The CW’s 8 most exciting projects for 2017/2018 pilot season

 

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

 

THE CW’S NEEDS FOR NEXT SEASON

  • At least one CBS Television Studios-produced series that actually work.
  • No new DC Comics show for now (4 at the same time is enough).
  • More ambitious concepts, less dramedies

 

After years of increasing power, The CW took a hit this season with both new entries dramedy No Tomorrow & cop-show with a twist Frequency doing tiny numbers. No real surprise here, those were weird pick-ups from the get go. The good news is the transfer of Supergirl from CBS to the CBS-owned network worked exactly like it was supposed to. It became the second most rated series on The CW right behind The Flash and some say it found its footing creative-wise. Meanwhile, other DC Comics properties show signs of weakness: Arrow is not the hit it used to be and Legends of Tomorrrow never became the hit everybody expected. The giant crossover between all of them was a real success but shouldn’t really help on a longtime perspective.

Supernatural is still a monster on thursday. It’s the Grey’s Anatomy of the CW. It might never end. The order for a 13th season is just a formality at this point. Jane The Virgin does okay on monday but Supergirl -its leadin- didn’t help it improve sadly. The Vampire Diaries is finally ending without making noise. That’s what happens when you drag on a show for too long. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is in a bad place on friday and will only get a 3rd season thanks to the critics and awards recognition, if the network feels generous enough. Reign is about to end after 4 years. The Originals is coming back midseason but it’s already half-dead. The 100 has to become great again if it wants to last. iZombie looks like a filler a this point. And then there’s Riverdale. Everybody was shocked when it didn’t appear on The CW’s fall schedule. In retrospect, it was a good and safe decision. They had to concentrate their efforts on the Supergirl move this fall and they needed a buzzy show for midseason. The 9pm slot on thursday doesn’t look like the best one they could give it but competition is not that strong (Chicago Med, the return of Scandal, Mom/Life In Pieces) so a little success is not out of reach. For next season, they will probably need more shows produced in-house, shows that fit better with the actual line-up.

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CASA (Warner Bros. Television)

What? about six siblings in a Hispanic family who have to band together to survive when their parents get unjustly deported…

Why? Timely idea for a show, on a touchy and difficult subject that has already been dealt with in Jane The Virgin but could be revisited in a more dramatic, precise and profound way. It is produced by The CW king Greg Berlanti, which is an interesting comeback to its roots, to what he did well before all the DC Comics stuff, with series like Dawson’s CreekEverwood & Brothers & Sisters about family and growing up. I’d love to watch this, if Casa is as good as those.

 

CRIMINAL MAGIC (Warner Bros. Television)

What? about two warring street gangs who fight the cops and each other to corner the market on the most lucrative contraband of all: magic; a young woman hiding spectacular magical powers and an undercover cop must try to survive this glamorous world of speakeasies, crime and danger…

Why? This project has a few things going on for it: it is produced by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, iZombie); shows about magic are not that common these days; treating magic like a drug everybody is ready to go crazy for possessing is interesting; the “undercover” twist could be fun. That being said, I don’t think it should be The CW’s priority.

 

MATA HARI (CBS Television Studios)

What? a reimagining of the life of the infamous dancer, notorious lover, and World War One double agent; following the brutal murder of her fiance, Mata Hari is drawn into a game of international espionage in order to avenge his death in this sexy spy thriller…

Why? The logline doesn’t say if it’s gonna be a modern adaptation or a period drama, which might change everything. But one of the producer is Laurie McCarthy, who co-created Reign. It could be a clue. Anyway, Mata Hari is an iconic historical figure that has never been portrayed in a TV series so far (there’s an international one coming up, that looks terrible) and her adventures are certain to make an epic one. Michael Weatherly is producing. Not that it’s important though.

