It’s been another late start to the network buying season. As pitching is finally, slowly, getting into gear, here are some of the top items on the broadcast networks’ wanted lists.
It’s time to lighten up. Following “the season of dead children,” as some dubbed last season — which was marked by a number of dark murder dramas, some involving young victims including Fox’s Gracepoint and ABC’s Secrets & Lies — the networks are looking for a course correction. Lighter hourlong projects are in demand this summer. Some networks, like ABC, are looking to recapture the success they’d had in the genre with shows like Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty.
The trend started last season with the strong showing of CBS’ Scorpion, the CW’s Jane The Virgin and NBC’s The Mysteries Of Laura, the only freshman NBC series to make it to Season 2. The CW and CBS kept at it in May, adding two more hourlong comedies for this coming season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Rush Hour, respectively.
Also likely playing a role in the popularity of hourlong comedies is the struggle half-hour broadcast comedies are going through. Given the high rate of half-hour casualties, networks are looking for a different way into comedy, with hourlong comedies considered a good alternative as they also are easier to schedule because they don’t require a companion to be paired with.
As we all know, television is a reactionary business, with the networks often trying to replicate what worked the previous season. The success of two breakout midseason Fox series — drama Empire and comedy The Last Man On Earth — is having a ripple effect early in the selling season, with big, broad, soapy dramas sought after, along with high-concept comedies. Two of the first big comedy buys this season at NBC went to high-concept comedy projects: DC Comics’ Powerless and the puppet show-themed Bumbleberry Lane.
And while the networks don’t advertise it, word is that remakes likely will make a strong showing again. We probably won’t see the frenzy of last year, when the nets commissioned reboots of several dozen movies and TV shows, but there will be a few. Fox, CBS and the CW already threw their hats into the ring with the Urban Cowboy pilot order (Fox), Training Day put pilot (CBS) and The Notebook script deal (the CW), while NBC is developing a series based on the Red movies, and ABC Studios is working on The Flamingo Kid TV series.Additionally, genre dramas, which have dominated Fox and the CW’s orders the past couple of seasons (as well as CBS’ original summer lineup), continue to get warm reception, with early put pilot commitments to ABC’s Monstropolis and Fox’s Horrorstör, the latter in the flavor-of-the-season hourlong dramedy format.