TV’s pilot season is in full swing, with networks snapping up potential projects like Wall Street laps up bailout money. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be looking at what each of the broadcast networks is developing for 2009-10.
These posts won’t be exhaustive looks at every single piece of development a network is doing; The Hollywood Reporter and The Futon Critic have done their usual sterling jobs of tracking down every last detail. We’ll be highlighting a few projects from each place that strike us as interesting or that seem to have a likely shot at actually making it onto the schedule.
Our first stop is ABC, which is once again the biggest acquirer of pilots (and will likely have the most new shows on the air in the fall). The network is trying really hard to develop comedies this year, and is once again taking a few big swings at dramas that, if they’re picked up, will probably demand loyal viewing.
Let It Go
What it is: A comedy starring Lauren Graham as a self-help author who’s made a career advising women to “let it go” but who emphatically cannot do that when her long-time boyfriend breaks up with her.
Why we’re interested: My long-standing crush on Graham aside, she’s a fine comic actress, and I’d like to see her take on a character who — according to some of the descriptions of the show, anyway — is a little bit dark and weird. Writer Alex Herschlag used to work on Will & Grace, and Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz is one of the producers (his company has a lot of projects in pilot this year), so its behind-the-scenes auspices are good too.
What it is: A time-bending thriller in which a particle-accelerator experiment goes haywire and causes everyone in the world to black out for a couple minutes — during which time people see a vision of their future. Chaos reigns when everyone wakes up.
Why we’re interested: The show, which has a series commitment, is based on a novel by Robert J. Sawyer and comes from sci-fi minds David Goyer (Batman Begins) and Brannon Braga (Star Trek: Enterprise). It’s a pretty original premise, and it’s got a pretty good cast fronted by Joseph Fiennes, Courtney B. Vance, Sonya Walger and John Cho. But it also could tip toward some really dark places that audiences don’t usually like to go.
What it is: A comedy starring Courteney Cox as the 40ish mother of a teenage son who’s re-entering the dating world.
Why we’re interested: Because it reunites Cox with Bill Lawrence, the creator of Scrubs and a former writer for Friends. And despite the title, because we hope Lawrence will make it more about a real woman facing being single again than cheap jokes like SNL‘s “Cougar Den.”
Untitled Kelsey Grammer pilot
Why we’re interested: The show is one of several comedies dealing with the harsh economic climate (ABC also has a pilot called Canned, about a group of friends who all lose their jobs on the same day), and seeing a former fat cat take his lumps could be pretty satisfying. Plus, no one does ineffectual bluster like Grammer.
Inside the Box
What it is: A version of a long-time pet project for Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, a drama centered on a female news producer in Washington.
Why we’re interested: Partly because Rhimes has been taking swings at a news-biz drama for a couple years now, partly for the cast (Indira Varma, Jason George, Kim Raver and Sarah Drew, among others) and partly because it was written by former ABC News producer Richard E. Robbins, which would probably ensure a good degree of reality in its portrayal of the business.
What it is: A remake/update of the 1980s alien-invasion series.
Why we’re interested: My inner 11-year-old is hugely excited to see this, since the lizard faces and half-human, half-alien birth from the original are still imprinted on my mind. Likable actors like Scott Wolf, Morris Chestnut and Morena Baccarin — as the beautiful-but-evil alien leader — don’t hurt either.
What it is: A Twin Peaks-y mystery about a small town that suffers its first serious crime in a number of years.
Why we’re interested: Because it comes from the people who made ABC’s very solid adaptation of Life on Mars, and because a good mystery will always suck me in at least for a while (bonus points for including Amy Acker and Dean Winters in the cast). As with Twin Peaks, though, the question will be what to do when that first mystery is resolved.