NBC’s 20 most exciting projects for 2017/2018 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. 

 

NBC’s NEEDS FOR NEXT SEASON (not many)

  • A fitting show to pair off with hit family drama This is Us
  • The right series to follow The Voice on monday.
  • Comedies in the same vein as Superstore & The Good Place to finally have a new comedy brand

 

NBC is having a stellar season compared to the other networks, even though The Voice is fading and some dramas are struggling. They shouldn’t have thrown Blindspot to the wolves this early, especially since Timeless was not the right fit for the post-The Voice slot on mondays, and they should have protected Chicago Med a little bit longer to sustain the momentum it had last spring. Other than that -and not finding a spot for Cruel Intentions- they took risks and those paid off.

They really believed in This Is Us, they gave it their best timeslot against all odds and it worked even better than they could have hoped for. This is THE HIT of the fall -maybe the only hit we will have the whole season- and they may even bring home Golden Globes and Emmy Awards in a few weeks/months. Meanwhile, the Chicago franchise is alive and well, Law & Order: SVU is somewhat still a thing, The Blacklist is not dead yet and they’re finally having the beginning of a comedy brand with Superstore, The Good Place and maybe Powerless, all centered on strong female leads. A ton of news shows have yet to premiere though, most of them will probably crash. We’ll se what happens with Emerald City on friday, which is generating some buzz, or comedies like Trial and Error and Good News.

For next season, they won’t have that much space to launch new shows but their primary goals will be to rely less on the Chicago franchise, strengthen their comedy brand and have more hit shows produced in-house at Universal Television (This Is Us is from 20th Century FOX Television, The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television, Blindspot from Warner Bros. Television). Already ordered to series are Law & Order True Crime: Menendez and police procedural drama Gone. Both might end up on the fall schedule.

 

DRAMAS

THE ARK (20th Century FOX)

What? about an engineer who, after the death of his wife, has a vision to construct a ship capable of sustaining life in space; when the build happens to coincide with the coming end of the world, the engineer realizes there may be a larger story at play…

Why? Let’s be real with this one: it has a very slim chance to get picked-up, even though Robert Zemeckis is behind it. FOX could have kept it for themselves if they didn’t already have a sci-fi show ordered (Orville). It’s hard to imagine this working on NBC but it’s still one of their most exciting buy of the season. And it’s realistic! The brilliant scientist Stephen Hawking just explained that we really should continue exploring space because in 1000 years, life on Earth won’t be sustainable anymore…

 

BOYS (Universal Television)

What? follows the formation of a hugely successful boys band and captures all the excitement, competition and fun, but also provides an inside look into the pressure that follows…

Why? I’m not sure the fact that Zayn Malik, an ex-member of One Direction, is an executive producer of Boys is that important. They are just using his name to give it some credibility and buzz. He probably won’t participate in the making of it. At all. The most surprising thing about this project is the fact that it’s coming from… Dick Wolf! He has never done anything like it, but he’s one hell of a producer. NBC is looking for a musical scripted series for a long time. Maybe this is the one. It’s easy to imagine them launching it behind The Voice… Will it turn into another Smash situation? That’s the risk. Maybe it’s one worth taking.

 

CANYON CITY (Sony Pictures Television)

What? Canyon City is the ultimate company town where everyone who lives, works, goes to school or visits does so because of the multiple prisons that surround this idyllic location. From a prison guard to a boarding house owner to a death row inmate’s fiancée, this series explores the lives, loves and crimes of those forced to co-exist in a world with both visible and invisible boundaries. It’s a world where people of all ethnicities and social-economic strata are suddenly thrust together to create new communities, new power structures and new families.

Why? It doesn’t sound sexy or warm, it might even look a bit depressing but it’s an interesting concept for a show based on characters, emotions and daily lives, like This Is Us. It’s the right time to offer such a drama that could resonate with America, and many other countries in the world actually.

 

C.R.I.S.P.R. (Universal Television)

What? set five minutes into the future, it explores the next generation of terror: DNA hacking. Each episode will explore a bio-attack and crime — from a genetetic assassination attempt on the president to the framing of an unborn child for murder. The show’s central character is a scientist with the CDC who is paired with an FBI agent. In the same vein of Castle, romance will blossom between the scientist and the FBI agent as they team to bring down a diabolical genius with a twisted God complex: her former boss. The drama will see mentor and protégé battle for control over the human genome in a game of cat and mouse in which the future of our species may rest and all disease could one day be eradicated.

Why? Wow. This is complex and ambitious, and we already know all there is to know about it in these few lines. It doesn’t sound like it but it’s produced by Jennifer Lopez. After Shades of Blue, she seems to be very serious about her producing career. I don’t really know what to think about CRISPR. It could be a perfect disaster but at least they are trying something which seems both compelling and not too disturbing for the conservative audience thanks to the Castle part of it. This title is terrible though. May be an interesting midseason alternative.

