12:15pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
NBC Orders 'Timeless,' 'Midnight, Texas' Dramas, Comedies 'Marlon' and 'Great News'
NBC continued to firm up its roster for the 2016-17 broadcast season, handing out series pickups to genre drama Midnight, Texas and Shawn Ryan/Eric Kripke entry Timeless as well as comedies Great News and Marlon, with three of the four hailing from sibling studio Universal Television.
A frontrunner almost from the start, Timeless is a high-octane drama that follows an unlikely trio who travel through time to battle a master criminal intent on altering the fabric of human history with potentially catastrophic results.
The project — written by prolific producers Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural) — stars Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer and Goran Visnjic and is one of multiple time-travel series in the works this season. (Fox has already ordered time-travel comedy Making History, starring Adam Pally, while ABC is traveling through time with Kevin Williamson and H.G. Wells.)
The Sony Pictures Television drama is executive produced by The Blacklist duo John Davis and John Fox as well as Marney Hochman. Neil Marshall directed the pilot, which teams three of SPT's biggest studio-based producers in Ryan, Kripke and Davis.
Still to be determined are the fates of Sony TV's Blacklist spinoff — which had been eyed for midseason — as well as Cruel Intentions (possibly for summer). Sources noted that Sony had been attempting to package all three series in one mega-deal.
Midnight, Texas is based on the New York Times best-selling trilogy from Charlaine Harris (True Blood). The drama is described as Twin Peaks meets True Blood in Midnight, Texas, a remote town where your neighbor could be a vampire, a witch, a werewolf and even an angel. Mystery, horror and romance combine to both enthrall and frighten any outsiders who decide to venture into this unusual place.
Monica Owusu-Breen penned the Universal Television script, with David Janollari exec producing and Niels Arden Oplev directing the pilot. The show, which stars Francois Arnaud (Blindspot), Dylan Bruce, Sarah Ramos and Arielle Kebbel, gives NBC another potential genre drama to pair with Friday staple Grimm.
The order brings NBC's new drama haul to five with Midnight and Timeless joining Chicago Justice, Taken and Dan Fogelman dramedy This Is Us.
Marlon, loosely inspired by Marlon Wayans' life, is a comedy that centers on an inappropriate but loving father (Wayans) committed to successfully co-parenting with his polar-opposite ex-wife. Co-starring Essence Atkins, the project marks Wayans' return to the small screen and gives NBC yet another proven lead as the network looks to make a strong showing in the comedy space.
From Universal Television and Wayans' Wayans Brothers Entertainment, Chris Moynihan penned the script. Wayans celebrated the news with an Instagram video. With NBC's pickup, and Fox ordering Lethal Weapon to series, broadcast TV will see at least two Wayans brothers on the fall schedule as Damon Wayans Sr. stars in the big-screen reboot of the buddy-cop action films.
Great News, inspired by the life of Tracey Wigfield (30 Rock), is a comedy that centers on a mother-daughter relationship that is challenged when an overly involved New Jersey mom (Andrea Martin) interns at her daughter’s (Briga Heelan) workplace, a cable news network.
The show brings Wigfield as well as fellow exec producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock back to NBC after their Emmy-winning comedy 30 Rock wrapped its run a few seasons ago. The single-camera comedy hails from Universal Television, Fey's studio-based Little Stranger and 3 Arts. (Fey's Little Stranger is 1-for-2 this season, with CBS passing on comedy pilot The Kicker.)
Great News and Marlon join rookie comedies The Good Place, Powerless and Trial & Error as well as returning half-hour Superstore as NBC cleans house.