Round up of the latest US Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pilots!
So, we’re about reaching that time of year when the US tv networks start commissioning pilots to air in the ‘Fall’ 2013 Season (that’s Autumn to us Britishers)… And this year, there are a lot of them! Probably because nothing from the 2012 pilot season really leapt out as a huge breakout hit. Things have done okay, but nothing has set the tv universe alight. So, the networks are spreading a wide net, looking at dramas, comedies, and there’s also an lot of sci-fi/fantasy based pilots, so I thought I’d do a little round-up of some of the ones that stood out to me. Lot’s of shows based on novels, comic books, Legends and fairy-tales this season. First up…
S.H.I.E.L.D. – ABC
Joss Whedon’s back on the small screen with S.H.I.E.L.D. A tv show set in Marvel’s universe, around the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. The show’s being written and exec produced by Joss (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible, The Avengers…), brother Jed Whedon & his wife Maurissa Tancharoen (Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible, Spartacus). Jeffrey Jackson Bell (The X-Files, Angel) and comic/tv writer Jeph Loeb are also serving as exec producers.
The show will star Clark Gregg reprising his role as agent Phil Coulson, Ming-Na (Stargate Universe, Eureka) as Agent Melinda May, Ian De Caestecker (The Fades) as Agent Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Gemma Simmons, , Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet (Nashville) as Skye. Cobie Smulders is also rumoured to be involved, reprising her Avenger’s role as Maria Hill, but not sure to what capacity as it clashes with filming the final season of HIMYM.
I’ll be truly amazed if this doesn’t get picked up to series given the buzz about it!
The Originals – CW
‘The Originals’ is a spin-off from The Vampire Diaries, with Season 4, Episode 20 serving as a ‘back-door pilot’ for the show. ‘The Originals’ centers on Niklaus Mikaelson (Klaus) and the original family of vampires, as he returns to the supernatural crucible that is the French Quarter of New Orleans, a town he helped build centuries ago, and is reunited with his diabolical former apprentice Marcel… Stars Joseph Morgan, Claire Holt, Daniel Gillies, Daniella Pineda, Phoebe Tonkin, Charles Michael Davis, Danielle Campbell, and Leah Pipes.
Given the run away success of TVD, i’d be surprised if this doesn’t get picked up. But then they probably thought The Secret Circle (by the same author) should have been a smash hit, and that didn’t turn out so well… However, a show that directly ties to TVD stands a much better chance of success!
Believe – NBC
First of this years offering from J. J. Abrams/Bad Robot. The show sees them team up with ‘Children of Men’ & ‘Harry Potter’ director Alfonso Cuarón, with a story written by Cuarón and Mark Friedman (The Forgotten) about a young girl who is powerfully gifted, although her powers won’t manifest fully for 7 more years. To keep her safe, Tate (Jake McLaughlin – In Plain Sight, Crash), is sprung from prison to protect her from the evil that hunts her power.
J.J.’s tv shows have been a bit hit and miss, but always interesting, and teaming up with Cuarón really can’t do any harm. I’d be quite surprised if it didn’t at least make it to a 1st season.
As Yet Untitled J.J. Abrams Show About Android Cops!
2nd show from J.J. and Bad Robot. Written by Fringe writer and co-executive producer J.H. Wyman, it’s described as a buddy cop show set in the near future, where the LAPD police are partnered up with human-like androids.
No more info yet, but this sounds awesome. 😀
The Tomorrow People – CW
Remake of the classic British sci-fi tv show by Roger Price, about a group of young people across the world who emerge as the next stage of human evolution – Homo superior. These gifted kids have telepathy telekinesis, and can teleport, amongst other things. This version is being written by Chuck scribe Phil Klemmer, with Greg Berlanti (Arrow, Green Lantern, No Ordinary Family), and Julie Plec (TVD, Kyle XY) as exec producers, and the pilot is being directed by Danny Cannon (Dark Blue, Nikita, Alcatraz), who’s also exec producing. Peyton List (Mad Men, 90210, FlashForward) is the only announced cast member at the moment.
Tommorow People has a decent team behind it, so it’ll be interesting to see if it makes it to series.