 

GOOD GIRLS (Universal Television) picked-up

What? what happens when three “good girl” suburban wives and mothers from the suburbs of Detroit suddenly find themselves in desperate circumstances: they decide to stop playing it safe and risk everything to take their power back, descending together into a life of crime…

Why? Apart from the evident Desperate Housewives resemblance, this show is created by Jenna Bans, a writer who learned from the best: Shonda Rhimes. She did The Family for ABC last year, which was a very good show that sadly didn’t find an audience. She also worked on Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and shortlived Off The Map. There are good reasons to bet on it.

 

SPIN (Universal Television)

What? A high-powered Los Angeles public relations firm is run by a dysfunctional family. The Kraffts are equally skilled at getting their celebrity clients out of jams and getting themselves into personal crisis…

Why? Singer and The Voice judge Pharrell Williams is producing this project that could be described as a mix between Scandal, less political, and Empire, less musical. Mixing two hit shows rarely make a new one but the idea has a certain appeal and NBC needs something soapy.

 

THE CURVE (Warner Bros. Television)

What? about an attorney who decides to leave his white shoe law firm and give back by teaching, but he finds his idealism challenged when he signs on to work at the worst academic institution in the country – Manhattan Law School, located in Gowanus, Brooklyn…

Why? Idealistic characters have disappeared from television. Anti-heroes are still a thing but we’ve seen so many over the past few years it’s getting old. Coming back to hope and admiration wouldn’t hurt from time to time. That’s what Designated Survivor is trying to do. The Curve seems like an interesting idea to do so in the legal drama department. Plus, it’s been a long time since we had a great show taking place in a school. Okay, there’s a bit of this in How To Get Away With Murder but I’m talking about a more realistic approach. It’s from the creator of The Mysteries of Laura. Depending on how you felt about that show, it’s either a good or a bad news.

 

THE LAST POLICEMAN (Sony Pictures Television)

What? follows a detective in New Hampshire during the final years of civilization as a catastrophe-level asteroid hurtles toward the planet; despite the social, political and economic effects of preparing for impact, he keeps his head down and hope alive by solving cases amidst the ever-increasing chaos…

Why? NBC is definitely into the end of the world with several projects built around it. This one is the police procedural version of it and it looks promising, depending on the actor chosen to play our hero. If it’s yet again someone like Jason O’Mara, let’s just forget it. Also depending on the weekly cases. They need to be different from what we’re used to. The “chaos” needs to play a big part in it. If it’s just solving “classical” crimes while the world is ending, don’t even bother ordering it NBC.

 

TREASURE (Universal Television)

What? a group of grad students in Washington, DC accidentally uncovers a 40-year-old secret which leads them on a wild ride through real history as they attempt to unravel an unsolved murder, find hidden blood money, and avoid being killed by an assassin from the past…

Why? How To Get Away With Murder meets Indiana Jones. It’s pretty fucked up, right? That’s why it’s attractive. I’m curious to see how it could look like. Perhaps it could be a fun summer show. More than that, I’m not sure.

 

SALVATION (Sony Pictures Television) picked-up

What? on Fourth of July weekend. A summer storm unexpectedly intensifies and changes track to New York Harbor. Power goes out. Flood waters rise. Most Brooklyn hospitals are forced to evacuate. With few doctors on call, and without any warning, the recently downsized Our Lady of Salvation now becomes the borough’s last viable trauma center. Salvation, the first real-time hospital “extreme event” drama, will capture the life-and-death choices nurses, PA’s and other front-line caregivers make as they struggle to provide care and triage.

Why? Filmmaker Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale, Collision) is producing the project and he has the intention to direct it. That makes it even more exciting. We’re still waiting for a credible medical drama with a real high-octane feel and Salvation looks it could be the one. I don’t see it as a weekly show though, but more as an event series.

 

UNTITLED DON SCOTT PROJECT (Universal Television)

What? A mother and a daughter, while learning to put their differences aside and forge a strong partnership, transform a struggling funeral home with dancing and singing pallbearers, and even a pimped out hearse – turning death into a celebreation of life. This unconventional family will be charged with finding closure for those who have suffered a loss, while learning what it means to be truly alive themselves.

Why? If I had to pick up my favorite project to follow This Is Us on tuesday, this would be the one. The idea was first developed by NBC last year with Jason Katims. They believed in it enough to order a new script with an all new team. Can a show about a funeral home can be made after Six feet Under? I like to think so as long as it’s different and it seems to be. It could be fun, heart-wrenching and heart-warming.

 

VOX (Universal Television)

What? The renegade team of undercover journalists at Vox believes that everything in the news has become subjective and corrupt, and that is a threat to the American way of life. So they’ve decided to do something about it, and much of it is illegal, unscrupulous and downright dangerous…

Why? We’re still waiting for a good drama about journalists. And these days, while Trump and many others are trying to communicate without them, it would be interesting to see what a TV show has to say about it. Not sure NBC is the right home for it but it’s certainly not something we want to see on FOX (you know, FOX News…). The key here: great, inspiring characters. If they have that, then let’s do it!

