Next month the major networks will make their presentations to the New York advertisers, showcasing the returning and new shows that will appear on the primetime schedule starting this fall. There is always a lot of debate about which new pilots will be picked up and which ones will fall by the wayside. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will examine each major network’s offerings, giving my thoughts on each new drama pilot. Only time will tell, however, if any of these shows will make it let alone if I am right in any of my choices; but it sure is fun trying to predict.
Let’s get started with the drama offerings over at NBC:
Beautiful People – This series is to be set 10 years in the very near future in which families of mechanical human beings exist to service the human population – until some of the mechanicals begin to “awaken”.
The cast includes James Murray (Primeval), Patrick Heusinger (Royal Pains), Francis Conroy (Six Feet Under), Madisen Beaty (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Megalyn Echikunwoke (The 4400), Andrea Parker (The Pretender), David Conrad (Ghost Whisperer), Ernie Hudson (The Crow), Jud Tylor (That 70’s Show) and Cody Christian (Pretty Little Liars).
My Thoughts: This will be the networks version of “I, Robot” and with the very interesting cast I would love nothing more than for this show to work. I just don’t know if yet another sci-fi-laced series will work on NBC when so many other shows with even a soft sci-fi premise have crashed and burned. I would hope, though, that this is the one that cracks through and works because it could be really interesting.
Bad Girls – The pilot is adapted from the long-running UK hit series of the same name and follows the ins-and-outs of a group of unlikely women in a federal prison, which includes a scandalous female warden, her new protégé and a host of families – some mothers, some friends – who struggle with loyalties to people on the inside and the outside.
The cast includes Jurnee Smollett (Friday Night Lights), Amy Smart (The Butterfly Effect), Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends), Jaime Pressly (My Name is Earl), Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey), Rick Gonzalez (Reaper), Karolina Wydra (House) and Kym Whitley (The Parkers).
My Thoughts: Women in a federal prison? Is this NBC’s way of trying to cash in on Prison Break, but for women and without the jail break? What is the catch? What will make us care about these characters so we will want to watch each week? When I have this many questions before the pilot has even aired, then I almost know for sure that the show isn’t going to work.
Chicago Fire – The pilot will explore the complex and heroic men and women of the Chicago Fire Department.
The cast includes Taylor Kinney (Trauma and The Vampire Diaries), Monica Raymund (Lie to Me and The Good Wife), Jesse Spencer (House), Eamonn Walker (Kings), David Eigenberg (Sex and the City) and Lauren German (Hawaii Five-0 and Happy Town).
My Thoughts: Trauma may not have succeeded, but Third Watch and, obviously, ER both did so there is hope that this series could work. If the pilot takes on a slightly darker, more real approach ala Rescue Me then maybe it will work. I, for one, like some of the casting; but casting is only part of what will be needed for the show to succeed.
County – The pilot will take a look into the lives of a group of young doctors, nurses and administrators in a frenetic, under-funded and morally compromising Los Angeles County Hospital.
The cast includes Jason Ritter (The Event), Aimee Garcia (Trauma), Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights), Agam Darshi (Sanctuary) and Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos).
My Thoughts: Just as I stated for Chicago Fire, this pilot could be the next ER or it could be the next Trauma. The casting is great, but again, casting is only one necessary component. It will have to really bring on the drama and hold onto the heart or what’s the point of watching.
Do No Harm – The pilot focuses on a brilliant neurosurgeon who wrestles with his dangerous alter-ego that threatens to wreak havoc on his personal and professional life.
The cast includes Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Alana De La Garza (Law & Order) and Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show).
My Thoughts: This pilot is being touted as a modern-day telling of the Jekyll and Hyde story; but A Gifted Man (which was on CBS) didn’t really work; and while that show didn’t deal with a dangerous alter-ego, it was about a cocky doctor who was trying to redeem himself. Sadly that show didn’t work and this one could go in the same direction. And, unless viewers of this show are big Rescue Me fans, are they even going to be drawn to Pasquale as the lead.
The Frontier – The pilot will follow the intense tale of survival by a group of disparate travelers as they embark on an incredible cross-country adventure through the west where danger stalks them at every turn.
The cast includes Bridget Regan (Legend of the Seeker), Ethan Embry (Sweet Home Alabama), Chaske Spencer (The Twilight Saga franchise), Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption), Jake McLaughlin (Crash, the TV series), Megan Ferguson (Love and Other Drugs) and Eric Jensen (Gravity and CSI).
My Thoughts: NBC is obviously trying to jump on the bandwagon of AMC’s success with Hell on Wheels by developing this western tale of survival across the rugged frontier; and based on several of the cast members alone I would love for it to work. My greatest concern would be if the general viewing audience is going to stick around long enough to follow the journey.
Midnight Sun – The pilot follows the mysterious disappearance of a group living on a commune in Alaska. A female FBI cult specialist then starts an investigation that uncovers a larger conspiracy.
The cast includes Julia Stiles (The Prince and Me), Michael Raymond-James (Terriers and True Blood), Titus Welliver (The Good Wife and Lost), Alexia Fast (The Secret Circle) and Connor O’Farrell (CSI).
My Thoughts: Just based on the casting of several key players in this pilot, I would say this show could be a winner; but will the story draw viewers in long enough or will they get bored? Will this be another failure like “The Event”? Good writing will be the only way this show will get anywhere.
Notorious – This is a soap opera in which a female detective returns, undercover, to the wealthy family she grew up in – this time as the maid’s daughter – to solve the murder of the notorious heiress who was once her closest friend.
The cast includes Meagan Good (Californication), Katherine LaNasa (Big Love and Two and a Half Men), Victor Garber (Alias), Tate Donovan (The O.C. and Damages), Neil Jackson (Make It or Break It), Laz Alonso (Breakout Kings) and Ella Rae Peck (Gossip Girl).
My Thoughts: Soap operas seem to be the buzz word again and this one could pull viewers in as long as they care about the key player and the complexness of the investigation keeps viewers riveted to their TV screens.
Revolution – This pilot follows a group of characters struggling to survive and reunite with loved ones in a world where all forms of energy have mysteriously ceased to exist.
The cast includes Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad and Once Upon a Time), Tim Guinee (The Good Wife and Lie to Me), Andrea Roth (Rescue Me), Billy Burke (The Twilight Saga franchise) and JD Pardo (American Dreams).
My Thoughts: Honestly, this could be Dark Angel all over again or The Walking Dead without the zombies. It’s a great idea of putting complete strangers together fighting for survival, but if we don’t care about the characters, then it will be lost. I do admit that some of the cast are great and there is potential.
Needless to say, there are a lot of drama pilots up for grabs at NBC; and if I had to choose the top three they would be: Beautiful People, Revolution and The Frontier. Which of the above dramas would you like to see added to the NBC line-up this fall?