Pre-Upfront US TV Pilot Roundup – May 2019 Edition
Next week sees the main US TV network give their Upfront presentations when they announce their new shows… and also cancel ones which aren’t doing so well. We thought now would be good to take a look at the various new series that could potentially be hitting our telly boxes in the next 12 months, so here is a rundown of some of the shows which have already been picked up, and pilots which may still make it to screen.
We’ll begin with The CW, who keeps its reputation as the most producer-friendly network by renewing 14 current series along with announcing a number of new pickups. They had 6 pilots in contention, and have already, pretty much, laid out their stall for the next season. Riverdale’ spin-off ‘Katy Keene‘, Arroverse show ‘Batwoman‘ and a new adaptation of classic book series ‘Nancy Drew‘ all got handed series orders.
Out of the remaining 3 pilots, ‘The Lost Boys’ pilot didn’t come in as strong as they would have liked, but The CW still like the idea, so have sent the producers back to do some reworking and possible recasting. ‘Jane The Virgin’ spin-off, ‘Jane the Novela’ is not moving forward at the network, so that is off the table. That just leaves ‘Glamorous’ as the last pilot at the network still in contention for pick up. ‘Glamorous’ follows Marco (Ben J. Pierce – ‘Fuller House’), a gender-nonconforming recent high school graduate lands the gig of a lifetime interning at a cosmetics company whose products he panned on YouTube. Cast also includes Peyton List, Susan Santiago, Chester Lockhart, Brady Dalton Richards, Brooke Shields, Jade Payton, and Pierson Fodé.
The CW Upfront is on Thursday, 16th May 2019 at 4pm (UK)/11am (NYC), so expect some more information then.
NBC had 14 pilots in contention this year. So far, they have picked up legal drama ‘Bluff City Law‘ starring Jimmy Smits, immigrant comedy ‘Sunnyside‘ from Kal Penn and Michael Schur, and comedy ‘Council of Dads‘ about a father of four gets a cancer diagnosis, he calls on a few of his closest allies to step in as back-up dads. ‘Law & Order: Hate Crimes’, which follows an elite, specially trained team investigating crimes motivated by discrimination, was originally handed a 13-episode series order, but has now been pushed back to allow more development.
That still leave 10 possible pilots still out there on the table for the peacock network. Out of those, the comedy ‘Perfect Harmony’, which sees a rural church choir gets the director it never thought it needed when a salty, Ivy League music professor (Bradley Whitford – ‘The West Wing’, ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’) stumbles through their door, has been getting some good buzz. ‘The Kenan Show’, which follows Kenan Thompson as a newly widowed dad who is determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives, also seems to be on track. ‘Like Magic’, which is a workplace comedy following an optimistic young woman (Jee Young Han – ‘Station 19’) who pursues her dream of becoming a headlining magician in the eccentric and ego-driven world of the Magic Palace, also seems possible for pickup.
On the drama side, ‘Lincoln’, which is based on the bestselling Bone Collector book series starring Russell Hornsby (‘Proven Innocent’), Arielle Kebbel (‘Midnight, Texas’) and Michael Imperioli (‘The Sopranos’) seems likely for pick up. Also ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’, which stars Jane Levy (‘Castle Rock’, ‘Suburgatory’) in an innovative musical dramedy about a whip-smart but socially awkward girl who is suddenly able to hear the innermost thoughts of people around her as songs and even big musical numbers that they perform just for her, seems like it has a good chance.
NBC’s Upfront is on Monday, 13th May 2019 at 3.30pm (UK)/10.30am (NYC), so expect some more information then.
Over on Fox, they had 12 pilots in contention, and so far, have only picked up two animated comedies and passed on one, so there is lots to play for here. The two pickups were ‘Duncanville‘, from ‘The Simpson’s writers Mike & Julie Scully with Amy Poehler, about a spectacularly average 15-year-old boy, along with his friends and family. Also ‘Bless the Harts‘, which comes from ‘SNL’ writer Emily Spivey, and is EPed by the legendary Lord & Miller, and follows a group of Southerners who are always broke as a joke and struggling for the American dream of status and wealth. They passed on comedy series ‘Adam & Eve’, which followed one couple at three stages of their relationship.
Out of the remaining comedy pilots ‘Geniuses’, which follows a blue-collar couple in South Jersey tries to get by and raise four kids, three of whom just happen to be certified geniuses, is still popular within the network. Another show looking good for pickup is ‘Richard Lovely’, which stars Thomas Lennon (‘Lethal Weapon’, ‘Santa Clarita Diet’) as the disgruntled author of Mr Mouse, a best-selling children’s book series. He doesn’t hate children… just everything about them. After a publicity fiasco involving an unexpectedly savvy 9-year-old kid, Mr Mouse appears in Richard’s real life as he is forced into an unlikely father-son relationship that will change his life forever. ‘Patty’s Autos’, which is inspired by Patrice Banks’ real-life Girls Auto Clinic, an auto repair shop with all female mechanics, is also still in contention.
On the drama side, Tom Payne and Michael Sheen starring serial-killer pilot ‘Prodigal Son’ looks to have a good chance for pickup, and AI drama ‘neXT’ from ’24’ writer and ’24: Legacy’ co-creator Manny Coto is also looking strong. ‘Filthy Rich’, which is a southern gothic dramedy starring Kim Cattrall, and follows the family of the wealthy CEO of the world’s largest Christian network who dies in a plane crash, only to discover he has illegitimate kids who also are in his will, also has a good chance.
