NBC’s 20 most exciting projects for 2018/2019 pilot season

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

 

We can’t say NBC is having a bad season so far. But we can’t say they’re having a great one either. Mostly because they made a very bad scheduling for fall, keeping their strongest pieces for spring, betting on an Olympics push that rarely provides longterm results, as history points. Was The Brave the best choice for the post-The Voice slot? It’s the one that made the most sense at the time, but the show was not strong enough (and The Voice is not the beast it once was). Other than that, at least on the drama side, it’s a mess.

Their worst decision? Giving Law & Order: True Crime the post-This Is Us slot! It was just not compatible at all, any dummy knew that. Was they forced by Dick Wolf to do it? It’s the only acceptable explanation. The Chicago franchise took a hit and it’s partly their fault too. Chicago Med, already a little fragile, shouldn’t have been benched. Chicago Fire shouldn’t have been moved to the thursday 10pm death slot. And The Blacklist shouldn’t have been given an 8pm slot. Chicago PD is the only one doing a good job where it is, considering the circumstances. Blindspot was sent to die on friday and well, death will come rather sooner than later. We’ll see what’s gonna happen with midseason entries Good Girls & Rise but both, especially the latter, have potential. Reverie is not scheduled yet but it’s gonna be tough…

On the comedy side, it’s sunnier than the previous years, thanks to Will & Grace. The revival did more than expected the first weeks of the season and even though it fell a lot since then, the numbers are still great for NBC. It’s their number one comedy right now. The sad news is Great News, which was not worth a second season, does horrible despite the Will & Grace lead-in. Meanwhile, Superstore is doing an okay job to start thursday night facing The Big Bang Theory & Grey’s Anatomy, and The Good Place, thanks to Netflix probably, is doing slightly better than everyone expected. NBC still have AP Bio & Champions to premiere. But only the first one seems to have a chance…

For next season, NBC may want to concentrate their efforts on strenghtening their comedy line-up while finding buzzier new dramas than this year’s. I let you judge by yourself if they have what they need in their development slate:

 

DRAMAS

 

ACCIDENTAL CANDIDATE (Sony Pictures Television)

What?  based on the life of former Democratic congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, which explores what happens when after a small-town mother’s passionate town hall confrontation with a politician goes viral and she becomes thrust into the spotlight, opting to launch a career she never saw coming

Why? After Designated Survivor & The Mayor, both on ABC, the novelty of this type of pitch has worn off. But if it’s treated as a real political drama and not an action-packed thriller or a comedy, Accidental Candidate could tell a very inspiring story. Also, the woman it’s based on is co-writing the pilot. I find this interesting and rare.

 

AMERICAN DISASTER (Universal Television)

What? anthology series tackling different natural disasters with the inaugural season revolving around a Midwestern community that holds itself together in the wake of a catastrophic tornado

Why? The anthology genre is having a hard time working on networks: American Crime, Law & Order True Cime and The Exorcist are not what we can call successful attempts. On cable, especially on FX, it’s another story (American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Feud…). Can NBC break the curse with American Disaster? If it has something to say about climate change and helps raising conciousness on this important matter, other than being a fine entertainment, well then maybe it’s worth a try. What is considered a disaster though? Tornado, earthquake, tsunami… Every season could look the same if they don’t change the angle or the perspectives it’s told from…

 

BELLEVUE (Universal Television)

What? set at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, about the new enigmatic medical director hired to disrupt and tame this mighty Manhattan institution, all while facing his own battle with cancer.

Why? Writer David Schulner’s last medical drama for NBC Do No Harm was not exactly an unforgettable piece of television, neither was his Emerald City on a totally different genre. So his name is kind of putting me off but there’s something dark and intriguing about Bellevue that makes me want to know more.

 

CRUSHERS CLUB (Universal Television)

What? about a struggling boxing gym, which serves as a second home for kids in one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods; the gym gains an unlikely ally in Sonia, a single mom from the suburbs who has found new purpose in her life…

Why? How come Rocky became such a big thing, and still is nowadays, while no boxing drama ever worked (not that there were so many attempts) on television? That’s a mystery Crushers Club may solve. Vin Diesel is producing. Of course, the most exciting thing here is not the boxing part but everything around. If somehow musical drama Rise becomes big on NBC, this one could be a perfect companion.

