The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point.
Drama Scripts ordered: around 30 / Comedy Scripts ordered: around 25
Drama pilots ordered last year: 9 / Comedy pilots ordered last year: 9
8 Drama Pilots should be ordered / 8 Comedy Pilots should be ordered.
Observation: On the surface, CBS is doing fine. As always. Yes, NCIS is still very strong. Yes, The Big Bang Theory still manages to attract a huge crowd. But when you look closely at the ratings, you can’t deny most of its shows are declining, some faster than others, especially on the demo, and some scheduling and strategical choices made the past two years have been disastrous. Like betting heavily on single-camera comedies when their thing is multicameras. Or creating a second comedy block on Thursdays when How I Met Your Mother was ending with no strong enough substitute to ensure success. Moving Person Of Interest to a difficult timeslot… and so on.
CBS had a strong development season in 2014, and a pretty good fall for new shows as a result. Madam Secretary is not a hit, but a strong player for Sunday evenings, matching perfectly with The Good Wife. Scorpion is not as strong as it should on the demo, but can be labelled as a modest hit. Stalker is not doing good, even though it was the perfect companion for Criminal Minds on paper. Mom is getting stronger. The McCarthys will soon be gone. The Odd Couple, CSI: Cyber & Battle Creek has yet to premiere, but one or even two could get OK ratings. Meaning there’s not so many rooms left, with a summer already packed (Under The Dome, Extant, Zoo, not yet announced The Inspectors) and a few cancellations pending (CSI? Hawaii 5-0?). CBS will be picky. Too bad, they have some interesting projects on their plate, and different from what they’re used to do…
ACQUITTAL (Warner Bros. Television)
What? an influential trial consultant works alternately for the prosecution and the defense, using unorthodox ideas and tactics, often more psychological than legal…
Why? Jerry Bruckheimer is producing this legal drama project based on a book, which sounds weirdly both different and classical at the same time. It’s stories from the inside of the courtroom, it’s about strategies in high-profile cases, and about how justice system works today. CBS already has the brilliant The Good Wife, but if they are looking for a successor when it logically ends with season 7, then it could be a serious contender.
AMERICAN GOTHIC (CBS Television Studios)
What? a prominent Boston family, in the wake of a chilling discovery that implicates their recently deceased patriarch in a series of murders spanning decades, struggles to redefine itself, all under the mounting suspicion that one of them may have been his accomplice
Why? A thriller family soap on CBS? Well… It doesn’t sound like something that could work for them but American Gothic may be their How To Get Away With Murder if it’s done right, meaning it could generate passionnate conversations online, giving a sense of urgency to viewers, forcing them to watch live instead of DVR… But it’s all theory and I admit it’s very unlikely.
AUSTEN’S RAZOR (CBS Television Studios)
What? a brilliant bioethicist is called in at crisis moments to solve the most complicated, dynamic and confounding medical issues imaginable
Why? It’s hard to find the next great medical drama, and CBS looks determined to do so. They developed a ton of wannabes and they will probably order two or three of them among their pilot pick-ups. This one has a hefty commitment so there’s that. Does it sound exciting? I’m not sure. But if we see it as some sort of medical version of Scorpion, then there’s potential to do something… entertaining?
BLACK WIDOWS (CBS Television Studios)
What? two women kill their abusive spouses and try to get away with it as the FBI, their close-knit community and even their own guilt conspire to take them down
Why? When I first heard about the finnish show Black Widows is based on, called Mustat Lesket, the first thing that came to my mind was: it’s PERFECT for ABC, they will undoubtedly land an adaptation at ABC Studios. I don’t know if they tried and lost to CBS, but now it’s in The Eye’s hands I’m worried it will never come to life. They wouldn’t know what to do with it. A summer show at best. Just don’t order a pilot and offers it to ABC for 2017!
BRAIN DEAD (CBS Television Studios)
What? a comedic horror hourlong show set in the world of D.C. politics
Why? Zombies in Washington D.C. doing funny things written by The Good Wife creators, Michelle & Robert King, and produced (again) by Ridley Scott? Man! That’s fucked up, isn’t it? As much as I want to see this show, I think it’s safer to keep it for a later date, when TGW is done. And if they can sell it to sister cable channel Showtime, it’s even better! Let’s be honest: it has nothing to do on CBS.
