You may have heard about something called TV and its “golden age” or “revolution” or just how good it is in general. Network TV’s going through a change, though, and with long-running comedies like 30 Rock and The Office both ending, Up All Night crashing and burning, Don’t Trust the B– getting cancelled, Happy Endings getting moved, and new shows like Ben and Kate, Animal Practice, and 666 Park Avenue (okay, so some were of lesser quality than others) all getting dropped after less than a season, it’s hard to tell what will still be on TV come next season.
Right now the TV industry is going through its yearly pilot season trying to figure out just that. All the major networks have recently greenlit pilots, and some but not all of these will be picked up for the upcoming 2013-2014 television season. We have for you some of the highlights of pilot season–the best and most notable casting choices, writing teams, and concepts on major networks.
British adaptations abound, and attached to a lot of them are familiar faces. ABC greenlit both Spy — starring Warm Bodies’ Rob Corddry as a bumbling dad who inadvertently joins the secret service in an attempt to impress his intelligent son (Mason Cook, the lovely boy scout Eddie Munster in NBC’s failed-pilot-turned-2012-Halloween-special Mockingbird Lane) — and Pulling, a comedy about three dysfunctional thirty-somethings starring Mandy Moore and Burning Love leading lady June Diane Raphael.
ABC also has some big projects resulting from its Disney relationships, with a Big Thunder drama based on the Disney attraction, and Joss Whedon building off of last year’s Avengers success with his Marvel S.H.I.E.L.D. series.
Its original comedy fare, though, is where ABC shines, specifically with its Rebel Wilson vehicle Super Fun Night, produced by Conan O’Brien and starring Wilson alongside two other nerdy girls trying to have a [super] fun night. Wilson has shone as bawdy characters in stuff like Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect, and even a small guest role in Workaholics, and she deserves her own show.
Aside from its Bad Teacher spinoff series, CBS’s comedy selection looks fairly promising, with a semi-autobiographical as-of-yet untitled project from Jim Gaffigan, Will Arnett — in the case of Up All Night‘s almost inevitable cancellation — slated to play the lead in a multi-cam CBS comedy, one of two projects from Raising Hope and My Name Is Earl creator Greg Garcia. The other is Super Clyde, a superhero comedy about an unassuming fast food worker played by Ron Weasley himself. Anna Faris is starring as a newly sober single mom in Two And A Half Men creator Chuck Lorre’s Mom alongside Allison Janney (eat your heart out, people who just started and/or finished West Wing on Netflix!) and Nate Corddry. CBS is also presumably capitalizing on the success of David O. Russell’s recent films with a sports-themed Boston-set family comedy The McCarthys starring Silver Linings Playbook mom Jacki Weaver and The Fighter dad Jack McGee.
In CBS drama, Jerry Bruckheimer is executive producing Hostages, starring Toni Collette as a surgeon thrown into political conspiracy after being chosen to operate on the POTUS. in an adaptation of an Israeli format that was never produced, and Eddie Murphy stars in a continuation of the Beverly Hills Cop franchise.
First comes good news — projects from several Parks & Rec and The Office alums are sprinkled across a few networks. Fox snagged perhaps the best of these pilots, an untitled project from Parks & Rec creator Mike Schur and writer Dan Goor starring Andy Samberg and Terry Crews as detectives at a New York precinct. The pilot also stars comedian and Parks & Rec writer Chelsea Peretti, is produced by Samberg, and is directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the team behind last year’s awesome 21 Jump Street.
Next comes eye-rolling news, which is that Seth MacFarlane’s Dads has been ordered straight to series, so it’s definitely going to be on TV.
And finally more (tentative) good news: Anyone mourning the loss of Fringe will be glad to hear that J.J. Abrams is at the helm of two new projects, one on Fox, an untitled Bad Robot buddy cop drama set in the near future when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved androids, written by Fringe writer J.H. Wyman!
NBC is the most loaded network. Though the Schur/Goor pilot was greenlit at Fox, a myriad of other Office alums are sticking with NBC. This includes Ellie Kemper, star of Brenda Forever, a show that follows a woman at ages 13 and 31, interweaving stories. Kemper’s Office castmate Craig Robinson stars as a single musician-turned-middle school music teacher in an untitled comedy written and executive produced by The Office writer Owen Ellickson. Finally, The Office creator Greg Daniels and writer Robert Padnick also are making an ensemble comedy about dating 20-somethings for NBC.
Jessica Simpson, John Mulaney, and Michael J. Fox all join Jim Gaffigan in the semi-autobiographical fare. Mulaney’s show is produced by his SNL boss Lorne Michaels and Michael J. Fox’s includes his real-life battle against Parkinson’s disease in the plot. It also co-stars Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt, so major bonus for that series there, but it also unfortunately serves as a reminder that Breaking Bad will be over soon.
Star of Burning Love season 1 and Party Down Ken Marino is in the NBC pilot Gates, a comedy about parents and administration at an elementary school’s drop-off gates.
Jason Katims, creator of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, will be adapting the Nick Hornby novel and Hugh Grant movie About A Boy, and if anyone can turn a pretty good movie into a fantastic series, it’s Katims. Sean Hayes stars as a father adapting to living with his 14-year old daughter in an untitled project from cult favorite Better Off Ted creator Victor Fresco. Assistance, based on Bachelorette writer Leslye Headland’s play of the same name, produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, will keep former B— in Apt 23 Krysten Ritter from staying off the air too long.
More from J.J. Abrams, this one entitled Believe, is about a young girl with a special power who befriends a man recently sprung from prison. Believe is directed by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban‘s Alfonso Cuaron.
Perhaps NBC’s strangest comedy pilot is Girlfriend in a Coma, a Christina Ricci-starring show inexplicably half-named after a Morrissey song and executive produced by Dick Wolf. The show also stars Miranda Cosgrove as Ricci’s newly discovered 17-year old daughter and Home Alone non-Pesci burglar Daniel Stern as Ricci’s father.
The shows are still constantly updating casts and finalizing concepts, so pilot season is far from over. Some will be passed over, just until next year or permanently, and some will change until they meet network standards. Though not all of these pilots will get picked up for full seasons or even a few episodes next season, they give us hope that scripted TV will stay good, or at least interesting, for a while to come.