TV Pilots 2015 Part 2, Drama Pickups: Ranking the Good, Bad, and Truly Awful

     January 30, 2015


Yesterday, I took a look at some of the most noteworthy (for good and bad reasons) Comedy pilot pickups by the major broadcasters (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) so far.  Today, it’s Drama’s turn.

As mentioned before — 1,715 TV series ran in primetime last year.  It’s really hard to get viewers’ attention with a staggering number like that.  Tactics for 2015 vary; there are a lot of things we’ve seen before (and seen so many times, in fact, that they’re just too boring to comment on).  But for the rest, the new trends include remakes, supernatural series, and more shows with females leads (whether they make it out of the pilot stage, though …)

The following judgements of Potential, Tell Me More, and Who Approved This? are only based on loglines and sometimes casting, so a show that seems terrible at this point might actually turn out — once more about it is known — to be ok.  The opposite could also be true.

For now, settle in.  It’s Round 2.   Prepare to judge.


rush-hour-jackie-chan-chris-tucker-tv-showTitle: Rush Hour

Network: CBS

Logline: Based on the New Line feature film trilogy, a stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer is assigned to a case in Los Angeles where he’s forced to work with a cocky African-American LAPD officer who has no interest in a partner.

It Sounds Like: What’s old is new again.  It didn’t work for Beverly Hills Cop, but, Bill Lawrence being attached makes me hopeful.  Also, it would be really nice to see some diversity on CBS primetime with these leads.


Title: Flesh and Blood

Network: ABC

Logline: The return of a local politician’s young son, formerly presumed dead after disappearing more than a decade earlier, sends shockwaves through his tight knit family. But as the mysterious young man is welcomed back into his community, the neighbor sitting in jail for his murder is released, and the cop responsible is forced to re-examine what truly happened so many years ago.

It Sounds Like: A really promising premise.  I’m getting Rectify vibes.  I like this.   Don’t ruin it, ABC.  (And don’t let it be awesome just to cancel it like all of your best comedies).


Title: Warrior

Network: NBC

Logline: In a grounded, contemporary multicultural and sometimes magical milieu, a damaged heroine works undercover with physical and spiritual guidance from a mysterious martial arts master to bring down an international crime lord.

It Sounds Like: No idea what “grounded, contemporary multicultural and sometimes magical milieu” means in practical terms, and the hocus pocus stuff is way too vague and B-movie-ish, but … strong female lead?  Bring it.  Speaking of …


supergirl-comic-tv-show-pilotTitle: Supergirl

Network: CBS

Logline: Born on the planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) escaped amid its destruction years ago. Since arriving on Earth, she has been hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin. But now at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be. Based on characters from DC Comics.

It Sounds Like: CBS is finally getting into the superhero game, and with a strong female lead.  I usually don’t trust CBS, but then I remember The Good Wife.  You can make this great, guys.  And, if the production takes notes from the CW rather than Fox (as in, more Flash and less Gotham), we could have something here.


Tell Me More 

Title: Quantico

Network: ABC

Logline: A group of young FBI recruits, all with specific reasons for joining, battle their way through training at the Quantico base in Virginia. As we intercut between their hidden pasts and their present training, we also flash-forward to the near future, where one of the recruits will turn out to be a sleeper terrorist responsible for the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

It Sounds Like: “Criminal Minds: Origins meets The Americans/Homeland.  Being generous.  Could go either way.


Title: L.A. Crime

Network: ABC

Logline: A character-driven, true-crime procedural that explores sex, politics and popular culture across various noteworthy eras in L.A. history. Season one focuses on two LA cops in search for a Bonnie & Clyde-esque serial killing team amidst the rock-and-roll, coke-infused revelry of the 1980s Sunset Strip.

It Sounds Like: This is ABC having their cake and eating it, too.  “Why just have one period drama when we can do all the time periods?”   The kind-of-ballsy concept (for broadcast, which needs some creative shakeups) has potential, if it doesn’t turn into “how many pop culture references can we cram into an hour?” which, given ABC’s past period dramas, it probably will.


idris-elba-luther-tv-pilot-remakeTitle: Luther

Network: Fox

Logline: Based on the format and from the same creators of the successful and award-winning BBC series. Centers on John Luther, a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can’t always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions.

It Sounds Like: Another potential Gracepoint fiasco.  The pilot is cast-contingent, which is smart, but what are the chances of finding another Idris Elba?  And yet, I dare to dream.


Title: Minority Report

Network: Fox

Logline: Ten years after the end of Precrime in Washington, D.C., one of the three Precogs struggles to lead a “normal” human life, but remains haunted by visions the future, when he meets a detective haunted by her past, who just may help him find a purpose to his gift.

It Sounds Like: Minority Report would make a great series, but this particular “10 years later” take doesn’t feel as strong.  Cautiously waiting for more information.


Who Approved This? 

Title: The Catch

Network: ABC

Logline: Centers on a gutsy female forensic accountant who exposes fraud for a living and has finally found fulfillment both at work and in love until a case comes along that threatens to turn her world upside down.

It Sounds Like: I hope this is not even half as Mysteries of Laura as it sounds (oh my God, she has a job and a husband!11?! She must be gutsy!)  This is a Shondaland production, and Shonda, what the hell?


limitless-bradley-cooper-tv-pilotTitle: Limitless

Network: CBS

Logline: The drama picks up where the 2011 movie left off and follows new characater Brian Sinclair as he discovers the power of the mysterious drug NZT, and is coerced into using his newfound drug-enhanced abilities to solve weekly cases for the FBI.

It Sounds Like: Nothing against the movie, but nobody asked for this.


Title: Blindspot

Network: NBC

Logline: A beautiful woman, with no memories of her past, is found naked in Times Square with her body fully covered in intricate tattoos. Her discovery sets off a vast and complex mystery that immediately ignites the attention of the FBI who begin to follow the road map on her body to reveal a larger conspiracy of crime while bringing her closer to discovering the truth about her identity.

It Sounds Like: You have to appreciate NBC’s honesty, here — they’re not even trying to cover up the female objectification.


Title: The Curse of the Fuentes Women

Network: NBC

Logline: When a magical and mysterious young man inexplicably emerges from the ocean, he breathes new passion into the lives of the Fuentes women – the beautiful but lonely Lola, her ailing mother Esperanza and her troubled daughter Soledad.

It Sounds Like: The Fuentes Women Get Their Groove Back.  Pass.


Title: Unveiled

Network: NBC

Logline: A one-hour drama following an ensemble of flawed guardian angels who intervene in the lives of those who find themselves facing crisis in an attempt to restore their faith and, often, save their lives.

It Sounds Like: Another angel series.  Best case scenario: Wings of Desire (as if!) Worst case: Dominion.  Heaven help us.