CODE BLACK (ABC Studios)
What? the story of one young doctor who has just joined the extraordinary staff of Los Angeles’ busiest ER as they struggle in the face of a broken system to protect their ideals and the patients who need them the most
Why? Here is another medical project that CBS could bet on, even if the fact that it’s produced by ABC could play against it sooner or later. The pitch doesn’t sound original at all, but it’s the writing and the characters that could make the whole difference. It’s written by Michael Seitzman, a specialist of pilots not ordered to series. In general, he writes very soapy scripts, a little too easy and dull. I have a bad feeling…
LAST HOUR (Universal Television)
What? real-time drama which follows a female FBI agent in the last hour of an operation as she infiltrates the most dangerous criminal organizations in the world
Why? It’s not quite clear if this show is a procedural, with a new operation in every episode, or if it’s serialized with one operation per season. But knowing CBS, the first solution should be the right one. And why not! An action packed drama lead by a woman character wouldn’t hurt.
RUSH HOUR (Warner Bros. Television)
What? small screen take on the film franchise about a stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer assigned to a case in Los Angeles, where he’s forced to work with a cocky black LAPD officer who has no interest in a partner
Why? Diversity is the new tool every network is using since Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder and now Empire proved to be huge successes partly thanks to afro-american viewers. CBS is always late to the party, but Rush Hour could be their way of joining it. They could have been precusors two years ago with Beverly Hills Cop sequel but for mysterious reasons (were they afraid of a black leading man show at the time?), they didn’t order it to series. Now they have a potential show pairing a black man with an asian ! Meaning they can hit two targets with one bullet! Plus it’s a popular franchise which offers something they don’t really have anymore: an entertaining police procedural, both funny and action packed.
Note: They also have a Limitless sequel in the works, based on the Bradley Cooper-movie. But if I’m sure they will order a pilot, I decided not to include it in the list because I really don’t believe in its potential.
SNEAKY PETE (Sony Pictures Television)
What? a thirty-something con man who, upon leaving prison, takes cover from his darker past by assuming the identity of a cellmate; hiding out from the mob while working for the cellmate family’s bail bond business, taking down criminals worse than himself
Why? Forget Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad. Sneaky Pete has nothing to do with him. Or does he? Let’s just pretend it’s a simple allusion for fun. Even though it is co-written and co-produced by… Bryan Cranston aka Walter White himself! He worked on it with veteran House creator, David Shore, already behind Battle Creek for CBS, with Vince Gilligan. So we can expect an edgy drama, dark but humorous. It’s enough to make it a no-brainer order…
UNTITLED JOE ROBERT COLE PROJECT (CBS Television Studios)
What? a black Republican L.A. homicide detective who has long denied race has any bearing on him or the lives of others; gets a long overdue promotion to lead a high profile, racially charged murder investigation precisely because he’s black
Why? Here is another heavy on minority representation project, which sounds vaguely inspired by comedy Blackish. It’s the same pitch, but with a detective instead of an advertiser. Plus a murder. Yes, I’m probably paranoïd. And it reminds me of ABC’s midseason anthology American Crime. It’s also about a racially charged murder even if the angle is different. Well, maybe I’m not that paranoïd. So yes, it’s a serious candidate. But ultimately, I can’t see CBS giving it a chance.
UNTITLED LARRY KAPLOW PROJECT (CBS Television Studios)
What? an enigmatic surgeon imprisons himself in a state-of-the-art private hospital on the grounds of a prison
Why? Every network has its potential The Blacklist. Here is CBS’s one. Is it a medical drama or something else? It’s not quite clear for the moment. It could even be sci-fi. Who knows? Halle Berry is producing, with Katie Jacobs, a well-liked House producer. In doubt, I chose to mention it.
UNTITLED LAVIN & DAMIANI PROJECT (CBS Television Studios)
What? four agents go undercover as the perfect family for an operation that has them rooting out dangerous criminals in the suburbs while becoming an unlikely family at the same time
Why? Now we’re talking! It reminds me of Boomerang pilot with Felicity Huffman and Anthony LaPaglia, ordered by FOX two years ago but which sadly didn’t go to series and I’m still wondering why. The main difference is that it was a real family, not a fake one. But it makes the story even more exciting. I’m not sure CBS is the right place for it but just do it!
