Last year’s broadcast pilot season had around 35 shows to present, the lowest number ever — until now, that is. This go-round looks to be considerably lower. The 2023-2024 season is down from a 2013 high of 98 shows to a total of 21 shows between ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. One of the reasons for this reduced total is the change in programming strategy over at The CW network, where the new owners, contrary to the old regime, are straying from scripted content. However, the number of shows once ordered by The CW would not take the current order total of 21 anywhere near that record low of last season. The 21 pilots join the list of “straight-to-series” orders already announced for the coming season.

If we consider what has been rumored, and even stated, by network representatives, the numbers are not surprising. ABC, CBS, and NBC have essentially turned to year-round development via an “off cycle” or “second cycle” process, and FOX is no longer doing pilots for live-action series, with the exception of Jenny Is a Weapon from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry. The drama has a possible straight-to-series order.

With a few exceptions, the nets don’t appear to be taking big leaps of faith with original ideas when it comes to pilots. Instead, they are betting on characters from existing series, hoping fans will follow them into new adventures.

CBS is hedging on the character Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), an attorney from The Good Wife and The Good Fight, in the new drama Elsbeth. The series follows the attorney as she uses her talent to bring criminals to justice with the NYPD.

Similarly, a handful of this season’s pilots are based on pre-existing series, with ABC’s comedy Drop-Off, based on the British program Motherland, and its drama Untitled Drew Goddard, based on the French series Haut Potentiel Intellectuel.

The ABC drama The Good Lawyer is a spin-off of the popular series The Good Doctor. It’s about a young lawyer with obsessive compulsive disorder whose symptoms are both a blessing and a curse.

CBS is also betting on an existing property, though its comedy JumpStart is based on a comic strip, not another TV series.

Then there’s Matlock, based on the long-running mystery series starring Andy Griffith that ran from 1986 to 1995. CBS is betting on a reboot of this much-loved crime drama, and no doubt hoping that Kathy Bates’ star power will help draw in viewers, as well. The new edition follows Madeline Matlock, played by Bates, as she rejoins the workforce at a top law firm and uses her shrewdness to expose corruption and, of course, like the original Matlock, win cases.

Speaking of star power, Damon Wayans Sr. and Damon Wayans Jr. are headlining CBS’ Untitled Wayans Project as a father-son duo navigating the waters of parenting an adult who is a parent himself.

It seems as if the nets are really betting that viewers want to spend their nights in the courtroom, with plenty of legal dramas on tap. This includes the aforementioned The Good Lawyer (CBS), Elsbeth (CBS), and Matlock (CBS), as well as Public Defenders (ABC) and Judgement (ABC).

Whether viewers are looking for law, crime, or family dramas or comedies, the network execs are hoping there’s a pilot (or two or more) out there for all viewers. And here’s the pilot list (if the series will be picked up, the distributors are indicated).

(By Sara Alessi in New York and Mike Reynolds in Los Angeles)

For a complete list of broadcast pilots for the 2023-2024 season, please link to:

New US TV Season Guide

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

Please follow and like us: