Author Topic: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition  (Read 10921 times)

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Offline RottingCorpse

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Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« on: February 14, 2006, 10:17:33 AM »
July and August is pilot shooting season out in L.A. which means all the scripts are getting polished right now. What Lost, BSG, and Commander in Chief rip-offs can we expect this year? Read on:

Quote from: Ain't It Cool News
* “JERICHO” (CBS): A small Kansas town is cut off from the rest of the world when a sudden nuclear war makes all the big towns evaporate.

* “HEROES” (ABC): People all over the world begin to discover that they have super-powers.

* “A HOUSE DIVIDED” (ABC): A liberal Democrat is elected president (making this the most unlikely of the sci-fi premises discussed here) and a red state (Kansas again!) secedes from the union, precipitating The American Civil War II!

* “UNTITLED ZOMBIE PROJECT” (FOX): An apparent “homage” to “Dawn of the Dead” from Kevin Williamson, the “genius” screenwriter who gave us “Dawson’s Creek,” “Glory Days,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” the first two “Scream” movies, “Cursed” and “Teaching Mrs. Tingle.”


And more details:

Quote from: Ain't It Cool News
Thought I'd drop word on what's worth getting excited about for the next television season. And there are things worth getting excited about. I thought we'd first take a look at the pilot scripts that hit the sci-fi/horror/supernatural vein pretty hard, since we're all geek addicts, and that stuff is our heroin.
Of course the breakout hit two years ago was "Lost". It's about people on and island. Weird stuff happens to them. Maybe you've heard about it. Last year, the rush to copy the breakout hit brought us "Threshold", "Invasion", "Surface", all of which I'm pretty sure are no longer with us. So why did "Lost" work and those shows didn't? They all had spooky stuff. Lost has spooky stuff. Bummer.

So you'd think the networks apparent failure to clone "Lost" would scare them off high-concept genre programming for at least another season. Well, think again. It seems the problem wasn't that the shows were too out there--it's that they weren't Highy-Concepty enough. What trumps "spooky mystery island" in one sentence? How about the END OF THE FUCKIN' WORLD? That's right, each television network is hoping you'll plunk your ass down for an hour this fall and watch their version of the Apocalypse.

Apocalyptic Scenario No 1: Nuclear War

"Jericho" - Network: CBS
Writer: Steven Chbosky (The Perks of Being A Wallflower)
Odds You'll Be Seeing It On The Air: 50/50

Our young protagonist returns to his incredibly isolated hometown, Jericho, tucked neatly away in Kansas, where he reconciles with his estranged brother, father/town mayor, and the now-engaged-to-someone-else girl he left behind. Life is good in this small, cozy slice-of-Americana.

And then, on the eve of the President's State of the Union address, the country gets blown up. Oops. Mushroom clouds over Boulder, Atlanta (the only two confirmed in the pilot, but things aren't looking good), but Jericho remains. It's citizens, however, are starting to go a little nuts. But, I mean, who wouldn't?

The entire pilot takes place on the first night, and it's jam-packed with end-of-the-world goodness. A bus crash. Missing children. A crazy old coot with a CB radio. A new resident with a secret. Escaped prisoners. Geiger counters. On-screen amateur tracheotomy. All topped off with some solid Lost-style characterization.
Sure it's a nuclear war, but not the messy kind. It might as well have been an alien invasion, or conveniently dispersed asteroids that wiped out America. No skin peeling off or hair falling out of flipper babies here. But who wants to see that anyway? The nukes aren't what's important. What's important is that the people of Jericho are alone, cut off from everything else, and are going to have to learn to survive together. I know, sounds familiar. But it works. My favorite drama pilot of the year.

Apocalyptic Scenario #2: Superhuman Evolution

"Heroes" - Network: NBC
Writer: Tim Kring (Crossing Jordan)
Odds You'll Be Seeing It In The Fall: 100%

There are no absolutes when it comes to pilot-to-series guarantee. Unless you're Aaron Sorkin. But "Heroes" is about as safe a bet as you can make. Why?
In Manhattan, a male nurse in his mid-30s dreams he can fly. In Texas, a perky teenage cheerleader throws herself off a cliff and bemusedly watches as her bones snap back together. In Utah, a death-row inmate wakes up each morning on the outside of his cell. In Japan, an office drone believes he can alter the space-time continuum.

That's just half the cast. I didn't include the psychic artist or the stripper with a killer reflection. Or the Indian professor, trying to piece it all together. Or the priest, who...well, he's bad news. Strange things are happening all over the world to seemingly random people. Some connections are made. Some don't connect at all. Yet.

"Heroes" is BIG. Globe-spanning. Every character's story is compelling enough to stand on its own. Put 'em together and you've got a two-hour pilot script feels like a feature. And after a summer comic-book film feast courtesy of X-Men 3 and Superman Returns, these non spandex-clad "Heroes" are going to be the delicious soft-serve ice cream bar with unlimited toppings. And hot fudge.

