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 2020 season.
|The Brides (ABC)
Logline: Contemporary reimagining of Dracula tale is a vampire soap about empowered, immortal women and the things they do to maintain wealth, prestige, legacy and their nontraditional family. Originally developed at NBC.
Cast: Katherine Reis, Chris Mason, Sophia Tatum
Team: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (ep), Greg Berlanti (ep), Sarah Schechter (ep), Maggie Kiley (d, ep)
Studio: Berlanti Productions/Warner Bros. Television
I have serious doubts that ABC would run a Dracula show, even with the chance to score easy "woke points" by making the entire cast women. But there's Mr. Moneybags, Greg Berlanti, right there behind it...maybe that will have some pull. The real surprise is that this is in contention for ABC and not The CW. Then again, Berlanti already has a show on every single time slot on that network; the only way he can get more is to invade other stations.
Logline: Apparently, raising children -- even grown children -- never ends, but who could have known how hard it would be for them to raise their parents? Reboot of the 1987-91 series 'Thirtysomething,' with emphasis on the original cast's children -- the new generation of thirtysomethings.
Cast: Chris Wood, Odette Annable, Patrick Fugit, Auden Thornton, Mel Harris, Ken Olin, Timothy Busfield, Patricia Wettig, Melanie Mayron (recurring), Polly Draper (recurring)
Team: Marshall Herskovitz (w, ep), Edward Zwick (w, d, ep)
Studio: ABC Studios/MGM Television
Is there any kind of demand among the adult generation of today for the return of thirtysomething? That was just the boring show our parents had on while we played with blocks in the other room. It was a hit with Boomers because Boomers loved staring at themselves (a trait that hasn't diminished over time). In 2020, there is zero buzz for this. But I have a feeling we're going to get this show whether we want it or not.
RE-ENACTMENT PROJECT (FOX)
Logline: After failing to make it in New York and carrying a heavy secret with her, Stella Cooper returns to her distressed automotive hometown to substitute teach. She finds inspiration, hope and ultimately salvation when she agrees to help three students who are pursuing their filmmaking dreams by putting on an impossibly ambitious shot-for-shot remake of one of the students favorite movies, 'The Goonies.'
Cast: Ramon Rodriguez
Team: Sarah Watson (w, ep)., Greg Mottola (d, ep), Gail Berman (ep), Lauren Shuler Donner (ep), Richard Donner (ep), ustin Falvey (ep), Darryl Frank (ep)
Studio: Warner Bros. Television/SideCar Content Accelerator/Amblin TV
This one's premise is so strange that it's actually gotten some press outside of this site. It sounds pretty by-the-numbers up until we get to the part where it's a stealth remake of The Goonies under the premise of three kids trying to remake the movie in exact detail. You could maybe do this as a film, but how does one stretch it out into a 22-episode broadcast TV season? And what's her heavy secret?
The fact that kids are doing this isn't the crazy part. There are some kids out there who spent seven years remaking Toy Story 3 shot-for-shot with their action figures. Maybe we can get a show about them.
No, the craziest part is they still have no idea what to call this show. This feels like a no-brainer....just pluck one of the many catch-phrases from The Goonies and use it as the title. "Truffle-Shuffle," "Never Say Die," "I've Been Saved By My Pinchers Of Peril," "Here's Where We Keep The Sexual Torture Devices."
Logline: Based on the British series, Ghosts follows a young couple, Samantha and Ryan, whose dreams come true when they inherit a beautiful country house, only to find its both falling apart and inhabited by many of the deceased previous residents.
Cast: Rose McIver
Team: Joe Port (w,ep), Joe Wiseman (w, ep), Mathew Baynton (ep), Jim Howick (ep), Simon Farnaby (ep), Laurence Rickard (ep), Ben Willbond (ep), Martha Howe-Douglas, Alison Carpenter (ep), Debra Hayward (ep), Alison Owen (ep), Angie Stephenson (ep)
Studio: Lionsgate Television/BBC Studios/CBS Television Studios
CBS's 2020 pilot slate is, for the most part, safe and drab. Something about doctors, something about lawyers, something about a single parent raising a kid...The exception is this one, and we'll be surprised if it breaks through. Also, it's a single-cam comedy, a distinction it will share with Young Sheldon and nothing else. If there isn't a laugh track, how will the typical viewer of this network know when to laugh?
|La Brea (NBC)
Logline: When a massive sinkhole mysteriously opens in Los Angeles, it tears a family in half, separating mother and son from father and daughter. When part of the family find themselves in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers, they must work to survive and uncover the mystery of where they are and if there is a way back home.
