Now that television has become a more mature and popular medium, it’s time to take viewers deeper inside the television creation process. And what better way to kick things off than to take a look at television pilots each network has picked to potentially fill their 2013-2014 programming schedule?
76 television pitches have been selected to film their pilots – in hopes of being one of the few to make it to air – while less than 20 will actually receive a series order. Below you’ll find a veritable treasure trove of Hollywood talent, from J.J. Abrams and Roberto Orci to Will Ferrell and Charlize Theron, who are all vying for the highly coveted – and extremely limited – network timeslots.
Although the networks’ official selections won’t be announced until May, and viewers’ input or opinions mean absolutely nothing to the actual selection process, let’s see if it’s possible to pick out the potential winners before the networks make their picks.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the pilot orders:
ABC – 14 pilots (7 comedies; 7 dramas)
CBS – 16 pilots (9 comedies; 7 dramas)
CW – 8 pilots (all dramas)
Fox – 13 pilots (7 comedies; 12 dramas)
NBC – 24 pilots (15 comedies; 9 dramas)
As you check out the list of pilots below, make sure to note which network the show would be on (to judge tone and potential appeal); who is actually behind the show (whose vision is being followed for the story); and what the the intended plot is. Most importantly, make sure to vote for the shows you’d actually watch.
How the Hell Am I Normal?
From: Adam F. Goldberg (creator, Breaking In)
Plot: A dysfunctional Wonder Years set in the simpler times of the 1980s, inspired by Adam F. Goldberg’s childhood.
From: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (writers, The Hangover)
Plot: A high-concept single-camera comedy from the writers behind The Hangover set in the world of a sexy Manhattan bar chronicling the exploits of singles in search of love — all over the course of one night.
From: Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (writer, Bad Teacher)
Plot: The story of three dysfunctional women in their 30s living their lives the way they want, even if society tells them they should have it all figured out by this point.
From: Simeon Goulden (creator, Spy (UK))
Plot: Based on the British series of the same name, a well-intentioned father of a highly-intelligent and verbal son, who also happens to be his complete opposite, inadvertently takes a job at the secret service in order to prove himself a worthy father.
Cast: Rob Corddry
Rob Corddry, star of the ABC pilot Spy, on Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital.
Super Fun Night
From: Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids) and Conan O’Brien
Plot: Revolves around three nerdy female friends on a “funcomfortable” quest to have “super fun” every Friday night.
Cast: Rebel Wilson, Kelen Coleman, Kevin Bishop, Lauren Ash, Liza Lapira
From: Emily Halpern (writer, Private Practice) and Sarah Haskins
Plot: A reformed party girl finds herself with an instant family when she falls in love with a man who has three manipulative children and two judgmental ex-wives.
Cast: Bradley Whitford, Malin Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden, Michaela Watkins, Natalie Morales, Ryan Lee
The Untitled Cullens Project
Team: Mark Cullen and Robb Cullen (writers, Las Vegas)
Plot: When Terry Gannon, a recently divorced, single mother, temporarily moves in with her estranged father (James Caan), a beer swilling former baseball player, she reluctantly starts coaching her son’s underdog little league team and is drawn back into the world of sports she vowed to leave behind.
Cast: James Caan
From: David Zabel (producer, ER)
Plot: A beautiful but unhappily married female photographer begins a torrid affair with a lawyer for a powerful family. When he turns out to be defending a murder suspect who is being prosecuted by her husband, the relationship and the case begin a spiraling series of betrayals with cataclysmic results for everyone involved.
From: David Shore (creator, House)
Plot: A former cop who’s now a cunning but charming low-rent lawyer uses his street smarts to work the system for his clients while battling his own demons and wooing his ex-wife.
From: Kyle Killen (creator, Awake)
Plot: Provocative workplace ensemble centered on the complicated relationship between two brothers who head a unique agency designed to attack their clients’ problems using the real science of human motivation and manipulation.
After Lone Star and Awake, will Kyle Killen find a new home at ABC?
From: Hannah Shakespeare (writer, The Raven)
Plot: It’s hard to fit in when you’re the only woman in the notoriously male Texas Rangers, but that doesn’t stop Molly Parker — our ballsy, beautiful badass who knows how to get to the truth and isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers on her way there. Based on the Argentine series Mujeres Asesinas.