 

NBC also has a lot of legal dramas in development like Blood Defense, adapted from Marcia Clark’s book; Ritter, based on an Icelandic format; an Untitled One starring Morena Baccarin; Flight Risk produced by John Wells; or In Defense of Tom Parish, produced by Sean Hayes. Also remakes are hot with The Italian Job, Sneakers & Blue Crush. A few police procedurals are in the mix like The Evidence Room; Family Honor; Last Hope; or Twist (a reimagination of Oliver Twist as a woman). Dick Wolf is working on a new franchise set in the world of the FBI; while numerous thrillers are developed like Walking Lions from Gideon Raff; First Responders by Vin Diesel; The Eight adapted from Michael Connolly; and Blackmail produced by Aaron Paul.

 

COMEDIES

ACTION LAND (Universal Television)

What? follows the exploits of the employees of a struggling local amusement park in Arizona.

Why? Parks And Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine & The Good Place creator Mike Schuur is behind this project. Parks and Rec in a local amusement park? I’m sold! As long as the characters and the actors involved are good, it’s pretty much a sure thing for me.

 

THE BABY (Universal Television) picked-up

What? about the youngest male in an organized crime family of all women; though he’s tough at work, his mother and seven older sisters mercilessly push him around at home…

Why? Amy Poehler is producing, Seann William Scott as the lead seems to be a good idea, and the pitch is interesting and different enough for a comedy. That’s a yes.

 

SPACED OUT (Warner Bros. Television) picked-up

What? single-camera workplace comedy which is set in the world of commercial space travel…

Why? Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) is struggling a bit with his shows lately,  this one looks better and promising. Plus, it’s a workplace comedy and those kinda work on NBC, and NBC only.

 

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD (Warner Bros. Television)

What?  about the first white family to move into a predominantly black, newly gentrifying neighborhood in Cleveland…

Why? Even though this concept is not as new at it sounds -sitcoms in the 70s-80s tried the same thing- I’m interested to see a modern update of it. Bill Lawrence is also producing this one, alongside the famous basketball player LeBron James who’s from Cleveland. NBC may not resist. And why should they?

 

UNTITLED COLE-KELLY & PITMAN PROJECT (Warner Bros. Television)

What? about a 30-something father who’s trying to navigate his life a year after his wife suddenly dies: how to live, date, parent, etc., all with the unrelenting, unsolicited advice of his in-laws, parents, friends, wife’s friends and nanny – aka his new makeshift family…

Why? Sounds like a heartwarming, positive comedy. That’s all I got, folks!

 

UNTITLED DAVIS & YU PROJECT (Universal Television)

What? Nora, a young researcher, travels to the extreme environment of Antarctica with big plans but is surprised to find she’ll need a different kind of survival skills to navigate the eccentric people who live and work in this office space at the end of the world

Why? An office comedy -something NBC did great repeatedly- taking place in Antarctica? I’m more than interested! I want to see that. Of course, the actress who will be chosen to play Nora can transform a good idea into a great show. So cast it well NBC! It could fit well with shows like Superstore, The Good Place and Powerless. The downside is FOX is working on a similar idea with New Girl creator. Let the better one win!

 

UNTITLED KOURTNEY KANG PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television) picked-up

What? explore what it’s like to grow up as the only girl in the only mixed race family in the suburbs of Philadelphia, dealing with real-world issues like race and gender while never losing focus of her life goal… to become a Laker Girl like her idol, Paula Abdul…

Why? It sounds a lot like Fresh Off The Boat. And it’s from Nahnatchka Khan, who happens to be Fresh Off the Boat co-creator! She also did Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23. So she’s good and there’s no reason why this wouldn’t be good too. It’s certainly more on brand with ABC but NBC would be stupid not to try having their own sweet family comedy.

 

UNTITLED SUZANNE MARTIN PROJECT (Universal Television)

What? a sweet, funny but lonely funeral director decides to have a one-night stand on his birthday with his complete opposite and winds up with a big, instant, messy family…

Why? With Grimm ending, NBC will probably try to keep producer Sean Hayes happy. He’s a good friend of the boss… But honestly, this project sounds fun.

 

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

9 comments

  1. Uthum says:

    UNTITLED DON SCOTT PROJECT is the only one I’m excited about. When will networks realize that family dramas are the best genre?

    • Lulla says:

      Vox : written by Scott Gold, produced by Charles Randolph
      Spin : written by Aaron Hilliard
      Canyon City : written by Dee Johnson, produced by Josh Berman

      • Lulla says:

        Not that I heard of, except “Doc Bollywood” (Aseem Batra) & “Milk & Honey” (Lindsey Rosin)that didn’t make the cut in my list.

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