NBC’s 18 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 NBC’s needs for next season:

  • At least one new drama that sticks which is NOT from the Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise. Before a Chicago Law inevitably comes to life.
  • A drama soap with enough potential to hope for another Empire, without being too similar to the FOX hit.
  • A genre drama not too pricy that could take Grimm‘s spot on Fridays if the show gets cancelled.
  • At least one single-camera comedy and one multicamera comedy that could be paired with Superstore & The Carmichael Show, if their promising starts turn into modest successes.

NUMBERS

Drama Scripts ordered: around 30 / Comedy Scripts ordered: around 35

Drama pilots ordered last year: 9 /  Comedy pilots ordered last year: 13

6-7 drama pilots should be ordered / 13 comedy pilots should be ordered

 

OBSERVATIONS

So far, NBC has a pretty satisfying season with Blindspot doing the job on mondays after The Voice, becoming “the new Blacklist” as planned; the second spin-off from the Chicago Franchise Chicago Med doing very good on tuesdays, even better than expected and better than Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, which remain solid players, as well as The Blacklist (very strong on Live+7); and comedy Superstore showing some promise while Telenovela has a harder time catching an audience. Too soon to predict what’s gonna happen with Shades of Blue but the pilot did better than expected.

Those good news shouldn’t hide the fact that Heroes Reborn is a flop, as well as The Player, already cancelled; that The Mysteries of Laura didn’t rebound in season 2; that Grimm isn’t working anymore on fridays; and that Undateable Live is virtually watched by nobody. A lot of new shows are coming in midseason, but only Heartbreaker seems to have a chance (if production on season 1 finally starts!). Emerald City & Game of Silence look dead on arrival for different reasons. Same for comedy Crowded. NBC should better have a good plan for The Carmichael Show, which was stronger than expected last summer. But it was summer, so easier…

Last year, the development slate for both dramas and comedies was very weak, focusing on thrillers mostly and medical shows. This pilot season doesn’t look more ambitious but there are still a few interesting ideas, plus a right amount of generic projects that don’t look bad on paper and could mesh well with what’s already on the air. Tepid things mostly. NBC clearly, desperately wants their own Empire, developing a lot of soaps. Only one or two should go to pilot stage…

ALREADY ORDERED: THIRTY SIX, TAKEN, IMAGINARY FRIENDS, SUNSET PPL & PATIENT ZERO (Learn More)

DRAMAS

 

THE BOURBON KINGS (Endemol Shine Studios)

What? based on J.R. Ward’s novel about a scorching family saga centered on the Bradfords, an aristocratic Kentucky family who made their fortune in the bourbon industry…

Why? While Buckhead, a black soap set in Atlanta looks too much like Empire based on the few informations we have at this point (so NBC will certainly order it), this one looks a little more interesting, even though FOX develops a project centered on the very same idea. What if both were ordered to pilot?

 

BRIDES (Warner Bros. Television)

What? a sexy reimagining of Dracula as a family drama with a trio of strong, diverse female leads, a show about empowered women and the things they do to maintain wealth, prestige, legacy – and their non-traditional family. 

Why? This is also a family soap, but with a supernatural/horrific context that makes it instantly distinctive. Produced by hit-maker Greg Berlanti (Blindspot, Arrow, Flash) who didn’t work on a new soap since Brothers & Sisters, it makes it a precious project that NBC would be dumb not to order to pilot (except if the script really sucks of course!).

 

CASINO (Universal Television)

What? about the aftermath of a mogul’s mysterious death when his ambitious young widow and his illegitimate son have to join forces to save his famed casino, while circumstances surrounding his death come to light and threaten to take them both down…

Why? By the network who brought you Las Vegas, with a latino twist since Eva Longoria is producing this one via her own company. A thriller soap it seems, with an interesting setting. All bets are off!

 

CENTRALIA (Universal Television)

What? based on a real town in central Pennsylvania where an underground mine fire has been burning for over 50 years; the remaining few residents of this ghost town are determined to preserve their homes but remain unaware of the evil that is slowly making its way to the surface…

Why? Produced by Amblin Television (Under The Dome, Extant, The Whispers), this supernatural project is intriguing but let’s face it: it has very little chance to attract viewers on NBC. Looks like a show that could be ordered for the summer.

