Hollywood is again in the middle of pilot development season. Usually, the industry waits with bated breath for the U.S. broadcast network Upfronts in New York City in mid-May, to find out which pilots are the winners. But this year over a dozen series have been greenlit ahead of time. In fact, amongst the four big U.S. networks — ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC — 13 dramas and comedies have already been announced (they’re all listed below).
Unsurprisingly, many of the quick-to-be-picked-up series have famous (and already well-proven) names attached to them, like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who are both behind comedies coming to NBC in 2014-2015.
Among the trends we’re seeing in this pilot season are the usual based-on-a-foreign-series shows, including three ABC network based on Australian series: An American Education, about an unorthodox public school teacher; Strange Calls, a cast-contingent drama about a cop who’s exiled to night duty on Nantucket; and Secrets & Lies, about a family man who finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes prime suspect. There’s also Jane the Virgin, for the CW, which is based on a Venezuelan telenovela and is about a girl who becomes accidentally artificially inseminated; and ABC’s Sea of Fire, about the aftermath of a pornographic film, which is based on a Dutch series.
Interestingly, a new trend seems to be shows based on comic book characters (no surprise seeing ABC’s success with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D this year). The CW has commissioned a pilot based on DC Comics’ The Flash, and NBC’s Constantine is based on DC Comic stories about a con-man-turned-reluctant-supernatural-detective, and Fox’s Gotham is a prequel to Batman.
Also, it’s interesting to note that many of the pilots and series that have already been greenlit for the 2014-2015 season were first introduced for 2013-2014 but passed over.
CBS’s The McCarthys, about a big, sports-crazed Irish Catholic family in Boston, and their Untitled Jim Gaffigan comedy based on the stand-up comic’s real life as a father of five in New York City, were both in the running last year but not picked up. Mulaney, a comedy about an up-and-coming comedian, was optioned by NBC last season and has now received a series order from FOX. Backstrom, a drama about a self-destructive detective, has been ordered by FOX as well, though CBS ordered the pilot last year. Mr. Robinson, about a talented musician who’s now a middle school music teacher, was passed over by NBC last year, but has already been ordered to series by the network this year. For a complete list of straight-to-series orders, see below:
David O.Russell/Susannah Grant Drama Project
An Upstairs, Downstairs-style soap set at a private country club
Secrets & Lies
A family man finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes the prime murder suspect
Two detectives with very different worldviews are teamed up on the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, Michigan
Offensive, irascible Portland Detective Everett Backstrom tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior while leading his team, the Serious Crimes Unit
Animated comedy from Seth MacFarlane, about two families living on the U.S.-Mexico border.
A notorious thief is taken from prison to serve the Pharaoh, navigate palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and divine sorcerers
Follows an aspiring comedian coming of age in NYC under the influence of his over-the-top boss — who was a major stand-up comedian in the ‘80s and ’90s and now hosts a game show
The story of four relationship-phobic people who form an unlikely bond in a townhouse in Queens, NY.
A drama series reimagining The Wizard of Oz
Comedy about a talented musician adjusts to his new life as a middle school music teacher
Tooken (a.k.a Tina Fey/Robert Carlock)
Comedy centers on a woman who escapes from a doomsday cult and starts life over in New York City
Welcome to Sweden
A fish-out-of-water comedy created by Greg Poehler based on his true-life story about falling in love with a woman from Sweden
Working the Engels
A comedy about a family that must band together to keep their heads above water after their patriarch and breadwinner passes away and leaves them a mountain of debt