Gothica – ABC
Set in the present day San Francisco, where Grace Van Helsing discovers all the myths and legends, such as Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein and Dracula exist. Raza Jaffrey (Spooks, Smash) is playing police detective John Harker, who is investigating the death of Grace’s brother Chris, Tom Ellis (The Fades, Doctor Who) is playing Victor Frankenstein, and Chris Egan (Home and Away) is playing Dorian Gray. It’s being written by Matt Lopez (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Race to Witch Mountain), with Mark Gordon (Grey’s Anatomy, Reaper) as EP. The pilot is directed by Anand Tucker (Red Riding).
Interesting concept, but could go either way, depending on how it’s handled.
Super Clyde – CBS
What happens when a shy comic book geek inherits 100k a month from an eccentric uncle? Why he takes the money to live out his dream of trying to become a superhero! Stars Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint. It’s being written and exec produced by Greg Garcia (Raising Hope, My Name Is Earl) and Michael Fresco (Raising Hope, My Name Is Earl), who’s also directing the pilot.
It may not be the most original idea (see Kick-Ass, but with money), however, you’ve got a much loved actor in the lead, and 2 guys that have produced a number of successful shows together behind it, so it could be one to watch out for.
Intelligence – CBS
Staring Lost’s Josh Holloway, Intelligence is set inside a unit of U.S. Cyber Command based around one man who’s had a microchip implanted in his brain that allows him to access the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Holloway plays Gabriel Black, a former Navy SEAL with the chip in his head. It’s being written by Michael Seitzman with David Semel directing, who interestingly enough, also directed the pilot for Person of Interest, which has a not too dissimilar plot idea. Michael Rady (Emily Owens MD) will co-star as Chris Jameson.
Hard to say which way this’ll go.
Under The Dome – CBS
From a Stephen King novel, and developed by comic book writer Brian K. Vaughan, the show follows the story of Chester’s Mills, a small town in Maine… (naturally… this being Stephen King!) The townsfolk suddenly find themselves inexplicably surrounded by an impenetrable transparent dome. Unable to escape, the people panic, as a small group try to maintain order, and figure out what the heck happened!
This has already been picked up for a 13 episode season, with Neal Baer (A Gifted Man, Law & Order: SVU, ER) as showrunner, and Steven Spielberg and Stephen King as exec producers. The show stars Mike Vogel (The Help, Cloverfield) as Dale, an ex-army vet with a mysterious past, Rachelle Lefevre (A Gifted Man) as reporter Julia, Colin Ford (young Sam in Supernatural flashbacks) as a teen who’s parents are trapped out the dome, Dean Norris (Hank in Breaking Bad) as a politician/car salesman trying to take control of the town, Natalie Martinez (CSI: NY) as Deputy Linda, and Britt Robertson (Cassie in The Secret Circle) as nurse Angie.
Got a good cast and a good team behind it. Already picked up, so if you’re a fan of other King based shows like ‘Haven’, it’ll be worth watching out for.
The Sixth Gun – NBC
Adaptation of the graphic novel set just after the US civil war, about 6 mythical guns which imbue special powers on anyone that wields them. TV show is being adapted by Lost’s Carlton Cuse, who’s also serving as showrunner.
Hard to say how this will go, but a supernatural version of Hell On Wheels? Could be interesting!
Wonderland – NBC
This is one of 2 Alice-based ideas to hit this year (the other – Wunderland… from McG…) This version puts Lewis Carroll’s famous character in a modern setting, introducing a character call Clara, who’s trying to get her life back on track after it took a ‘turn for the worse’, when a mysterious stranger tells her the explanation lies in the fantastical world of Wonderland… Well as pick up lines go, it’s original. 😉 Clara must wage war against Wonderland’s reigning Queen, the woman we once knew as Alice.
It’s looking like this has been greenlit due to a development deal CSI creator Anthony Zuiker, who’s serving as exec producer, has with NBC. It’s been written by Whit Anderson, who as far as I can tell, has no previous writing credits, other than a rejected pilot for that horrible Buffy reboot idea. Have to say i’m not totally convinced by this, but as it sees to be a goer, we’ll get to judge soon enough…
Delirium – FOX
Based on the tween novels by Lauren Oliver, and adapted by Prison Break & Bones writer Karyn Usher, the show is set in a world where love has been made illegal, and is even be removed with surgery at the age of 18. Lena Holoway is looking forward to the procedure, having been taught all her life that love is a disease by the totalitarian government… However, 95 days before her 18th, Lena falls in love…
Star’s Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia, appeared in Scream 4, and 220.127.116.11), as Lena, Billy Campbell (The Killing, The 4400) and Corey Reynolds (The Closer). It’s being exec produced by Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope, who were EPs on Touch, New Girl and Terra Nova.
