2012 TV Pilot Review - Soaps and Remakes

Remakes of Brit shows Only Fools and Horses, Bad Girls and White Van Man included in this year's pilot season but which will succeed and which will fail?

After the high profile and, what Hollywood execs like to call €œhigh concept€ shows of last week€™s article, this week I will be going through new pilots which follow two trends I like to call €œremaking is breaking€ and €œDesperate Housewives is over and Grey€™s Anatomy has got to end sometime€. Grey€™s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives have been big ratings pulls in the coveted demographic (18-49 if you don€™t know) for ABC and have meant big advertising bucks. And, even though Grey€™s prolific creator Shonda Rhimes, who will be show running three to five shows next season depending on pickups, has claimed that Grey€™s will move past eight seasons, there is a general sense that the show is on the decline and, coupled with the loss of Desperate Housewives at the end of the current season, there is a definite hole in the market. On the other end of the €œseen it before€ spectrum we have the inescapable and visceral remakes that seem to be shaping television these days. I€™m sure you€™re aware that The Office is a remake of the British show of the same name but did you know that they remade One Foot In The Grave with Bill Cosby, and it was actually a success? (It€™s called Cosby if you€™re interested in checking it out). Remakes are here to stay. This season alone there are, by my count, about ten in one form or another. Why American studios continue to produce these often ill advised remakes is a mixture of successes and muted failures; but continue to make them they do. Let€™s find out if any are going to be worth watching.

Only Fools And Horses

Writer/Executive Producer: Steven Cragg (Scrubs), Brian Bradley (Happy Endings) Cast: John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge), Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids), Dustin Ybarra (We Bought a Zoo), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) Network: ABC What€™s it all about? A remake of the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses. The two brothers are transported to LA in much the same situation as the British original living with their granddad and dealing in dodgy merchandise out of the local bar. What we thought: Unsurprisingly this is a wash out. A terrible sitcom that has no idea what it wants to be. Where there could have been some ballsy comments on the current economy and the state of unemployment there are one liners fit for a 70€™s sitcom. 1/10 Will it make it to air? I can€™t see an audience for this even with its €œBritish comedy remake€ status. Although I€™m sure we would all love to see €˜Doc back on our screens. 2/10

Devious Maids

Writer/Executive Producer: Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) Cast: Judy Reyes (Scrubs), Dania Ramirez (Entourage), Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace) Notes: Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin, Sherlock) directing the pilot. Network: ABC What€™s it all about? A remake of the Mexican telenovela that follows four maids working on the same rich street in Beverly Hills after a maid is mysteriously murdered. What we thought: This is Desperate Housewives with maids, and that is not a bad thing; this is a spunky show with plenty to say and plenty of legs. 7/10 Will we ever see it? Have you seen the cast? Did you hear the premise? Do you know how big Desperate Housewives is? With Paul McGuigan directing the pilot this show is a sure bet, the only thing potentially getting in the way is Executive Producer Marc Cherry€™s recent behind the scenes legal issues. But I think this show will be on your screen for years to come. 8/10

Bad Girls

Writer/Executive producer: Nancy Pimental (US Shameless, South Park), John Wells (US Shameless, Southland), Andrew Stearn (Shameless, Southland) Cast: Amy Smart (US Shameless), Karolina Wydra (House) Network: NBC What€™s it all about? A remake of the British series follows several female inmates and officers in a fictional LA prison What we thought: An interesting premise filled with intriguing characters and a dark tone that fits in nicely with the current economic outlook, but there is very little hope in this show and very little light€”everyone is corrupt, and the lines between right and wrong are a little too blurry. 6/10 Will we ever see it? This is far more Oz than it is Prison Break. The bleak outlook and dark subject matter, as well as an all female cast, are all things likely to alienate audiences. Even with NBCs habit for bad decisions show wise I can€™t see this making it all the way. 5/10

Penoza

Writer/Executive producer: Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight, Dexter), Alon Aranya, Howard Klein (The Office, Parks and Recreation) Cast: Lee Tergesen (Oz) Luke Goss (Hellboy II) Network: ABC What€™s it about? A remake of a Dutch show. After a husband is murdered his wife is forced to take over his drug running business whilst also continuing to raise their family. What we thought: The Sopranos by way of Desperate Housewives, and it€™s a good thing most of the time as we follow the many generations of a crime family as they deal with the death of the patriarch but also the growing pressure of the thugs who want his business. This is an intriguing pilot that promises an interesting future, which probably isn€™t surprising judging by the caliber of Melissa Rosenberg who was Executive Producer on Dexter€™s impressive fourth season and wrote all of the Twilight films. 8/10 Will we ever see it? It€™s about time Melissa Rosenberg had a network TV show, there hasn€™t been a decent mob drama on TV for a while and the show is likely to be a favourite within the demographic; these facts should make it an easy decision for the network. 7/10

Elementary

Writer/Executive producer: Michael Cuesta (Homeland), Rob Doherty (Medium) Cast: Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone), Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels) Network: CBS What€™s it about? Another Modern take on Sherlock Holmes, with a female Dr.Watson assisting him as he solves crimes in New York City. What we thought: This is another CBS cookie cutter detective show, even with the addition of Sherlock Holmes it has none of the wit of The Mentalist and none of the style and ingenuity of the BBCs newest Holmes rendition, Sherlock. 2/10 Will we ever see it? It€™s a procedural where Sherlock Holmes track down serial killers, just because it works on paper is usually good enough for CBS€”and they remain very successful because of it€”but I think this will end up being another boring and flat Unforgettable. But that probably won€™t stop it being picked up. 6/10