 

HART TO HART (Sony Pictures Television)

What? reboot of the 1979-1984 drama, in which by the book attorney Jonathan Hart and free-spirited investigator Dan Hartman must balance the two sides of their life: action-packed crime-solving in the midst of newly found domesticity…

Why? Yes, there’s a reboot in this list. And of a detective show for instance! No, I’m not crazy. I really do think it’s a bold idea to take this cult series and transforming the romantically-involved heterosexual leads into a gay couple! Are viewers finally ready for it? No idea. But please, after all those Bones, Castle, Mentalist… the list is endless, that would be a very good way to spice things up a little bit in the detective genre. Different, but the same.

 

LOVE, SEX AND NEIGHBORS (Warner Bros. Television)

What? when a fresh-faced, traditional values couple moves to Orange County, they discover that the parents at their kids’ school are experimenting with polyamory…

Why? I’m pretty sure this one will never see the light of day. Too provocative for a network, even if CBS tried the same sort of idea a few years ago during the summer. It was called Swingtown and it was pretty good. HBO’s Big Love is long gone now, it would be a good way to spin the family drama genre. But it would be hard to schedule…

 

MIRANDA’S RIGHTS (Universal Television)

What? about 28-year-old Miranda Coale, who six years after a sex scandal upended her life, gets a shot at redemption when she’s hired by a group of millennials living and lawyering together in a start-up law firm…

Why? Legal dramas are fewer and fewer on television and this one looks like something that could work for years, if they find the right formula. Preferably one or two cases per episode and heavily serialized stories for the heroin and her partners. It sounds a bit like a legal version of Grey’s Anatomy (something that has already been tried). I’m feelin’ it!

 

UNTITLED JULIA BROWNELL (Universal Television)

What? about a funeral home business with a dynamic mother/daughter duo at the helm who approach funeral services as positive celebrations of life, not death – complete with song and dance

Why? It’s a weird pitch and that’s exactly why I picked it up. The result could be a complete distater -mixing death with musical numbers- but I guess it’s worth at least a pilot order, just to make sure… But the real question is: can any new show be built on the funeral home business since almost perfect Six Feet Under ended? The answer might be “No”. But with Jason Katims producing (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood), you never know…

 

UNTITLED JOANNA COLES (Universal Television)

What? about the lives – and love lives – of the staff responsible for the number one women’s magazine in the world…

Why? Every year, project about young sexy journalists are developed (Shonda Rhimes tried herself) and not one goes on the air in the end. Is the subject doomed? Still hoping to watch one someday. Maybe it is the one… It’s created by Sarah Watson, who wrote a lot for Parenthood. It’s a good sign.

 

THE WATCHER (Universal Television)

What? based on real events surrounding a young couple and their two children who move into their dream home in a small town, only to be terrorized by anonymous letters and sinister threats, and trapped in the web of a dangerous mystery

Why? It sounds more like a movie than a TV show but it’s an exciting premice nonetheless. It’s written by Alexander Cary, who worked on Homeland.

 

COMEDIES

 

BONITA & MECHELLE (Universal Television)

What? multi-camera comedy about two women – one Hispanic and one African American – who find themselves living together while conquering the ups and downs of single life and parenting…

Why? Isn’t it the perfect companion for The Carmichael Show on paper? Anyway, this is produced by Eva Longoria (one more!) and it sounds like a simple but efficient idea for a multicamera.

 

DUMB PRINCE (Universal Television)

What? about a reluctant Crown Prince’s attempt to run the family business his way, thereby throwing his highly publicized and dysfunctional family into chaos…

Why? This is produced by Amy Poehler. So there’s that. Plus, it seems like a good spin on the family comedy genre that don’t resemble any other on ABC, which is the queen of the genre right now.

 

LETTERS TO BEYONCE (CBS Television Studios)

What? about an overweight, middle-aged schoolteacher who has lost pretty much everything and decides to reclaim her life by drawing inspiration from an unlikely hero…

Why? The simple idea of a show named after Beyoncé makes me laugh and applause. Plus, it feels like it could fit with Superstore, I don’t really know why. Maybe because it sounds cute. And Superstore, without being super funny, is cute too.

