Fall TV Pilots: What's Hot & What's Not? And Is David E. Kelley's Loss a Win for Chuck?
Lauren Graham, Alex O'Loughlin and Katee Sackhoff
With ABC, CBS, Fox and the CW holding their upfront presentations during the week of May 18 — and NBC set to reveal the rest of its own 2009-10 plan on May 19 — the pilots for a slew of prospective series are getting their final looks.
Among the surprising let-downs? NBC took a pass on David E. Kelley's Legally Mad — and owes Warner Bros. TV a seven-figure penalty payment for doing so. It also turned down Dick Wolf's Lost & Found, a cop drama starring Katee Sackhoff.
Though there has been talk in the trades that NBC might avoid the Legally Mad penalty by instead granting Warner Bros.' Chuck a pick-up, the action-comedy's creator, Josh Schwartz, had nothing to share with TVGuide.com as of Tuesday morning.
ABC by all insider accounts won't be tuning into The Bridget Show, starring Gilmore gal Lauren Graham as a talk-show host. Similarly, the future for No Heroics (an intentionally funny version of Heroes) looks less than super, while Limelight (a modern-day Fame) failed to sing.
For those who found CW's plan for a 1980s Gossip Girl flashback to be totally tubular, this may disappoint: The prequel pilot, starring Brittany Snow as young Lily, is looking to be less OMG than GMWS (Gag Me with a Spoon).
What is screening well?
ABC may find itself with two towns to visit — Cougar Town (starring Courteney Cox) and Happy Town (a murder mystery). Also in the running are The Unknown (a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced look at amateur crime fighters) and the V remake (which, despite initially eliciting mixed reviews, is gaining buzz). Exec-producer Shonda Rhimes' Inside the Box, of course, is likely to merit strong consideration.
CBS has numerous new dramas on hand, including the NCIS spin-off (a lock for the fall), U.S. Attorney and The Good Wife (starring Julianna Margulies as a lawyer, again). CBS chief Les Moonves is reportedly hot to launch a medical series, and of his three options, Three Rivers (featuring Alex O'Loughlin) is shaping up to be a front-runner, employing a 24-style split-screen technique to unspool its multiple-POV stories about organ transplants.
On the comedy side, Accidentally on Purpose (in which Jenna Elfman gets Knocked Up by a slacker) and Happiness Isn't Everything (starring Jason Biggs) have people laughing, with the latter looking good for a midseason premiere.
Fox is said to be setting its sights on Human Target (in which Mark Valley safeguards people in danger), Past Life (a reincarnation-tinged mystery serial) and Brothers (featuring former NFL star Michael Strahan as... a former NFL star).
With the CW's Gossip Girl offshoot looking like a long shot and Body Politic not exactly rounding up critical votes, the netlet is poised to add to its lineup both the new Melrose Place and Vampire Diaries (adapted from a series of young adult novels). Oh, and as an added bonus? There may now be room for Privileged to snare that Season 2 renewal.
Also see: Fall TV Scorecard: Which Shows Are Returning?