And no, I didn’t talk about Supergirl, because it has nothing to do on CBS in my opinion. But if it’s a hit, I promise I’ll make amends.
ALL IN (Sony Pictures Television)
What? after a tough breakup and a couple of one-night stands, a woman finds herself pregnant – and all three possible fathers are determined to help her raise the baby
Why? I’m not sure this idea can sustain for more than half a season but, with comedy, everything is possible if the writing is good and the chemistry between the actors really exist.
FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER (Warner Bros. Television)
What? import of the British comedy about the regular dinner experience of a family each Friday night
Why? During 2012/2013 pilot season, NBC tried an american version of this show with Tony Shalhoub and Allison Janney cast in the parents’ role. I can’t imagine those two not having chemistry and not being great together. So I guess the problem was elsewhere. Maybe Greg Daniels (The Office) was not the right fit for it as a writer. This time, CBS let the original creator Robert Popper adaptating his own show. And I’m worried about it. The concept is great but the show isn’t. Plus, how can you do 22 episodes of Friday night fights?
IF WE’RE NOT MARRIED BY 30 (Warner Bros. Television)
What? a guy comes to collect on a pre-teen promise made by his childhood best friend – whom he hasn’t seen in more than a decade
Why? Melissa Raunch, actress in The Big Band Theory, is an executive producer with her husband on this project, which sounds sweet. I’m assuming it’s a romantic comedy. What else can be said at this point? Not much.
UNTITLED DAN KOPELMAN PROJECT (Warner Bros. Television)
What? four best friends from college are still living together as bachelors 10 years after graduation
Why? Assuming the best friends are not only men -cause men only sitcoms are the worst- it could be a fun thirtysomething comedy.
UNTITLED DAN STERLING PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television)
What? an accommodating, well-meaning, and all-too-compliant man, and a powerful, outspoken, embattled woman form a new friendship and partnership by which they jointly strive to revolutionize themselves and their lives
Why? Righ now, producers Chris Miller and Phil Lord are the kings of the world, thanks to their scripts for animated movies like The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs… On TV, they essentially worked for How I Met Your Mother and Last Man On Earth coming soon on FOX. The creator, Dan Sterling, wrote for South Park, King of the hill and The Office. A nice pedrigree for an exciting premise… Let’s see how it turns out.
UNTITLED GEOFF STULTS PROJECT (CBS Television Studios/Sony Pictures Television)
What? Martin “Marty” Booker, firefighter, average Joe, ladies’ man and three-time firehouse Beer Pong Olympics champion had no real ambition in life. But after a news crew films him saving two kids from a burning building and the clip goes viral, Marty is thrust into the limelight, becoming a national hero and getting himself elected mayor
Why? This pitch doesn’t really sound like a multicamera comedy but a single-camera one. That being said, Geoff Stults is a real TV star in the making, in spite of a few flops (Enlisted recently). He’s the star of the show, co-writer and co-producer too, and he certainly can make it work in this role perfect for him. I wouldn’t be too positive, writing could be shitty, but I feel like they should try.
UNTITLED PETE CORREALE PROJECT (CBS Television Studios)
What? a working class New Yorker, along with his wife have scrimped and saved to finally own their own walk-up NYC apartment only to now share their biosphere with the eccentric tenants who whom they now share their lives
Why? Classical idea (but isn’t it the case of every good comedy?) but I have a very good feeling about it for reasons unknown. Maybe it’s the term “Excentric”. It always makes me think of Jack & Karen in Will & Grace, because they are the perfect definition of this adjective too often used in scripts. Maybe it’s true this time.
WIFE OF CRIME (CBS Television Studios)
What? a straight-laced guy from Staten Island marries into an Italian family with ties to the mob and finds himself drawn to the warmth of his new crime family
Why? It feels like an amusing version of The Sopranos. It’s surprising to have a comedy set in a very dark world where you don’t imagine you can have fun. And that’s exactly why it’s an exciting idea CBS should give a try. Think Mom, it can be dark sometimes, they are not afraid of it. Plus, it is written by Kevin Sussman, aka Stuart in The Big Bang Theory.