Oh, and by the end of the pilot, it's clear that the emergence of our "Heroes" might not be the best thing for the rest of us non-Tomorrow People.
Two more tidbits: Best line - Disbelieving Japanese co-worker: "We are not special! We are Japanese!"

And to those who shun any sort of superhero-related project that doesn't give props to its comic book inspiration, the script is chock full of gorgeous illustrations by famed artist Tim Sale, and one hopes they'll be incorporated into the show somehow.

Apocalyptic Scenario #3: American Civil War - Part Deux!
"A House Divided" - Network: ABC
Writer: Andrew David Chapman
Odds You'll Be Seeing it in the Fall: I'll put this one at 30%.

In the near-future, the unthinkable has happened. A Liberal President is back in power. How liberal? Well, he's raised taxes to the point where Middle America has had just about enough. A small group of farmers have decided "Hell No!" They're not paying anymore. One of these farmers, a good-natured retired Gulf War II vet, just trying to get by and raise his family, through a series of highly believable government mishaps, and the manipulations of a well-stocked Kansas militia, ends up becoming the head of this escalating conflict. As the pilot ends, Northern Kansas succeeds from the United States.

What's great about "House" is that my one-paragraph summary barely scratches the surface of what's going on in this pilot. Once I was done reading it, I realized I had no idea where I really stood in this hypothetical conflict. There is no right side and wrong side in this one. It's complicated. It's relevant. It's worth having on the air, just so the angry talking heads on cable news have something in Hollywood to bloviate about once Brokeback-mania dies down. It's incendiary stuff, and it's solid, powerful writing.

It's going to take some ABC execs with brass ones to risk throwing this one on the air. But the free media exposure it's going to get is going to make even Matt Drudge forget that Geena Davis was once the President.

Apocalyptic Scenario #4 - Cannibal Holocaust

"Untitled Zombie Project" - Network: FOX
Writer: Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek, Scream)
Odds You'll Be Seeing It In Fall: 0%

A hazy Los Angeles morning. A small earthquake rattles you from your bed. You walk out to your car and find that a thick yellow dust of unknown origin has settled all over the city. A few hours later, people start acting strangely. Even for LA. Soon, you find yourself in a city gone insane, trying to escape your zombie-infested office building or college campus or, yes, finally, a preschool.
From what I've heard this project is as dead as the zombies brain-munching their way through Los Angeles in Kevin Williamson's awesome script. I guess network TV isn't ready for Heather Graham or disease-ridden flesh-eating pre-schoolers. I know I am though, and so are the millions of other people who are probably salivating to learn that America came close this year to getting it's first ongoing zombie serial.

I know Kevin Williamson doesn't probably seem like the first guy you'd go to for zombie horror, but damned if he's not the man for the job. What's UZP like? Remember the first fifteen minutes of 2004's "Dawn of the Dead" remake? Stretch that into an hour, ratchet up the intensity, and you've got UZP in a nutshell. So yeah, the answer to the million dollar question - Fast Zombies.
Structured in the multi-character format that's become so popular, Williamson delivers us some solid character work in the first fifteen minutes, and then let's us watch them run for their lives from the walking (running) dead.

In the end, our survivors, made up of a healthy stable of zombie-movie players (A cop, a criminal, two teenagers, a cute kid, a homeless guy, a Korean Woman with an arsenal, and our strong, reserved, tortured protagonist. And the Professor and Mary-Ann) all take refuge in the USC Coliseum, and we're left waiting to see what happens next. And there's a conspiracy afoot as to what caused this outbreak, involving a group of safely bunkered scientists. It's not terribly original, but it's a helluva ride.

And I doubt it'll ever get made. Pity too. If Fox doesn't think there's an audience for this, they're out of their Prison-Breakin' minds.

Well, that's it for Network Apocalypse Dramas '06. There's still People On The Run From Government Conspiracy Dramas, Cops With Quirky Abilities Dramas, and Sexy Secrets in the Suburbs Dramas. Again, at least one for each network. I guess this says something about the networks views on the zeitgeist of America. Of course, they also think we want a new Paul Reiser sitcom (wacky used car salesmen!).

Offline nacho

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2006, 10:37:55 AM »
Except for Heroes, they all sound great!

Heroes, it just makes me think of Monty Python for some reason.  Bicycle Repairman, where are you?

But Civil War?  Rock out.  That's not a ripoff.  Well, it is, except it's a great twist.  Act one:  The ripoff.  Act two: WARCHILD!

Jericho is much anticipated.  If you would like to see Jericho, almost scene for scene, I suggest you put Testament on your queue.  Except Testament is pitiful, 80's bullshit...and they all die.  The way Jericho has borrowed those characters and even the situations listed there is shameless and painful.

Guess the rights to Alas, Babylon were too expensive.


Offline Matt

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2006, 01:29:31 PM »
Really? If Heroes is handled properly, it could kick ass. Kind of like J. Michael Straczsynskis's Rising Stars series.

