The first pilot cuts have started to come in as the last pilots are finishing production (except for ABC drama Still Star-Crossed, which starts filming next week, and Fox comedy Chad, which will shoot in late May). Next week, we should start to get a clearer picture of where the different pilots stand, but until then, here is one more early buzz rundown of the titles people are talking about.
ABC’s straight-to-series drama Designated Survivor starring Kiefer Sutherland shot a pilot that has been well received. Marvel’s Most Wanted still is considered a sure bet for a series order. The heavily serialized murder-trial drama The Jury has buzz, with legal procedural Conviction also mentioned. The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez starring Gina Torres has been heating up, with Reese Witherspoon-produced Broken also being talked about.
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It’s Kids Rule! on the comedy side right now, with several pilots featuring pint-size central characters getting heat early on. That includes Chunk & Bean, about two misfits; the Justin Long-starring kids soccer show Dream Team; and Speechless, about a family with a special-needs child. Also getting a lot of attention are family comedy The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport, and Pearl, toplined by Candice Bergen. Off-cycle pilot Downward Dog, which has assembled a small writers room, continues to be a conundrum, getting great reception but also raising questions about its longevity and compatibility with the rest of the ABC comedy lineup, being a show about a talking dog.
Not a lot of moves in Fox’s drama field. 24: Legacy — an offshoot from the long-running real-time drama — continues to look very strong. Also hot (and scary as hell) is The Exorcist reboot, as well as Lee Daniels‘ music-themed drama. Dan Fogelman’s baseball drama Pitch has been well received and in contention despite considered a little off-brand for Fox, with Lethal Weapon also very much in the mix. Fox already has two dramas with series orders for next season, Shots Fired and the Prison Break event series, making for a pretty tight drama field.
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Comedy-wise, the time-traveling Making History, produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and small-town comedy The Mick, from the Chernin brothers, continue to lead the early buzz.
At CBS, Bull, CBS’ procedural drama pilot starring Michael Weatherly as a character based on Dr. Phil, legal drama Doubt and the Nancy Drew reboot Drew — both from Joan Rater and Tony Phelan — the Training Day sequel and Jason Katims’ medical drama Bunker Hill are garnering attention.
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On the comedy side, I’m Not Your Friend, starring Matt LeBlanc, has gotten a VIP treatment, with a rare table read appearance by CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, who once cast LeBlanc in Friends while at Warner Bros. TV. The LeBlanc and Kevin James projects — both multi-camera pilots toplined by comedy stars and backed by big commitments, look sold. Beyond that, things are murky. I hear CBS likes Superior Donuts star Jermaine Fowler; the single-camera family comedy Furst Born is considered a suitable companion for Life In Pieces should CBS renew it as expected; and Real Good People and The Kicker come from A-list auspices, Greg Garcia and Tina Fey, respectively.
We might have a very competitive drama field at NBC. The network already renewed eight drama series for next season, and it has two high-profile spinoffs in the works, Chicago Justice, and a Blacklist offshoot. Additionally, I hear solid early buzz on straight-to-series Wizard of Oz drama Emerald City. Of the rest of the field, I hear NBC might pick up only two or three new drama series, including the straight-to-series Taken prequel. Among the hopeful, Dan Fogelman‘s off-cycle NBC dramedy pilot 36 continues to be going strong. I also hear buzz about the Cruel Intentions sequel and the time-travel drama pilot Time. While Midnight, Texas‘ supernatural premise is being met with a dose of skepticism, its director Niels Arden Oplev consistently has delivered, most recently helming the Mr. Robot and Game of Silence pilots that went to series.
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In comedy, the murder trial mocumentary Trial & Error aka The Trail still is getting attention, with the Marlon Wayans starrer Marlon and the DC workplace comedy Powerless also garnering buzz, along with the odd-couple sitcom Me and Mean Margaret. Mike Schur’s Good Place, already picked up to series, is being well received. Things are still murky on the Matt Hubbard/Mike Schur, Amy Poehler/Charlie Grandy and Tracy Wigfield/Tina Fey/Robert Carlock projects, but at least one of them is expected to go to series.
At the CW, Greg Berlanti’s Riverdale seems to have separated itself from the pack. Beyond that, the field seems wide open with a number of contenders, including monster drama Transylvania, the Mars project produced by Frank Marshall, the Frequency reboot, the pre-apocalyptic No Tomorrow and the paranormal drama from Kevin Williamson.