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The CW started and seemingly finished its pilot pickups late Friday, ordering Greg Berlanti’s Archie Comics re-do Riverdale, period drama Transylvania, a Mars drama as well as another hourlong comedy from the producers of Jane the Virgin.
Originally developed for Fox, Riverdale is set in the present day and based on the iconic Archie Comics characters. It’s described as a surprising and subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small-town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade.
The reboot hails from Greg Berlanti and his Warner Bros. Television-based Berlanti Productions, which will exec produce the drama alongside Archie Comics chief creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Aguirre-Sacasa (Supergirl, Glee, Big Love) will pen the script. Berlanti Productions topper Sarah Schechter will exec produce alongside Archie Comics’ Jon Goldwater.
Speaking to reporters this month at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, CW president Mark Pedowitz defended the darker focus on the traditionally younger-skewing bubble gum characters. “The darker take was when you have Roberto and Greg and they want to take a run at something, you give them that leeway. They deserve it. They’ve earned it. That’s why we went with a darker take,” he said.
Riverdale marks Berlanti’s latest outing for The CW. He also produces the network’s DC Comics takes Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow in addition to CBS’ Supergirl as well as NBC’s Blindspot and Mysteries of Laura. The comic book guru has been a lifelong fan of Archie Comics.
Set in 1880, Transylvania hails from Fringe alums and CBS’ Zoo team of Jeff Pinkner, Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg. Written and exec produced by Hugh Sterbakov (Hell and Back), Transylvania centers on a headstrong young woman searching for her missing father who ventures from Transylvania to New York, where she teams with a wrongfully disgraced Scotland Yard detective. Together, they witness the births of the most famous monsters and villains in history. The pilot is produced by Pinkner, Appelbaum, Nemec and Rosenberg’s CBS Television Studios-based Midnight Radio. The company also recently scored a series order at History for Jeremy Renner-produced period drama Knightfall.
The untitled Mars drama centers on a team of explorers who arrive on Mars to join the first human colony on the planet, only to discover that their predecessors have vanished. Led by a woman whose husband is among the missing, the colonists are forced to change their mission from exploration and settlement to investigation and survival, while navigating the hostile planet and their own personal demons.
Originally developed in 2013, Colony (no relation to USA Network’s Carlton Cuse drama of the same name) is inspired by the story of the Lost Colony, the 16th century British settlement on Roanoke Island (off the coast of North Carolina) whose inhabitants vanished. Doris Egan (Reign, House, Tru Calling) will pen the script and exec produce the CBS Television Studios drama alongside studio-based Kennedy/Marshall Co.’s Robert Zotnowski and Frank Marshall.
From Jane the Virgin duo Corinne Brinkerhoff and Ben Silverman, hourlong comedy No Tomorrow is based on a Brazilian format (How to Enjoy the End of the World, which was nominated for an International Emmy in 2013). The comedy centers on a risk-averse, straight arrow female procurement manager at an Amazon-like distribution center who falls in love with a freewheeling man. She finds out that he lives life to the fullest because he believes the apocalypse is imminent. To comedic and poignant results, they embark on a quest together to fulfill their individual bucket lists.
Jane the Virgin co-EP Brinkerhoff (The Good Wife) will pen the script alongside writing duo Scott McCabe and Tory Stanton (aka Two Trick Pony) for CBS Television Studios and Silverman’s Electus.
The pickup comes as CW’s Pedowitz has been looking for “quirky family material” after finding critical (if not ratings) success with awards season darlings Jane the Virgin and, more recently, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Should No Tomorrow go to series it would join Brinkerhoff’s CBS summer drama American Gothic.
These four join the previously picked up Frequency reboot and Kevin Williamson drama, giving the younger-skewing network six total pilots this year. That’s up one from a year ago when network picked up five pilots. Of those, only two went to series (Julie Plec’s Containment and Legends of Tomorrow) as the network unexpectedly greenlit Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which was developed as a half-hour comedy for corporate sibling Showtime.
While The CW has yet to renew any series for the 2016-17 season, much of its current schedule is considered a safe bet to return.
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