The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point.
ABC had two priorities this fall: The Good Doctor and the comedy duo Blackish/The Mayor. The Good Doctor became the new drama hit of the season, on live ratings and also delayed viewings with rare numbers these days for a 10pm slot, while Blackish lost some steam and The Mayor flopped despite good reviews. They have every reason to be both happy and sad. Other new fall entries Ten Days in the Valley, Marvel’s Inhumans and Kevin (Pobably) Saves The World did terrible, as expected, while the friday night block where Once Upon a Time and Agents of SHIELD are now paired is a black hole. TGIT is doing okay, with Grey’s Anatomy still being an incredible beast in its 14th season. The wednesday comedy block has had better days but still does solid business, despite a weakened Speechless. Designated Survivor and How To Get Away With Murder are struggling but managed to keep their heads out of the water.
Pretty much every new show with big or moderated potential were kept for a midseason lauch, to bank on the Oscars’ usual big promotion push and the American Idol revival that may or may not do great for ABC. The kind of big bet where you can be rewarded tremendously or lose a lot. We’ll see. The Grey’s Anatomy firefighter spin-off as well as the Roseanne‘s return are the two shows with the biggest chance to work, while Deception, The Crossing and comedy Alex, Inc. are given a satisfying shot with good scheduling. But then again, if American Idol is a flop, it will be harder for them to survive. For The People and comedy Splitting Up Together are given death slots, while the third season of Quantico will mostly air in the summer.
Next season will be crucial for the Alphabet Network for many reasons. First because they won’t have The Middle and Scandal which are both in their final seasons right now. Also because Modern Family should end in may 2019, with no spin-off in sight at this time. And since Shonda Rhimes has signed an exclusive deal with Netflix, she won’t be there to launch new buzzy dramas. President Channing Dungey made it clear she wanted to focus more on light procedural dramas like The Good Doctor & Deception. Let’s see if their development season reflects that:
ADULT BEHAVIOR (ABC Studios)
What? described as a sexy, multi-generational, comedic drama” inspired by Russell T Davies’s U.K. entries “Cucumber” and “Banana”
Why? Anyone who saw Cucumber and Banana, which are excellent shows by the way, will have a hard time picturing such a series on network television in America. The UK series was groundbreaking and racy. What this very short pitch doesn’t say it’s that it is about the LGBTQ community. At least the original was. Will this version be opened to heterosexuals too? I wouldn’t mind, as long as it’s not gay-washed. I don’t think ABC would but who knows? Oh and by the way, it’s produced by Shonda Rhimes. In fact, since she left ABC Studios for Netflix a few months ago, it’s her last show in development at ABC. Which means they may want to pick it up no matter what, to make sure they have more Shonda one more year. It’s The Catch/Wonder Woman writer Allan Heinberg who’s adapting. I’m very curious to see how it will turn out, though honestly, it’d be better on Netflix. If ABC doesn’t go with it, maybe Shonda will bring it with her…
AFTERLIFE (20th Century FOX Television)
What? A small mid-20th century social-service-style office is a waystation for the souls of the recently deceased, where they are processed before entering their personal heaven – a single happy memory re-experienced for eternity. Every Monday, a new group of recently deceased people check in, and the “social workers” in the lodge explain their situation. Once the newly-dead have identified their happiest memories, workers design and replicate each person’s chosen memory, which is staged and filmed. At the end of the week, the recently deceased watch the films of their recreated happiest memories in a screening room. As soon as each person sees his or her own memory, he or she vanishes to whatever state of existence lies beyond and takes only that single memory with them.
Why? It sounds like a very positive concept for a Black Mirror episode. It’s a beautiful, feel-good idea. I don’t see how it would work on a weekly basis without becoming boring very soon, unless the system starts to go wrong at some point but we probably shouldn’t count on it. So I’m on the fence with Afterlife but there’s a part of me who thinks there may be an audience for it. Plus, it’s one of the few projects produced by 20th Century FOX Television that ABC has in store, so maybe they’d want to give it a chance…
BLACK WIDOWS (Sony Pictures Television)
What? about three wives and best friends trapped in abusive marriages to husbands who all work at the same company; when all three husbands die in a mysterious explosion during a group vacation, the wives are pulled into a spiral of lies and crime
Why? I have my eyes on this project for a few years now. It’s CBS that got it the first time and they didn’t pick it up to pilot. A good thing probably: they wouldn’t have known what to do with it. On the contrary, ABC is the best place for it so I’m happy they snatched it, with Leonardo DiCaprio now as producer. Hope it will help it get an order. It’s not exactly a light drama, but they should keep a few darker ones too. With three diverse and strong actresses, it could turn out very well. It’d be their own Big Little Lies.