 

DELIVERY (ABC Studios)

What? about a group of doctors with deep familial ties who must navigate their personal and professional lives in a high volume perinatology unit

Why? Between Grey’s Anatomy & The Good Doctor, ABC didn’t need another medical drama for next year, maybe that’s why they decided to sell this project to NBC. Reese Witherspoon is producing this mix between medical and family drama, that would be fine near This Is Us. Delivery has a heartwarming behind-the-scenes story: writers Kristin Newman and Rob Wright, who are married and new parents, teamed for the first time to write this script on spec during the three months they spent living in a hospital labor and delivery ward following the birth of their daughter 10 weeks early. Unless it’s not that good a script, I think NBC has a winner here…

 

FIND THE GOOD (Freemantle)

What?  about an obit writer and mother of four living in small-town Alaska, and how writing about death each week teaches her how to live

Why? They had me at “living in small-town Alaska”. Do I have anything more to add? Not really. I don’t think this one will get a pilot order, it doesn’t seem to be distinctive enough, especially when they already have This Is Us, Good Girls and Rise on the air. But I want it anyway.

 

GREENLIT (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  about a highly-skilled task force comprised of five federal agents with backgrounds in the FBI, Secret Service, IRS, and SWAT responsible for protecting members of law enforcement who have been targeted for murder, or “greenlit,” by different criminal organizations

Why? Milo Ventimiglia is producing this action-packed procedural that seems to be in the vein of The Blacklist, Blindspot or Taken. So nothing really new here but among the projects NBC have in this particular genre, Greenlit stands out.

 

LIFE AFTER (Universal Television)

What?  about six friends who, each winter, spring, summer and fall, bond and retreat together from their lives and careers, which are forever linked by a life-changing event from their past

Why? Labelled by the network as “an emotional character drama”, Life After is written by Ringer creators (ugh) and tries to be the This Is Us of friendship. At least, that’s how I understand it and I think it’s a beautiful idea. BUT I’m also concerned by the concept, which seems a bit too complicated for its own good. And with those two in charge, I’m even more worried. Ringer was really too twisted to the point it became impossible to follow…

 

LOVE AFTER LOVE (Universal Television)

What?  an extramarital affair is exposed in a car crash that leaves the man in a coma and the woman missing – soon to be found dead of a gunshot wound; as their spouses try to piece their lives back together, police struggle to solve an ever-deepening mystery

Why? Honestly, I don’t think NBC is the right place for it. Plus, there’s already The Affair on Showtime and this one looks like a less emotional but more thriller-oriented version of it that may not be able to sustain its premise. It’s based on an Argentinan series. That being said, it’s hard not to get excited by such a pitch…

 

MANIFEST (Warner Bros. Television)

What? a plane disappears from radar and returns five years later after being untraceable and presumed lost at sea; no time has passed for those on the plane but, for their loved ones at home, a long five years have gone by

Why? More than three years after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over the South China Sea, the mystery of what happened to it remains while most of the aircraft hasn’t been found. Some crazy theories exist and when you start reading about them, it’s hard to stop. Will this Manifest show be as fascinating and gripping? Robert Zemeckis, who did the excellent movie Flight in 2012, is producing this project NBC paid a lot of money to get. The series will follow the personal lives of the survivor as well as the larger mystery and purpose that is their destiny. Yeah, it’s a bit like Lost in reverse and it could be HUGE if it’s properly done. Fingers crossed!

 

REUNITED (Universal Television)

What? inspired by the life of Pamela Slaton, the country’s foremost investigative genealogist, who uses her wits, detective skills and take-no-prisoners attitude to track down long-lost loved ones and reunite broken families

Why? This one screams “feel-good procedural”, which is exactly what the networks are looking for right now. And noboby should die this time! Plus, genealogy is something some people are really fond of. Mainly old people, okay. It could skew ancient but the concept really has potential.

 

SHATTERED GLASS (Warner Bros. Television)

What? set in the world of Wall Street in which a trio of modern women come together to shatter their respective glass ceilings, taking no prisoners along the way

Why? This project produced by Margot Robbie, who just launched her production company, is described as House of Cards meets Revenge, an empowering post-feminist revenge fantasy. It’s hard not to root for it! But let’s be realistic at the same time: a show set in Wall Street doesn’t seem to be broad enough for a network…

 

A Bad Boys small screen incarnation is in the works, which would follow Marcus Burnett’s sister Syd Burnett (Gabrielle Union), last seen in Miami taking down a drug cartel, now an LAPD detective; a new Miami Vice reboot of the signature 1980s action crime drama about two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives working undercover in Miami, produced by Vin Diesel; another version of Nancy Drew after CBS passed on its one two years ago; a drama that follows an elite unit of LAPD motor cops on their dangerous assignments produced by Josh Duhamel & Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious); and finally a Blue Crush series based on the 2002 movie about a surfer in the wake of a tragic accident.

