ABC’s 23 most exciting projects for 2016/2017 pilot season

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The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point. 

What are ABC’s needs for next season?

  • A dramedic cop show that can replace Castle, which is dying and might not survive this season, and that’d better be produced by ABC Studios or they’ll have another Forever situation on their hands.
  • There are never enough Shondaland shows on the ABC’s air. At least one more drama wouldn’t hurt the schedule. The first Shondaland comedy would be nice too.
  • One or two new strong family comedies that can help launching a second comedy block on tuesday while The Middle and Modern Family are still solid but get pricier as years go by and are not produced in-house, sadly.
  • More “bridge shows” that can do better than Agent Carter or Galavant do when the hits are gone for a few weeks. More “out of the box” ideas.

NUMBERS

Drama Scripts ordered: around 40 / Comedy Scripts ordered: around 40

Drama pilots ordered last year: 12 /  Comedy pilots ordered last year: 13

11 drama pilots should be ordered / 11 comedy pilots should be ordered

OBSERVATIONS

Last season was quite a good one for ABC with How to Get Away With Murder & Blackish becoming instant hits and American Crime and Fresh Off The Boat getting rave reviews. Even Secrets & Lies surprised at the last minute with growing numbers. This year, while we don’t know yet what’s gonna happen with promising shows like The Family, The Catch and The Real O’Neals, plus Secrets & Lies season 2, all coming midseason, the results are way less convincing. The Muppets did weaker numbers than expected, Wicked City was a total flop, and Blood and oil did bad numbers, as expected, in that very difficult sunday spot against The Walking Dead. Things look brighter for Quantico, that didn’t become the hit it was supposed to be because of bad scheduling but did a pretty good job to attract viewers in a dead spot. Plus, the show is a success on Live+7. And that could be reasons enough to save it for another year, hoping it can stay strong creatively.

Regarding older shows, Grey’s Anatomy is still very strong, Scandal rebounded a bit, How to Get Away With Murder lost steam but stayed solid, the whole wenesday comedy block is a success, even if Modern Family is not the hit it once was, Dancing With The Stars‘ erosion has stopped for now, the multicamera duo Last Man Standing/Dr Ken is number one on friday, while Castle is dying fast, Nashville can’t survive any longer and Agents of SHIELD is just here to keep Marvel happy. The Once Upon a Time situation is worrying but ABC has bigger problems to solve.

Regarding the development slate, it seems a bit weaker than the years before, with no real surprise but they seem to know what they want and what they don’t want, contrary to other networks, so they don’t develop too much of everything hoping something will stick. That’s a good sign. Less original ideas but still a fair amount of female-driven soaps, their trademark, several legal dramas in development -‘cos yes, it would be nice if ABC had one- many many family comedies, ‘cos that’s what they do, and a handful of Shondaland projects, from dramas to comedies, ‘cos she’s the queen. Note that it’s the only network to have very few remakes in the works, among them: Fantasy Island & Big Ballet (UK Import). Let’s take a look at la crème de la crème.

ALREADY ORDERED: DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, MARVEL’S MOST WANTED, PRESENCE, IMAGINARY GARY & DOWNWARD DOG (Learn more).

DRAMAS


CANARY
(ABC Studios)

What? about a woman who risks everything to help a whistleblower come forward with secret information that will impact the lives of millions…

Why? Is it too serious a subject for a network? It depends on the way it’s done. If it’s too complex, it might be. It is described as “Homeland meets Erin Brockovich“. Works for me.


CONVICTION
(ABC Studios)

What? about Carter Morrison, the brilliant but rebellious daughter of a Clinton-like political family who is forced into taking a job as the head of Los Angeles’ newly created Conviction Integrity Unit. She, along with her team of lawyers, investigators and forensic experts, has two weeks to examine cases where there’s credible suspicion that the wrong person may have been convicted of a crime.

Why? Mark Gordon (Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Quantico) is behind this hour of TV that looks like something in the vein of Scandal, with a political background mixed with cases of the week and heavily serialized stories linked to the heroin and the members of her team. And this “Conviction Integrity Unit” has not been done before, I recall.

 

FINA LUDLOW (ABC Studios)

What? about the brash, intelligent, hot-mess daughter of Carl and Elaine Ludlow, who left Harvard Law School and found her “voice” as the firm’s brash and controversial legal investigator…

Why? I feel like this woman’s gonna be cool. It will probably all depend on the actress who’s cast for the part, though. What more can I say? ABC needs a procedural. Why not this one? A legal one.

