January has become a TV spec market month. For a second consecutive year there has been a flurry of spec scripts sent to the broadcast networks just as they are preparing to make their pilot orders. I hear that more than a dozen drama specs were sent to the five nets this weekend, including high-profile projects by Gossip Girl and Chuck co-creator Josh Schwartz: an adaptation of the British sci-fi series Misfits, and by The X-Files creator Chris Carter, female-driven mystery thriller Unique.
The hot spec marketplace last year was driven by the fact that two networks, NBC and ABC, had new programming chiefs who had joined midway (ABC’s Paul Lee) and at the very end (NBC’s Bob Greenblatt) of the buying season. But after a slew of specs sold last December and January were picked up to pilot and a whopping 6 of them went to series series — NBC’s Awake, Fox’s Touch, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and How To Be A Gentleman, ABC’s Don’t Trust The B—- In Apt. 23 and the CW’s Ringer — what was an anomaly last year is now becoming a regular part of the pilot cycle. After the influx of drama spec script this weekend, it is expected to be comedy specs’ turn next weekend.
Misfits, which Schwartz co-wrote with the creator of the original series Howard Overman, is about a group of young offenders in a community service program who develop supernatural powers after being hit by an electrical storm. Warner Bros. TV, where Fake Empire, Schwartz’s company with Stephanie Savage, is based, is producing. The British series, whose third season just wrapped on E4, began airing in the U.S. on Hulu in June, quickly becoming one of the service’s top series. (Below is a trailer for the show’s first season.) As a producer, Schwartz already has a pilot order this season, drama Cult at the CW, and another one that is expected to be greenlighted at the CW, Carrie’s Diaries. With Misfits also young-skewing, would he go for a triple at the network?
Carter’s Unique starts off as a revenge drama about a woman’s quest to solve her husband’s murder but is subsequently vaulted into a global mythological conspiracy show that takes place in a heightened reality. The project, produced by MRC, has been getting high marks from network executives for the interactive way the script is being presented on iPads with sample scene storyboards and soundtrack.