 

RISE (Warner Bros. Television)

What? when martial law is declared following a terrorist attack, a disparate group of everyday people start to uncover that the attack was a cover-up for a homegrown coup; these unlikely heroes rise up against the tyranny of the new governmental regime, planting the seeds of hope and strength that will in time spark a Second American Revolution…

Why? We’re starting to get tired of series that begin with a terrorist attack, but this one seems to be different since it doesn’t involve directly the governement, or the FBI, or the CIA, but as it is said “a group of everyday people”. It’s produced by Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, Containment, Kyle XY) so it should look like your usual The CW show…

 

SEARCHERS (Warner Bros. Television) picked-up

What? about a group of unlikely heroes who find themselves on the journey of a lifetime. Ten years after the death of their parents, a pragmatic brother and free spirited sister are forced to team up when they learn that their mother’s terrifying and bizarre stories may be a road map to discovering the great legends, myths, and unexplainable mysteries of the world.

Why? Usual suspect Greg Berlanti is also involved in this one, created by The 100‘s Jason Rothenberg. It could be a perfect companion for Supernatural, hoping it’s not just a rip-off. But it’s something that could last for years and the network needs that too. Something that is both procedural, with a “monster of the week” or “a legend of the week” in this particular case, and heavy serialized to keep people intrigued for the long haul.

 

STICK MAN (CBS Television Studios)

What? about an amateur documentarian who returns to her hometown to chronicle the events of her brother’s murder and the ensuing trial; while there, she finds herself increasingly sympathetic to the convicted killer, ultimately discovering evidence that links her brother’s death to supernatural events

Why? Well. I think I would have loved this logline way more if supernatural events were not involved in the end. Especially since Heroes creator Tim Kring is producing. And he and I are not friends. Still, depending on the execution, it could be great. Is it a good fit with The CW? I’m doubtful. Maybe as a miniseries…

 

THE TERRANAUTS (Warner Bros. Television)

What? an epic story of science, society, sex, survival and, ultimately, human folly and ambition. Said to be inspired by the Biosphere 2 real-life experiment, the story revolves around eight scientists enlisted to run a biosphere that will prove vital for humanity’s survival in an off-Earth colony. Their goal is to successfully create a sustainable environment to house generations to come, but things don’t quite go as planned.

Why? Based on a book written by novelist T.C. Boyle, this preapocalyptic tale got rave reviews. I’m not even sure The CW is the best place to offer such a smart and deep-dive into human behavior, but it could be a game-changer for the network. Since The 100 went from really good to mostly bad, they need this desperately. Jim Parsons is producing, which doesn’t hurt its chances.

 

WEAVEWORLD (CBS Television Studios)

What? two ordinary people find themselves on a quest to find and protect a magical realm and ultimately to save all of humanity from an evil force…

Why? The CW already took a stab at this Clive Barker’s adaptation last year, but it didn’t go to pilot stage. They seem to be really high on the idea since they ordered a second script, this time penned by Josh Stolberg who wrote for Parker Lewis, Weird Science and movies such as Piranha 3D or Saw: Legacy. For decades, Weaveworld had been considered too hard to adapt for TV because of its scope and settings that would require extensive use of special effects. But now it’s possible so… Yeah, they should go for it!

 

The CW also has a Dynasty reboot in the works by Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl), which is a mistake in my opinion as the flops of Dallas & Melrose Place proved not that long ago: millenials don’t care about those. But it’s such a great IP that they will probably try.  A small screen take on Joel Schumacher’s cult 1987 feature The lost Boys, about vampires rising, is in development; as well as an adaptation of Alyssa Milano’s comic book Hacktivist; and a drama billed as Touched by an Angel-meets-Ghost with an urban twist called Straight Outta Heaven by John Singleton.

 

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

 

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10 comments

  1. Vanessa says:

    CASA and SEARCHERS are the only ones that sound good and could work on The CW (imo). Vampires and zombies need to go (in all channels, seriously). Reboots almost never work, cop shows are getting old. I don’t watch CW comedies so I can’t say anything about them. Reing and The 100 I don’t watch either but I heard both of those shows are not really that good. Arrow needs to do better (a lot better) or go for good, Legends too (maybe, I have just seen some episodes). Also have you heard anything about the (let’s call them) rumors about the Percy Jackson and Dorothy Must Die tv shows coming to The CW?

    • Lulla says:

      Dorothy Must Die is an old project from 3 years ago. It should be dead by now. About Percy Jackson, there were rumours but never a concrete project as far as I know.