FLIGHT 410 (ABC Studios)
What? after a commercial flight vanishes over the Atlantic Ocean, a disgraced journalist whose wife was on the plane is driven to solve the mystery as he leads an unconventional group with other family members left behind
Why? It would be “fun” if both NCB & ABC ordered to pilot their “Lost in reverse” dramas. May the best win! But since Lost was an ABC show, I’d prefer this one to survive pilot season and succeed on the air. It’s hard to tell which one is the most promising though… Flight 410 doesn’t have Robert Zemeckis or any big name attached to it. Other than that, we’ll have to wait and see. It would be cool if Carlton Cuse, who signed a rich overdeal with ABC Studios, came on board!
GET CHRISTIE LOVE (Universal Television & Lionsgate)
What? Christie Love, an African American, female CIA agent, leads a highly trained elite ops unit. Beautiful and charismatic, Christie transforms into whoever she needs to be in order to get the job done especially when it’s down to the wire and the stakes are life and death…
Why? With Scandal ending, ABC is looking for a new drama with a strong black female character at the center and they already chose the great Kylie Bunbury (Pitch) to star. Meaning it’s a sure thing, at least for a pilot order. Get Christie Love is based on a cult 1974-75 blaxploitation-themed TV movie/series so I’m hoping it won’t only be about dangerous missions and weekly investigations but that it will also have things to say about being a young black woman in America today. Something that some other shows did but mostly on cable or streaming (Insecure, She’s Gotta Have It…).
HARMONY (ABC Studios)
What? set in the town of Harmony, NY, where residents have the most unique dialect in the world: they sing their feelings and dance their emotions; when a brutal murder rocks this thriving tourist destination, a repressed detective must return to the musical town he left as a teen – to solve the crime and confront the ghosts that have haunted him since he fled.
Why? I know a lot of people think this concept is shitty and that it would never work. It resembles one of ABC’s biggest flop ever: Cop Rock in the 90s. That show was ahead of its time in my opinion and I think the audience would be more open to something similiar these days. That being said, it would have to be very very well-made to work. As a big Eli Stone fan, I want it bad, so sorry if I’m biased! One thing we can all agree on: it’d be a nice way to spin the usual boring cop show…
MAVERICKS (ABC Studios)
What? about the cut-throat world of the start-up gold rush, where three young entrepreneurs share this obsession with greatness in an elite shared workspace known as “The Forge”; a hotbed of competition and sexual tension where no one is safe from elimination
Why? And now, let’s welcome a start-up version of Grey’s Anatomy (or Quantico)! That’s a bit how it sounds like and it’s a good thing I think. That’s a show millenials would watch it it’s any good. Competion, sex, money, fresh faces… I’m in!
A MILLION LITTLE THINGS (KAPITAL Entertainment)
What? dramedy about a group of friends, 4 women and 4 men, who, for different reasons and in different ways, are all stuck in their lives, but when one of them dies unexpectedly by comitting suicide, it’s just the wake up call the others need to finally start living…
Why? This project is THE project I love the most in this development season. I’d be very very sad if we never hear about it again. The interesting story behind it is that creator DJ Nash did a comedy pilot for ABC last year, called Losin’ It’ -which was pretty good and almost got a series order but was considered too dark to match the rest of the network’s comedy line-up- and it’s this “failure” that gave him the idea and the courage to work on this other one, based on a personal experience. “Sometimes in comedy, you have to apologize for adding drama, which is why I was so thrilled to see ABC’s passion for a drama that has comedy” he said. I have a feeling the “next This Is Us” is hiding here. I already see it paired with The Good Doctor!