Offline Nubbins

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2006, 03:09:10 PM »
Really? If Heroes is handled properly, it could kick ass. Kind of like J. Michael Straczsynskis's Rising Stars series.

Or... the Greatest American Hero!

God, I loved that show when I was a kid.
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Offline nacho

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2006, 03:14:00 PM »


Or... the Greatest American Hero!

God, I loved that show when I was a kid.

Oh, man, I'm plowing through the second season right now on Netflix.  Bought the first season set.

The second season is hilarious.  I forgot how well put together the show was... Just that charming, cute writing...but all of Robert Culp's gags still get me laughing out loud.  And the way they treat his character -- he gets hurt in every episode, from a splinter to a bullet.  There are a bunch of running jokes like that I forgot about about.

And the great Faye Grant got a big role in the second season.  I didn't remember the kids at all... Faye went on to lead in V.  She's just so cute.

But fuck that, she's eclipsed by Selleca.  My god was she a babe.  But the second season dropped her banter with Culp, which is why I think it's improved.  Culp's more of the comic Greek chorus/goober everyman when he doesn't have anyone to bounce off of.  And that's where he masterful.

Yeah, amazing nostalgia trip.  Queue them up, man.  It really is surprising how well they hold water, for the most part.


Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2006, 03:58:20 PM »
"Heroes" ultimately morphs into Justice League (or X-Men) by season three and becomes stupid. Plus, I'd argue that live action superheroes on TV don't have a very good track record. I submit these exhibits: Spider-Man (1979), The Flash, Witchblade, GAH. Even the Incredible Hulk only lasted what? Three or four seasons?

Offline nacho

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2006, 04:07:39 PM »
Boy, four years is pretty good!  You think Heroes will even see a third season?  It's dead in one.  So are all of those, really.  More than a year of trapped in zombietown, USA?  Atomtown?  Bloody Kansas? 

BSG can't even steer through 22 episodes and it's one of the greatest dramas on TV, guided by fierce devotion, blind luck and mountains of cocaine.  Some throwaway network cash-in doesn't even have good graces to carry it through its birthing.  All three of those are feeding frenzy ideas. 

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2006, 04:20:47 PM »
"A House Divided" does seem like the best idea in terms of longevity. Hell, just use the U.S. Civil War as a template. Make one year = one season and you're good for at least six years, and that's just the fighting. You could have the first three seasons just be build up.


Offline nacho

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2006, 04:43:53 PM »
Seeing Faye in Greatest American and reading news about the new V has me hungry for a properly done V: The Series.  Ken Johnson's original idea was just beautiful.  Nazi-like occupation, tiny resistance movement constantly struggling against them, feeble hope that a greater power would wade in and fight. 

But, yes, House has the most promise.  You really could spend a few seasons just building up.  But the description sounds like they're going to rush to the action for the sake of the pilot...which is a shame.  That means the series will just be slogging it out through the "war."

Offline Matt

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2006, 07:45:28 PM »
BSG can't even steer through 22 episodes and it's one of the greatest dramas on TV, guided by fierce devotion, blind luck and mountains of cocaine.  Some throwaway network cash-in doesn't even have good graces to carry it through its birthing.  All three of those are feeding frenzy ideas. 

Dude, stop knocking on BSG. They tripped up. For the first time. In terms of batting average, this is like, what, .965? Not counting the miniseries, even. Fine, let's lump "Scars" and "Black Market" together... .931. Most TV shows would kill to have that hit/miss ratio. Get your Cylon shit together and have some faith.

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2006, 08:05:38 PM »
Oh, not really knocking on it.  I have an overall problem with the 20+ episode seasons.  I think it ruins shows.  BSG is the best show in history. I believe that.  But with the demand for long seasons (Lost has just announced that it'll be running an "extra long" season, due to popular demand, for example) we're killing these shows.  Black Market and Scar, for "bad episodes," are still better than 99% of the shit out there...but those episodes are slight cracks in that otherwise perfect track record.  I don't think there would be any cracks with a 10-15 episode run.

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2006, 12:30:56 PM »
More on that show, "Heroes." The pilot is filmed and there's pictures. I might give the initial episode a chance . . . just to see.

http://www.superherohype.com/news/featuresnews.php?id=4249
« Last Edit: June 23, 2006, 08:28:17 PM by RottingCorpse »

Offline Matt

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2006, 01:33:50 PM »
Me too. I really want it to work.

I also really wanted The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to work too.

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2006, 05:24:32 PM »
Man, League pissed me off!  Dorian was supposed to be blond.  He's made of ivory and gold goddamnit.  GOLD.  Not um...hehe...ebony!
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Offline Cassander

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Re: Fall TV Pilots: The '06 Edition
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2006, 07:08:06 PM »
what pissed me off is that Dorian's not IN THE FUCKING COMIC
You ain't a has been if you never was.