 

HOUSE OF MOORE (ABC Studios)

What? about the sexy, twisted lives of an iconic fashion family, looking at our beauty-obsessed culture through a darkly comedic lens…

Why? Felicity Huffman is attached to star as the mother of the family and she also produces it. Ugly Betty is long gone and a lot of people misses it. Maybe it’s time to try something in the fashion universe again, as long as it is different enough. And that’s what the “darkly comedic lens” suggests.

 

THE INVADERS (ABC Studios)

What? drama which examines the dark underbelly of an exclusive beachfront community by following its inhabitants as they fight to belong while keeping their secrets hidden from view…

Why? A dark, humerous soap set in a little town? Oh yeah! Plus, it’s based on a well-reviewed book.

 

THE JURY (Sony Pictures Television)

What? follows a single murder trial a season as seen through the eyes of the individual jurors, exploring the biases and experiences that influence the jurors’ judgment, and how their preconceptions change along the way…

Why? This is an highly ambitious anthology legal drama from Carol Mendelsohn, who started her career on Melrose Place and was one of the CSI franchise producers. It’s hard to say whether it has what it takes to become a hit of it’s too old school for that, but ABC has to try it and see what happens. PICKED-UP

 

THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR (Warner Bros. Television)

What?  set in 2118, in a thousand-story supertower on Manhattan’s Upper East Side; a young woman’s fall from the 1,000th floor ignites a scandal that ensnares the top-floor elite and the bottom-floor drones…

Why? Greg Berlanti is everywhere, damn! He’s behind this project too, created by Maggie Friedman (Dawson’s Creek, Once & Again, Witches of East End, Jack & Bobby), and adapted from a series of books that just came out from the same team as Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries & The 100. It could be a huge mess but for now, it’s an interesting mix between Downton Abbey and Hunger Games. Let’s give it a try before frowning like it’s the worst idea ever!

 

MONSTROPOLIS (ABC Studios)

What? drama in which monsters are real, living amongst the humans in the city of New Manhattan (aka Monstropolis); but now someone is killing monsters, and it is up to one disgraced detective to stop the killer… or become the next victim…

Why? Supernatural dramas are not what ABC does best. They try at least one every year and they always fail, at the exception of Once Upon A Time. But if they want to keep broadcasting Agents of SHIELD at 9, they’d better find something that goes with it, better than Wicked City. Monstropolis seems like a good option.

 

NOTORIOUS (ABC Studios)

What? drama which follows the professional and personal relationship between a charismatic attorney and a powerhouse television producer as they attempt to control the media, the justice system, and ultimately – each other…

Why? Here again, we can feel a Shonda Rhimes/Scandal vibe that doesn’t hurt. But Shonda is not involved. It’s from Josh Berman, who created Drop Dead Diva and Vanished, and consults on The Blacklist. A romantic thrilleresque show, that’s also what mid-season entry The Catch is. If this one works, it’s always a good thing to have something to potentially pair it with.

 

THE PARTY (ABC Studios)

What? a twisted family drama that follows a murder investigation told over the course of 24 hours; the case begins at a celebration that is interrupted when a body is found floating in the pool; through flashbacks, the mystery paints every guest as a possible suspect…

Why? In spite of their deal with ABC Studios, Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage (The OC, Gossip Girl) have a hard time getting something on the air. The last time it was The Astronaut Wives Club. While The Party doesn’t sound like the most original thing ever, it’s a show that seems buzzworthy, following the How To Get Away With Murder/Quantico trend.

 

UNFOLLOW (Warner Bros. Television)

What? what happens when a secretive billionaire makes a global announcement — via the social media platform he invented — that he is terminally ill and has decided to bestow his entire fortune to a seemingly random sample of 140 people from around the world. When one of them turns up dead, the others realize that they are all suspects — and the next potential victim.

Why? This hot property (that somehow resembles FOX’s The Following) is adapted from Vertigo Comics by The Originals‘ showrunner Michael Narducci and deals with the dangers of social medias in a very unique way. Again, this one seems buzzworthy. But is ABC the right home for it?

 

UNTITLED ALISON SCHAPKER PROJECT (ABC Studios)

What? about a group of Catholic nuns fighting the closure of their Bronx-based convent who must suddenly deal with three young novices whose arrival unearths long-buried secrets…

Why? This one, from Shondaland, is my favorite and I would be very sad if they don’t order a pilot for it. But Shondaland developed many dramas and comedies for this pilot season, ABC will have to make a choice. I don’t see them ordering more than two. Having nuns for heroins sound like fun, and the creator, Alison Schapker, worked on Alias, Lost and Fringe! She’s from the J.J. Abrams’ school. It’s reason enough to want it desperately.

