Image Credit: Chris Hatcher/PR Photos; Sylvain Gaboury/PR PhotosForget watching cops, doctors and lawyers working dreary modern-day jobs. Next fall, TV could be ruled by superheros, wizards and Playboy bunnies.
The broadcast networks’ pilot orders, which are nearly finished for the year, make this extreme primetime makeover actually possible. Not since a certain ABC show about a mysterious island became a massive hit have the Big Five developed so many serialized, sci fi and straight-up wild projects.
So far we’ve told you all about the best and brightest and craziest pilots in the works at ABC, CBS and NBC. But taking chances isn’t anything new to Fox, which has been doubling down on big ideas the past couple years.
Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly credited Hollywood writers for pilot season having so many creative ideas across the board. “Even character-based writers were coming in with high concept ideas,” Reilly says. “Writers would pitch stories about a dog with laser beam eyes; everything had a ghost in it.”
Industry insiders say Fox’s drama scripts are strong this year. Naturally the most online buzz is around Fox’s most ambitious concepts: Alcatraz has J.J. Abrams & Co. going back to another island, with Lost co-star Jorge Garcia in the lead. Locke & Key is based on Joe “Stephen King’s son” Hill’s graphic novel, a supernatural drama about the adventures of the Locke family in a home with portals to other places.
Yet some say Tim Kring’s Touch is the best script at the network — and one of the best of pilot season. Touch is about a man who discovers his mute, autistic son can predict the future. Since Kring is coming off the tortured wreckage of Heroes, online readers (and, okay, me too) were initially skeptical about this project, but readers agree it’s extremely well written, and it’s compelling enough to draw Kiefer Sutherland to the project, who will play the dad.
Another well written Fox entry is Antoine Fuqua’s project Exit Strategy, reuniting the director with Training Day star, Ethan Hawke, as the leader of a team of experts who help the CIA with extractions.
“We always look to find someone’s favorite show — and a high concept or big conceit done well is one way to break out from the pack,” Reilly says.
On the comedy side, Fox has a little bit of everything. From Rob Thomas’ post-Modern Family take on a trio of different families (Little in Common), to a very Fox-sounding concept that has two moms worried that their daughters are becoming the same type of mean girls that tormented them in school (I Hate My Teenage Daughter).
Here’s Fox’s current pilot rundown:
Alcatraz (J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Liz Sarnoff). Revolves around Alcatraz Island and notorious criminals housed there (drama, pilot).
The Finder (aka Bones spinoff): Based on The Locator books by Richard Greener, about a former military policeman who can find anything. Geoff Stults stars (drama, pilot)
Locke & Key (Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Joe Hill): Based on Hill’s graphic novel, a supernatural drama about the adventures of the Locke family in a home with portals to other places (drama, pilot)
Exit Strategy (Antoine Fuqua): Stars Ethan Hawke as the leader of a team of experts who help the CIA with extractions (drama, pilot).
Weekends at Bellevue (Lisa Zwerling, Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun, Gene Stein). Drama based on the book by Julie Holland, MD; drama that centers on a psychiatrist in charge of the weekend shift of Bellevue Hospital psychiatric unit (drama, pilot)
Touch (Tim Kring, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope). A man discovers his mute, autistic son can predict the future (drama, pilot).
I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Sherry Bilsing-Graham, Ellen Kreamer). Two women who were tormented by mean girls when they were younger are now appalled to realize their daughters are turning into the same type of girls they never liked (comedy, pilot)
Tagged (David Guarascio, Moses Port). A workplace ensemble set at the Baltimore County coroner’s office (comedy, pilot).
Iceland (Andrew Bobrow). Centers around a group of friends who are reunited and nurture each other after the death of one of their own (comedy, pilot).
Family Album. Told in the vein of 24, a family takes an extended vacation (comedy, pilot).
Little in Common (Rob Thomas). About three families united through their kids’ little league sports (comedy, pilot).
The Council of Dads. Based on the memoir about a man with cancer who lures a group of friends to supervise his daughters if he dies (comedy, pilot).
No Strings Attached (Liz Meriwether, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope). Focuses on sexual politics of men and women (comedy, pilot).