This featured article is one of a series in which pilots each of the networks have ordered to series for the coming fall schedule are listed in detail. Skip to the bottom to find links to others and more information.
I began this series by detailing what new shows NBC has ordered for the coming fall season. Probably the most interesting news for us and the most exciting news for fans was that a spinoff of sorts is in the works for Heroes. NBC hasn't been terribly clear about whether or not this limited run (6 episodes) series will actually air on NBC, or NBC's website -- I've read that both are true, but obviously they both can't be.
Now it's time to take an inside look at what ABC has in store for viewers, and we already know that the Grey's Anatomy spinoff is a virtual lock. Beyond that, the numbers as I see them today are this: 4 new sitcoms, 7 dramas, and 1 reality show for a total of 12 new series.
Once again, this only offers a look inside new series, not those that have been renewed. As was previously the case, you can skip to a particular genre if you'd like (Sitcom, Drama, Reality) or take them one at a time.
As is the case with sitcoms, the setup only really matters if it's fertile ground for telling jokes about everyday life. In the case of McCullouch's show, Carpoolers is about four guys from the burbs who "obsess, dream, and strategize as they rocket their way up and down the carpool lane every day," according to the press release, and the daily trip to work is the jumping off point for each episode.
McCulloch is a former writer for SNL (before I was born, if that tells you something) that turned to acting (Kids in the Hall) for most of his career. Since you can't write sitcoms alone like you can dramas, the success of the show lay within the EP's ability to get a good cast and writing staff together, and keep them cooking for a good long time, as opposed to having inherent comedy writing skills personally. If McCulloch has those talents, this may be a good show, but his traditional roots as an actor rather than a writer (time between SNL and 'Kids' writing gigs: 13 years) may be a cause for concern. There are however a number of other EP's attached for this, due likely to McCulloch's inexperience running a show.
synopsis: A group of guys who carpool to work together from their suburban homes.
This series is literally based on the Geico car insurance commercial featuring cavemen, and yes, somebody actually greenlit this. I know it's tempting to believe that big-wig execs are just throwing darts at scripts on the wall (rumor is this has been known to actually happen) and you know what? Probably true. An early preview from AICN absolutely smashed this thing as a half-hour long TV commercial, without the product. This will undoubtedly be ABC's first casualty.
I couldn't find any information about who Joe Lawson is, which probably means he's not a real executive producer; he's probably someone from Geico who was attached to get the rights. As far as imdb.com is concerned, this man has no history in the business at all. There are a number of other people attached as EP's, but this show is hardly worth trying to dig up. It was a stupid idea from the moment it popped into somebody's brain, and it hasn't gotten any brighter since.
synopsis: A trio of Neanderthals struggle to live in modern day America. Based on the characters featured in a series of television ads for Geico Insurance.
Mistake #1: being cute with the title. Mistake #2: I'm sure there will be plenty to fill this space eventually. This show is based in a highschool where two former students (one female underachiever, one female very popular) return to the school in the unlikely scenario to work there. Insert silly competition for love interests and whatnot here.
It is notable that this show is "produced" by Ashton Kutcher, which only means his play-company is running the gig. The creator, Gabrielle Allan, on the other hand, used to be a co-exec on Scrubs, which gives her major street cred in my opinion. On top of that, she can write too. If she can put together a competent staff, this series may live on for 2-3 years.
synopsis: A single-camera comedy centered on a woman (Greer) who returns to her high school alma mater to become a guidance counselor.
Title sounds a bit ominous, doesn't it? Might have been a better fit for a serial killer drama. Anyway, this comedy marks the return of Christina Applegate to TV land as a star, but also as a producer (unfortunate.) Ahern and Todd have virtually no writing experience, and in the case of Ahern, no producing experience either. Makes me wonder just how the heck they got in the studios door, much less got a pilot and series ordered.
If I didn't know better, I'd say the only thing that got this off the ground was Applegate, and if the only talent this series treads on is hers, it's screwed. I hate to say that, but it's true. Sitcoms require a very competent and tough headed staff to write, you can't put a random staff together and expect it to all work out. That aside, the premise sounds shockingly like a drama. The star is hit by a car, loses her memory, and gets the nagging feeling that everyone -- including her own family -- is hiding something from her. This is supposed to be a sitcom? What? (note: I just figured this out -- Ahern is a novelist, I doubt she'll have anything to do with the series creatively. The title is probably just to secure payment perks.)
synopsis: A psychiatrist suffers from amnesia and is forced to find out who she really is.
Feldman has worked as an EP on Dawson's Creek, The Wonder Years, and short lived Tru Calling with interspersed writing gigs in between. This series follows the personal and professional exploits of four CEOs who "will do anything to stay on top", featuring a nymphomaniac amongst them. A powerful rich CEO that is young enough to have a sex drive worth speaking of, much less a nympho? Stretching things a bit far, aren't we?
I'm not real huge on actors in general, so I don't recognize any of the casts names, definitely no feature stars helping to launch this drama, and based on what I've read, it's going to desperately need any help it can get.
