Unfortunately, Deadline.com‘s all-star reporter Nellie Andreeva only covers the broadcast TV pilot season (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX). For example, in her blog post on Tuesday, March 8th 2011, Andreeva “takes an analytical look at the current broadcast pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.” As you may have noticed, many of the monkeys are not content with the programming of the masses and have a strong appetite for cable television. Therefore, we have asked Nellie to post a parallel article relating to the cable pilots below:
PILOT SEASON: Similarities and Congruences
Part of a series that takes an analytical look at the current cable pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.
Unlike broadcast, cable TV can be out there. Way out there. For these smaller networks it’s more about holding onto their niche audiences than appealing to the masses. This gives the cable pilot season a unique range with limited trends. However, there are certain things that we can expect to see make it to the 2011-2012 season such as paranormal adventures, workplace dramas and crime procedurals.
This season A&E has added a haunted docu-soap to their development slate. The network has greenlit an unscripted pilot called The Unexplained from Executive producer Doug Liman. According to A&E’s press release, “the show will deliver real-life stories that take audiences to places they have never been before: investigating, questioning, experiencing and chasing down answers to the most bizarre stories and strangest paranormal occurrences.” (The Futon Critic)
On the scripted side, the CW Network has several paranormal projects all of which have been ordered to pilot. The first is Awakening, created by Jason Rothenberg and Bill Robinson. The pilot features Lucy Griffiths as Jenna Lestrade and Meredith Hagner as Jayce Lestrade. The two play combative sisters who come of age amid the beginning of a zombie uprising. Sticking with the female-skewing paranormal stories, the network is also introducing Spellbound from Executive Produce Becky Hartman-Edwards. The pilot is a dramedy about a young life coach/witch in new york who uses her magical powers to help others solve their problems.
Moving to the realistic, (yet still quite fiction in some instances) are the work dramas. In the past year, the USA Network has proven to be a master of scripted workplace television with hits like Royal Pains and White Collar. The formula for edgy characters that push professional boundaries can be seen in their pilot orders for Necessary Roughness and Wild Card. Necessary Roughness is produced by Sony Pictures Television and focuses on a tough, Long Island divorcee (Callie Thorne) who gets a job as a therapist for a professional football team in order to make ends meet. Wild Card, from creator Stephen Godchaux, stars Ben Lawson (Will Garrett) as a Las Vegas lawyer who must handle all of the curve balls Sin City can throw at him.
For the pay-cable channels, HBO has a workplace drama in contention hailing from recent Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin’s pilot is currently untitled but characterizes the behind-the-scenes action of a nightly cable news show. Moreover, both Showtime and Starz also have workplace pilots in development. Showtime is mulling over House of Lies featuring Don Cheadle. Lies is a half-hour, dark comedy created and written by Matthew Carnahan from the hit book House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Tell You the Time by Martin Kihn. The Starz pilot, Boss, is from Executive Producers Brian Sher and Kelsey Grammar (also starring) and is a political thriller about the mayor of Chicago.
Crime procedurals have been very successful on broadcast air with hits like CSI, NCIS and Law & Order so it is no
wonder that cable networks are attempting to re-create the magic. Master class network AMC has recently ordered its pilot The Killing to series. From writer, executive producer and Cold Case series showrunner, Veena Sud, The Killing tells the story of the murder of a teenage girl in Seattle and the subsequent police investigation. Interestingly, The Killing is based off of Forbrydelsen, a Danish television drama miniseries that gained record viewership in Denmark. FX has also ordered a crime procedural to pilot called Powers from creator Charles H. Eglee and based off of the novel written by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Powers is a police procedural set in a superhero-populated world. Lastly, TNT is in motion to to turn its pilot The Rabbit Factory into a series. The Rabbit Factory is from executive producer/writer Allen Loeb and tells the story of recently widowed police Detective Mike Lomax and his newly married partner, Terry Biggs. The plot focuses on Lomax who continues to receive humorous and heartfelt letters from his wife a year after her death. Lomax also tries to navigate the singles world while maintaining his pedigree as one of L.A.’s finest.