 

UNTITLED BESS WOHL PROJECT (ABC Studios)

What? dramedy which focuses on a clique of young nannies, a trio of interconnected families and their various support staffs, all trying to help the kids grow up when they haven’t quite grown up themselves…

Why? Shondaland is behind this one too, with Scandal ladies Kerry Washington & Katie Lowes producing. It’s not the first time a project about nannies is developed, but not one came to fruition. This is it, guys! If you replace nannies by maids, it sounds a lot like Devious Maids. But Devious Maids is a very funny and entertaining show after all, that maybe ABC should have kept for themselves, instead of giving it to Lifetime…

 

THE WILL (Sony Pictures Television)

What? billed as a mystery revolving around the surviving members of an eccentric and wealthy patriarch who dies and leaves his massive inheritance to the various members of his family, but with strict, mysterious, and sometimes bizarre conditions attached to the gifts.

Why? ABC’s still missing a consistent family drama since Brothers & Sisters departed so many years ago. This one sounds fun and exciting, even if it’s hard to imagine what it will look like. But it’s produced by Amblin Television and that’s worrying when you look at their track record. At least it’s different from what they are used to deliver.

 

COMEDIES

 

AUNT JILL (Universal Television)

What? about a smart, confident, hilarious and lovable 50-year-old who chose a different path than most women her age by focusing on her career and social life instead of getting married and having a family…

Why? I’d love to watch a network comedy centered on a middle-aged woman. It’s exactly the reason why it won’t be picked-up but let me believe it’s possible. Please do.

 

BRAUNSCHLAG (Sony Pictures Television)

What? domestic take on David Schalko’s Austrian single-camera comedy, about a young small-town mayor named Emma Wolf who has dysfunctional siblings, a dying father, disgruntled citizens, a nearly bankrupt town and the mafia breathing down her neck…

Why? Haven’t seen the original show but I feel like it could be loads of fun, with quirky characers all over and a sweet girl at the center.

 

DAMAGE CONTROL (ABC Studios)

What? about the overworked, underpaid, clean up crew of the Marvel Universe specializing in dealing with the aftermath of the unique fallout from superhero conflicts…

Why? This is a Marvel show, their first comedy. Of course ABC will have no choice but to pick it up, first to pilot then to series. That’s how it is, sadly. But maybe it will be very cool. And it seems a bit more exciting than NBC’s Powerless from DC Comics. Those two will be there next season, you can count on it.

 

DREAM TEAM (Warner Bros. Television)

What? about Coach Marty Schumacher, who knows how to win in the world of girls’ club soccer. His last team went to the national championship, and those women are off playing in college, semipro, even the Olympic team. Now Coach Schumacher, who is known as “the star maker” (mostly by himself), has a documentary crew following him around as he assembles his next dynasty from a diverse group of little girls that bring along their diverse families.

Why? This project has a very big commitment, so it should be ordered to pilot. It’s from Kari Lizer & Bill Wrubel, who worked together on Will & Grace a decade ago, it’s a high concept and it’s described as a mockumentary à la Modern Family (Wrubel is one of the key writers of the hit series). Paul Lee desperately wants a comedy with a sport twist. It’s a sure bet!

 

FAMILY SHOW (20th Century FOX Television)

What? single-camera comedy set behind the scenes of a fictional family sitcom, following crew members on set and at home…

Why? We were talking about Modern Family. Here’s a project that basically wants to explore what’s happening behind-the-scenes. It’s an idea that rarely pays off –30 Rock is the only example that comes to mind, but it wasn’t a hit per say, among viewers at least- but they have to try it. But is ABC the right place for it? Not sure about that. It would be weird to have a show poking fun at the family comedy genre on a network that airs 8 of them!

 

ORDINARY PEOPLE (ABC Studios)

What? single-camera comedy about an interracial couple with very different personalities and big ambitions…

Why? ABC has a lot of diversity on their comedies –Blackish, Fresh Off The Boat, Dr Ken– but it’s about time they tackle the interracial issue in one of them (Modern Family does it a bit with Gloria & Jay).

 

PLUS ONE (ABC Studios)

What? single-camera comedy told from the point of view of three millennial siblings who find their places in the family upended when they discover they have a fourth sibling who is everything they are – and more…

Why? I like this idea. Really. It’s simple but interesting in terms of dynamics. They can do a lot with it.

