It’s pilot season! Every day in the past couple of months we’ve had news about pilots for TV shows coming together for this fall. If you don’t know how pilots work, Jules Winnfield is here to explain:
Here’s a roundup of pilots announced thus far. Unless otherwise noted, shows are at the pilot stage and have not as of yet been picked up for series. Some shows, including Michael J. Fox’s NBC comeback sitcom, have already been picked up in full. (Information gleaned from Deadline, Hollywood Reporter, Variety and other publications)
Title: Untitled cop comedy
Talent: Stars Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Chelsea Peretti, and Terry Crews, co-creators Mike Schur and Dan Goor.
Chances of success: Good. Schur is an Office veteran who created Parks & Recreation, also with a Saturday Night Live veteran in the lead. I have a good feeling about this one.
Title: Beverly HIlls Cop
Talent: Executive producer Shawn Ryan, stars Brandon T. Jackson, Kevin Pollak, David Denman and Eddie Murphy, pilot director Barry Sonnenfeld
Chances of success: Very good. This reboot of the ’80s film series concerns the son of the Eddie Murphy character, and Murphy will appear in the pilot and occasionally afterword. Ryan (The Shield) is one of TV’s best show runners, especially of cop shows, and this one could be good, provided they don’t ditch “Axel F.”
Title: Brenda Forever
Talent: Star Ellie Kemper, writers David Lampson and Andrew Leeds
Chances of success: Middling. Kemper (Erin from The Office) is immensely appealing, but the premise- the narrative jumps back and forth between the protagonist as a chubby 13-year-old and a quirky adult- sounds a bit iffy.
Title: About a Boy
Talent: Creator Jason Katims, pilot director Jon Favreau, stars David Walton and Minnie Driver
Chances of success: Decent. The grown-up man child befriending a young boy is a strong premise, and Katims was the main creative force behind Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. The script has been Americanized with Walton (from New Girl) in the Grant role.
Title: Untitled Mulaney/Michaels project
Talent: Co-creator/star John Mulaney, executive producer Lorne Michaels
Chances of success: Pretty good. Mulaney is a longtime Saturday Night Live writer- he helped create the Stefon character with Bill Hader- and stand-up comedian who for some reason is rarely on-camera on SNL, except for that priceless rant about Girl Scout cookies. The comedy is based upon his life, and has all the ingredients of a winning sitcom if it’s anything like his stand-up material.
Title: How the Hell Am I Normal
Talent: Stars Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey, writer Adam Goldberg, pilot director Seth Gordon
Chances of success: Below average. It’s a family comedy, a genre that hasn’t done so great lately with the exception of Modern Family, and Garlin has been pretty iffy outside of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Title: Untitled John Leguizamo project
Talent: John Leguizamo
Chances of success: Above average. Leguizamo’s had an up-and-down career, but his very best work has always been his autobiographical one-man shows, full of hilarious and deeply personal stories about his family. The sitcom sounds like it’s in that vein.
Title: Untitled Robot Cop show
Talent: Executive producers J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burke, producer/writer J.H. Wyman
Chances of success: Who knows. It’s about a robot cop- not to be confused with RoboCop- and while Abrams is involved, I hear he’s got other things on his plate these days.
Talent: Writers Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Friedman, executive producer J.J. Abrams
Chances of success: Decent. Cuaron directed a couple of great movies- “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and “Children of Men”- and the premise of a magical girl being protected by an ex-convict is intriguing.
Title: Crazy Ones
Talent: Stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Geller, executive producer David E. Kelley, pilot director Jason Winer
Chances of success: Good. It’s hard to believe Williams hasn’t headlined a sitcom since Mork & Mindy, but it’s about time he gave it a shot again, especially after his dynamite guest star last year on Louie. Kelley’s had a checkered career, but he’s capable of good work.
Title: Girlfriend in a Coma
Talent: Stars Christina Ricci and Daniel Stern, based on a novel by Douglas Coupland, executive producers including Dick Wolf
Chances of success: Middling. Ricci plays a woman who wakes up from a coma after 17 years with a daughter, when she never even knew she was pregnant. If nothing else, the title should be successful in drawing Morrissey fans.
Title: Welcome to the Family
Talent: Star Mike O’Malley, executive producer Mike Sikowitz.
