Friday, March 12, 2010

Most Interesting Pilots: Dramas

Unfortunately for us, the viewers, there are many new drama pilots in development for the fall. I say "unfortunately" because most of them are either police procedurals (187 Detroit, Body of Evidence, Boston's Finest, Edgar Floats, The Gates, True Blue, Hawaii Five-O, I Witness, The Odds, Reagan's Law, Breakout Kings, Ridealong, Prime Suspect, The Rockford Files, The Quickening, Uncle Nigel, the Criminal Minds spin-off) or legal dramas (The Whole Truth, Defenders, Pleading Guilty, Kindreds, Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, Rough Justice, Facing Kate, Franklin & Bash). There are, however, some interesting ideas that stand apart from the pack.


1. The Cape (NBC)

I love superhero-themed shows, and this one should be no different. From the sound of it, the tone will be pretty dark and probably have more of a "graphic novel" feel than a comic book feel. As in, this is about a guy who masquerades as a vigilante in order to clear his name of a crime he didn't commit; he's not running around showing off superpowers. I'm thinking more along the lines of The Dark Knight rather than Superman. Plus, this would be a great replacement for Heroes if NBC decides to can it. And Summer Glau, the reigning queen of the genre television series, was just cast. I'm there.

2. The Event (NBC)

This one sounds like a mix of Lost, Flash Forward and The Nine. It tells the story, from multiple perspectives, of a man fighting mysterious circumstances which become part of a larger conspiracy. Vague, but intriguing. Throw in the fact that it has one of the best ensemble casts of any pilot this season (Blair Underwood, Jason Ritter, Scott Patterson, Wes Ramsey, Emmy-nominee Laura Innes, Emmy-winner Zeljko Ivanek and many others), and I'm hooked.

3. Betwixt (CW)

Obviously planned as a potential companion for their hit series The Vampire Diaries, this show is also based on a young-adult book; this time around, the teens are changelings (children of fairies) with intertwined destinies who are just discovering their true nature. It sounds silly, and it probably will be; but I'm glad the CW is still catering to its leftover WB audience members with these series. With Supernatural and Smallville likely entering their final seasons this fall, Betwixt and The Vampire Diaries seem like perfect cult-show replacements with which to begin building a new paranormal audience.

4. Hellcats (CW)

Finally someone is bringing Bring It On to television. This seems like a really "duh" idea: a series about the inner-workings of college competitive cheerleading. There's plenty of opportunity for drama, comedy, sports action, everything. There is clearly a market for this type of show, as direct-to-DVD sequels to Bring It On continue to rake in money, and the CW is the ideal network to launch something along those same lines but with perhaps just a little bit more intelligence and edge (which would be more in line with the original film than with its silly sequels). Regardless, I loved Bring It On so I'll probably love this show as well.

5. Generation Y (ABC)

From the creator of last season's extremely underrated police dramedy The Unusuals, the details of this series are sparse. It's about a group of adults in Austin whose life stories are told in both the present and 10 years in the past. It's another ensemble drama, and while it may not have the star-power of The Event, it may make up for that fact with more interesting characters (the best part of The Unusuals) and a more emotional impact. I'm curious to see how it unfolds.

6. Matadors (ABC)

So this could be classified as one of those abhorrent "legal dramas" I mentioned earlier, but I'd like to think that this one has the most promise. It's about two long-feuding, powerful families in Chicago: one associated with the DA's office, and the other populates the city's most influential law firm. I hope, however, that this series will stay away from the courtroom drama and focus more on the family aspect of the show; tense relationship dramas are always more interesting than retreads of Law & Order. The producers have already taken a step in the right direction with the cast, which includes David Strathairn and Jason Behr.

7. No Ordinary Family (ABC)

Despite a truly awful title, I'm intrigued by this pilot. It will be duking it out with The Event for best ensemble cast (this one has Golden Globe and Emmy-winner Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker, Romany Malco and Autumn Reeser), and it's also tinged with a bit of the unusual: it's about a family who discovers they have special abilities. It could go the route of the WB's failed Birds of Prey, or it could go the way of Pixar's wildly successful The Incredibles. Again, not much is known about this one, but with such an exciting cast and such an exciting creative team (Greg Berlanti, Jon Harmon Feldman and David Semel) there can only be good things in store for this one.

8. Cutthroat (ABC)

So this one is basically Weeds but more of a drama and on network TV: a single mother in Beverly Hills runs an international drug cartel. I'm not familiar with anyone in the cast, but I expect good things from creators Michelle Fazekas and Tara Butters (Reaper).

9. The Miraculous Year (HBO)

There is nothing not right about this pilot. It's being directed by the first ever female Best Director Oscar winner, Kathryn Bigelow, and it tells the story of a self-destructive Broadway composer and his family. A brilliant director + a unique storytelling device + musicals + HBO = my most anticipated pilot of the year.

10. The Untitled Wyoming Pilot (CW)

Even though it it currently titleless and seemingly boring, this pilot about a horse trainer who takes over a Wyoming ranch and becomes the caretaker for his younger siblings has potential for greatness. It sounds like a loving throwback to ye olde WB shows like Gilmore Girls and Everwood, and I'm a sucker for a touching family drama. Plus it stars one of my favorite character actors, Alan Ruck, and the always-solid young actor Sean Faris. There's something potentially profound brewing here.

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