It’s the primary week of May, which is often when Deadline does its remaining handicapping of the brand new crop of broadcast pilots’ pickup adjustments. As the TV business — and the nation — are beginning to see the primary indicators of a return to normalcy, the printed networks are gearing up for the upfronts, of their normal timeframe simply two weeks away. However, the pilot analysis course of is something however typical this 12 months after the 2020 pilot cycle was delayed by the pandemic, so we see 2020 pilots being screened alongside 2021 ones and pilot-to-series orders being handed out alongside straight-to-series pickups and off-cycle pilot inexperienced lights.
It is dangerous making an attempt to make any predictions this 12 months, however, maintaining a Deadline custom, here’s what I hear is occurring on the 5 broadcast networks.
ABC, which had a prime government change mid-development cycle, with Hulu’s Craig Erwich taking on programming, has ordered essentially the most new 2021 pilots of any broadcast community. That contains dramas Acts of Crime, Dark Horse, Epic, Promised Land, National Parks (developed final cycle) and Queens, along with off-cycle pilot Triage.
On the comedy aspect, ABC this 12 months ordered the multi-camera Black Don’t Crack and Bucktown, and single-camera The Wonder Years reboot, Abbot Elementary (fka Untitled Quinta Brunson) and Maggie, joined by Adopted, rolled over from final 12 months.
The community, which is beginning inner screenings this week, already made one big decision, passing on multi-camera comedy starring Alec Baldwin and Kelsey Grammer, which had a straight-to-series order, after seeing the pilot.
The Wonder Years reboot, from Saladin Patterson, the unique sequence’ Fred Savage and Lee Daniels, has been red-hot heading into the screenings. Drama Queens, headlined by Brandy, Eve, Naturi Naughton, Nadine Velazquez and Pepi Sonuga, additionally has been an early standout. While I hear an early minimize didn’t fairly ship on the very excessive expectations set by the script and A-list casting, the pilot nonetheless stays the one to beat on the drama aspect.
Medical drama pilot Triage, instructed in three completely different time frames, has been on a special trajectory. Considered an extended shot after its first minimize didn’t fare properly and was deemed a bit complicated, a recut has modified the mission’s fortunes by testing properly, placing the drama in critical rivalry.
Three high-profile drama pilots, the fairytale-themed Epic, government produced by Once Upon a Time creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, Promised Land and Dark Horse are on a special observe and shall be filmed for post-upfront consideration, possible for midseason. National Parks, government produced by Kevin Costner, is wrapping taking pictures and likewise received’t be prepared earlier than the upfronts however is getting some pickup buzz.
Of the comedy pilots, Quinta Brunson’s Abbot Elementary has been choosing up momentum and appears excellent in the mean time. Also stated to be in rivalry are Black Don’t Crack and Bucktown, with Maggie thought-about a darkish horse.
CBS has began screening its pilots, however in a much less formal manner than the company affair of CBS screenings previous. Already seen internally are the 2 hourlong pilots, initially ordered final season and produced in early 2021, medical drama Good Sam, headlined by Sophia Bush, and political drama Ways & Means, starring Patrick Dempsey. Both have obtained strong suggestions as properly executed pilots.
Good Sam, by which Bush performs a surgeon, is taken into account a robust contender as CBS has been searching for a medical franchise. Meanwhile, Ways & Means is headlined by an actor well-known for his function as a surgeon, Grey’s Anatomy alum Dempsey, who’s again within the zeitgeist together with his shock return to ABC’s venerable medical drama for an arc this season.
Dempsey performs a robust congressional chief in Ways & Means, which was ordered to pilot within the early phases of the 2020 primaries when politics was very a lot on all people’s thoughts. Fifteen months later, after a grueling Presidential marketing campaign and two impeachment trials amid a pandemic, there seems to be some political fatigue, which can impression the mission’s prospects, together with its skill to promote internationally. That is essential for owned sequence — which each Good Sam and Ways & Means are — within the present broadcast enterprise atmosphere. Still, few can dispute the key attraction of bringing Dempsey again to the small display screen, particularly post-Grey’s return.
CBS doesn’t have massive drama wants for subsequent season. It is dropping two long-running dramas, NCIS: New Orleans and MacGyver, that are ending this season, however it additionally has picked up straight-to-series three franchise drama spinoffs with robust worldwide distribution potential for subsequent season, CSI: Vegas, NCIS: Hawai’i and FBI: International. And extremely rated freshman Equalizer already has been renewed for subsequent season.
Additionally, CBS has signaled a shift towards extra balanced schedule meaning taking some actual property from scripted sequence for unscripted content material.
The one 2020 comedy pilot, which was shot in 2021, Welcome To Georgia, starring Hannah Simone and Elizabeth Hurley, seems 50-50 in the mean time, getting a lift by robust testing, I hear. In March, CBS picked up Ghosts to sequence whereas releasing the solid of The Three Of Us, significantly diminishing the mission’s pickup probabilities.
Since CBS’ 2021 pilot orders got here in later than normal due to the pandemic, to have its newly picked up comedy pilots prepared in time for the upfront, CBS ordered them as displays. They haven’t been screened but. The multi-camera Untitled Tom Smallwood mission, primarily based on the professional bowler’s life and starring Pete Holmes, is getting strong early buzz as a simple match into the normal CBS’ comedy model.
