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:
– A new The Blacklist, for takings its place on mondays or pairing it with on thursdays
– At least one original comedy that can attract people one way or another… before extinction!
– Finally a good companion for Grimm on fridays
– Some more old school tepid dramas like the Chicago‘s ‘cos it partially works for now….
– Mini-series to follow the steps of A.D. (The Bible follow-up that could score big this spring)
Drama Scripts ordered: around 35 / Comedy Scripts ordered: around 55
Drama pilots ordered last year: 8 / Comedy pilots ordered last year: 17
8 Drama Pilots should be ordered / 12 Comedy pilots should be ordered
Observation: NBC’s list of projects is surprisingly weak for next season, with very few attractive ones, most of them sounding the same: déjà vu, very dark, with a supernatural twist… and it doesn’t look like what works for them at all! I have no idea what they’re doing, but they’re doing it wrong. This year, Odyssey and Allegiance are steps in the right direction… creatively… until ratings come probably! A to Z and Marry Me were not awful comedies, but it was clear from the get go they could’nt get huge. The Mysteries Of Laura… Well… They succeed with it for something like two seconds. State Of Affairs was a no-brainer order but it turned out people didn’t want to have Katherine Heigl on their couch every week.
NBC is not ambitious enough anymore. They are still trying to find their identity and it’s taking a very very long time. The Voice is already declining as everybody expected because of two seasons every year. Be careful, NBC…
BLINDSPOT (Warner Bros. Television)
What? An FBI agent is drawn into a complex conspiracy when a naked amnesiac is found in Times Square covered in fresh tattoos… including his name on her back
Why? This wannabe The Blacklist produced by hit maker Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Brothers & Sisters) has an exciting premise even if the word “conspiracy” should be banned from any new pitch. It always sounds like catastrophe. Anyway, if the conspiracy is only adressed every other week and if it starts more like an ambitious procedural, NBC might have a winner!
DECALOGUE (Wonder Monkey Entertainment)
What? Domestic take on the Danish mini-series of the same name, which examines the Ten Commandments in a modern setting, with each episode exploring one or several moral and ethical issues
Why? Here is the mini-series project that could be an interesting follow-up to A.D. The Bible, if one is needed in case of a large success. I wouldn’t consider it a perfect one since it’s a bit derivative but with Todd Ellis Kessler as a writer (The Good Wife, The Practice, Nashville), we can expect at least something good.
THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE (Warner Bros. Television)
What? Based on the novel-turned-feature of the same name about a public defender who joins a law firm that is run by the Devil himself
Why? It’s easy to be against movie adaptations just for the sake of it, especially this year when there are plenty of them in development. But sometimes a good idea is a good idea, no matter what. And trying to refresh the good old legal drama with a supernatural twist can’t be that bad. If NBC let it be suitably dark with a deeper mythology than the movie, plus the usual cases of the week, then there’s hope. John Wells (ER, Shameless) is producing. That’s reassuring.
ENDGAME (Sony Pictures Television)
What? A former intelligence officer, while working as a security expert for the wealthy, is wrongly accused of the brutal murder of his wife; a syndicate of powerful people offers him freedom in exchange for stopping high-stakes crimes, as he continues to avenge his wife’s death and uncover the game-like conspiracy among his mysterious employer
Why? Pretty strong premise, even if nothing here sounds original. It comes from John Rogers, creator of Leverage and The Librarians for TNT. He’s able to make entertaining TV. It wouldn’t hurt to add some dark humor to the story. Why so serious?
FREQUENCY (Warner Bros. Television)
What? small screen take on the Jim Caviezel/Dennis Quaid-led 2000 feature, in which an NYPD detective connects with his son, 30 years in the future and the two must work together to change the history of tragic events to come while also getting the chance to heal their complicated relationship
Why? The Fringe vibe of this project makes it sound like something we already know, besides the fact that it’s a movie adaptation of course, and something we’d be interested to return to ‘cos there’s a lot to say and do with this story. It’s basically the promise of an effective procedural with strong characters driving it towards a solid mythology. Person Of Interest isn’t that far either…
MANHUNT (Universal Television)
What? Anthology-style drama focusing on the mounting tension of an entire city on the hunt for a fugitive roaming the streets at large. Each season will examine the moment an American, or International City becomes a police state, a war zone or a ground zero and the ensuing bloodlust it inspires.