From: Aaron Zelman (writer/producer, The Killing)
Plot: What happens when the people you have mourned and buried suddenly appear on your doorstep as if not a day’s gone by? The lives of the people of Arcadia are forever changed when their deceased loved ones return.
From: Joss Whedon (writer/director, The Avengers)
Plot: Based on Marvel Comics’ secret intelligence organization that has appeared in countless titles including Iron Man, Captain America and The Ultimates since being introduced in the 1960s. The military law-enforcement agency’s moniker stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistic Directorate, which also has evolved over time in the comics.
Cast: Ming-Na, Clark Gregg, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge, Ian De Caestecker, Chloe Bennet
From: Byron Balasco (writer/producer, Without a Trace) and McG
Plot: A soap about the haves and the have-not’s of California’s most seductive city, Venice. The drama will focus on two rival families and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the two families battle for control of Venice.
From: Hilary Winston (producer/writer, Community)
Plot: Based on the film, a sexy, foul-mouthed divorcee becomes a teacher to find her next husband.
From: Rob Greenberg (producer, How I Met Your Mother)
Plot: A young guy (Chris Smith) who finds camaraderie living among the more experienced guys he meets in a short-term rental complex.
Cast: Chris Smith, Kal Penn, Jerry O’Connell, Tony Shalhoub, Rebecca Brooks
Friends With Better Lives
From: Dana Klein (writer/producer, Friends)
Plot: A group of thirtysomething friends who each think the other has it better.
From: Chuck Lorre (creator, Two and a Half Men)
Plot: Revolves around a newly sober single mom who tries to pull her life together in Napa Valley.
Cast: Anna Faris, Allison Janney
Will Anna Faris make her return to television this year in CBS’ Mom?
From: Brian Gallivan (writer, Happy Endings) and Will Gluck (writer/producer, Friends with Benefits)
Plot: A family comedy about a loud, sports-crazed Boston clan.
From: Greg Garcia (creator, Raising Hope)
Plot: Centers on a meek, unassuming fast-food worker who decides to become a super hero.
Unauthorized Greg Garcia Project
From: Greg Garcia (creator, Raising Hope)
Plot: A recently-divorced man’s life is complicated when his parents decide to move in with him.
Untitled Jim Gaffigan Comedy
From: Jim Gaffigan and Peter Tolan (creator, Rescue Me)
Plot: The semi-autobiographical comedy revolves around Gaffigan as a happily married and harried New York City father of five — as he is in real life.
Cast: Jim Gaffigan
From: Bruno Heller (creator, The Mentalist)
Plot: A female lawyer and a male ex-con team as “victim advocates,” going to the very edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog.
From: Hart Hanson (creator, Bones)
Plot: Based on the Swedish book series about an overweight, offensive, irascible detective as he tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior.
Beverly Hills Cop
From: Shawn Ryan (creator, The Shield) and Eddie Murphy
Plot: Continuation of the movie franchise, centered around Axel Foley’s police officer son, who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.
Cast: Brandon T. Jackson, Eddie Murphy
Will Axel Foley and his son head to the small screen?
From: Jeffrey Nachmanoff (writer, The Day After Tomorrow)
Plot: Follows Ellen, a Washington, D.C., surgeon who is thrown into a political conspiracy after being chosen to operate on the president of the United States. Her family is taken hostage, and it’s her responsibility to save their lives.
Cast: Toni Collette
NCIS: L.A. Spinoff
From: Shane Brennan (creator, NCIS: LA)
Plot: The back-door pilot will air as part of NCIS: L.A. and follow a mobile team of agents who are forced to live and work together as they crisscross the country solving crimes.
From: Lisa Takeuchi Cullen (author, “Pastors’ Wives”)
Plot: The son of a Kennedy-esque family leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated.
The Surgeon General
From: Samuel Baum (creator, Lie to Me)
Plot: A medical show centered on America’s doctor: the surgeon general of the United States.
From: Vera Herbert (writer, Awkward)
Plot: A warm, quirky, humorous drama about a family whose lives are forever changed, for better and worse, when the patriarch has a car crash resulting in a coma-like syndrome where he cannot speak or move, but can see and hear all. His narration and fantasy sequences emanating from his mind provide context and a wry counterpoint to the stories and conflicts of the family and his own situation.