NEW WORLD (ABC Studios)
What? about two estranged brothers who, after the death of their father, try to reconnect by taking their families on a trip together; but when their boat crashes, the two families find themselves trapped on a deserted island and must battle the elements (and their secrets) to not only survive but to build a life for themselves in this new home
Why? Even though it’s not official, this is clearly a rip-off of the cult novel Swiss Family Robinson! And why not after all… It’s a good premice and you can do a very strong and emotional family drama with such a starting point. One thing I’m wondering though: how long can the island stay deserted before it becomes boring? I mean… unless this family is incestuous, no love stories are possible. And if people actually live on this island, are they called “the others”? Do they whisper in the forest? Are they from the Dharma Initiative? You know where I’m going…
THE ROOKIE (ABC Studios) picked-up to series
What? about the oldest rookie in the LAPD: at an age where most are at the peak of their career, Nolan cast aside his comfortable, small town life and moved to L.A. to pursue his dream of being a cop
Why? Without any script to read, ABC ordered this project straight-to-series, with ex-Castle star Nathan Fillion attached to it. The same way it happened with Designated Survivor. I feel like it’s too soon to welcome back the actor on the network, especially on a new cop show -though this time he’s the cop!- but if ABC said no, it would have gone to CBS or NBC probably so they didn’t really had a choice quite frankly. Plus, it fits perfectly with what they’re looking for.
TWO CITIES (ABC Studios)
What? billed as a modern update of Dickens’ novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” set against the backdrop of a society on the verge of revolution, where the tensions between the haves and have-nots has reached a breaking point…
Why? Dystopies are too rare on television in my opinion, especially when you look at all those books that are made. So it may be a little weird to make one based on a novel that was not a dystopy at the time when there is so much material out there just waiting to get adapted, but why not? It’s a strong base to create something great. You can’t do something more timely than that. And The Handmaid’s Tale, which is exceptional, proved that there’s an audience for it. Of course, Two Cities will never be that good. My main concern is: do the Americans want to watch something that will remind them their own society, their terrible president and all those things that are going wrong right now? Not sure.
VOWS (Sony Pictures Television)
What? told through the POV of four diverse and interconnected couples [and] explores the whirlwind road to the altar and the profound journey that begins after we say, “I do”
Why? Another This Is Us wannabe that sounds good, especially if there are strong ties between the couples, that they are not just neighbours or something. We could also see it as a drama version of Modern Family… It’s almost suspicious that it hasn’t been tried yet.
Among other projects ABC has a legal drama called Big Law produced by Ellen Pompeo; a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice named Elligible from Pretty Little Liars creator I, Marlene King; The French Detective from Luc Besson starring Jean Dujardin about a Parisian detective who moves to New York and joins the NYPD in order to leave his previous life behind and start fresh; the soap Grand Hotel based on a popular spanish series championed by Eva Longoria; an action drama by Felicity Huffman about a New York City public school teacher-turned-FBI agent, Kristy Kottis; a new Ghost Whisperer called Spirited with Laverne Cox playing a fake psychic who realizes she can really communicate with the dead; and finally a comedic espionage show from Bill Lawrence named Whisky Cavalier starring Scott Foley.
BLACK DON’T CRACK (ABC Studios)
What? about three former sorority sisters who lost touch after college reunite during a pivotal point in each of their lives and realize that now that they are of a certain age sometimes it’s okay to crack and no one will be there for you like your sisters
Why? Okay, let’s be clear: it’s off-brand for ABC since it’s not a family comedy at all but it’s totally on-brand if you think about ABC dramas. The tittle suggets that it will feature an all-black female cast so putting it behind Blackish could make sense (and could end up as another The Mayor, yeah…). Viola Davis is producing. She might as well keep the project for her and star in it once How To Get Away With Murder is done in one or two years… Alongside Kerry Washington & Octavia Spencer?! Okay, stop. I’m going crazy.
BORING, OR (ABC Studios)
What? about a small town with a serial killer on the loose. It follows Jonna, a police officer who is determined to stop the killings while the rest of the townspeople remain dead set on not letting it affect their day-to-day lives
Why? Sounds like something that’d be a better fit with NBC’s brand. Jack Black, who’s done some crazy shit, is producing. Could be their “totally off-brand but fuck it!” pick up of the year, that will end up in the summer with no life support.
