For all the talk about binge viewing, the most crucial period of TV time suckage doesn’t involve Johnny Lunchbox sawing through three seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix. As part of the annual ritual that determines the fall broadcast lineup, network poobahs last week began hunkering down in front of their 60-inch flat screens, poring over dozens of pilots in the mix for the 2013-14 season.
While only network personnel and a few hundred lucky (?) civilians will ever watch the bulk of these pilots (of 104 scripted efforts ordered by the five English-language nets, perhaps a third will ever see the light of day), the executive suites and conference rooms of Los Angeles cannot contain the early buzz. We won’t know for certain which shows will light up our living rooms until the week of May 13 when the nets unveil their schedules, but insiders say the following programs have the best shot at breaking into the lineup.
NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke last week told investors that while the Peacock showed some progress with The Voice, a single hit won’t right the listing ship. “We really need to get one or two more good shows,” Burke said. “We are putting a tremendous amount of focus and concentration on…developing shows.”
Having renewed just two of its freshmen series, NBC has plenty of room on the fall roster. Of the 30 pilots it ordered, the untitled Michael J. Fox sitcom seems a sure thing, having been cleared for a prime-time berth.
Insiders are also raving about the single-camera comedy Mr. Robinson, starring The Office alum Craig Robinson, as well as Mulaney, a late entry created and written by and starring the hilarious stand-up comic and SNL scribe John Mulaney.
On the drama side, Jonathan Rhys Meyers will explain how a guy who can’t see himself in a mirror manages to be so dapper (Dracula).
If Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Ming-Na Wen) isn’t the breakout hit of the fall, I’ll eat my Avengers hat. With a built-in audience of comic fanboys and $1.5 billion in box-office value, S.H.I.E.L.D. will pull ABC out of fourth place.
Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for Doubt (Steve Coogan, Carla Gugino) and Gothica (Chris Egan, Tom Ellis). And David Spade’s Bad Management and Divorce: A Love Story (Adam Goldberg) could make a splash in ABC’s wobbly Tuesday night comedy hour.
Insiders are falling all over themselves in praise of the untitled Andy Samberg cop comedy, while Dads, with Seth MacFarlane attached as exec producer, is a sure thing. Dramas Rake and Sleepy Hollow should also make the cut.
Always a tough nut to crack, CBS has 23 pilots on the boil but very few open spots. Chuck Lorre’s Mom (Anna Faris) will find a home on Monday nights.