Cast: Natalie Zea, Michael Raymond-James, Jon Seda, Caleb Ruminer, Karina Logue, Zyra Gorecki, Angel Parker, Catherine Dent, Veronica St. Clair, Jag Bal
Team: David Appelbaum (w, ep), Avi Nir (ep), Alon Shtruzman (ep), Peter Traugott (ep), Rachel Kaplan (ep), Ken Woodruff (ep), Thor Freudenthal (d)
Studio: Universal Television/Keshet Studios
By contrast, NBC's pilot lineup this year is totally Wacky Wild Kool-Aid Style. Supernatural and sci-fi stories abound. You might have noticed the premise of this one is the exact same as the 1960s Saturday Morning staple Land of the Lost, enough to make me wonder if the Krofft estate is getting residuals.
Logline: Two agents from two different continents, and two different mindsets, must work together to investigate when wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft has mysterious effects on humankind.
Cast: Jonathan Tucker, Riann Steele
Team: J.H. Wyman (w,ep), Jason Hoffs (ep)
Studio: Legendary/Frequency Films
The truth is, NBC hasn't had much luck with sci-fi, mainly because they promote all those shows as Lost knockoffs. They will undoubtedly do the same here, just as they're doing with the soon-to-be-cancelled Manifest right now.
|Republic of Sarah (CW)
Logline: Faced with the destruction of her town at the hands of a greedy mining company, rebellious high school teacher Sarah Cooper utilizes an obscure cartographical loophole to declare independence. Now Sarah must lead a young group of misfits as they attempt to start their own country from scratch.
Cast: Stella Baker, Izabella Alvarez, Nia Holloway, Hope Lauren
Team: Jeffrey Paul King (w, ep), Marc Webb (ep), Mark Martin (ep), Jeff Grosvenor (ep), Leo Pearlman (ep), Kat Candler (d, ep)
Studio: CBS TV Studios
IT'S BACK, BABY! You thought Republic of Sarah was done for after it never showed up on CBS....well, for once, they did the smart thing and handed it off to their more eccentric cousin. Now the roadblock to success will be the fact that there are no superheroes in it.
Logline: Follows the early adventures of famed Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who must solve a series of deadly puzzles to save his kidnapped mentor and thwart a chilling global conspiracy. Based on Dan Brown's novel 'The Lost Symbol.'
Team: Dan Dworkin (w, ep), Jay Beattie (w, ep), Dan Brown (ep), Brian Grazer (ep), Ron Howard (ep), Samie Falvey (ep), Anna Culp (ep)
Studio: CBS TV Studios/Universal Television/Imagine Television
I laughed out loud when I first got wind of this one. It is so, so NBC to be chasing those sweet DaVinci Code dollars in the year 2020.
Logline: Procedural revolving around a team of investigators who solve the highest-profile crimes by sending our heroes into the past -- in the body of the victim. They assume the victims identity and must race against time to prevent the crime before it happens.
Cast: Janina Gavankar, Wesam Keesh
Team: JJ Bailey (w, ep), John Davis (ep), John Fox (ep)
Studio: Universal Television/Davis Entertainment
The comparisons to Quantum Leap are obvious, but at least, for once, they aren't just leaning on a brand by billing this under the Quantum Leap name.
And of course, it's not completely the same. These guys actually get to return home.
|Ordinary Joe (NBC)
Logline: Explores the three parallel lives of the shows main character after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life. The series asks the question of how different life might look if you made your decision based on love, loyalty or passion.
