for conservative CBS. If only it was being pitched to Netflix.
Or CBS All Access; they'll take anything.

The Emperor of Malibu (CBS)
Logline: When the son of a Chinese billionaire announces his engagement to an American woman, his outrageous family descends upon the couple to win their son back and test drive the American dream.
Cast: Ken Jeong (Crazy Rich Asians)
Team: W/EP Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians), David Sangalli; EP/showrunners Michelle Nader (2 Broke Girls), Christina Lee (Search Party); EP Danielle Stokdyk
Studio: Warner Bros. Television
Format: Multicamera
Untitled Jessica Gao (ABC)
Logline: Revolves around Janet Zhao, a first-generation Chinese-American woman who struggles to set healthy boundaries with her crazy, exhausting family. When her wealthy grandmother dies and names Janet the sole inheritor, she suddenly finds herself the unwilling new matriarch of the family she’s spent her life trying to keep at arm’s length.
Team: W/EP Jessica Gao (Rick and Morty); EP Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, Samie Falvey; EP/D Jude Weng
Studio: ABC Studios, CBS TV Studios, Amblin TV
Format: Single-camera
Location: Los Angeles

The good news is, there are more pilots with Asian families than there were last year.
The bad news is, they think you just want Crazy Rich Asians over and over and over.

Katy Keene (CW)
Logline: A Riverdale spinoff, Katy Keene follows the lives and loves of four iconic Archie Comics characters — including fashion legend-to-be Katy Keene — as they chase their twenty-something dreams in New York City. This musical dramedy chronicles the origins and struggles of four aspiring artists trying to make it on Broadway, on the runway and in the recording studio. Based on Archie Comics characters.
Cast: Ashleigh Murray (Riverdale), Jonny Beauchamp (Penny Dreadful), Julia Chan (Saving Hope)
Team: W/EP Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Michael Grassi; EP Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Jon Goldwater
Studio: Warner Bros. TV, Berlanti Productions

As far as Archie Comics characters go, Katy Keene is pretty Z-list -- not what I'd call "iconic," you dumb description. But The CW has kinda painted themselves into a corner. They let Netflix have Sabrina, and they disbanded Josie and the Pussycats on Riverdale (I've heard Josie herself is moving to this series, assuming it happens)...who is left that anyone without a thorough knowledge of Archie comics has heard of? Time to dig out Ms. Keene.

Now that they're forced to use obscure characters, though, why not go all the way? Let's get shows for Li'l Jinx, That Wilkin Boy, Cosmo the Little Martian....and, of course, an expensive multi-season space epic starring Marvelous Maureen.

Council of Dads (NBC)
Logline: Based on Bruce Feiler's memoir of the same name, the drama revolves around a father whose life is thrown into upheaval when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Facing his morality, he and his wife assemble a group of friends to support his family and guide them through life's challenges.
Cast: Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead), Michele Weaver (Love Is), J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD), Clive Standen (Taken)
Team: W/EP Tony Phelan and Joan Rater (Grey's Anatomy, Doubt); EP Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed; P James Oh, Bruce Feiler
Studio: Universal Television, Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Midwest Livestock Productions

Sounds suitably weepy, like something NBC wants to pair up with This Is Us....but I can't get past that title.

Jane the Novela (CW)
Logline:  A telenovela anthology series in the tradition of JANE THE VIRGIN, where each season is based on a different fictional novel “written by” Jane Villanueva and narrated by the author herself.  The first installment takes place at a Napa Valley Vineyard, where family secrets (and family members) don't stay buried for long.
Cast: Gina Rodriguez (Narrator), Jacqueline Grace Lopez
Team: W/EP Valentina Garza; Gina Rodriguez, Jennie Snyder Urman, Ben Silverman, Joanna Klein, Emily Gipson, Jorge Granier, Gary Pearl
Studio: CBS TV Studios, Sutton Street Productions, I Can and I Will Productions, Propagate

Jane The Virgin was never a ratings winner, but you have to love a network that supports it SO MUCH that they would create a spinoff based WITHIN something Jane is writing.

Triangle (ABC)
Logline: What if the Bermuda Triangle was not a watery grave in the middle of the ocean, but a land lost in time that has trapped travelers over the course of human history? When a family is shipwrecked in this strange land, they must band together with a group of like-minded inhabitants — from throughout history — to survive and somehow find a way home.
Cast: Mike Vogel (The Brave)
Team: W/EP Jon Feldman (Dawson's Creek, Designated Survivor), Sonny Postiglione; EP Jen Gwartz; EP/D McG
Studio: ABC Studios, Random Hill
Location: New Zealand

Go dig up the old, old article I write about the "TV Shows That Never Were" special. There's an abandoned pilot from the 90s with this exact premise. That pilot actually aired on a digital subchannel two years ago, for some reason. I tried to catch it and failed...bad reception that day.

I hope ABC doesn't make the mistake of promoting this as a Lost ripoff, because people are sick of those. ...Who am I kidding, they will.

Heart of Life (ABC)
Logline: Inspired by John Mayer's song, the drama follows two sets of adult siblings from wildly different worlds who discover they are related and must reassess everything they thought they knew about their shared father. As they explore the mystery of their separate childhoods, they'll experience the difficulty in overcoming the sins of the past, and learn the joys of reuniting with long-lost family.
Team: W/EP Ben Queen (Powerless); EP John Mayer, Melvin Mar, Jake Kasdan, Paul Weitz; D Anne Fletcher
Studio: 20th Century Fox TV, ABC Studios
Location: Atlanta

Highlighted for emphasis. We have a drama based on a JOHN MAYER SONG.
I mean, sure, the past has given us shows based off of tweets or a Geico caveman commercial, but....JOHN MAYER?

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (NBC)
Logline: An innovative musical dramedy about a whip-smart but socially awkward girl (Jane Levy, Castle Rock) in her late 20s who is suddenly able to hear the innermost thoughts of people around her as songs and even big musical numbers that they perform just for her. With this new ability at her disposal, she is able to use her "gift" to not only help herself understand people in her life, but also to help others around her.
Cast: Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, Mary Steenburgen
Team: W/EP Austin Winsberg (Gossip Girl); EP/D Paul Feig, Jesse Henderson, Kim Tannenbaum, Eric Tannenbaum, Jason Wang; EP/D Richard Shepard (Girls)
Studio: Lionsgate TV, the Tannenbaum Co., FeigCo., Universal Music Group

This, to me, is the GOOD kind of insane, and something I would much rather have from NBC than "Council of Dads."
It would perfectly fill the hole left by Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which ends this year, and of course Jane Levy is good in everything.