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If broadcast Pilot Season is any indicator, the Peak TV numbers are in for a rude awakening.
A decade ago, ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC collectively ordered an eye-popping 98 comedies and dramas during Pilot Season 2013. That figure, the most since THR began tracking overall volume in 2012, is now considered a relic of the past.
With the COVID-19 pandemic effectively wiping out Pilot Season 2020, the networks were forced to lean into the year-round programming strategy many had discussed but hadn’t really executed. Now, the shift is in full swing as the overall volume of pilots ordered across the five networks is likely to hit another low after they collectively picked up 35 comedies and dramas last season.
What’s more, the economic downturn has also prompted broadcasters to be more selective in how many scripts they buy and which among those will actually get made. Network executives — including new presidents at CBS, The CW and Fox — are also taking more time to get development right. The Night Court reboot is a prime example of that strategy as NBC picked up the pilot during the 2021-22 season before ordering it to series in September 2021. The comedy starring and exec produced by Melissa Rauch earned a speedy renewal after debuting last month following reshoots and some recastings after the pilot was filmed. The strategy is one CBS is turning to with Justin Hartley drama The Never Game and that NBC is mirroring with both Found and The Irrational (all earmarked for next season but developed in 2022).
Speaking of new executive regimes, The CW’s near total shift away from U.S. scripted originals will also have an impact on overall Pilot Season volume as the network, now majority controlled by station group Nexstar, previously averaged around six orders per season. Fox, meanwhile, has added a steady flow of original animated series to its pipeline as the broadcast network — now overseen by its former head of unscripted — takes a more refined (read: cost-friendly) approach to scripted. Over at CBS, the network’s former head of current programming is charged with filling what few holes exist in one of broadcast’s most stable schedules.
With all the above in mind, here’s a look at the pilots in contention for the 2023-24 broadcast television season as ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and (perhaps) The CW sift through of scripts and march forward in a bid to find the next breakout hits.
Bookmark THR.com/PilotSeason, as well as this page, as The Hollywood Reporter will update this guide throughout the season with the latest pilot orders, castings and eventual series pickups. For the latest broadcast renewals, cancellation and new series pickups, check out our complete scorecard here.
Logline: Julia is a working mom for whom nothing is working so she goes looking for her village. With the help of new friends Calvin and Liz, Julia discovers she just might succeed at balancing work and parenting from time to time. This is a comedy for anybody who’s dropped their kids at school, breathed a sigh of relief … then realized it’s Sunday. Based on the BBC’s Motherland.
Cast: Ellie Kemper, Judy Greer, Michaela Conlin, Nancy Lenehan
Team: W/EP Julianne Smolinski; D/EP Michael Showalter; EP Ellie Kemper, Sharon Horgan, Clelia Mountford, Stacy Greenberg, Kira Carstensen, Paul Feig, Dan Magnante, Holly Walsh, Helen Serafinowicz
Studio: Lionsgate, ABC Signature
Logline: Up to their earholes in student loan debt, four inexperienced public defenders work tirelessly to keep their clients out of jail. Along the way, they have to rely on each other to navigate their first defendants, the absurd court system, and the copy machine that always jams.
Cast: Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Erika Henningsen, Arturo Castro, Kimrie Lewis, Natasha Lopez, Isaiah Dòdó-Williams
Team: W/EP Eddie Quintana; EP/showrunner Liz Astrof; D/EP Randall Einhorn; EP McG, Mary Viola, Corey Marsh, Anthony Anderson, E. Brian Dobbins
Studio: 20th Television, Wonderland Sound and Vision
The Good Lawyer (The Good Doctor spinoff)
Logline: Airing March 13 as a planted episode of The Good Doctor, Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) seeks legal representation to help him win a case and puts his faith in a promising, young lawyer who has obsessive compulsive disorder.
Cast: Kennedy McMann (Nancy Drew), Felicity Huffman, Bethlehem Million
Team: W/EP David Shore, Liz Friedman; EP/D Ruben Fleischer
The Hurt Unit
Logline: A cutting-edge medical drama about a highly skilled team of trauma surgeons and nurses who race into the field to treat the patients who won’t make it to the hospital in time. When the sick and the injured can’t get to the ER, the Hurt Unit (Hospital Urgent Response Team) brings the ER to them.
Cast: Ben McKenzie (Gotham), Michelle Ortiz (This Fool), Ashley Romans, Melissa George, Augustus Prew
Team: W/EP Matt Lopez, John Glenn; EP/D Marc Webb
Studio: ABC Signature
Logline: A high-stakes legal soap that redefines the genre by playing out over two timelines. Fifteen years from now, a woman being vetted for a Supreme Court seat recounts her experience at a prominent D.C. law firm in 2023, where the only thing more controversial than the cases was her messy love life, caught between two feuding brothers. Now, with a Supreme Court seat on the line, all of her darkest secrets are at risk of coming out, threatening her nomination, her reputation and her marriage.
