Bryan Fuller is known for creating television series that – to paraphrase Screen Rant‘s articulate TV editor Anthony Ocasio – get canceled well before their quality starts to dwindle. That accounts for the trepidation amongst Fuller fans where it concerns his developing Hannibal TV show – as the storyline and characters are going to be explored over seven seasons. Given Fuller’s track record, though, it’s near impossible to not worry we won’t get that far.
Fuller’s other new NBC series – Mockingbird Lane – has also generated mixed early responses, but for different reasons. Those who loved Pushing Daisies have been enthused to see Fuller put a similarly darkly-whimsical, yet tragic-comical spin on the Munsters premise, making a family of literal monsters relevant in our modern world. However, those who remain against the idea exist in large enough numbers to suggest the audience for this show will be limited.
The Mockingbird Lane cast includes Jerry O’Connell (Crossing Jordan), Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development) and Eddie Izzard (United States of Tara), but the main selling points are Fuller’s approach and built-in cult following. However, it’s no longer enough for the show to have niche appeal, as NBC has announced that it’s no longer interested in producing ‘smart shows’ that fail to bring in a large audience (ex. Community, Parks and Recreation). Hence, Mockingbird Lane literally has to avoid being too clever for its own good.
Deadline says the pilot episode – directed by X-Men series ‘architect’ Bryan Singer – was “lauded for its visual style” but that it did not execute Fuller’s “high-concept premise” well enough for NBC heads. The site is emphasizing that no final decisions have been made, but it appears that NBC will be passing on the project for entirely different reasons than it had for skipping out on last year’s Wonder Woman pilot. That’s in spite of Fuller’s Mockingbird Lane pilot script being one of the few carried over before Bob Greenblatt took over as Entertainment Chairman.
However, since that story broke last night (at the time of writing this), Bryan Fuller has taken to Twitter, with a message saying “NBC just informed me the Deadline article regarding
#MockingbirdLane was Dead Wrong. Stay tuned for updates!” Beyond that, though, there have been no additional statements issued from NBC about the accuracy of Deadline‘s scoop (or lack thereof).
Now, this does not mean Mockingbird Lane, for certain, will be picked up, nor that Deadline is completely incorrect in its assessment that the situation looks grim (no pun). Fuller’s announcement does, however, suggest that executives over at NBC are not prepared to write-off the show altogether (at least, not yet). It’s possible the network is holding off on a final decision until, say, it gets a better look at the Hannibal pilot (directed by David Slade) and determines whether or not it’s worth investing in two Fuller projects of unequal commercial viability.
Moreover, a pilot is rarely (never?) a proper testament to a show’s full potential. It would be a nice change-of-pace to see an unusual series like Mockingbird Lane – which Fuller has likened to American Horror Story and Harry Potter – get a real chance to bloom before it gets cancelled. Fans are used to Fuller’s series being cut down prematurely by now, but it usually takes place after they either reach the air (Wonderfalls) or a couple solid seasons of entertainment (Dead Like Me).
More on Mockingbird Lane as the story develops.