The L.A. Screenings are now officially over, and while some international deals are waiting to be finalized, we looked at some of the shows making waves for the new U.S. TV season.
There were about 44 series pickups for the 2012-2013 season (out of almost 90 pilots commissioned by the networks).
It’s clear that comedies are back in a big way, with CBS, ABC, FOX and NBC picking up 16 comedies between them. (CW picked up dramas only — with five brand-new series.)
“It’s all about comedy,’” said Marion Edwards, president, International TV at Twentieth Century Fox TV Distribution. “Every network wants a whole night of comedy and then additional comedies dotted throughout other nights,” she said.
“The studios are aiming to find broad comedies rather than niche comedies that have been dominating,” said Göran Danasten, head of Fiction for SVT.
Among the comedies, single-camera is most popular (only four this year are multi-camera). Dermot Horan, director of Broadcast and Acquisitions for RTE was skeptical about this surge of single-camera comedies: “There was certainly a volume of new half-hours, but on first view, the number of breakout hits will be smaller…Most of the hits last year were traditional sitcoms shot in a studio before a live audience. This year we saw more single-camera shows, which by their nature are riskier.”
“Something we experience every year is that shows try to imitate the successes from the year before,” said Danasten. He noted that not only is Modern Family still influencing pilots, but last year’s pilot Revenge seems to be the backbone for NBCUniversal TV Distribution’s Infamous for NBC and Disney Media Distribution’s Red Widow for ABC.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, thanks to the popularity of Modern Family, unusual and/or eccentric families are hot. There’s 20th’s The New Normal (for NBC) about a gay couple and their surrogate, and Fox’s How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life for ABC about a recent divorcee who has to move in with her eccentric parents, are among many others.
Another comedy trend Danasten noticed, particularly among Twentieth Century Fox TV Distribution’s comedies, are “single mothers seeking help raising their kids.”
For dramas, already well-established names and brands are all the rage (and the fact that they come with a built-in audience helps). The Carrie Diaries, from Warner Bros. for the CW is the early story of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw; Arrow, also from Warner Bros. for the CW, is based on classic comic book character Green Arrow and CBS Studios International’s Elementary for CBS is based on Sherlock Holmes, with a modern-day (female) Watson.
“This year’s slate [of dramas] looks more promising [than last year’s],” said Horan. “Trends include the CW raising the bar in terms of its dramas, high concept shows still being commissioned (Sony Pictures TV International’s Last Resort for ABC, Warner Bros.’s Revolution for NBC, Warner Bros.’s The Following for FOX), series with a single female lead (Sony Pictures’s Made in Jersey for CBS, CBS Studios International’s Emily Owens, M.D. for CW, Sony Pictures’s The Mob Doctor for FOX, Red Widow) and cowboys making a return to the small screen (CBSSI’s Vegas for CBS).”
However, SVT’s Danasten reported he was “not too impressed with shows like Revolution and Last Resort,” adding, “it would have been great to find a show in the [event series] genre that would have worked, but I can’t say I’ve found one.”
Danasten was more optimistic about The Following, starring Kevin Bacon and The News Room (HBO). Other shows he thought have potential include Sony Pictures’s Save Me for NBC midseason, NBCUniversal’s Chicago Fire for NBC and Warner Bros.’s Partners for CBS.