  2. Cap says:

    Network chief wants 6-8 pilots. I think they’ll go with:

    -The Lost Boys (already lined up as a Vampire Diaries replacement)

    -Casa (the network needs more points for diversity and as you said, it’s topical now)

    -Straight Outta Heaven (another diverse show, possibly a critical hit they desperately need, if the writer is any indication)

    -The Terranauts (same reasons you said)

    -Kevin Williamson project (this is apparently almost a done deal for a pilot pickup–they picked it up last year and very nearly took it to series, but decided on Frequency instead and to have this project reworked for this year)

    -Dynasty (it’s the CW, they need to make at least one dumb choice. But who knows, maybe the dramatic ensemble shows that used to be the network flagships will take off again)

    -Weaveworld (same reasons you said)

    -Marlowe (diversity points plus an episodic crime show could be a hit)

    The superhero bubble that is keeping the network afloat for now is bound to pop sooner or later, so they need to find the next niche genre while also maintaining some critical appeal. I think they’ll be taking more risks and cancelling more old shows and developing more new ones while they have the insurance of the superhero shows.

    • Lulla says:

      Two things: I feel like Marlowe is really not in their alley. Period drama + crime show. That’s not what people are looking for on this network. And it won’t fit with anything else…
      Regarding the Kevin Williamson Project (Ghost), I hope for them they reworked it extensively ‘cos the first version was not a TV show, just a dumb horror movie comprised in 40 minutes. They don’t need that.
      Our conversation makes me anxious : I feel like they’re gonna do bad choices once again. It’s gonna get ugly.

      • Cap says:

        The thing is, their bad choices really aren’t any worse than the majority of the network’s current offerings. The 100, for example–should it decline at the average network rate, S4’s ratings will be at or below that of Frequency. So even if they take a risk and it flops, they aren’t losing anything. But if they take a risk and it succeeds, it’s a major gain. They can really only go up from where they are now, and based on the 5 year Tribune deal, they desperately need to.

        That said, I debated about Marlowe too; Criminal Magic could be picked up instead of Marlowe. It got a slight edge because their other CBS productions don’t seem that likely, plus I do believe they’ll be looking for the next market to follow superheroes and procedurals might be a possibility. Back before the superhero boom, when the network was dominated by One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek and Gossip Girl, who would have thought a superhero show would fit in?

        • Lulla says:

          I do agree with you overall, except I don’t think procedurals can be their savior. Procedurals just don’t resonate with their younger demo. Frequency is one example of that, and they had other procedural-y shows in the past with iZombie or Beauty and the beast (there was always a supernatural element to those, yeah) and none of them were hits. The need to be bold. Offering CBS-like shows can’t be the solution.

    • Yikes, I think that would be some pretty bad decisions for the net. Straight Outta Heavm and Marlowe seem DOA to me. Diversity is good, but not if the projects are bad. The Kevin Williamson project seems to be getting a pretty meh reaction from anyone who has read the script. Dynasty seems like it will go the way of the Melrose Place revival. I’m just not sure the CW audience is really going to buy into the concept of The Lost Boys, with each season being a decade in the lives of the vampires, if I recall correctly. The other choices could work better.

      I think Searchers is a likely pick up. The net has wanted a Supernatural spinoff and this project seems like a spiritual successor to that show. Criminal Magic is a procedural that might appeal to the net’s fans. Maybe Hactivist too, though I don’t know anything about the comic. Feral might be an interesting option, though not much has really been revealed about the full details of the project. And I’ve already heard some rumblings about a Sabrina spinoff of Riverdale.

      Sigh, I really wish Transylvania had been given a chance.

  3. Vince says:

    Why the aversion with genre shows. They’re the only one’s that does well. Your suggestions are off brands that is bound to flop like Frequency and No Tomorrow. That Plec show is already a flop waiting to happen.

    • Lulla says:

      What aversion exactly? Searchers, Stick Man, The Terranauts, Criminal Magic and Weaveworld are genre shows! 5 out of 8 is not enough for you? The CW shouldn’t exclusively have genre shows though.

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