Angsty teen dramas tend to go down well, so if the pilot works, we may see a series.
Sleepy Hollow – Fox
A modern-day version of The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, see 18th century revolutionary war captain Ichabod Crane flung into the modern day town of Sleepy Hollow, where he becomes accused of murdering a police officer. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time! Unable to prove his identity (and claiming to be from the past…), Detective Abby Archer (Nicole Beharie) is… somewhat skeptical… of Crane’s story. However, when Archer’s partner is brutally murdered in a bizarre attack, only one other person can corroborate her story, and that’s Crane.
Orlando Jones will play a Lt. Frank Williams – sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a double murder, and Katia Winter (Dexter) will play Crane’s wife. No news yet on who’s playing the man himself.
Once Upon A Time’s success has a lot to answer of this season, with a number of pilot’s raking up new twists on old legends, however, this one is being written by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, the duo behind Fringe, and the remake of Hawaii Five-O, so weird and mystical cop drama should be right up their street! Could be one to watch out for.
The Last Ship – TNT
Based on the novel by William Brinkley and adapted by Hank Steinberg (Without a Trace, The Nine), The Last Ship centres on the crew of a naval destroyer who are stranded on board after a global catastrophe decimates the Earth’s population. Stars Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy), Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Chuck), Rhona Mitra (Strike Back, SGU), Michaela McManus (Awake, TVD, Law & Order: SVU), Charles Parnell, Travis Van Winkle, Christina Elmore, & Sam Spruell.
Not the most original idea, but it’s got Adam Baldwin in it, so as a thanks for Jayne (and that hat), i’ll root for it on that basis. 😉
The Selection – CW
Based on the book by Kiera Cass, The Selection is set 300 year in the future, where a young working class woman is picked by lottery to compete with 25 others for the hand of the royal prince, and the chance to become the next queen. The competition is cutthroat, and she must pick between her loyalty to family, love and the kingdom.
Only cast announced so far are Sean Patrick Thomas (Save the Last Dance) playing social secretary to the royal family, and guide to the girls, and Australian actress Peta Sergeant who’s playing the leader of the rebels trying to overthrow the royals.
If you’re thinking ‘this sounds very familiar’, you probably saw The Hunger Games movie, to which this seems to bear some similarity. They’re currently on their 2nd pilot for the show after it just missed the cut last year. The show’s being written by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain who were writers and story editors on the 4th & 5th seasons of Angel.
Oxygen – CW
From writer Meredith Averill (The Good Wife), Oxygen tells of an ‘epic romance’ between a human girl called Emery (Aimee Teegarden – Friday Night Lights), and Roman, an alien boy. It’s been 10 years since hundreds aliens landed on earth, and were consigned to an internment camps, so the boy and eight of his kind (know as ‘The Orion 9’) are part of a trail integration into a suburban high school.
Sounds a bit like ‘District 9’ for tweens, with some Twilight thrown in…
The Leftovers – HBO
Based on Tom Perrotta’s book of the same name – What happens to the people that didn’t make the cut when the Rapture happens… The story follows the citizens of Mapleton as they come to terms with family and friends just disappearing one day. Show is being written by Lost’s Damon Lindelof and Little Children scribe Tom Perrotta. No news on cast yet.
Interesting idea. Stephen King describes the book as ‘best Twilight Zone episode you never saw’, which is some decent praise, however it does make me wonder if you can stretch it to a series… Then this is being written by the guy who wrote Lost, so he has some experience in that area. 😉
Legends – TNT
Sean Bean stars as Martin Odum, a deep-cover CIA operative has an uncanny ability to transform himself into a different person for each job. It’s based on a novel by Robert Littell, and being adapted by Howard Gordon (24, Homeland, Awake), Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow) and Mark Bomback (Total Recall 2012, 24 – The Movie). Other cast includes Ali Larter (Heroes), Steve Harris (The Practice, Awake), Amber Valletta (Revenge), Rob Mayes (90210, The Client List), and Tina Majorino (True Blood, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones).
Legends has a nice simple TV show concept, a decent cast, and a really interesting bunch of writers. I’ll be really intriguing to see how it turns out.
So, that’s all for now! There are lots more pilots out there though, and this is just a selection of the most geeky/genre based ones I could see. We’ll keep you updated with news on these shows as we get it!
Let me know what you think in the comments! 🙂
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.