White Van Man

Writer/Executive producer: Bobby Bowman (Raising Hope), Mark Gordon (Criminal Minds) Cast: Kyle Bornheimer (Romantically Challenged), J.K. Simmons (The Closer) Network: ABC What€™s it about? Based on the BBC program of the same name this show follows a man who comes home to run his father€™s handyman business. What we thought: This belongs on CBS, ten years ago; an unfunny, unknowing and old style sitcom that is completely at odds with modern comedy styles and trends. ABC once again failing at getting a grip on comedy. 1/10 Will we ever see it? As desperate as ABC is for a hit comedy show I just can€™t see anyone tuning in for this. Another completely unnecessary and useless remake. 3/10

Mistresses

Writer/Executive producer: K.J. Steinberg (Gossip Girl), Robert Sertner (Revenge), Douglas Rae (UK Mistresses) What€™s it about? Based on the BBC series about four professional women who become friends again after several years, and each of them has a debaucherous love life that is just begging to be seen. Network: ABC What we thought: This show is Sex and the City without the city and with a whole lot more sex. It€™s about real professional, modern women dealing with the complexities of having a love life in this day and age without it all boiling down to the €œI need a man to complete me€ ideology that plagues network television. 7/10 Will we ever see it? ABC is so desperate for quality scripted shows Mistresses is their first pickup of the season and will be shooting ten episodes to be shown sometime in 2013 without even shooting a pilot! This marks K.J Steinberg as one of the big successes of this year€™s pilot season with this show already going and another show bound to be green lit. ORDERED TO SERIES

County

Writer/Executive producer: Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) Cast: Jason Ritter (The Event), Michael B Jordan (Chronicle), Aimee Garcia (Dexter) Network: NBC What€™s it all about? This show follows a group of new interns in a county hospital as they learn the hard way. What we thought: It has all of what makes hospital dramas such big hits with less of the Grey€™s Anatomy melodrama and more of the ER hospital inner-workings. And what€™s more it€™s about a country hospital, the lowest of the low, so there€™s more politics to mine in the future. However that really is about all that€™s new here. 6/10 Will we ever see it? NBC is desperate to have something that can come up against Grey€™s and something that might remind them of ER€™s past success on the network so this is a maybe, and with Jason Katims on board it€™s likely to be consistently good. However this show just doesn€™t seem to have enough different going for it, not enough to make it a sure thing anyhow. 5/10

Do No Harm

Writer/Executive producer: David Schulner (The Event), Michael Mayer (Smash), Peter Traugott (Samantha Who) Cast: Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show) Network: NBC What€™s it all about? This is a modern day Jekyll and Hyde story about a neurosurgeon who has multiple personalities. He€™s battled it for years but decides to stop fighting and let the other half live, which reeks havoc on those around him. What we thought: Now here€™s a hospital drama with a difference, a very dark and somewhat disturbing difference in this tale of a man with an evil side who tries to keep up appearances as a surgeon but has no recollection of what he might be doing at night. It€™s entertaining, spicy and out there. 7/10 Will we ever see it? This is a big risk for NBC no matter how you slice it, but the dark drama does have a procedural edge to it and NBC have taken some risks with €œout there€ shows that seem to be paying off in Awake and Grimm, so it€™s hard to judge on this one. 6/10

First Cut

Writer/Executive Producer: Jennie Snyder Urman (90210), Dan Jinks (Pushing Daisies) Cast: Michael Rady (Melrose Place, Greek), Kelly J. McCreary (White Collar), Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep€™s daughter!), Justin Hartley (Smallville). Network: The CW What€™s it about? Follows a new resident surgeon who thinks she has left High School behind only to find that the hospital she works at is just a new kind of High School. What we thought? This is a high school drama disguised as a medical show, which is actually quite ingenious. Unfortunately apart from that, there is absolutely nothing new to this show. 5/10 Will we ever see it? As perfect for The CW as I think this may well be, there are much better options for them this season. 4/10

Gilded Lillys

Writer/Executive producer: K.J. Steinberg (The Nine, Gossip Girl), Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers (Grey€™s Anatomy) Cast: John Barrowman (Torchwood), Brian F. O'Byrne (Prime Suspect), Madeline Zima (Californication), Matt Lauria (Friday Night Lights), Matt Long (Mad Men), Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives), Maury Sterling (Homeland) and Sarah Bolger (The Tudors) Network: ABC What€™s it about? Follows the exploits of a rich family and their staff in the first New York City hotel to allow the general public to stay as well as the rich. What we thought: This is a magnificent period drama that has everything: class struggle, love, mystery, debauchery and fantastic dialogue. This is the American version of Downton Abbey and where that show was English and quaint this show is American and loud. 8/10 Will we ever see it? Shonda Rhimes will be helming this show and it follows the trend of ABC€™s new chief picking up cable sounding dramas for the network. And after the somewhat surprising success of Downton Abbey in the US, and other period shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire making it big, there is no doubt a market for this kind of show. 8/10 That€™s it for this week€™s Pilot Reviews. Be sure to check out next week€™s article where I will be covering the last in this series of Pilot Season trends €œcable networks want boobs€ and €œsitcoms are still funny aren€™t they?€ 2012 TV Pilot Review €“ Serial Killers & Apocalyptic Conspiracies
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