Why? If this show makes it to series, then it would be a great opportunity for young writers Whit Brayton & Zach Rice, creators of the show, who are just starting their career. Their spec script was hot last summer and NBC entered a bidding war with a cable channel to get it. It’s already a 10-episode commitment with a cast contingent, meaning it’s looking good. The story is exciting, the promise is all action and suspense. This is a great idea for an anthology. Really looking forward to it…
RAVEN ROCK (Paramount Television)
What? drama which explores the history of our government’s secret efforts to ensure survival if most of America or its leaders are killed in a nuclear attack on the U.S.
Why? Can we call it the most ambitious & exciting drama project of NBC’s plate this season? Yes, we can. Based on a book not yet published, it is Robert Zemeckis produced. What is Raven Rock you’re asking? Raven Rock is a massive, classified, underground military installation in Pennsylvania (one of several secret military bunkers), which will serve as the central command post for the U.S. government in the wake of a nuclear attack. I think there’s no need to explain more: this show has to get off the ground!
UNTITLED BEATLES PROJECT
What? limited series about the Beatles that would tell the story of the greatest band of all time
Why? From the channel that brought you Smash, Sound Of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live! and The Voice of course… It seems like a no-brainer, also considering it is written by Michael Hirst, the man behind The Borgias, The Tudors & Vikings. It’s a very different beast but I’m sure he can make something great out of it. Let’s do it before movies do!
WASTELAND (Sony Pictures Television)
What? limited series about a hardened U.S. Marshal, who in the wake of a massive prison break, is charged with hunting down fugitives with supernatural powers, while unlocking the mystery of his past
Why? First, I’m not sure why this particular project is billed as a limited series since it’s a premise that could sustains for many years. Let’s make it a real drama series! Second, why is it a man at the center of the show? It’s the case of 90% of NBC’s projects and it is starting to get irritating and suspicious. Anyway, if Manhunt is not going to series, it could be a good alternative. Pairing it with Grimm is a possibility, if they are still hoping to find a companion for the friday show.
THE ZONE (ABC Studios)
What? In a present-day prison colony situated in an uninhabited area of California where there are no guards, no laws, and the prisoners are left to fend for themselves, a young woman, skilled in combat and survival, has gotten herself incarcerated so that she can find her father who went missing before his sentence was up
Why? It’s pretty clear why ABC’s chiefs decided not to keep this project for themselves. They couldn’t have paired it with anything already existing. But I still find it a little sad. They could have tried. This is an out of the box idea and they need some. On NBC, I’m not sure it’s a good fit either but it surely has a potential and this time it’s a female-lead project! Still, I don’t think they can make 22 episodes per season out of it…
BEWITCHED (Sony Pictures Television)
What? re-imagining the famed 1964-1972 series which centers on Daphne – Samantha’s granddaughter and Tabitha’s daughter – a single twentsomething witch who has always used her magical powers to conjure herself the perfect life
Why? In time of crisis -and NBC’s comedy department is in a serious one obviously- cinema and television tend to rely on established properties people already know about. So they can get publicity without even spending a dollar. As stupid as this new Bewitched sounds -and I actually don’t think it sounds that bad- NBC really should try it. Order a pilot, sign Malin Akerman for the role -or any other skilled AND blond comedy actress- and shoot the best show you can! If it really stinks, just forget about it. If it’s good, give it the best timeslot you can, advertise it a bit and just pray for a miracle!
DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS (Sony Pictures Television)
What? an irreverent family comedy about three teenage boys who are given a dad’s guide to living lives full of adventure after he passes away
Why? Sir Bryan Cranston -yeah Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston- is producing this comedy written by Greg Mottola, mostly known for his directing (Supergrave, Paul, The Newsroom recently). It looks emotional and funny, add it a Malcolm vibe of some sort. I’m not saying it can become THE comedy. But it sure can be a good one.
THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER STOLD (Universal Television)
What? a disparate group of employees working at a big-box store in Middle America and the love stories that ultimately will unfold among them
Why? Apart from winning the price of “the most pretentious title” of the season, this comedy from writer Justin Spitzer (The Office) is trying something kind of new: mixing the workplace comedy style with the romantic/friendship one. Friends meets The Office. Interesting. I wouldn’t bet a lot on it though…
HOSPITALITY (Universal Television)
What? multi-camera comedy which would air live every week, set in a midtown Manhattan hotel and focuses on the hospitality staff
Why? Will & Grace days are long gone now. It’s one of the few recent shows that made a couple of live episodes, on NBC already. Sean Hayes was part of it, as an actor. He witnessed the process. And now he is much more a producer (he’s behind Hot In Cleveland and Grimm) and he’s offering to do that live episode thing every week. It is coming back to the roots of television. It is a crazy idea but a damn exciting one! If NBC can budget it and order it, Hospitality can really make noise and motivate people to watch live. Imagine it behind The Voice live performances. They can really make a difference here!
THE IT CROWD (Warner Bros. Television)
What? import of the U.K. series, about two IT nerds stuck in the basement of a major corporation who know nothing about how to interact with people, and their newly installed, ambitious female manager, who knows nothing about computers
Why? Just before The Big Bang Theory became a hit for CBS, before geeks became a thing on fiction, NBC worked on the adaptation of The IT Crowd and even shot a pilot with Joel McHale (who became one year later the star of Community) and Jessica St. Clair. It was even ordered to series before NBC decided to call the whole thing off for mysterious reasons. Now, they want to try it again, with new writers and Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) attached as a producer. It’s probably too little too late but it’s worth a try.
TELENOVELA (Universal Television)
What? an ambitious telenovela star who struggles to stay on top in a world where the drama on-camera is nothing compared to the drama off-camera
Why? NBC still has the bad habit to order shows where television and its messy behind-the-scenes are dealt with every week, even when this is not the major plot point. For one great 30 Rock who was all about it, we had so-so Up All Night, Go On, The New Normal and The Michael J. Fox show, who mixed it with family or romantic elements. Nobody cared about it. Here it’s just television and behind the scenes. And it is a vehicle designed for and by Eva Longoria, whose return to television can be a real event. She’s still very popular. It’s a better option than Kate On Later, a project starring Lauren Graham (we love her, that’s not the point) about the female anchor of a late show. Something that doesn’t exist in real life at this point, sadly.
TUNED (Universal Television)
What? an ambitious New Yorker whose life is upended by sudden musical hallucinations; while these vivid hallucinations threaten to completely derail his enviable life, he’ll eventually realize that they might lead him on a more fulfilling journey
Why? Eva Longoria is also producing this project, with the delicious Zachary Levi attached to star. This man can do everything, especially singing (Remember his voice in animated movie Tangled). Just for the pleasure of seeing him every week doing its magic, Tuned is an exciting project. The story reminds me of Eli Stone, an ABC’s legal dramedy from a few years ago (which was good). A comedy format is probably better suited for that kind of idea.
UNTITLED AISHA MUHARRAR PROJECT (Universal Television)
What? a young, agnostic woman inherits a church and the crew of strong-willed characters makes up her new community
Why? Parks And Recreation is coming to an end this year, and NBC definitely needs some more Amy Poehler in its schedule (even if her ratings suck). She’s producing this one and probably don’t plan to have a role in it -except for a guest stint- but it sounds different enough. If they can make it less “niche” than Parks -meaning no mockumentary format- maybe people could get excited about it. I am. If it’s too good for them, just pull an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!
UNTITLED BILL COSBY PROJECT (Sony Pictures Television)
What? multi-camera comedy about a patriarch of a multi-generational family who shares his many years of wit, wisdom and experience to help his daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren navigate their complicated modern lives
Why? This project won’t make it to pilot nor to series for very good reasons we all know about (for those who weirdly don’t: Bill Cosby is in the middle of a multiple rapes scandal). NBC officially announced the cancellation a few weeks ago and obviously made the right call. Still, it had potential. The potential to become the Modern Family of NBC. That won’t happen now. And we won’t cry over it.
THE WALK-UP (Universal Television)
What? multi-camera comedy about two 30-something couples – one with a baby on the way – who decide to buy and live in a Brooklyn brownstone together, creating their own version of the modern urban family
Why? The idea of a pilot season without a project from Jason Katims is atrocious, all the more with Parenthood ending and About a boy probably getting canceled. So there’s that. Plus, this premise is interesting, especially for a multi-camera show. It sounds warm. It needs to be funny too. With the right actors, there’s the potential to do something great. Fingers already crossed!