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 2021 season.

Stray observations:

  1. The number of our "weird" picks for 2020 that actually got onto the schedule is pretty low at just three: Young Rock, Debris and The Republic of Sarah (which won't air until the summer). However, it's understandable in this case -- the TV industry hasn't been having the most conventional of years.
  2. Also because of this, there are a lot more repeats from last year this time.
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 student’s 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

For example, this is still here. Twelve months later it still doesn't have a title, and we still don't know the heavy secret she's carrying. And I still don't know how one stretches "re-enacting The Goonies on a high school budget" into a full network season of episodes. Give up, guys.

Blood Relative (FOX)
Logline: Genetic genealogy is the best new tool in crime-scene forensics, and nobody knows it like Louise Kelly. Too bad she’s impossible to deal with. Based on James Renner’s 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

This is also still here, and both are from Fox (coincidence, I think not). It's not based on a book, a movie, a graphic novel or even a podcast...the inspiration is a news article, hence the article's 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.

The Powerpuff Girls (CW)
In the live-action take on the original Cartoon Network animated series, The Powerpuff Girls used to be America’s pint-sized superheroes. Now they’re disillusioned twentysomethings who resent having lost their childhood to crime fighting. Will they agree to reunite now that the world needs them more than ever?
Cast: Chloe Bennet, Dove Cameron, Yana Perrault
Writers: Heather Regnier, Diablo Cody
Other EPs: Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, David Madden

It's a really good thing Craig McCracken is busy right now with Kid Cosmic on Netflix, so he has no time to notice what the caretakers of his first-borns are doing to them. This is the kind of premise you only do with a cartoon that was stupid or mockable. The Powerpuff Girls, Craig's version, was quality stuff and not deserving of this treatment. When I first saw this proposal, a bunch of words came to mind I try not to use on this site.

And yet I feel like there's nothng we can do to stop it; the brand is going to motivate the execs to greenlight it no matter what it's like. That CG Mojo is gonna look hideous.

Ghosts (CBS)
Logline: Based on the British series, this single-camera comedy follows a young couple, Samantha and Ryan, whose dreams come true when they inherit a beautiful country house, only to find it’s both falling apart and inhabited by many of the deceased previous residents.
Cast: Rose McIver, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Brandon Scott Jones
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

Yes -- it's still in the race! Go go go! Weird out all those traditionalist CBS viewers!
Rose McIver also needs something to do post-iZombie, besides those Netflix prince movies.

Tom Swift (CW)
Logline: The planted Nancy Drew spinoff follows the serialized adventures of the billionaire inventor who is thrust into a world of sci-fi conspiracy and unexplained phenomena after the shocking disappearance of his father. Tom takes to the road on a quest to unravel the truth, leaving behind the comforts of his usual moneyed lifestyle, all while fighting to stay one step ahead of an Illuminati-scale group hell-bent on stopping him. Tom’s missions will require his genius and flair for innovation guided by love, romance, friendship and the mysteries of the universe yet-unsolved. The Tom Swift character will appear in an episode of Nancy Drew‘s second season, when Tom crashes into one of Nancy’s investigations, an event which Nancy interprets as supernatural and Tom believes to be cosmically paranormal.
Casr: Tian Richards
Writers: Melinda Hsu Taylor, Noga Landau, Cameron Johnson
Other EPs: Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage

You wanna know why the Nancy Drew spinoff is this and not Hardy Boys? Because another company currently owns the TV rights to the Hardy Boys and they're making their own series for some streaming service.
That means we're stuck with this obscure character no one under 60 is familiar with.

Also, if you haven't seen CW Nancy Drew, it's been handling supernatural material a lot more effectively than CW Charmed has, and that's just sad.

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

Current word is that this has not only returned for a second year, it's been greenlit this time, so we're definitely getting Not Land Of The Lost this fall.

The Big Leap (Fox)
Logline: Inspired by a UK format, the centers on a group of diverse underdogs from all different walks of life who compete to be part of a competition reality series that is putting on a modern, hip remake of “Swan Lake.” What they lack in the traditional dancer body type, they make up for with their edge, wit and desire to reimagine an iconic story to fit their own mold.
Cast: Scott Foley (Scandal, Whiskey Cavalier), Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs), Teri Polo (The Fosters), Mallory Jansen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Kevin Daniels (Council of Dads), Ser’Darius Blain (Charmed), Ray Cham (Five Points), Jon Rudnitsky (Catch-22), Simone Recasner
Writer: Liz Heldens
Other EPs: Sue Naegle

"Modern" and "hip" remake of Swan Lake? How in my face will it be?