Also a possible straightforward match can be the Kelsey Grammer-Alec Baldwin multi-camera comedy, which was just lately handed on by ABC and is being shopped, with CBS expressing curiosity, I hear.
The untitled Sarah Cooper/Cindy Chupack single-camera comedy, which has three feminine leads and tackles gender politics, is extra of a departure from what CBS is thought for within the comedy area however is taken into account a strong contender if the community decides to take a swing.
Fox final week gave a sequence order to the pilot that had been garnering essentially the most buzz the previous few weeks, The Big Leap. The ballet dramedy, starring Scott Foley and Teri Polo, had already been hiring writers. Of the remainder, comedy Pivoting and drama The Cleaning Lady, which is making if-come affords to writers, are thought-about presumably the strongest contenders, with Blood Relative additionally strong. The Goonies Reenactment Project has inner help although I hear it could play a bit of too younger for Fox.
Fox just lately gave a straight-to-series order to one of many dramas it had opened a writers room for as a part of a brand new improvement mannequin that bypasses the pilot stage, Our Kind of People. I hear the opposite, the Country Music Dynasty drama, is also nearing a sequence order.
Additionally, I hear Fox is zeroing in on its first pilot order of 2021, for drama adaptation of Ben H. Winters’ sci-fi thriller novel The Last Policeman, from Kyle Killen.
There can be buzz surrounding single-camera comedy Bren Rents, primarily based on the British sequence, Stath Lets Flats, for a possible presentation order. I hear Fox might make the majority of its comedy selections after the upfronts. The community has one new live-action comedy on deck for subsequent season, This Country, additionally primarily based on a UK format.
NBC is in essentially the most unconventional state of affairs of the key broadcast networks. It has no 2020 pilots that it had not decided on — it just lately picked as much as sequence its remaining pilots, dramas Ordinary Joe in addition to Langdon, which moved to streaming sibling Peacock, and comedies American Auto and Grand Crew.
The community received’t have any new 2021 pilots prepared for upfront consideration. NBC, which like ABC underwent a prime government change, with Susan Rovner taking oversight of the community’s programming, didn’t make its orders — for dramas Getaway and Untitled Nick Wootton/Jake Coburn Project and comedies Hungry and Someone Out There — till mid-April. Of them, just one, Hungry, is actively casting, and the method is in very early phases, so the tasks received’t be factored into NBC’s fall 2021 plans.
But the community could have a minimum of one different new scripted sequence for subsequent season past Ordinary Joe and La Brea, which was picked up straight-to-series. After including Law & Order: Organized Crime to its lineup this season, NBC is increasing the traditional Dick Wolf franchise additional, with a new series, Law & Order: For the Defense, on which Wolf has teamed with former CSI showrunner Carol Mendelsohn.
On the pilot entrance, NBC is closing in on a pickup of a Night Court sequel starring starring Melissa Rauch as Harry Stone’s daughter and John Larroquette reprising his function. In drama, I hear the community is eyeing a pilot order for Dangerous Moms, primarily based on a Spanish format, a criminal offense farce evoking Desperate Housewives.
The CW already gave a straight-to-series order to considered one of its scripts from this season, The 4400, a reboot of the 2004 USA Network sequence. That leaves three conventional pilots in rivalry for a sequence order, all from A-list auspices, Diablo Cody and Berlanti Prods.’ Powerpuff; Ava DuVernay’s DC-themed Naomi; and millennial nun dramedy Our Ladies Of Brooklyn from Jennie Snyder Urman.
All three pilots have been solid and are in numerous phases of manufacturing however none has been delivered but. With its massive popular culture profile, Powerpuff has a leg up, as evidenced by the large social media response to all solid bulletins and first-look photos. Both Powerpuff and Naomi have leads which can be creating buzz internally (and past) and each have robust underlying IP whereas the idea for Our Ladies is on the market, however so was the premise of Urman’s hit for the community, Jane the Virgin. And whereas Powerpuff does have a slight edge primarily based on its beloved IP pedigree and recognizable solid, all three pilots are strong contenders and will probably get picked up. It will come all the way down to execution.
Of the three CW backdoor pilots, All American: Homecoming, Nancy Drew offshoot Tom Swift and Black Lightning spinoff Painkiller, solely Painkiller has aired. All American: Homecoming has the strongest buzz, largely as a result of its mothership sequence is red-hot in the mean time because the CW’s highest-rated sequence within the demo in linear viewing and prime draw on digital each throughout CW platforms and on Netflix. Homecoming and Painkiller have a bonus as a result of their backdoor pilots showcase the world of the potential new sequence and the core solid, whereas Tom Swift is a personality that may seem in a Nancy Drew episode, so the community brass must additionally depend on the ordered pilot script. Depending how robust the three conventional pilots come, the CW may choose up a number of of the backdoor ones. (And for these nonetheless holding out hope for the potential The 100 prequel, which was launched as a part of the survival drama’s remaining season, there was little motion however the mission is just not lifeless but and nonetheless a chance for a joint run on the CW and HBO Max.)