10 TV Pilots Likely to Score Series Pickups

Greg Berlanti
John Francis Peters

The Warner Bros. headquarters of Berlanti Productions is a homey and spacious bungalow in the shadow of the studio’s famous water tower. 

As broadcast network executives sit behind closed doors screening pilots and poring over focus group testing results on more than 80 pilots, scores of showrunners, writers, producers and actors are on standby as the decisions on which comedies and dramas will land slots on the 2016-17 schedule are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

The Hollywood Reporter dialed up industry insiders and has compiled 10 of the family comedies, legal procedurals and soaps that stand the best shot of earning series pickups. Of course, these are in addition to several dramas and comedies that have already landed series orders. Those include Kiefer Sutherland's Designated Survivor (ABC), Star and 24: Legacy (Fox) as well as The Good Place (NBC).

Development season's slow start has again impacted production, with a handful of pilots wrapping late — or being pushed off-cycle. Meanwhile, networks hope that viewers will warm to the creative after what has been an unusually lackluster pilot season.

With a pilot season filled with Friends favorites and family comedies, many of the concepts seem interchangeable as multiple sources tell THR that, also like last year, there aren't as many clear frontrunners. (See the more than 27 family comedies in the works this season.)

Here's a look at the pilots most likely to land series orders, which — as always — should be taken with a grain of salt as buzz changes like the wind this time of year.

1. The Mick (Fox)

Starring It's Always Sunny's Kaitlin Olson, the single-camera comedy revolves around a hard-living, foul-mouthed woman who moves to affluent Greenwich, Conn., to raise the spoiled kids of her wealthy sister, who has fled the country to avoid a federal indictment. The 20th Century Fox TV entry from brothers John and Dave Chernin has emerged as the can't-miss frontrunner on the comedy side. Also considered a sure thing is Making History, the Adam Pally-Leighton Meester time-travel comedy produced by Last Man on Earth duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller. On the flip side, insiders suggest that Courteney Cox vehicle Charity Case is dead and Judy Greer-Patton Oswalt workplace comedy HR is considered highly unlikely to move forward.

2. Pitch (Fox)

On the drama side, Fox handed out early pickups to frontrunners 24: Legacy and Lee Daniels' Star, leaving six pilots remaining. Of those, female baseball drama Pitch is considered the next likely to score a starting slot on the network's fall lineup. For the show, produced by Dan Fogelman (Galavant) in his first year under a rich overall deal with 20th TV, the network teamed with Major League Baseball and has unprecedented access to its logos, stadiums and more with a pickup giving Fox an easy way to transition from October postseason baseball back into its fall fare. An added bonus: Starring pitcher Kylie Bunbury has been earning rave reviews for both her athletic and acting performance. Buzz has also been good for The Exorcist, with director Rupert Wyatt's take coming in scary good, which may score it a slot on Fridays opposite NBC stalwart Grimm. Meanwhile, police procedural APB could land a midseason slot and Lethal Weapon is said to be needing work — though insiders stress the network sees potential for the franchise reboot.

3. Conviction (ABC)

One of the few procedural pilots picked up under former ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee, the Hayley Atwell drama is considered likely to go to series as the network looks to move away from its well-known soapy fare. (Atwell reportedly would juggle Conviction with Agent Carter, should the Marvel drama return — though that's considered highly unlikely.) Also considered strong is The Jury, the courtroom anthology starring The Good Wife Emmy winner Archie Panjabi. The pickup for the latter would come as little surprise as true crime continues to be all the rage following Making a Murderer, The Jinx and The People v. O.J. Simpson. Elsewhere, Kevin Williamson's H.G. Wells drama Time After Time also is going strong. Agents of SHIELD spinoff Marvel's Most Wanted has been cooling and some say it's not considered the lock it once was. Meanwhile, Model Woman is considered dead.  

4. Toast (ABC)

Of the Disney-owned network's family comedies, three have emerged atop the pack with Shondaland's Toast, starring Grey's Anatomy's Jerrika Hinton, said to have impressed insiders with a rewrite from showrunner Gregg Mettler. Other family fare shaping up well are Anna Gunn-Andy Daly starrer Chunk and Bean and The Fluffy Shop, with Gabriel Iglesias. Meanwhile, the network is said to be fighting to save and desperately wants things to work out for Allison Tolman's Downward Dog — picked up off-cycle and in the can for weeks.