Cast: James Wolk, Natalie Martinez, Charlie Barnett
Team: Russel Friend (W, ep), Garrett Lerner (w, ep), Matt Reeves (ep), Rafi Crohn (ep), Howard Klein (ep), Adam Davidson (d)
Studio: 20th Television/6th & Idaho/3Arts
ABC has a pilot for a comedy series called "Home Economics" that follows the lives of three siblings who are upper, middle and lower class. The three versions of Joe are very likely to be the same.
|Work Wife (ABC)
Logline: The story of a platonic male/female team whose professional success, personal friendship and ability to share deodorant makes their lives work. Inspired by the real-life partnerships of producers Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest and writers Casey Johnson and David Windsor.
Team: David Windsor (w, ep), Casey Johnson (w, ep), Todd Holland (d, ep), Kelly Ripa (ep), Mark Consuelos (ep), Albert Bianchini (ep), Ryan Seacrest (ep), Nina Wass (ep), Andrea Shay (ep)
Studio: ABC Studios/Milojo Productions/Ryan Seacrest Productions
KELLY RIPA AND RYAN SEACREST SHARE DEODORANT??? Now I have to walk around with that image in my head!
& Goor (NBC)
Logline: Ensemble comedy about black people, dating and wine.
Cast: Carl Tart, Echo Kellum, Justin Cunningham
Team: Phil Jackson (w, ep), Dan Goor (ep, sr)
Studio: Universal Television
Sure hope there's more to it than this.
|Blood Relative (FOX)
Logline: Genetic genealogy is the best new tool in crime-scene forensics, and nobody knows it like Louise Kelly. Too bad shes impossible to deal with. Based on James Renners 2018 article Beyond the Jungle of Bad: The True Story of Two Women from California Who Are Solving All the Mysteries.
Cast: Melissa Leo, Tate Donovan
Team: Chris Levinson (w, ep), James Renner (w, ep), Liza Chasin (ep), Phillip Noyce (d, ep)
Studio: Paramount Television Studios/Anonymous Content,/Fox Entertainment
Read it a second time. It's not based on a book, a movie, a graphic novel or even a podcast...the inspiration is a news article, hence the weird title that was intended to attract clicks. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but in this case I'm not sure why you would openly admit it in the description, as if it adds any status.
Logline: In a present-day America that finds itself under authoritarian rule, the presidents daughter raised to believe her father is moral and benevolent has her worldview rocked on her first day at Georgetown. Challenged by her fellow students, and under the watchful eye of Secret Service agents, shell have to decide if her loyalties lie with her family or with a growing resistance as she navigates her freshman year.
Cast: Reina Hardesty, Nandy Martin, Zainne Saleh, Christopher Meyer, Zayne Emory
Team: Merigan Mulhern (w, co-ep), Josh Schwartz (ep), Stephanie Savage (ep), Warren Hsu Leonard (ep), Lis Rowinski (co-ep), Larry Teng (d)
Studio: CBS Television Studios/Fake Empire
Gee, I wonder where they got the idea for this one.
I'm obviously talking about the fact that this same creative team was just behind the Hulu series Runaways, based on a comic with nearly this exact premise (except with superheroes instead of politicians). In the comic, which was excellent, a gang ot teenagers discovers their parents are supervillains and runs away to fight against them. In the show, the teens discover their parents are....kinda sorta evil but not entirely, and waffle on whether or not they should run for an entire season, then kind of do it, but stay in touch with their parents more or less throughout the series, until the end when they all have to team up and the parents reform completely.
As miffed as I am about the thrilling premise of Runaways being watered down and botched, you can imagine my rage right now at seeing Schwartz and Savage using the ACTUAL premise of the comic for a completely different show. WHY COULDN'T THEY DO IT THE FIRST TIME???
|Young Rock (NBC)
Logline: Inspired by Dwayne Johnson, also known by his wrestling name The Rock, the series will chronicle his formative years.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson
Team: Nahnatchka Khan (w, ep), Jeff Chiang (w, ep), Dwayne Johnson (ep), Jennifer Carreras (ep), Dany Garcia (ep), Hiram Garcia (ep), Brian Gewirtz (ep)
Studio: Universal Television/Seven Bucks Productions/Fierce Baby Productions
See, it's like Young Sheldon, only with the Jumanji guy.
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