GLENFIELD’S GIRL CLUB (Warner Bros. Television)
What? In high school, Liz Cooney had everything and Markie McQueen had nothing. 20 years later, they’re reunited under the same roof as single moms and unlikely housemates.
Why? ABC has yet to provide a comedy with single parents at the center, whether they are mothers or fathers (Suburgatory is long gone now). Other networks don’t have any either. And I think it’s a problem in a world where single parents are more numerous than ever! If they want to keep on broadening and diversifying their family brand, it might be a good one to do so. It’s produced by Greg Berlanti, who had a good comedy pilot last year in Raised by Wolves that was unfortunately not picked-up.
THE JETSONS (Warner Bros. Television)
What? live-action take on the 1960s Hanna-Barbera animated series, a multi-camera sitcom which is set 100 years in the future and looks at America’s favorite future family through a modern filter
Why? ABC is pretty high on this multicamera project produced by Robert Zemeckis, that could fit well with Roseanne if the revival gets another season. Despite being filmed in front of a live studio audience, there are plans to incorporate futuristic visual effects. No brainer.
NEIGHBOURS OF NORTH SYCAMORE (Kapital Entertainment)
What? about a millennial couple who buy their first house only to discover they’re living on a block where privacy is a myth, and everyone’s drama plays out 24/7 on the street’s secret Facebook page
Why? A millennial couple? That’d be interesting to have one on ABC for once. But it’d be even greater if they had kids to fit the brand better. At least a very little one… Something in the vein of Desperate Housewives tonally could make miracles for them. It’s produced by the same team as American Housewife, which is good news I guess.
THE REAL FAIRY GODMOTHER (Universal Television)
What? about a self-absorbed “real housewife” who learns that she’s descended from a secret order of Fairy Godmothers and has an inescapable destiny to use her magical abilities to help those in need
Why? Okay, it’s a little too crazy. BUT they have Kristin Chenoweth starring! And you can’t say no to Kristin Chenoweth, right? Plus, it would be very Disney of them to order such a project… It could be reallt fun to watch. That’s all I’m saying.
SUPER CHALLENGED HEROES (ABC Studios)
What? about the Sharif family, an ordinary Middle Eastern American family with two superhero parents at a time when it’s illegal to be a superhero, so they are forced to save the world in secret
Why? A family of superheroes in the comedy format? ABC doesn’t have that. Or any other network for instance. We have superheroes everywhere, way too many in my opinion, but this concept should be given a try, especially with a Middle Eastern American Family at the center, ‘cos we don’t have this either on the air. There’s an irony in this pitch that I like. It’s a smart way to be timely and send important messages. Plus, Larry Wilmore is behind it.
UNTITLED ROB SUDDUTH PROJECT (ABC Studios)
What? about a man who, along with his husband and son, moves back in with his Mexican-American family in the heart of Texas, where he struggles to navigate his family’s deep-rooted traditions
Why? Since The New Normal failed on NBC, networks develop family comedies around a gay couple every year but they never go beyond the script stage, as if they were afraid. Maybe it’s time to try again? After all, Cam & Mitchell from Modern Family may soon be gone… It’s important to keep on showing gay couples founding a family on TV.
ABC also have a straight-to-series multicam sitcom starring Alec Baldwin as stuck-in-his-ways, opinionated, fading TV star who moves in with his progressive daughter, her girlfriend and the child they are raising together; a female version of The Greatest American Hero from Fresh Off The Boat creator starring a 30-year-old Indian-American woman; Bright Futures from Kenya Barris (Blackish, Grownish) about a group of friends who are stumbling through the transition from the clueless, immature 20-somethings they are now, to the successful professionals they have the potential to be; a comedy based on the life of Indian actress and global icon Madhuri Dixit, produced by Quantico star Priyanka Chopra; and White Dave, from Gabrielle Union & Lebron James about a young African-American teenager, who has grown up in an all-white suburb, and suddenly moves to an all-black neighborhood when his mom remarries.
What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!