In just three weeks, the networks will be done with the bulk of their new series pickups and will be in the thick of finalizing fall schedules — unless there is a writers strike, in which case that will be top of mind for everyone with upfronts taking a back seat. Like with the first Pilot Buzz, my information is still very sketchy because pilots are just starting to come in at the networks as the majority are in post-production or studio testings. So don’t take everything you read as gospel.
There might be a new hot surgeon on ABC next season, and it won’t be a new love interest for Grey’s Anatomy‘s Meredith. The network’s medical pilot The Good Doctor, from House creator David Shore, has been heating up, with Bates Motel‘s Freddie Highmore being buzzed about for his starring role as a young surgeon with Savant syndrome. The latest Shondaland entry, the Paul William Davies legal drama, also is going strong. The illusionist FBI drama, Deception, from Chris Fedak and Berlanti Prods., continues to get attention. It is one of several pilots in serious contention as part of ABC’s push this season to launch lighter hourlong series, along with the Marc Cherry small-town project starring Reba McEntire and possibly the Kenya Barris-produced CIA show Unit Zero starring Toni Collette. Las Reinas has rebounded. Downgraded from a pilot to a presentation, I hear it encountered issues during production but the cut has exceeded expectations. It is unclear whether that will be enough to push the project over the threshold, but it is a positive development. ABC already has one new drama series picked up for next fall, Marvel’s Inhumans.
ABC’s Single-Dad comedy pilot is one of those under-the-radar projects that often never get traction — it was a late pilot order, multi-camera, from up-and-coming creators, and it didn’t even have a name. It also cast in the lead Rob Riggle, who has come close a few times but is yet to do a pilot that goes to series. But the ABC Studios project, which I hear enlisted the help of studio-based Larry Wilmore, has been gaining momentum, making for a competitive race with the network’s high-profile other multi-camera comedy pilot Household Name, starring comedy legend Carol Burnett. It would be meaningful for Riggle if this is the one to go the distance as the pilot is a family affair, with Riggle’s on-screen daughter played by his real-life one.
On the single-camera side, another veteran comedy actor who struck out a number of times before striking gold with Two and a Half Men, Jon Cryer, is getting a lot of buzz for Losing It, which is heating up, with Zach Braff’s Start Up, The Goldbergs spinoff, military family comedy Charlie Foxtrot and the Diablo Cody-Berlanti Prods. family comedy Raised by Wolves all in contention. Barris-Vijal Patel’s early front-runner Libby & Malcolm, starring Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance, is said to be looking better after reshoots, though the current environment of political over-saturation in a country that is deeply divided might be a little too close to home for the show’s premise, about married polar-opposite political pundits.
At NBC, Rise (aka Drama High), the drama pilot from Jason Katims and Hamilton‘s Jeffrey Seller about a high school drama department, continues to be a favorite, along with the military-themed For God and Country. I hear both pilots have been given permission to make firm staffing offers, which is a good omen for series pickups. I also hear some buzz about VR drama Reverie, with the soapy, female-centric Good Girls as an outlier.
On the comedy side, the Tina Fey-produced Busy Philipps-Casey Wilson starrer The Sackett Sisters is getting attention, alongside the Charlie Grandy-Mindy Kaling pilot Champions and the Seth Meyers-produced untitled high school comedy — all from Universal TV — with the ABC Studios-produced What About Barb? also in the running.
The Craig Robinson-Adam Scott paranormal comedy Ghosted is still going strong, with LA->Vegas also well received, along with the Eva Longoria starrer Type-A. We will know more next week on Linda From HR and Liz Meriwether’s Thin Ice, but both are considered possibilities.
On the drama side, Matt Nix’s Marvel pilot, directed by Bryan Singer, is a sure bet, with medical drama The Resident also in the running. Actually, none of the network’s four produced hourlong pilots is out of contention, with the University project and Behind Enemy Lines both considered possibilities.
At CBS, the Mark Feuerstein-Dana Klein multi-camera family comedy 9J, 9K & 9L continues to be going strong, aiming to join the straight-to-series Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon. Beyond that, things are murky, with a couple of possibilities including Me, Myself & I and Living Biblically.
On the hourlong side, cop drama Instinct starring Alan Cumming is being talked about along with the Justin Lin-directed actioner S.W.A.T., starring Shemar Moore; Perfect Citizen, toplined by Noah Wyle; and, to some extent, the SEAL project starring David Boreanaz and Jeremy Piven’s Wisdom of the Crowd. The timely journalism drama The Get, starring Amy Brenneman, has drawn positive early response and has a rare-for-CBS female lead, though its subject matter might not be an easy sell.
The Black Lightning presentation has yet to be completed, but the Greg Berlanti-produced DC superhero drama, written by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, still is considered one of the CW’s strongest prospects for next season, along with the Dynasty reboot, from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. They are being joined by the Bill Lawrence-produced hourlong comedy Life Sentence with Lucy Hale and Dylan Walsh, which is heating up.
The second Berlanti-produced CW drama pilot, Searchers, is still in the running though the ambitious-in-scope action-adventure project has hit some speed bumps, undergoing reshoots in South Africa. Insatiable, a quirky, comedic hour starring Debby Ryan and Chris Gorham, is a dark horse. It’s been well received though considered a major departure for the network as it’s different from anything else. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.