 

POWERLESS (Warner Bros. Television)

What? comedy set at one of the worst insurance companies in America – with the twist being that it also takes place in the universe of DC Comics…

Why? A DC Comics version of The Office? I don’t really believe in the idea, but it’s intriguing enough to be worth an order. That being said, I don’t really see what NBC could do with it. I’m not sure it’s the right fit for the network. PICKED-UP

 

PRE-MADONNA (Universal Television)

What? semi-autobiographical comedy about entering a Chicago high school in 1983 and navigating the painful and hilarious path of finding out who she really is…

Why? A coming of age story always looks good on paper, so yeah, this one looks good but it’s just a pitch. And Madonna will probably never let them use her name, especially for a show she can’t be a part of.

 

SICKOS (Sony Pictures Television)

What? about a group of new ER residents, who not only work together, but also live together in the doctor dorm next door to the hospital…

Why? You say Scrubs? I say “Yeah, right…” But with a different vibe and characters that don’t resemble J.D. and his friends, you can still make something interesting with a medical based comedy.

 

THE TRAIL (Warner Bros. Television)

What? single-camera comedy billed as spoof of crime documentaries about the arrest and trial of a beloved poetry professor from a small town in South Carolina, who is accused of brutally murdering his wife, and the young Northeastern lawyer hired to defend him…

Why? After The Jinx on HBO, Making a Murderer available on Netflix is all over the news! It’s the right time to make a comedy version of this. It would be stupid to wait for too long. NBC should go for it, if they are in their right mind.

 

UNTITLED ROB SUDDUTH (Universal Television)

What? comedy which follows Cathy Cruz, who after inadvertently catching a serial killer, is recruited by the rough-and-tumble Texas Rangers…

Why? Eva Longoria is involved in this one too. I’m not obsessed with the woman, I assure you. It’s just that she takes her company director job very seriously and sold a ton of projects to NBC… This one is original for a comedy. It could be fun.

 

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

6 comments

  1. Antonio95 says:

    Bourbon Kings-sounds good.
    Casino is my favourite drama from the list followed by The Watcher.Love,Sex and Neighbors and the Unititled dramas seem boring.Brides,Centralia,Hart to Hart and Miranda’s Rights are OK.On the comedy side I say pass to all except the last one,Dumb Prince,The Trial and Powerless.Sickos sounds ‘meh’ maybe this one too.I’m excited to see what other shows NBC orders.

  2. Nicky says:

    Maybe you will know something about it, did Emerald city send to fall? Im seing some people saying that, on spoiler tv, but i dont remenber NBc saying anything about it, in fact i saw some actor on instagram posting a pic and tag summer2016 on nbc.

    • Lulla says:

      I don’t think it has. Yes, it’s probably kept for the summer or late spring… (it’s almost impossible for a show to be pushed to the following calendar season, contract-wise)

  3. Zach says:

    As for dramas, I thought House of the Rising Sin or their untitled Ian Edelman project sounded much better. Also you neglected to mention Zone of Silence, which I thought sounded like a cool project.

    On the comedy side, I think Bonita & Mechelle sounds dull (I say this as a huge fan of The Carmichael Show). Their Matt Hubbard project is a single cam, but I think that is what they are going to pair with it. I would have swapped it out for The Leeches, and swapped Beyonce with Bumbleberry Lane, a workplace single-cam which could pair with Superstore. I do think Dumb Prince and The Trail sound good.

    • Lulla says:

      I hesitated between “Bourbon Kings” and “House of the Rising Sin” to be honest, but I thought maybe New Orleans was not the right place to locate a soap opera. Do people want to see the rich and wealthy of this damaged city where a lot of folks lost their homes not that long ago? Felt a bit inappropriate, except if they adress those issues. “Zone of silence” has an excitinf pitch but I don’t see how it could turn into something good on a weekly basis…

      Bumbleberry Lane is an original project, that’s for sure, but we had enough NBC comedies about the behind-the-scenes of TV shows… And the “incredibly, politically incorrect” of the pitch doesn’t do it for me: they won’t be able to be on NBC.

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