The American expression, “The Show Must Go On,” reportedly originated in the 1800s in the theater business. The phrase was later adopted by circuses (which were often subject to calamities), and by the hotel business in 1941, when the cliché first appeared in print.
Now, more than ever, it is being applied to the TV industry due to the unprecedented lockdowns caused by pandemic. The health crisis happened right in the midst of preparations for the new U.S. TV season. After the initial shock, the industry pulled itself together and managed to create daily TV shows that have garnered record ratings, advertisers came to the financial rescue with new and more creative spots, and producers teamed up (remotely) with scriptwriters to help develop a schedule for the new TV season in lieu of the pilots the industry usually makes. This is an extremely difficult task, especially for sitcoms.
On March 12, the networks announced the cancellation of the live Upfronts, followed on the same day by the cancellation of the live L.A. Screenings by the studios. Virtual presentations were held instead, starting on May 20 with ViacomCBS Global Distribution.
For the 2020-2021 TV season, the five major U.S. broadcast networks had commissioned pilots for 32 dramas and 28 comedies. However, before the production shutdown on March 13, the networks had already ordered nine shows straight to series.
Listed below are the new series ordered so far by the networks, by international distribution company. Some cable series are included. The list is updated daily as soon as additional new series orders are confirmed by the U.S. networks.
DISNEY MEDIA DISTRIBUTION
The Big Sky (ABC)
A private detective partners with an ex-cop to find two sisters who have been kidnapped by a long-haul trucker. They discover that the sisters are not the only girls who have disappeared and must stop the killer before another victim is taken. Based on The Highway by C.J. Box.
Production Team: David E. Kelley, Ross Fineman, C.J. Box
Cruel Summer (Freeform)
Taking place over three summers in the early ’90s in a small Texas town, this unconventional mystery thriller tells the tale of a popular teen, Kate, who has been abducted. In a seemingly unrelated story, another girl, Jeanette, goes from awkward outlier to the most popular girl in town to the most despised person in America. By the end of the three summers, their lies and manipulation destroy each other’s young lives.
Production Team: Allius Barnes, Bert V Royal, Blake Lee, Brooklyn Sudano, Chiara Aurelia, Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Jessica Biel, Max Winkler, Michael Landes, Michelle Purple
Set in 1993, a year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs, this personal story continues to follow Clarice Starling as she returns to the field to pursue serial murderers and sexual predators while navigating the high-stakes political world of Washington.
Production Team: Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet, Heather Kadin, Aaron Baiers
NBCUNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION
Mr. Mayor (NBC)
Originally conceived as a 30 Rock spinoff, the series revolves around a wealthy businessman who runs for mayor of Los Angeles for all the wrong reasons. Once he wins, he has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his staff, and connect with his teenage daughter.
Production Team: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Jeff Richmond, David Miner, Eric Gurian
Young Rock (NBC)
Based on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s formative years. He will appear in every episode, bookending flashbacks to early points in his life growing up in Hawaii and becoming a wrestler-turned-actor.
Production Team: Nahnatchka Khan, Jeff Chiang, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Brian Gewirtz, Jennifer Carreras
Buscando A Frida (Telemundo)
Revolves around the life of the Pons family and how it changes forever when their 16-year-old daughter disappears on her father’s birthday party. This high-class family appears to live in a perfect world, but the daughter’s disappearance will reveal secrets, lies and resentments.
Production Team: Telemundo Global Studios
The Equalizer (CBS)
A reimagining of the classic series in which Queen Latifah portrays an enigmatic figure who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn.
Production Team: Queen Latifah, John Davis, John Fox, Debra Martin Chase, Richard Lindheim, Shakim Compere
Malverde, El Santo Patron (Telemundo)
Tells the story of a boy, born in Sinaloa, Mexico in 1870, who will ultimately become a legendary figure, almost a religious icon, protector of the people, the innocent as well as the poor and dispossessed, and even narcos and criminals.
Production Team: Telemundo Global Studios
Untitled Law & Order Spinoff (NBC)
Centers on the NYPD organized crime investigation unit led by Elliot Stabler.
Production Team: Dick Wolf, Arthur W. Forney, Peter Jankowski
SONY PICTURES TELEVISION
Call Your Mother (ABC)
An empty-nester mom wonders how she ended up alone while her children live their best lives thousands of miles away. As she reinserts herself into their lives, her kids realize they might need her more than they thought.
Production Team: Kari Lizer
VIACOMCBS GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION GROUP
Florida Man (FOX) (Put Pilot Commitment)
Since personal tragedy struck five years ago, eccentric Bell Prescott hasn’t left the rambling property on the Apalachicola River that he shares with his mother. When Bell discovers a dead body, he’s forced to venture beyond his agoraphobic boundaries and partner with the sole remaining cop in town to solve the murder. With local infrastructure decimated, Bell grudgingly becomes the town’s volunteer criminologist.
Production Team: Nick Stoller, Carla Kettner, Conor Welch
The Republic Of Sarah (The CW)
Faced with the destruction of her town at the hands of a greedy mining company, a rebellious high school teacher utilizes a cartographical loophole to declare independence. Leading a group of misfits, she attempts to start her own country from scratch.
Production Team: Jeffrey Paul King, Kat Candler, Marc Webb, Mark Martin, Jeff Grosvenor, Leo Pearlman
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (CBS All Access)
Follow Captain Pike, Science Officer Spock and Number One in the decade before Captain Kirk boarded the U.S.S. Enterprise, as they explore new worlds around the galaxy.
Production Team: Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet, Henry Alonso Myers, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth
Walker (The CW)
A reimagining of Chuck Norris’ Walker, Texas Ranger, the drama follows Cordell Walker, a widower and father with his own moral code, who returns to Austin after being undercover for two years, only to discover there’s harder work to be done at home. He will attempt to reconnect with his children, navigate clashes with his family, and find unexpected common ground with his new partner, while growing increasingly suspicious about the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death.
Production Team: Anna Fricke, Dan Lin, Lindsay Liberatore, Jared Padalecki
WARNER BROS. INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION DISTRIBUTION
B Positive (CBS)
Faced with finding a kidney donor, newly divorced dad Drew runs into Gina, a rough-around-the edges woman from his past who volunteers her own. Together, they form an unlikely bond and begin a journey that will change both of their lives. (Cast members Thomas Middleditch and Annaleigh Ashford pictured.)
Production Team: Marco Pennette, Chuck Lorre
Call Me Kat (FOX)
Carla is a 39-year-old woman who struggles every day against society and her mother. With money her parents set aside for her wedding, she opens a Cat Café in Louisville, KY. Based on the BBC UK original series Miranda created by Miranda Hart.
Production Team: Darlene Hunt, Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Todd Spiewak, Angie Stephenson, Miranda Hart, Eric Norsoph, Mackenzie Gabriel-Vaught
Kung Fu (The CW)
When a young Chinese-American woman returns to find her hometown overrun with crime and corruption, she uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community. She also searches for the assassin who killed her mentor and is now targeting her. Inspired by the original series created by Ed Spielman.
Production Team: Christina M. Kim, Martin Gero, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter
Superman & Lois (The CW)
The world’s most famous superhero and comics’ most famous journalist deal with all the stress and complexities that come with being working parents.
Production Team: Todd Helbing, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Geoff Johns
INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTOR TBA
The animated comedy explores human dysfunction and neurosis through a group of neighborhood animals who live in the suburbs.
Production Team: Sharon Horgan, Clea DuVall, Jennifer Crittenden, Gabrielle Allan