Pilots lining up for takeoff

Shows by J.J. Abrams, David Shore among early front-runners

Rough cuts of pilots in contention for next season are starting to trickle into the broadcast networks, and some very early front-runners are emerging.

Such pole position titles are often replaced a few times during the weeding-out process as more footage comes into the networks. At this stage, name-recognition titles like CBS' "Hawaii Five-O" and NBC's "Rockford Files" continue to enjoy a halo effect, but some fresh titles are also turning heads.

Starting with NBC, the network is looking to pick up as many as six dramas to plug its holes in the schedule and has plenty of A-list producers in contention. A remake of "Rockford Files" from "House" showrunner David Shore is considered a near-lock. Same with J.J. Abrams' spy drama "Undercovers," whose completed pilot is getting rave reviews ("looks great, with gorgeous leads").

David E. Kelley's latest legal drama "Kindrids" is very hot, and executives like the dramedy "Love Bites" from "Sex and the City" writer Cindy Chupack. Jerry Bruckheimer's latest, "Chase," also has positive buzz, though a cut's not in yet.

Among NBC's comedies, executives love "This Little Piggy" and "Friends With Benefits," with Paul Reiser's semi-autobiographical "Next," looking good. India-set romantic comedy "Outsourced" is also considered hot. "Perfect Couples" had a good table read and is on track.

Over on CBS, "Hawaii Five-O" sealed the deal with a pilot screening that went great. Buzz is mixed on the "Criminal Minds" spinoff, but with Forest Whitaker on board and the network's luck with procedural spinoffs, it's still expected to get on the air. CIA drama "Chaos" is called "classic fun Brett Ratner," but it's unclear if it fits the network's brand. Legal drama "Defenders" with Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell is heating up.

Among comedies, "Bleep My Dad Says" (aka "Shit My Dad Says") is looking very strong, with William Shatner nailing the title role. Chuck Lorre's latest comedy, "Mike & Molly," is said to have had a great taping. And ensemble comedy "True Love," starring Tyler Labine and Jason Biggs, is said to have turned out well.

At Fox, the U.S. Marshalls drama "Breakout Kings" continues to generate buzz. "It has a fun, caper-y feel to it," as one insider said. Texas-set con-man drama "Midland" is being called "beautifully shot" by "(500) Days of Summer" director Marc Webb, but some question whether it's on brand. A cut of Shawn Ryan's cop drama "Ride Along" hasn't been finished yet, but it's still considered a contender. Steven Spielberg's prehistoric time-travel drama "Terra Nova" is likely to get some kind of pickup, but it might not happen until after the upfronts.

On the comedy side, several pilots are getting positive buzz while contending for a limited number of spots. Among them, "Security" starring Christian Slater, which might get the actor on the air in a new show for the third season in a row, and "My Name Is Earl" creator Greg Garcia's comedy "Keep Hope Alive" and slacker ensemble comedy "Most Likely to Succeed."

At ABC, Detroit-set crime drama "187" and Shonda Rhimes' latest medical drama "Off the Map" are looking very strong, along with the Dana Delany-starring medical-crime show "Body of Evidence." Also, superhero drama "No Ordinary Family" starring Michael Chiklis is considered a stand out.

ABC is said to be struggling with its comedy pilots and is considering ordering more. "Wright Vs. Wrong," starring Debra Messing as a Republican pundit, is a major exception, with Matthew Perry's "Mr. Sunshine" also receiving some props.

On the CW, "La Femme Nikita" remake "Nikita" starring Maggie Q has turned out very strong, with the network also excited about supernatural drama "BeTwixt."

Want more detail on these pilots? Check out THR's Pilot Log for full list, cast and descriptions.

comments powered by Disqus