From: Sera Gamble (writer/producer, Supernatural)
Plot: A scandal at a Naval base in Virginia touches the lives of both civilians and military personnel in the area, launching the drama into a multigenerational, multiclass, family and relationship series centered around two early twentysomething women who grew up together, were once best friends, but now are on opposite sides of the townie/military divide.
From: Jason Rothenberg (writer, Body Politic)
Plot: Ninety-seven years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, a spaceship housing the lone human survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing the planet.
The Originals (The Vampire Diaries Spinoff)
From: Julie Plec (producer, The Vampire Diaries)
Plot: A spinoff of the CW’s The Vampire Diaries revolving around the Original family in New Orleans. In the episode, Klaus returns to the supernatural melting pot that is the French Quarter of New Orleans, a town he helped build centuries ago, and is reunited with his diabolical former protégé Marcel.
Cast: Joseph Morgan, Phoebe Tonkin, Daniel Gillies
Will The Vampire Diaries spinoff appear on TV this fall?
From: Meredith Averill (writer/producer, The Good Wife)
Plot: Passion and politics threaten the peace and an epic romance ignites between a human girl and an alien boy when he and eight others of his kind (The Orion 9) are integrated into a suburban high school ten years after they and hundreds of others landed on Earth and were immediately consigned to an internment camp where they’ve been imprisoned ever since.
From: Stephanie Sengupta (writer/producer, Hawaii Five-0)
Plot: The previously unknown and untold story of Mary Queen of Scots’ rise to power when she arrives in France as a 15-year-old, betrothed to Prince Francis, and with her three best friends as ladies-in-waiting. The secret history of survival at French Court amid fierce foes, dark forces and a world of sexual intrigue.
Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain (writers/producers, 666 Park Avenue)
Plot: Set 300 years in the future, the drama is an epic romance centering on a working-class young woman chosen by lottery to participate in a competition with 25 other women for the Royal Prince’s hand to become the nation’s next queen. Balancing her loyalty to family, true love and the kingdom, she must attempt to remain true to herself as she navigates the cutthroat competition and palace intrigue, all while a budding rebellion threatens to topple the crown.
The Tomorrow People
From: Phil Klemmer (writer/producer, Chuck)
Plot: Based on the U.K. series created by Roger Price, the drama tells the story of several young people from around the world who represent the next stage in human evolution, possessing special powers, including the ability to teleport and communicate with each other telepathically. Together they work to defeat the forces of evil.
From: Michelle Morgan (writer, Girl Most Likely)
Plot: Two star-crossed lovers, Nick and Jenny, must contend with Nick’s family’s strong dislike of Jenny, which is not helped by the fact that Jenny left Nick at the altar seven years ago.
From: Kevin Biegel (writer/producer, Cougar Town)
Plot: Based on Kevin Biegel’s relationship with his siblings, the comedy follows three very different brothers working together in the Army at a small base in Florida.
Friends & Family
From: David Rosen (creator, I Just Want My Pants Back)
Plot: Based on the BBC series Gavin & Stacey, friends and family are the best support and the worst nightmare when two very different lovers meet and try to make a long distance relationship work.
From: Justin Hurwitz (writer, The League) and Andrew Gurland (writer, The Last Exorcism)
Plot: Centers on a neurotic family with contempt for all things normal that tries their best to fit into their small Midwest town where everyone knows each other and politeness reigns.
Will The League writer Justin Hurwitz’s show, The Gabriels, make it to air?
To My Assistant
From: Sherry Bilsing and Ellen Kreamer (writers/producers, Friends)
Plot: Based on the blog and upcoming book “To My Assistant”, by Lydia Whitlock, the comedy revolves around assistants at a big New York law firm who band together as a family to help each other cope with the obnoxious overbearing bosses who challenge their sanity on a daily basis.
Untitled Dan Goor/Mike Schur Comedy
From: Dan Goor and Mike Schur (writers/producers, Parks and Recreations)
Plot: Revolves around a diverse group of detectives at a New York precinct.
Cast: Andy Samberg, Terry Crews
Untitled Justin Halpern/Patrick Schumacker Comedy
From: Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker (creators, S#*! My Dad Says)
Plot: Based on Justin Halpern’s book “I Suck at Girls”, it’s a story about a boy becoming a man, and a man becoming a father, in a time before coming of age was something you could Google.
