Pilot Season in Hollywood is the time when many a dream gets dashed against the rocky shores of network scheduling. Currently — as cameras begin to roll on dozens of new shows — we’re in that delightful period where each of those pilot episodes in production has the potential to be TV’s next big thing. Picking winners at this stage is a very foolish endeavor, but I did come up with a list of five dramas I really hope will make the cut.
5. 'Black Lightning'
Cress Williams stars as Jefferson Pierce in a possible fifth #DCComics television show over on the CW.
In the comic book, the character was an early attempt by DC to create an African American superhero following the successful Luke Cage book at rival publisher Marvel. Unlike Cage, Pierce has some aggressive superpowers: He can generate and manipulate electricity.
In this new TV version of #BlackLightning from writer/producer Mara Brock Akil and go-to superhero producer Greg Berlanti, Pierce is a retired crimefighter who must leap once more into the fray to protect his daughter. Salim Akil is directing the pilot.
Jefferson Pierce made his choice: he hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend.
I have high hopes for this one mainly because I’m interested to see what an older superhero looks like in the DCTV Universe and would love to see Berlanti deliver a genuinely adult drama for a change.
Check out some of what made Luke Cage so succesful, beginning with the music that inspired the show:
Greg Berlanti doesn’t just do superheroes, he also dabbles in the supernatural. Berlanti is one of the executive producers of #Searchers over at The CW. The premise of this one is VERY similar to another of the network’s long-running series.
Ten years after the death of their parents, a pragmatic brother, and free-spirited sister are forced to team up when they learn that their mother’s terrifying and bizarre stories may be a road map to discovering the great legends, myths and inexpiable mysteries of the world.
Josh Kidd, Zane Holtz, and Alex McGregor star. While Berlanti is on board, the pilot is mainly in the hands of Jason Rothenberg, who was the showrunner on the network’s science fiction teen soap The 100.
This one is being developed by ABC and is what they call “high concept.” After the attacks on New York in 2001, the government brought together a group of scientists, filmmakers and other imaginative folks to come up with the worst possible scenarios for future attacks.
This group then sets out to come up with appropriate government responses to those potential disasters. Deemed too dangerous to exist, the Doomsday Think Tank is eventually disbanded, and their report is hidden away.
The #Doomsday pilot picks up in the present day when, lo and behold, one of their fictional worst cases becomes a reality, and it appears the perpetrators used the government’s own top secret playbook to plan their attack. The original team is called back together to help the government stop new disasters of their own design.
Rachelle Lefevre, Claire Holt, and Taye Diggs star in the pilot penned by Mark Bianculli and VJ Boyd.
I’m hoping the network makes at least one season of Doomsday mainly because the current political state in the US is ripe for this kind of disaster/procedural.
2. Untitled X-Men Series
I hate it when they don’t have a title yet. For some reason, it just seems less likely a pilot will get picked up without a title. However, with the A-list names behind this Fox project, it seems as likely as any to move forward. Matt Nix wrote the pilot and will serve as executive producer with Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Jeph Loeb, Jim Chory and #BryanSinger. Singer is also directing the pilot.
The project focuses on two normal parents who discover their children are Marvel mutants. Forced to run from the government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants and fights to survive.
I wasn’t all that excited about this one – just another mutant show really – until they cast Amy Acker as the mom. I’m unabashedly in love with everything Acker does. You want proof? I own both seasons of Dollhouse on DVD. In addition to the primo casting, this one looks interesting because I don’t think we’ve done a “family superhero drama” since the very terrible No Ordinary Family on ABC.
1. 'Mission Control'
If you liked The Martian, you might enjoy Mission Control. That’s what CBS is hoping anyway. They’ve brought together writer Andy Weir and producer Simon Kinberg, the minds behind Matt Damon’s cinematic space odyssey, to craft a new astronaut-themed drama.
'Mission Control' revolves around the next generation of NASA astronauts and scientists who juggle their personal and professional lives during a critical mission with no margin for error.
If this weren’t CBS, I’d be thinking Grey’s Anatomy in space. Maybe this one will be more The Good Wife in Space instead? Either way, it’s an interesting concept and something I would watch at least once.
Now We Wait
It's just as likely that all five of these shows will end up in the gutter along Hollywood Boulevard instead of on your TV. The future has little to do with the quality of these shows or how much folks like me want to see them, and everything to do with the networks' arcane equations of demographics, lead-ins and advertiser appetites.
We'll find out for sure if any of them make the cut sometime this spring. Most networks will announce their new fall lineups by the end of May.
Are you excited for any of these upcoming pilots? Which of them do you think has the best chance of getting picked up for a full season?