It’s pilot screening time. CBS just started viewing its pilots, with the other networks slated to follow over the next few days. Feedback from the screenings and extensive focus group testing inform the networks’ series pickup decisions and are capable of catapulting a pilot from an also-run to frontrunner status overnight, as it happened with CBS’ Blue Bloods three years ago. Here is what I hear as of this weekend, with information still missing on a few late pilots.

Related: Complete Primetime Panic Pilot Listings

Drama Lucky 7 may live up to its name. The blue-collar ensemble about gas station employees who win the lottery seemed a little off brand for ABC and its glitzy dramas. But I hear the project based on a British format, which hadn’t drawn much attention, came in above expectations, making it a contender in what’s shaping to be a very tight race. It’s tight because two slots have already been penciled in for Marvel‘s S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Once Upon A Time spinoff, whose early footage I hear ABC brass liked. Also boosted by corporate synergy is major contender Big Thunder, based on the Disney ride. Word is ABC may choose one of its two soapy pilots, Westside and Betrayal, with Westside having the edge at the moment. (However, Betrayal‘s David Zabel has two irons in the fire as he is also behind Lucky 7.) The gothic soap Gothica has cooled off a bit while high-concept The Returned, about deceased coming back to life as their old selves, is heating up after another great pilot directing performance by Charles McDougall who, in his typical fashion went over on filming days (by 4 I hear) but delivered a strong pilot. Among the character procedurals, Murder In Manhattan, Doubt, Killer Women and Influence all seem in the mix. (more…)

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