From: Davey Holmes (writer/producer, Awake)
Plot: Focuses on the usual, everyday drama surrounding a family business — except this family is in the business of executing hits as assassins for the U.S. government.
From: Karyn Usher (writer/producer, Prison Break)
Plot: Based on best-selling trilogy about a world where love is deemed illegal and is able to be eradicated with a special procedure. With 95 days to go until her scheduled treatment, Lena Holoway does the unthinkable: she falls in love.
From: Paul Zbyszewski (writer/producer, Hawaii Five-o)
Plot: When members of the Federal Witness Security Program start getting killed, U.S. Marshal Dan Shaker leads the hunt for the person who stole “the list” – a file with the identities of every member of the program.
From: Peter Duncan (creator, Rake (AU)) and Peter Tolan (Rescue Me)
Plot: Greg Kinnear stars as a brilliant but self-destructive criminal defense lawyer named Keegan Joye in a drama based on the Australian series of the same name.
From: Alex Kurtzman, Bob Orci (creators, Fringe & Hawaii Five-0) and Phil Iscove
Plot: A modern-day supernatural thriller based on the legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Untitled Bad Robot/J.H. Wyman Project
From: J.H Wyman (writer/producer, Fringe)
Plot: An action-packed buddy cop drama, set in the near future, when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids.
About a Boy
From: Jason Katims (writer/producers, Parenthood)
Plot: An adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel and the 2002 Hugh Grant feature film, it follows the relationship between a bachelor man-child and the young boy who moves in next door with his crazy, single mother.
From: Leslye Headland (writer, Bachelorette)
Plot: Based on Leslye Headland’s play of the same name, the female-fronted comedy revolves around Nora, an idealistic assistant who attempts to find balance in her life while juggling the demands of a larger-than-life boss. The project is described as a fast-moving comedy centered on an idealistic “working girl” assistant who is pulled between her colleague (“work husband”) and her real life fiancé while trying to manage a demanding (translation: crazy) boss.
From: Alex Schemmer (actor, Community)
Plot: The ensemble comedy, in “new normal fashion,” is focused on an irresponsible man forced to grow up when he discovers he has children resulting from his days as a sperm donor. A new family unit develops when a single mom contacts him and he begins to have a relationship with her and the son he never knew he had.
From: Cathy Yuspa, Josh Goldsmith (writers/producers, The King of Queens)
Plot: Based on the British comedy of the same name, Gates revolves around the parents and staff who navigate the twice-daily social landmine that exists at the school drop-off gates of an elementary school.
Cast: Ken Marino, Aasif Mandvi, Diana Maria Riva, John Grisetti, Justin Chon, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Christina Kirk, Kylie Rogers
Ken Marino, star of the NBC pilot The Gates
Girlfriend in a Coma
From: Liz Birxius (co-creator, Nurse Jackie) and Dick Wolf (creator, Law & Order)
Plot: After almost two decades, a 34-year-old woman wakes up from a coma to find out she has a 17-year-old daughter from a pregnancy she was unaware of when her life was put on hold.
From: Justin Spitzer (writer/producer, The Office)
Plot: Ensemble comedy about a group of friends whose lives completely change after they survive a plane crash.
Joe, Joe and Jane
From: Joe Port (writer/producer, Just Shoot Me) and Joe Wiseman (writer, New Girl)
Plot: The semi-autobiographical project centers on a conflict-avoidant children’s book author caught in an ongoing tug of war between two needy, flawed people: his wife (Army Wives‘ Sally Pressman) and his co-author/best friend; it’s not about a couple, it’s about a “trouple.”
Cast: Sally Pressman (Army Wives), Larry Wilmore (Daily Show)
From: Adam Sztykiel (writer, Due Date) and Bill Lawrence (creator, Cougar Town)
Plot: A young ensemble centering on a group of friends dubbed the “Undateables” whose lives are altered when a more confident character enters their world.
Untitled DJ Nash Project
From: DJ Nash (writer/producer, Up All Night) and Jason Bateman
Plot: A son who idolizes his blind father and is bemused by his mother’s newfound adolescence watches his family come closer together post-divorce.
Untitled Greg Daniels/Robert Padnick Comedy
From: Robert Padnick (writer, The Office) and Greg Daniels (writer/producer, The Office)
Plot: Revolves around the trials and tribulations of dating in your 20s as told through a group of friends.
