2012 TV Pilot Review - Serial Killers & Apocalyptic Conspiracies

NBC's Hannibal, new pilots from J.J. Abrams, Kevin Williamson and more coming to a television near us... maybe.

Every year around now something is happening in LA. There€™s a universal holding of breath as people ramp up for the crazy and exciting couple of months that make up €œPilot Season€. Let€™s just get straight into the lingo, €œPilot Season€ is the part of the year where networks in LA decide to try out ideas and scripts by producing a first episode, the €œpilot€ episode. This process is called €œgreen lighting€ and this year has a seen a plethora of scripts green lit from established names like J.J Abrams (Lost), Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), Doug Ellin (Entourage), David S. Goyer (Batman Begins), Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) to name just a few. Most of these pilots will never see the light of day, and there are many factors to this but usually it comes down to a mixture of quality and timing. We€™ve decided to take the initiative for the next three weeks we are going to give you a feel for each pilot that has been green lit so far for next season as well as giving you our own take on whether or not it will make it to air. One of the biggest make or break elements for pilots and their writers is that their ideas are trendy, and because of that lots of the pilots end up feeling similar. Each week we will explore two of this season€™s trends. This week we will be exploring €œEnd of the world conspiracy adventures€ and €œSerial killers are cool€.

Last Resort

Writer/Executive Producers: Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Terriers) and Karl Gajdusek (Dead Like Me) Cast: Andre Braugher (Homicide), Scott Speedman (Felicity), Autumn Reeser (No Ordinary Family), Daisy Betts (Persons Unknown) and Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse). Network: ABC What€™s it all about? Last Resort is an epic story that follows the crew of a U.S. nuclear submarine who become fugitives after refusing to fire their missiles. They decide to use their nuclear weapons as a deterrent, creating their own independent nuclear nation on an island that hosts a NATO listening station. What we thought: An amazingly refreshing, original and engaging story that puts a lot of ideologies and beliefs to the test, creating compelling characters and an overwhelming sense of €œwill they, won€™t they€ dread. 9/10 Will we ever see it? This will be unmissable for most, however its lack of any procedural elements means the network really needs to get the advertising right if they hope to pull in the audience that this script deserves. 7/10

Zero Hour

Writer/Executive Producer: Paul Schering (Prison Break) Cast: Scott Michael Foster (Greek) and Addison Timlin (Californication) Network: ABC What€™s it all about? The cynical editor of a skeptic magazine is sucked into a worldwide conspiracy when his wife picks up an antique watch that is more than meets the eye. What we thought: An interesting pilot premise with some great character moments and a strong central dilemma. However, in the wake of big budget conspiracy movies like Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, this feels a little repetitive. 5/10 Will we ever see it? This pilot has a budget that means it almost has to go to series, as well as some big name producers behind it. However, given the competition on ABC for series, this may not get all the way€”although it may end up at a different network. 5/10


Writer/Executive Producer: Rockne S. O€™Bannon (V, Farscape), Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (The O.C, Gossip Girl) Cast: Alona Tal (Supernatural), Jessica Lucas (90210, Melrose Place) Network: The CW What€™s it all about? A brooding detective is investigating a series of murders that are taking place in LA that mimic a new TV show about the hunt for a crazed serial killer. What we thought: A very, very dark pilot that plays with the meta idea of a show within a show without seeming completely stupid or overwhelming the audience. 6/10 Will we ever see it? This is a complex idea to sell, but is ripe for a fantastic viral advertising campaign and is destined to be a cult favorite. I think The CW is unlikely to miss out an opportunity like this. 6/10

The Selection

Writer/Executive Producer: Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft (The Vampire Diaries, Dollhouse) Cast: Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights) Network: The CW What€™s it all about? In the distant future in a dystopian America there is the ultimate reality show: a lottery pits a selection of girls against one another as they compete for the heart of the future king. What we thought: An interesting and engaging teen drama that hits several trends of the year, the future dystopia of The Hunger Games coupled with the reality notion of becoming something from nothing. At times, however, it feels less like borrowing from its inspirations and more like outright stealing€”so far the main character is a carbon copy of The Hunger Game€™s Katniss. 6/10 Will we ever see it? This probably depends entirely on the success or failure of The Hunger Games in cinemas. Since we€™re betting on success expect this on your screens very soon. 8/10


Writer/Executive Producer: Eric Kripke (Supernatural), J.J Abrams (Lost, Fringe, Star Trek) Notes: Pilot to be directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) Cast: Giancarlo Eposito (Gus in Breaking Bad), Tracy Spiridakos (Being Human) and Anna Lise Phillips (Terra Nova) Network: NBC What€™s it all about? This pilot follows a young girl who is trying to find her abducted brother in a world where all forms of electrical energy have stopped working. In her way is The Militia who will stop at nothing to find her uncle who may or may not know what happened to the world. What we thought: An interesting premise that leads to an uninteresting pilot filled with two-dimensional characters and a pretty ridiculous plot€”at the end of the day J.J Abrams does not have a great track record with answering mysteries (Lost€ ahem) and this ends up as another to add to the pile. 4/10 Will we ever see it? It€™s J.J Abrams with Jon Favreau directing; this show is as good as on air. 8/10 Will it last more than one season though? I doubt it; audiences are getting inpatient with mystery shows (check out the ratings for Alcatraz another J.J Abrams mystery show).


Writer/Executive Producer: Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls) Network: NBC What€™s it all about? This is the origin story of everyone€™s favorite serial killer Hannibal Lecter. It follows the idiosyncratic detective Will Graham and his budding relationship with Hannibal as they work together to get inside the head of a different serial killer each week. What we thought: Constantly familiar yet always inventive, Bryan Fuller creates rich characters and surprises. The tone is less dark than Silence of the Lambs but somehow far more sinister. 8/10 Will we ever see it? This is the wet dream of every executive in TV land, serial killers AND a brand. As such this has already been ordered to series. Expect this show to be the break out hit of next season. 10/10

Untitled Kevin Williamson Pilot

Writer/Executive Producer: Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle) Cast: Natalie Zea (Justified), Kevin Bacon Network: FOX What€™s it all about? The pilot centers on a diabolical serial killer who escapes from prison and starts using modern technology to create a cult of serial killers. The now retired and messed up FBI agent who caught him is brought back on the case to catch him. What we thought: Full of clichés this is a pilot that knows what it is and ends up surprising enough to make you want to watch the next episode. 7/10 Will we ever see it? The only reason this may never see the light of the day is that it appears to be extremely serialized which is not a favorite of Fox. 5/10


Writer/Executive Producer: Michael Green (Green Lantern, Heroes) and Erwin Stoff (I am Legend, Water for Elephants) Cast: Barry Sloane (Pleasureland) Network: ABC What€™s it all about? This show centers on a tenacious female cop who inadvertently finds out that there is a magical underworld in New York City and has to learn all about the way of this world as she is the only person who can help them stop the evil that is coming. What we thought: This is an interesting idea that collides the world of fantasy with the world of CSI, it€™s a great idea on paper, but the pilot spent a whole lot of time explaining the complexities of this magical world instead of explaining why we should tune in every week. 4/10 Will we ever see it? This show is already on the ABC backburner and with several fantasy crossover shows already on the air (Grimm and Once Upon a Time) this show feels like it€™s late to the party. 3/10 That€™s all for this week€™s Pilot Season reviews. Next week I will be looking over two more season trends, €œRemaking is breaking€ and €œGrey€™s Anatomy has got to end sometime€ And the following week I will be looking over some other trends: €œcable networks want boobs€ and €œsitcoms are still funny aren€™t they?€

Fred Salmon hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.