 

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COMEDIES

 

A&R (Universal Television)

What? about a young, hip music label, along with its young, hip boss, is thrown into disarray when the owner brings back a hard-partying, middle-aged “mastodon” from the industry’s past to help guide them into the future

Why? We can’t say The Mayor on ABC made a case in favor of this project that feels a bit similar, at least regarding its central figure being a hip hop artist. Music will be a big part of this show and it’s hard to imagine it fitting with what’s currently on the network. It’s a tough sell, but an interesting one nonetheless.

 

AMERICAN ALIEN (Universal Television)

What? about Denise “Dee Dee” and Sonny Mendoza, a small-town brother-and-sister team who struggle to keep their working-class jobs while also protecting vulnerable space aliens from everyday pitfalls in their hometown of Tucson, Arizona

Why? It sounds like a comedy that could fit well with The Good Place, with the same kind of semi-supernatural high-concept, though I’m not sure NBC is looking for a companion show since it’s already paired with Superstore quite successfully. Maybe it could takeover for The Good Place once the short season is done… Talking about Superstore: American Alien is also produced by America Ferrara! What if it was the missing piece of NBC’s current thursday night?

 

GUESS WHO DIED (Sony Pictures Television)

What? described as a humorous and inspiring look at the shared joys and challenges we all experience at any stage of life

Why? This one is comedy veteran Norman Lear’s longtime passion project. The 95 year-old legend is behind successful and well-reviewed Netflix’s One Day at A Time so he could get away with anything right now. NBC paid big money to have it. Meaning a pilot order at the very least is more than likely. We don’t know much about what it will really be about -old people will be involved- but let’s be confident and hope for the best.

 

LIFE FAMILY (Universal Television)

What? two twentysomething friends who met as foster children and now try to figure out what they want from life and each other in New York City

Why? This multicamera comedy is coming from Sean Hayes’ production banner. It’s no coincidence since NBC is actively looking for a compatible show to pair with Will & Grace, which will be coming back next year. So the actor tried his luck with this project written by Hot In Cleveland‘s creator Suzanne Martin, who also wrote recent episodes of Will & Grace. Nothing about it screams originality but wait and see.

 

THE MUNSTERS (Universal Television)

What? follows members of an offbeat family who are determined to stay true to themselves but struggle to fit in in hipster Brooklyn

Why? After failing to reboot this 1960s comedy series a few years ago with Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, American Gods) as a drama -it was called Mockingbird Lane and NBC aired the rejected pilot anyway for Halloween- they’re trying again but this time keeping the original format. Seth Meyers is producing (he’s also behind midseason entry AP Bio). The offbeat tone might be exactly what NBC needs right now.

 

TOO CLOSE TO HOME (Warner Bros. Television)

What?  about two sisters who came from very humble beginnings. One of them bettered her circumstances through education and hard work, which paid off in the form of a relatively good life; that “good life” is upended when her much lazier sister strikes it rich by winning the lottery and comes crashing into her world

Why? NBC almost ordered The Sackett Sisters last year -starring Busy Phillips & Casey Wilson- and this one has the same feel and a similar pitch. With 2 Broke Girls gone, a comedy led by a women duet would be much appreciated. Please NBC, make it a reality this time! And you can cast Busy Phillips & Casey Wilson again, we’re very okay with that.

 

UNTITLED JOSH MALMUTH PROJECT (Universal Television)

What? centers around an unlicensed bar that a woman runs out of her backyard

Why? Okay, this is a very short description but there’s something a bit crazy about this idea that I like a lot. It’s simple, but efficient. And more importantly, it’s supervised -but not written- by Mike Schur (Parks and recreation, The Good Place). So something tells me it should not be overlooked!

 

UNTITLED LANG FISHER (Universal Television)

Whatabout the dedicated diplomats of a small U.S. embassy in the Caribbean who are suddenly thrown into chaos when an unqualified, ignorant and hard-living oil man is appointed as their new ambassador

Why? Mindy Kaling is co-producing this comedy project that has a Parks and recreation vibe, as well as an original and exotic location that would make it stand out from the crowd a little but (unless the characters stay indoor). While reviving The Office doesn’t sound like an idea I like very much -especially without Steve Carell- I think they should give a chance to shows like this one, that could be as good.

 

NCB also has a new IT Crowd remake in store; as well as a The Office comeback and they may get the Mad About You revival that is in early stages of development with Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt returning.

 

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

2 comments

  1. MJ says:

    I’d like to hear more about the Nancy Drew project! It would be great if they got it right this time around and it made it to series.

  2. Lucas Calunga says:

    ACCIDENTAL CANDIDATE, AMERICAN DISASTER and DELIVERY deal with important issues and if well done can generate buzz
    MANIFEST just Robert Zemeckis.

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