It is an unwritten rule of network development — if a new show from a genre not currently on TV becomes a hit in the fall, a lot of pilots in that milieu get ordered the following season as networks try to replicate the success.
Case in point this year — NBC‘s Revolution. J.J. Abrams/Eric Kripke’s post-apocalyptic series emerged as the biggest hit of the fall, and now the networks are betting heavily on other dramas set in the future. Today alone, three futuristic hourlong pilots received a green light, including one from Abrams, an untitled project at Fox with Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman set in the near future when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. The other two were at the CW — The Hundred, which has a post-apocalyptic setting similar to Revolution, and Oxygen. The Hundred takes place 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization when a spaceship with the human survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing the planet. Oxygen is in the vein of District 9 ans is about a human society where a group of alien visitors are kept in prison. The CW has been the most aggressive in pursuing futuristic dramas. In addition to The Hundred and Oxygen, the network has ordered a second pilot for the Hunger Games-esque The Selection, which is set 300 years into the future. After building its brand mainly on contemporary teen soaps, the CW has fully embraced genre and high-concept dramas this season. Out of its six pilots only one, Taylor Hackford’s naval base-set Company Town, reflects present America. In addition to the three futuristic dramas, the network also has backdoor pilot The Originals, a spinoff from hit vampire drama The Vampire Diaries, and Reign, about 16th century Mary Queen of Scots.
ABC, which has been consistent in its efforts to get a sci-fi/genre hit on the air post-Lost, has two more hopefuls, Marvel’s comic book-inspired S.H.I.E.L.D., from Joss Whedon, and the zombie-themed The Returned. Other high-concept/genre broadcast drama pilots in contention include Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, from Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci; and Delirium, set in a world where love is eradicated; Abrams’ other pilot, NBC’s Believe with Alfonso Cuaron, about a girl with special power battling evil elements; NBC’s Bloodline, about a young woman from an ancient line of mercenaries, brigands and killers; and the Carlton Cuse-produced comic book adaptation The Sixth Gun; as well as CBS’ summer series Under The Dome, based on Stephen King’s book.
For a full list of broadcast network pilots and for all Deadline pilot season stories, go to our Pilot Panic page.