Cast: Sarah Shahi (1st position in front of Sex/Life), Portia Doubleday, Christine Adams, Ken Kirby, Reid Scott, François Arnaud
Team: W/EP Joey Falco; EP Melvin Mar, Jake Kasdan, Jordan Cerf
Studio: 20th TV
Untitled Drew Goddard
Logline: Based on the French series Haut Potentiel Intellectuel, the drama revolves around a single mom with three kids and an exceptional mind who helps solve an unsolvable crime when she rearranges some evidence during her shift as a cleaner for the police department. When they discover she has a knack for putting things in order because of her high intellectual potential, she is brought on as a consultant to work with a by-the-book seasoned detective, and together they form an unusual and unstoppable team
Cast: Kaitlin Olson (Hacks), Javicia Leslie (Batwoman), Daniel Sunjata, Judy Reyes, Amirah J
Team: W/EP Drew Goddard, Sarah Esberg, Pierre Laugier, Anthony Lancret, Jean Nainchrik, Deniz Akdeniz
Studio: 20th TV
Logline: Based on the comic strip that debuted in 1989, set in Philadelphia, the comedy follows Joe (Terry Crews), a cop, his wife Marcy, a nurse, and Joe’s partner Crunchy. Joe and Marcy are young, hip, urban parents with old school values who are willing to sacrifice for their kids and have some laughs while doing it.
Cast: Terry Crews
Team: W/EP Wayne Conley; EP Aaron Kaplan, Melanie Frankel, Bridget McMeel, Wendi Trilling, Terry Crews; co-EP Robb Armstrong; D/EP Kelly Park
Studio: CBS Studios, Kapital Entertainment, Andrews McMeel Entertainment, TrillTV
Untitled Wayans father-son project
Logline: Legendary talk radio host and happily divorced “Poppa” (Damon Wayans) has his point of view challenged at work when a new female co-host is hired, and at home where he finds himself still parenting his adult son (Damon Wayans Jr.), a brilliant dreamer who is trying to pursue his passion while being a responsible father and husband.
Cast: Damon Wayans Sr., Damon Wayans Jr.
Team: W/EP Kevin Hench (Last Man Standing), Damon Wayans; EP Damon Wayans Jr., Kameron Tarlow
Studio: CBS Studios
Logline: After her successful career in Chicago, Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), an astute but unconventional attorney, utilizes her singular point of view to make unique observations and corner brilliant criminals alongside the NYPD. Based on the character featured in The Good Wife and The Good Fight.
Cast: Carrie Preston, Wendell Pierce, Carra Patterson
Team: W/EP Robert King, Michelle King; EP Liz Glotzer; D Robert King
Studio: CBS Studios
Logline: After achieving success in her younger years, the brilliant septuagenarian Madeline Matlock (Kathy Bates) rejoins the work force at a prestigious law firm where she uses her unassuming demeanor and wily tactics to win cases and expose corruption from within. Based on the classic television series of the same name.
Cast: Kathy Bates, Skye P. Marshall, David Del Rio, Leah Lewis, Jason Ritter
Team: W/EP Jennie Snyder Urman (Jane the Virgin); EP Joanna Klein, Eric Christian Olsen, John Will, Kathy Bates; D/EP Kat Coiro
Studio: CBS Studios
No orders yet.
No orders yet.
No orders yet.
Logline: A woman is forced to step in to her sister’s role as the leader of a Fortune 500 company despite knowing little about business and even less about the way her sister has been running the corporation.
Cast: Amber Ruffin
Team: W/EP Amber Ruffin, Kenny Smith; EP Jenny Hagel; Co-EP Olivia Morris
Studio: Universal TV
St. Denis Medical
Logline: A mockumentary about an underfunded, understaffed Oregon hospital where the dedicated doctors and nurses try their best to treat patients while maintaining their own sanity.
Cast: Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs), Allison Tolman
Team: W/EP Justin Spitzer, Eric Ledgin (American Auto, Superstore); EP Simon Heuer
Studio: Universal TV
Murder by the Book
Logline: A big city Instafamous book reviewer takes a page from the murder mystery books she reviews and becomes an unlikely detective to uncover the shocking truths about an eccentric seaside town.
Cast: Retta, Tituss Burgess, Tommy Dewey, Siobhan Williams, Elizabeth Yu, Hilda Martin
Team: W/EP Jenna Bans (Good Girls); EP Bill Krebs, Casey Kyber, Retta; D/EP Michael Weaver
Studio: Universal TV, Minnesota Logging Co.
Logline: Inspired by Oliver Sacks’ extraordinary life and work, the drama follows a revolutionary, larger-than-life neurologist and his team of interns as they explore the last great frontier, the human mind, while also grappling with their own relationships and mental health.
Cast: Zachary Quinto
Team: W/EP Michael Grassi (Riverdale); EP/D Lee Toland Krieger; EP Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Leigh London Redman, Henrik Bastin, Melissa Aouate, Jonathan Cavendish, Andy Serkis, Will Tennant
Studio: Warner Bros. TV, Berlanti Productions, Fabel Entertainment, The Imaginarium
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