Logline: A dramedy about two millennial nuns — a devout true believer, and a new arrival who has yet to take her final vows — who start as strangers and become sisters on a funny, spiritual journey to understand their own faith and place in the Catholic church.
Cast: Caitlin Kinnunen (Broadway’s The Prom), Bella Ortiz
Writers: Claire Rothrock, Ryann Weir
Other EPs: Jennie Snyder Urman, Joanna Klein

There's nothing "weird" about this on the surface until you realize it's meant for The CW, a network not known for its nun dramedies. There isn't even a Warrior Nun in it.

Echo (NBC)
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 victim’s 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

As I said last year when this first appeared, 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.

Logline: After being laid off from the assembly line at the GM factory, a seemingly ordinary man makes the extraordinary decision to provide for his family by following his dream of becoming a professional bowler. The multi-cam is based on professional bowler Tom Smallwood’s life.
Writer: Mark Gross
Other EPs: David Hollander, Brian D’Arcy James

It may be based on a real person, but I don't get the feeling this plan is going to work out.

National Parks (ABC)
Logline: While the national parks are known for their sweeping, beautiful landscapes, there is also a darker, more sinister side to these parks that attract a vast array of criminal activity. The drama will follow the small group of elite NPS agents as they solve these crimes while protecting these national treasures.
Cast: Billy Campbell (The 4400), Angel Parker (Marvel’s Runaways), Gerardo Celasco (Next)
Writers: Aaron Helbing, Kevin Costner, Jon Baird
Other EPs: Rod Lake, Ivan Cohen, Ken Halsband, Barry Jossen, Tana Jamieson

Boy, yeah, all those CRAZY CRIMES that must be happening in our national parks. Imagine the car chases, the explosions...

Then again, CBS has somehow wrung around 30 years' worth of material out of a courtroom specifically for crimes committed within the Navy, so...

True Lies (CBS)
Logline: Shocked to discover that her bland and unremarkable computer consultant husband is a skilled international spy, an unfulfilled suburban housewife is propelled into a life of danger and adventure when she’s recruited to work alongside him to save the world as they try to revitalize their passionless marriage. Based on the 1994 action-comedy.
Writer: Matt Nix
Other EPs: Director McG, James Cameron, Rae Sanchini, Mary Viola

Matt Nix was involved with Burn Notice. McG was involved with Chuck. James Cameron...probably won't have much to do with this. If you want to make a show version of True Lies, this is pretty much the cocktail you need.

But if they make it a straight drama, it will fail (at least from a quality standpoint). The comedic elements of this movie are what make it a classic.

Epic (ABC)
Logline: A romantic anthology series that reinvents fairy tales for a new audience. Sources claim that the potential series — which is not set in the Once Upon a Time universe — will present all-new characters and “new spins on the classic archetypes.”
Writer: Brigitte Hales
Other EPs: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis

You may remember Horowitz and Kitsis as the guys in charge of Once Upon A Time, hence the disclaimer that "this reinvention of fairy tales is nothing like that previous reinvention of fairy tales by the same people."

Ways & Means (CBS)
Logline: Centers around a powerful Congressional leader (Patrick Dempsey) who, after having lost faith in politics, finds himself working secretly with an idealistic young Congresswoman from the opposing party to subvert the hopelessly gridlocked system he helped create. Together, they’ll attempt to save American politics (provided they don’t get caught).
Cast: Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy), Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars), Amanda Warren (Madam Secretary, NCIS: New Orleans)
Writers: Ed Redlich, Mike Murphy
Other EPs: Denise Di Novi, Tom Lassally, Nina Tassler, Co-EP Joannie Burstein

Oh man. If Jeep couldn't unite this divided nation with a Springsteen-narrated Super Bowl ad, what hope does a CBS drama have?

This is such a bad idea. I don't want them to greenlight this SOLELY for the finger-wagging commentaries all over the Internet it would produce, and I would have to endure.

Wilde Things (CBS)
Logline: The multi-cam comedy centers around Frankie Wolfe, an unfiltered, irreverent, powerful businesswoman with no personal life. When Frankie’s impossibly fragile and neurotic sister, Tommie, abandons Quincy — an incredibly bright inner-city child who Tommie attempted to foster — Frankie is faced with the choice of taking him in or casting him back out. Can these two lonely, damaged people find the love and companionship that has eluded them their whole lives?
Writers: Max Mutchnick, David Kohan
Casr: Julie Bowen, Ken Marino, Milan Carter, Jeremy D. Howard, Stephanie Koenig

This doesn't make my heart sing.

Actually I picked it for the personal reason that titles which are just a pun about the main character's name really get on my nerves. Chances are the character just got that name to make the pun. Naming a character Grace, Hope, Charity or Faith because you have no other idea what to call your show just reflects poorly on you. "Wilde" is one that particularly makes me wince whenever I see it. But this pilot previously went by the name "Big Bad Wolfes," which might be worse.