From veteran writer/producer Darren Star, written by feature scribe Kevin Wade. Saying that Star is a TV veteran is an understatement, he's listed as the creator of seven different series, including the wildly successful Sex and the City, and the long-lived Beverly Hills, 90210, and Melrose Place. Star has four other series under his belt that failed to air as many episodes combined as did Sex and the City all by itself, which wasn't even a third of Melrose.
Mafia seems to be an aimless character driven drama, pretty standard fair for a Darren Star production, but one that is notable for counting feature film actress Lucy Liu amongst the main cast. That however, is no guarantee of success. It sounds very much like a cross between Sex and Melrose, the kind of show you just don't see anymore. Maybe Star will start a revival.
synopsis: A group of successful female executives who have been friends since college turn to each other for guidance as they juggle their careers with family in New York City.
Wright is moving up the ranks from supervising producer of ABC's Lost to helm his own show this year. He's credited with having written six episodes of Six Feet Under, two for Lost, and another series I'm not familiar with called Brothers & Sisters.
Given that Wright has never served as an executive producer before, it goes without saying that his past as a series helmer is nonexistent. His rapid rise through the ranks from writer in 2003 to creator/EP this year means he's probably got some decent talent, and may be on the verge of becoming the next J.J. Abrams for all we know.
Dirty Sexy Money counts veteran Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin in what looks to be some sort of legal drama that places a good-guy lawyer in charge of looking after a rich spoiled family in New York.
synopsis: A lawyer is forced to take care of one of New York City's wealthiest families.
Of all the series most anticipated and likely to succeed, this one probably needs the least explaining. Marti Noxon has an interesting history in the business, working on and writing for shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Prison Break, and of course Grey's Anatomy. She is now branching off to write for Private Practice, along with Grey's scribe and creator Shonda Rhimes. The new drama will be run by Grey'sBetsy Beers.
A bit of forewarning; the previous "most anticipated new drama" was Studio 60. A-list talent and anticipation doesn't guarantee success. If you can't produce, you're history.
synopsis: A spinoff of the medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" centering on the life of neonatal surgeon Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh).
Now this is interesting and unfortunate for Heroes fans, because this is Bryan Fullers pilot, which means he'll be leaving Heroes immediately. He knew this was a possibility and has talked about it in recent interviews. In fact, this pilot prevented him from participating in any of the last three episodes of Heroes finale. This series and ABC should consider themselves very lucky to have him.
As for the show itself, the plot goes something like this: Guy discovers as a child he can bring anyone back to life (temporarily) just by touching them. As an adult, he uses his power to solve crimes and stuff by getting information directly from murder victims about their crimes, until he brings his childhood sweetheart back to life. She somehow stays alive unlike the others, but he can't touch her, or she's dead again. Got it? Great.
synopsis: A man has the power to bring dead people back to life.
Fain and Craft are a writing team, they share almost identical credits, which to say isn't terribly much. The show has scored feature director Brett Ratner as an EP (dear God, why?) Based on books by James Patterson, this series follows a female detective that apparently doesn't like men, and assembles a female-only group of law enforcement people to investigate and prosecute crimes.
Sounds like a real snoozer, which makes sense when you remember it came from a book. That's exactly where they should have left it though.
synopsis: A homicide detective, a medical examiner, a newspaper reporter and a young assistant district attorney work together to solve homicide investigations. Based on a book by James Patterson.
There isn't much to a reality show. Premise: take X amount of money to begin with, multiply it as many times as you can, so you can give it away in the most sensational way possible. In other words, one of the richest women on earth is turning charity into a game show. Disgusting.
synopsis: A reality series in which 10 contestants are given the money and resources to find ways to help other people. The eventual winner has her or his wildest wish granted.
That wraps it up for ABC, and it doesn't look like they are taking very many risks here. Lost is crashing hard and will probably be off the air next year. Private Practice isn't much of a gamble, yet it's not a guaranteed success either. The things spread in between feel fairly week, which is normal I suppose. Networks probably figure they'll only get one good show out of the bunch, maybe two if they are lucky.
I'm pulling for Bryan Fuller's new show since his history is solid, and I'd hate to see it sink after he gave up a gig like Heroes. ABC's upfront is today, so I'll update this sheet as I did with NBC to reflect the time slots for these new shows when that information becomes available. Check out the other articles in this series below, as they go live.
Update: Tuesday, 5PM Looks like I didn't miss a beat here, all of these shows were announced at ABC's presentation today. I'll update the time slots, and here's a list of shows that according to TV.com have been renewed: Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Ugly Betty, Boston Legal, Brothers & Sisters, Men in Trees, Dancing with the Stars, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Bachelor/Supernanny, America's Funniest Home Videos, Wife Swap, Jimmy Kimmel Live, October Road, Notes from the Underbelly, 20/20, Saturday Night College Football.
This featured article is one of a series in which pilots each of the networks have ordered to series for the coming fall schedule are listed in detail. As each network takes their turn making official "upfront" announcements this coming week (May 14-17) these pages may be updated at any time. Much of this information has been gathered from outside sources. A huge thanks to The Futon Critic for making their development tracker available to the public. Without it, this series would not even be possible.
Part 1: NBC, Part 2: ABC, Part 3: CBS, Part 4: FOX. (links will go live as new parts become available.)