It’s April, so Deadline is launching its annual Pilot Panic feature where we track buzz on the broadcast pilots as they go through filming, editing, screenings and testing. As usual, the first story is very sketchy and preliminary as many drama pilots still are filming, several comedy pilots have not shot yet and there are no cuts in. Here is a list of some pilots that are getting strong early buzz based on a combination of auspices, script, table read, taping or dailies. Because of how early it is, please take the information with big grain of salt. For a number of projects, especially high-concept dramas, it’s impossible to predict their chances until the pilot has been cut together.
On the hourlong side, ABC has the Nathan Fillion starrer The Rookie, which has a straight-to-series order and has been well received so far. Of the pilots, Courtney Kemp’s Get Christie Love starring Kylie Bunbury has been an early favorite, along with the Eva Longoria-produced Grand Hotel, toplined by Demian Bichir and Roselyn Sanchez, and DJ Nash’s ensemble A Million Little Things. Additionally, getting mentions early on are For Love — considered one of ABC’s biggest swings this season — Marcia Clark’s The Fix, suburban drama False Profits, mystery Salvage and cop family drama The Finest.
ABC comedy is on a high right now with the stellar debut of the Roseanne revival. Roseanne is the only multi-camera comedy series on the network this season, but that likely will change in 2018-19, when it is set to return for Season 11. Man of the House, a multi-camera family comedy pilot, is getting early buzz, with another multi-camera half-hour, the Yvette Nicole Brown-starring Most Likely To, also being talked about. On the single-camera side, getting early attention are The Greatest American Hero reboot; Single Parents, which stars Taran Killam and Brad Garrett — both getting solid early feedback; Untitled Justin Noble, headlined by Kat Dennings; as well as Untitled Bobby Bowman and Southern Hospitality (fka Three Rivers). And let’s not forget The Goldbergs spinoff, whose pilot aired as an episode of The Goldbergs this season and did solid business, triggering talk of a possible pickup.
Fox will have less shelf space next season because it has Thursday Night Football. Additionally, I hear that, like last year, the network is contemplating an off-cycle round of pilot pickups, so it might leave some room for a series or two to come out of that. (Fox already has comedy pilot Bless This Mess filming in June.)
On the drama side, romantic musical drama Mixtape has been an early standout. Two projects from top 20th TV talent, Untitled Danny Strong/David Elliot and Ilene Chaiken/Melissa Scrivner Love, also are getting buzz, along with The Passage, which is getting positive response after recastings and reshoots.
In comedy, the multi-camera Rel, executive produced by Jerrod Carmichael and Mike Scully, has a lot of early support. Daddy Issues, starring Erin Foster and Don Johnson, also is getting solid early buzz. It’s still too early on Dan the Weatherman, but star Tom Lennon has been getting praise.
A reboot of a long-running drama, Dynasty, was a frontrunner from the get-go last pilot season and safely landed on the CW’s schedule. This time, both the Charmed reimagination, executive produced by Jennie Snyder Urman, and the new Roswell are garnering early buzz. Also getting preliminary momentum are football drama Spencer (aka untitled April Blair), executive produced by Greg Berlanti, and In the Dark, about a blind woman and her dog, considered the CW’s big swing this season. There also is the Supernatural spinoff Wayward Sisters, which aired as an episode of the mothership series. It was well received and is in contention.
Dick Wolf’s drama F.B.I. already has a series order at CBS, but it also is looking good based on reaction to its pilot episode. The Magnum P.I. reboot, from Peter Lenkov, who has two reboots on the CBS schedule, Hawaii Five-0 and MacGyver, is solid early on. Directed by Justin Lin, it is said to be CBS’ most expensive pilot this season, and I hear it got an extra day of shooting in Hawaii, indicating the network’s commitment to the project. Murder, starring Michael Chiklis, also is getting attention early on with its take on investigative drama that stands out. LA Confidential is getting praise for the way it’s shot; the question is whether CBS would go with a period drama. Despite the tepid response this season to Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and Living Biblically, early buzz on CBS’ hourlong pilot God Friended Me has been largely positive, with Red Line also getting some early attention.
In comedy, Gloria Calderon Kellett’s early pickup History of Them has been well received. Welcome to the Neighborhood is said to feature a standout performance from Cedric the Entertainer, whom CBS had been looking to get on the air next season by developing multiple starring vehicles for him. (this was not one of them). I Mom So Hard also is considered a possibility, with two high-profile CBS half-hour pilots yet to film, both toplined by very popular stars: Damon Wayans Jr. (untitled Austen Earl/Tim McAuliffe) and Nina Dobrev (Fam). The network also has a Murphy Brown revival on tap for next fall.
NBC’s Untitled Bad Girls pilot is getting strong early buzz. That’s not a surprise given its pedigree as an offshoot of the Bad Boys movie franchise and its stars, Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. Also being talked about early on are clairvoyance cop drama In Between Lives and ensemble apartment building drama The Village. Feedback on the other hourlong pilots is a little sketchy, but medical drama Bellevue is considered a possibility.
While a revival of its classic Cheers might be hard to pull off for NBC, the network has another hot multi-camera bar comedy prospect in Abby’s, which has early momentum. Aside from that, there is buzz on the female-centered untitled Aseem Batra comedy, executive produced by Amy Poehler, and young ensemble Bright Futures, which NBC picked up in a turnaround after the project got a pass at ABC, though it’s unclear whether its chances would be affected by executive producer Kenya Barris’ attempt to end his overall deal at ABC Studios. Hazy Mills’ two comedies also seem to be in contention early on, with Suzanne Martin’s Like Family being mentioned more often.
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