 

SPLITSVILLE (ABC Studios)

What? about the single residents of a suburban cul-de-sac, in the wake of a wave of divorces, who join forces to raise their kids and get through it together…

Why? Here’s the comedy project from Shondaland. It’s written by the creators of Trophy Wife, a show that was worth a much longer life. It’s already two good reasons to get behind it. But if you need one more: it’s a beautiful idea and divorces are everywhere in real life but not much represented on television. They need their comedy!

 

UNTITLED SCHWARTZ & WIENER PROJECT (ABC Studios)

What? revolves around a gay couple that gets divorced with both men remarrying and raising their budding teenage daughters together, despite the pitfalls of their different families

Why? Two gay couples in the same show?! Raising kids?! Yes yes yes! First there were Cam & Mitchell from Modern Family. Then there was so so The New Normal. Time to go to the next level!

 

What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!

9 comments

  1. craig says:

    drama pilots are Canary, Designated Survivor, Personal Motives, Untitled Bess Wohl Project, The Jury and Black Stiletto
    Comedy Pilots Are Outnumbered, The Job Squad, My Best Friends Wedding, Downward Dog,
    Small Town Love, Spiltsville, The Next Chapter, and Read Bottom UP

      • craig says:

        drama pilots are Canary, Designated Survivor, Personal Motives, Untitled Bess Wohl Project, The Jury, Black Stiletto, Marvel’s Most Wanted, Presence, Pair Of Aces, The Thousandth Floor and Murder Town
        Comedy Pilots Are Outnumbered, The Job Squad, My Best Friends Wedding, Downward Dog,
        Small Town Love, Spiltsville, The Next Chapter, Read Bottom UP, Dream Team, Kirbyland and The Fluffy Shop

  2. Samui says:

    Like usually,you are too hard with Marvel. Okay,you hate it,we get it. But i honestly prefer Marvel stuff on ABC than the boring Shondaland. Yes,i know you’re a fan of Shonda and other “soap-opera” stuff,but really,they are nothing special. Last year you said that Quantico was going to be a big hit,and instead it is just a decent show with decent ratings,nothing more and nothing less. And also it is too “soap-opera” style for my tastes. So,i’m very happy that ABC will have more Marvel-stuff,Agents of SHIELD is a great show,so underated,and i hope ABC will also realize that new show with John Ridely which they talked about a few months ago (maybe with Miss Marvel? The first muslim super-hero in Marvel Universe? It would be cool!) I’m not fully convinced about the spin-off “Most Wanted” but we’ll see,i would love to see Cobie Smulders again in a new show,i know she wants to do movies,but i hope she changes her mind. And of course i’m pretty excited about Damage’s Control,that will be hilarious! About Once Upon a Time,i think it will have a final 6th season but nothing more,the ratings are too low now,and the fans are complaing too much for the bad writing of the show in the last period..so i think the show will die very soon,and maybe Disney will try with a new Fairy-tale show,or a new OUAT spin-off,we’ll see.

  3. Antonio95 says:

    ABC is my favourite network so far.The Jury,The Will and The Party are certainly my kind of shows.The dramas sound good,most of them.I don’t like Aunt Jill,Dream Team and Ordinary People from the comedy side.

  4. Zach says:

    OK, not a Shonda Rhimes fan (sue me), but in general I agree with these picks. On the drama side, Canary sounds great, so does The Party. There were a few others I thought seemed kind of cool (Negotiations for sure, and Untitled Rob Long also comes to mind).

    As for comedies, I just about agree with all your picks. I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen Plus One, but it doesn’t sound bad. And Splitsville (again not a Shonda fan, and didn’t like Trophy Wife so…). Bobby Bowman wrote most of my favorite episodes of Raising Hope and My Name Is Earl, and the show got notably worse once he left. I’d like to see his project. And The Homefront seems kind of cool. Or maybe Bad News? Anyway, good picks on the comedy side.

  5. Marcos Reis says:

    Eu gosto de vários, como sempre.ABC sabe o que faz.
    Acredito que possa ser o fim pra Once Upon a Time,Nashville e Castle.
    Teremos que ver as estreias de midseason pra ter uma certeza melhor do que a ABC vai quer para o proximo fall season.
    Sobre os dramas eu gosto: CANARY ,HOUSE OF MOORE,ALISON SCHAPKER PROJECT,THE JURY,PRESENCE,MONSTROPOLIS and THE PARTY .
    Das comédias:DOWNWARD DOG,DAMAGE CONTROL,FAMILY SHOW,DREAM TEAM and AUNT JILL.

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