The FOX Upfront is on Monday, 13th May 2019 at 9pm (UK)/4pm (NYC), so expect some more information then.
Over at the mouse house’s network, they had a whopping 17 pilots in contention, and have only picked up ‘Stumptown’ (working title) starring Cobie Smulders and ‘Black-ish’ spin-off ‘Mixed-ish’ so far. Whilst there are a number of comedies in contention, it looks like the network are looking mainly towards dramas to fill in empty slots at the moment, however, the following seem to be getting the most buzz:
‘Heart of Life’, which is apparently inspired by a John Mayer song, follows two sets of adult siblings from wildly different worlds discover they’re related and must reassess everything they thought they knew about their shared father. As they explore the mystery of their separate childhoods, they’ll experience the difficulty in overcoming the sins of the past and learn the joys of reuniting with long-lost family.
‘NYPD Blue’ which is a continuation of the classic 1993-2005 series, and follows Theo (played by newcomer Fabien Frankel), the son of the original series’ lead character Andy Sipowicz, as he tries to earn his detective shield and work in the 15th squad while investigating his father’s murder. Like his dad, Theo also is a hard-drinking, hard-headed and quick-witted cop.
‘Untitled Hank Steinberg /50 Cent Legal Drama’ which stars Nicholas Pinnock (‘Counterpart’) and follows a prisoner who becomes a lawyer, litigating cases for other inmates while fighting to overturn his own life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. His quest for freedom is driven by his desperate desire to get back to the family he loves and reclaim the life that was stolen from him. The show will also, through the window of his ferocious struggle and complicated relationship with a progressive female prison warden, examine the flaws and challenges in the penal and legal systems.
‘Untitled Hannah Simone Comedy’ follows Hannah and her Indian-American immigrant father, who have always have been close, but after she admits to herself that she’s in a dead-end job and he reveals his marriage is over, they’re starting over together and each finding a new path. This new chapter will either make them crazy close… or just crazy. Hannah Simone (‘New Girl’) is writer and exec producer on the series along with being the star.
ABC’s Upfront is on Tuesday, 14th May 2019 at 9pm (UK)/4pm (NYC), so expect some more information then.
Lastly from the main networks, we have CBS, who have 16 pilots in contention at the moment, and at time of writing, don’t seem to have picked up anything so far. Out of their potential shows, the following seem to be getting the most buzz:
‘Evil’, which comes from ‘The Good Wife’ creators Robert and Michelle King, is a battle between science and religion that focuses on a sceptical clinical psychologist who joins a priest-in-training and a blue-collar contractor to investigate supposed miracles, demonic possessions and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there’s a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural is at work. Katja Herbers (‘Westworld’), Mike Colter (‘Luke Cage’), Michael Emerson (‘Lost’, ‘Person Of Interest’) and Aasif Mandvi (‘Blue Bloods’, ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’) are set to star.
‘Courthouse’ pulls back the curtain on the court system and follows the dedicated, chaotic, hopeful and sometimes absurd lives of the judges, assistant district attorneys and public defenders as they work with bailiffs, clerks, cops and jurors to bring justice to the people of Los Angeles. Jessica Camacho (‘The Flash’s Gypsy), Wilson Bethel (‘Daredevil’) and Marg Helgenberger (‘CSI’, ‘Under The Dome’) lead the cast.
‘Tommy’ is a police drama starring Edie Falco (‘The Sopranos’, ‘Nurse Jackie’) as a former high-ranking NYPD officer who becomes the first female Chief of Police for Los Angeles. She uses her unflinching honesty and hardball tactics to navigate the social, political, and national security issues that converge with enforcing the law.
‘Under the Bridge’ is set in a medical practice run by a surgeon (Jennifer Morrison – ‘House’, ‘Once Upon a Time’) with her husband and their friends. When her practice is rocked by a scandal she rises to the occasion and takes the lead in trying to mend both the practice and her own marriage.
‘Carol’s Second Act’ is a comedy starring Patricia Heaton (‘The Middle’) as Carol Chambers, who, after raising her two children and retiring from teaching, embarks on a unique second act: she’s going to become a doctor. Kyle MacLachlan (‘Twin Peaks’) co-stars.
‘Bob Hearts Abishola’ comes from the legendary Chuck Lorre (‘Big Bang’, ‘Two & A Half Men’), and Follows Bob (Billy Gardell – ‘Mike and Molly’) who, after having a heart attack, falls in love with his Nigerian nurse (Folake Olowofoyeku – ‘Transparent’) and sets his sights on getting her to give him a chance.
‘The Unicorn’ is a comedy starring Walton Goggins (‘Justified’, ‘Deep State’) as a widower who is eager to move on from the most difficult year of his life, only to realize he’s utterly unprepared to raise his two daughters on his own and equally unprepared for the dating world… where, to his shock, he’s suddenly a hot commodity.
The CBS Upfront is on Wednesday, 15th May 2019 at 9pm (UK)/4pm (NYC), so expect some more information then.
We will, of course, be posting updates as things change throughout the week, so keep an eye on the site homepage for the latest info. You can also check the Renewals/Cancellations page for updates along with the UK Air Dates page for the latest UK premiere dates.
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.