Untitled Jessica Simpson Comedy
From: Robin Bakay (writer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Nick Bakay (writer, Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Plot: A comedy loosely based on Simpson’s life.
Cast: Jessica Simpson
Could Jessica Simpson be coming to a TV near you this fall?
Untitled John Mulaney/Lorne Michaels Comedy
From: John Mulaney (writer/producer, Saturday Night Live) and Lorne Michaels
Plot: An ensemble comedy that is created, written by and starring stand-up comedian John Mulaney based loosely on his life.
Cast: John Mulaney
Untitled Owen Ellickson & Craig Robinson Comedy
From: Owen Ellickson (writer/producer, The Office), Greg Daniels and Craig Robinson
Plot: Centers on a talented musician (The Office‘s Craig Robinson) who adjusts to his new life as a middle school music teacher, where he maneuvers precocious kids, teacher politics and the temptations of single moms.
Cast: Craig Robinson
Untitled Sean Hayes Project
From: Victor Fresco (creator, Better Off Ted)
Plot: Centers on Sean (Hayes), a guy who must figure out how to parent his 14-year-old daughter — who just moved in — while juggling a temperamental new boss at work.
Cast: Sean Hayes
Welcome to the Family
From: Mike Sikowitz (writer/producer, Rules of Engagement)
Plot: Cultures collide when a white family and a Latino family are bonded together by their children who fall in love followed quickly by an unplanned pregnancy.
From: Game Sachs, Jeff Judah (writers/producers, 90210)
Plot: An ensemble medical show following Army doctors working the late shift at a San Antonio Hospital.
Cast: Brigid Brannagh, Eoin Macken, Freddy Rodriguez, Jeananne Goossen, Jill Flint, Ken Leung, Robert Bailey Jr.
From: Alfonso Cuaron (director, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Mark Freindman (creator, The Forgotten) and J.J. Abrams
Plot: An unlikely relationship develops between a young girl with a gift and a man sprung from prison who has been tasked with protecting her from the evil elements that hunt her power.
Will Believe be another hit for Star Wars’ J.J. Abrams?
From: Jon Bokenkamp (writer, Perfect Stranger) and John Eisendrath (writer/producer, Alias)
Plot: The world’s most wanted criminal mysteriously turns himself in and offers to give up everyone he has ever worked with. His only condition is he will only work with a newl- minted FBI agent with whom he seemingly has no connection.
From: David Granziano (writer/producer, Awake & Terra Nova) and Peter Berg (creator, Friday Night Lights)
Plot: A contemporary pulp thriller that revolves around an orphaned young girl named Bird Benson, who because of an accident of birth is caught in the struggle between two warring families of mercenaries and killers. Mentored by a Chinese man, Bird has to accept the quest to find and defeat her mother in mortal combat if she is to ever lead a normal life.
Hatfields & McCoys
From: John Glenn (writer, Eagle Eye) and Charlize Theron
Plot: Set in present-day Pittsburgh, a startling death reignites the feud between these two legendary families. Unleashing decades of resentment, the blue-collar McCoys will put the Hatfields’ wealth and power at risk as they go to war for control of the city.
I Am Victor
From: Mark Goffman (writer/producer, White Collar) and Katie Jacobs (writer/director, House)
Plot: Based on author Jo Nesbo’s upcoming book, the drama is described as House revolving around a high-powered divorce attorney named Victor Port with a unique view of relationships.
The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
From: Sascha Penn (producer, Imagination Movers) and Jerry Burckheimer
Plot: A drama about a murder in suburban California and the secrets exposed in its aftermath.
Cast: James Tupper, Jesse L. Martin, Laura Allen, Martin Henderson, Nicole Ari Parker, Olivia Luccardi, Perry Reeves
The Sixth Gun
From: Ryan Condal (writer, Hercules: The Thracian Wars) and Carlton Cuse (producer/writer, Lost)
Plot: Based on the best-selling Oni Press graphic novel, this supernatural Western follows the story of six mythical guns, each with its own other-worldly powers.
Untitled Rand Ravich Project
From: Rand Ravich (creator, Life) and Far Shariat (writer/producer, Life)
Plot: When Washington’s most powerful players are pulled into an international conspiracy, an unlikely puppeteer will bring everyone from CEOs to The President of the United States to their knees by threatening the things they hold most dear.
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