5. Chicago Justice (NBC)

For the second year in a row, a Dick Wolf Chicago spinoff is considered NBC's leading drama contender. The Chicago PD backdoor pilot is a legal drama starring Philip Winchester and could give the prolific producer an impressive six scripted shows should the network also greenlight timely anthology Law & Order: True Crime. As for The Blacklist planted spinoff, the Famke Janssen-Ryan Eggold starrer is also shaping up well with buzz about a potential midseason slot. Sources also say producer Sony Pictures Television is thrilled with how its Cruel Intentions reboot came in. NBC is also rumored to be interested in adding a second legal show with soapy entry Miranda's Rights said to have the edge for a drama slot over genre entry Midnight, Texas.

6. Marlon (NBC)

Inspired by Marlon Wayans' life, the multicamera comedy boasts a marketable star and gives the network another diverse half-hour (joining the likely third season of critical darling The Carmichael Show). Elsewhere, Stockard Channing starrer Me & Mean Margaret looks likely, as does DC Comics' first comedy, Powerless, starring Vanessa Hudgens and Danny Pudi. Sources also stress there's a three-way tie between Amy Poehler's Dumb Prince, Matt Hubbard/Mike Schur's Grand Junction and Tracey Wigfield's Great News for one remaining slot. NBC's Playground pilots — Imaginary Friend and Sunset People — are said to both be dead.

7. Bull (CBS)

Michael Weatherly won't be off the network for long as the departing NCIS star's Dr. Phil McGraw drama Bull appears to be CBS' drama frontrunner. The Nancy Drew reboot, starring Sarah Shahi, is said to have come in well though it isn't a sure bet as insiders say Glenn Geller may pick between that and Doubt, the off-cycle retooled detective soap starring Katherine Heigl — with both series produced by married duo Tony Phelan and Joan Rater. Medical drama Bunker Hill — redeveloped this year by Parenthood's Jason Katims — will get the nod if CBS passes on a second season of Code Black. The fate of the buzzy MacGyver reboot, meanwhile, is less than clear. The show was picked up to pilot and cast largely without a script, and the network has been high on reviving the franchise with hopes for the pilot said to hinge on James Wan's final cut. Training Day and Four Stars, meanwhile, have been quiet.

8. I'm Not Your Friend (CBS)

Could CBS reunite Joey and Chandler? It's starting to shape up that way as Matthew Perry's The Odd Couple is building a strong case for renewal and Matt LeBlanc multicamera vehicle I'm Not Your Friend has emerged as one of CBS' sure things. The Friends grad stars as a father charged with caring for his kids when his wife (The Office's Jenna Fischer) goes back to work. Working in its favor is the fact that it's produced in-house and it is a multicam, as CBS has been plotting a larger return to the format. Look for LeBlanc's I'm Not Your Friend to be joined by Kevin James and his untitled family comedy — which, yep, is also a multicam. Elsewhere, another family comedy, Furst Born, starring Poppy Montgomery and Katey Sagal, and Superior Donuts are also likely to go.

9. Riverdale (The CW)

After renewing nearly its entire scripted lineup (save for late bow Containment), The CW doesn't have much room on its schedule. But of the network's six pilots, another Greg Berlanti comic book show has emerged as the top dog. Riverdale, a present-day take on the iconic Archie Comics, is considered a lock to join Berlanti's Arrow, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow at the younger-skewing network.

10. Untitled Transylvania drama (The CW)

Of the remaining five CW pilots, the untitled Transylvania drama may have the edge over the network's untitled Kevin Williamson entry. The CW — a joint venture between CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television — is tasked with picking up an equal amount of pilots from each studio. With so much of its schedule set to return, Riverdale could be the one from WBTV, while period drama Transylvania — from Hugh Sterbakov, Jeff Pinkner, Andre Nemec, Josh Applebaum and Scott Rosenberg — could even the score for CBSTVS. No Tomorrow, an hourlong dramedy from the producers of Jane the Virgin, is also in the mix should the network look to add a different companion for either Jane or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Keep up with all the renewals, cancellations and new series pickups with THR's handy scorecard and follow the pilot crop status here.