Chances of success: Average. O’Malley plays the patriarch of a white family which becomes blended with a Latino family when his daughter becomes pregnant. O’Malley, whose scenes on Glee have always been one of the best parts of that show, is pretty likable, but O’Malley’s attempts at sitcom success, with the exception of Yes Dear, haven’t tended to last.
Talent: Star Felicity Huffman, writer Davey Holmes
Chances of success: Mediocre. On the heels of The Americans, here’s another show about a family of spies. Huffman is great in most things, but I’m not sure if there are need to be two shows like that.
Talent: Creator Seth MacFarlane, stars Tommy Dewey and Brenda Song
Chances of success: Good. Everything MacFarlane has touched lately has been gold, and this series- from Macfarlane and his “Ted” cowriters- has already been picked up for a six-episode series. I’m sure I won’t like it, but that never stopped Family Guy.
Talent: Stars Anna Faris and Nate Corddry, creator Chuck Lorre
Chances of success: Very good. Lorre and CBS is a combination that tends to lead to many seasons on the air, and I could see Faris breaking through big time on a sitcom.
Title: Bad Teacher
Talent: Stars David Alan Grier, Ari Graynor, writer Hilary Winston
Chances of success: Fair-to-poor. The sitcom is based on the subpar Cameron Diaz movie comedy from a couple of years ago. I like Graynor, but DAG hasn’t had a hit in quite awhile.
Title: Super Clyde
Talent: Star Rupert Grint, creator Greg Garcia
Chances of success: Decent. Garcia creates shows that tend to last a long time, and this one, starring Harry Potter’s Ron Weasley as a wannabe superhero, sounds promising.
Talent: Stars Dylan McDermott and Toni Collette, producer Jerry Bruckheimer
Chances of success: Very good. This one’s based on an Israeli film- just like Homeland- and stars Collette as a surgeon chosen to operate on the president, which puts her at the middle of a conspiracy. Could be intriguing, generic title notwithstanding.
Title: The Gates
Talent: Stars Aasif Mandvi, Ken Marino, writers Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith
Chances of success: Fair-to-poor.The cast is promising, but the promise- it’s set entirely as parents pick up their kids outside school- doesn’t sound very promising.
Title: Hatfields & McCoys
Talent: Executive producer Charlize Theron, writer John Glenn
Chances of success: Good. We don’t know the casting or anything else, but the recent History Channel version was a huge hit, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that carried over.
Title: The Surgeon General
Talent: Star Jason Isaacs, director Rod Lurie.
Chances of success: Decent. Isaacs stars as the Surgeon General of the United States, navigating politics and policy. I know I’d watch it, although I don’t know how much interest the average person would have in a doctor show in which there’s probably no surgery.
Talent: Star Jennifer Beals, executive producer Ilene Chaiken, director McG
Chances of success: Above average. Beals reunites with her L Word creator, Chaiken, for a nighttime soap set in Venice, Calif.
Title: Untitled Sean Hayes Project
Talent: Stars Sean Hayes and Thomas Lennon, creator Victor Fresco
Chances of success: Middling-to-good. Hayes was great on Will & Grace, although he hasn’t had a big hit since, and Fresco was the creator of the excellent but short-lived Better Off Ted.
Title: Untitled Greg Daniels/Craig Robinson project
Talent: Creator Greg Daniels, star Craig Robinson,
Chances of success: Good. Daniels has a long track record of sitcom success, but while Robinson can be very funny, I’m not so sure about the premise, in which he plays a music teacher dealing with school politics and single moms.
Talent: Stars Mandy Moore, June Diane Raphael, writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky
Chances of Success: Decent. Based on a British series about three dysfunctional women in their 30s, this one sounds promising. Raphael- a New Girl recurring player and podcast host- is the lead, and it’s about time she got a shot.
Title: Second Sight
Talent: Stars Jason Lee and Kim Dickens, writers Michael and Gerald Cuesta
Chances of Success: Good. Lee’s My Name is Earl lasted years, and Dickens has been on great series after great series. This one’s about a detective (Lee) who suffers hallucinations, and is also based on a British series.
Title: Untitled Gaffigan/Sorvino sitcom
Talent: Stars Jim Gaffigan, Mira Sorvino; writers Gaffigan, Peter Tolan
Chances of Success: Middling. This sitcom- a slovenly middle-aged guy, his impossibly hot wife, and their five kids living in a small apartment- sounds a bit According to Jim-like- but According to Jim, much as we hate to admit it, was a pretty big hit.