With the pilot season almost upon us, USA Network, celebrating the fifth year of their “Characters Welcome” motto, has announced the development of seven new pilot scripts. Unfortunately, the majority of the pilots do little to differentiate themselves from the typical “big man helps out small man” scenarios that Burn Notice and White Collar have become known for.
One has to wonder, with USA ordering these pilots, whether the cable network is looking to expand the imaginative original programming that viewers continue to tune in for, or simply replicate current series that have already proven to be hits.
Ultimately, USA settled on a couple of FBI-centric series, a lawyer drama "with a twist," a modern day take on Robin Hood, an angry NHL player with a heart, a mom turned mob “fixer” and a Steve Carell-produced insurance adjuster comedy. But which - if any - of those shows will make it to air?
Take a look at the seven pilots below and decide for yourself.
A Legal Mind
Written by Aaron Korsh (The Deep End)
Produced by David Bartis (Knight Rider (2009))
One of Manhattan's top corporate lawyers goes on a recruiting trip and hires the only guy that impresses him, a brilliant but unmotivated college dropout. This early twenty-something has barely coasted through life on his natural intelligence and copious amounts of marijuana. Now, as he impersonates a bright young professional, he might even become a real adult.
Written and produced by Becky Hartman Edwards (Parenthood, Life On Mars (U.S.)).
After her financier father's fraudulent dealings are exposed, a young woman realizes she's done nothing substantial with her own life. Initially attempting to be a do-gooder, she finds it much more satisfying (and effective) to rip off the decadent upper class. Rather than keep the proceeds for herself, though, she redistributes the wealth by giving it to the exploited underclass.
Untitled Gay Walsh Project
Written by Gay Walsh (Summerland)
Produced by Burrad Marsh (The Marriage Ref)
Karyn Burke, a suburban supermom to three kids, wakes up one morning and finds her husband has left town because he was in too deep to mob boss Tommy. Now, Karen's left to clean up his mess by paying off her husband's gambling debt and becoming Tommy's new "fixer." It's just one more priority on her weekly to do list.
Written by Mark Altman & Steve Kriozere (Castle)
Produced by Steve Stark (Medium)
Chris "Stick" Blake is a player in the NHL prominently featured in the majority of the top 10 hockey fights on YouTube. He just got suspended from his team, and now has to attend court-ordered anger management classes. He's not a bad guy... he just loses it when people are bullied. After an old friend shows up with a life-threatening problem, Stick focuses his considerable energies on solving it and discovers a new line of work - helping people that the law can't.
Untitled John Michael Higgins/Insurance Adjuster Project
Written by John Michael Higgins (Best in Show) and Margaret Higgins
Produced by Steve Carell (The Office), Thom Hinkle (Rockford Files), John Michael Higgins and Margaret Higgins
This project is about Bob Welsh, a crusading middle class insurance investigator who proves that sometimes the dullest jobs are the most exciting as he ferrets out high stakes dramas.
Untitled Cullen Brothers Project
Written by Mark Cullen and Rob Cullen (Las Vegas)
Produced by Dave Broome (The Biggest Loser), Steven Burnett, Aaron Kaplan (You Me and Dupree), Jim Clemente (Criminal Minds) and Tim Clemente (Copout).
Two estranged brothers end up on the same FBI task force. One brother is a by-the-book profiler who lived in his brother's shadow. The other is a shoot-first-ask-questions later type who must now report to his brother.
The Velvet Hammer
Written by Gail Gilchriest (My Dog Skip) and Kevin Murphy
Produced by Anthony Edwards (ER) and Cheryl Dolins
Houston-native Candy Carter returns home but she's not the same Texas debutante who left - she has two kids, she's divorced and she's an FBI agent. Back home, she uses her brains and beauty to help out her fellow proud Texans while getting back in touch with her Southern roots.
Out of the seven pilots listed, I could see A Legal Mind, Robyn and the Untitled Gay Walch Project making it to air - but to be completely honest, none of them really stand out as something that I would tune in to watch week after week. Although, with the proper direction, A Legal Mind looks to have the most potential - but we’ll see what happens in the coming months.
With an already solid line-up, I’d really hate to see USA tarnish their reputation for quality programming. However, on some level, you have to trust that a network that continues to produce hit after hit knows what they’re doing.
What do you think of the seven pilots? Which ones would you like to see make it to air? Do you agree that some of these sound too similar to other USA series?
Tune in to the chosen pilot(s) this fall and/or winter on USA.
Follow me on Twitter @anthonyocasio