Home TV News US TV Pilot Pickups – June 2020 Edition

US TV Pilot Pickups – June 2020 Edition

by Dave Elliott
US TV Pilot Pickups - June 2020 Edition

US TV Pilot Pickups – June 2020 Edition

It’s a strange time in US TV at the moment (well… it’s a strange time in the world right now generally)… But for those of us that follow US TV, this would usually be around the time that the broadcasters would be announcing all their new shows for the “Fall Season” following the production of a huge number of pilots over the last few months. However, due to the global pandemic, only one pilot was actually shot this year before COVID-19 shut everything down.

The shutdown has led to the networks picking up fewer new shows this year, and the shows which have been picked up were given straight-to-series orders, but most have not yet started filming. Most networks have gone on to say that they will likely pick up more shows later on, once pilots can be filmed, and they have a better idea of what they are buying.

Following on from our “After The TV Bloodbath 2020” cancellation/renewals article, here is a round-up of those lucky dramas and comedies which have been given straight-to-series orders. Note: Like the “Bloodbath” article, we are focusing on the “big five” US broadcast networks rather than cable and streaming services.

The CW

Kung Fu – The CW

From the people behind ‘Blindspot’, the series follows Nicky Chen (Olivia Liang – ‘Legacies’), a young Chinese-American woman who drops out of college and goes on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. When she returns to find her hometown overrun with crime and corruption, she uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice, along with searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her.

The series also stars Tzi Ma (‘Wu Assassins’, ‘Silicon Valley’) and Kheng Hua Tan (‘Marco Polo’, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’), who play her parents, Jin Chen and Mei-Li, a pair of restaurateurs whose secrets threaten to destroy their lives just as they deal with the return of their estranged daughter. Jon Prasida (‘Hiding’, ‘Warriors’) plays younger brother Ryan, a quick-witted medical student who has to deal with the sudden return of his estranged sister, alongside Shannon Dang (‘The Romanoffs’, ‘The L Word: Generation Q’) as Althea, Nicky’s larger-than-life older sister who’s newly engaged and on her way to planning her dream Chinese wedding. Eddie Liu (‘Silicon Valley’, ‘The Waiting Room’) plays Henry Chu, a martial arts instructor and Chinese art history buff who has instant chemistry with Nicky.

The new iteration of ‘Kung Fu’ is written by Christina M. Kim, who was writer/exec producer on ‘Blindspot’. She will also EP the series alongside ‘Blindspot’ creator Martin Gero, with ‘Arrowverse’s Greg Berlanti & Sarah Schechter from Berlanti Productions.

The Republic of Sarah – The CW

‘The Republic Of Sarah’ follows the story of high school teacher Sarah Cooper. Faced with the destruction of her town at the hands of a greedy mining company, the rebellious teacher utilises an obscure cartographical loophole to declare it as an independent nation. Now she must lead a young group of misfits as they attempt to start their own country from scratch.

Stella Baker (‘Tell Me Your Secrets’) takes the lead role of Sarah, and is joined by Nia Holloway (‘Hawaii Five-0’), Luke Mitchell (‘Blindspot’, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’), Izabella Alvarez (‘Westworld’, ‘Shameless’), Hope Lauren (‘Awkward.’, ‘Supergirl’), Ian Duff (‘New Amsterdam’), Forrest Goodluck (‘The Revenant’), and Landry Bender (‘Fuller House’).

The series comes from writer-producer Jeffrey Paul King (‘Elementary’) with producer-director Marc Webb (‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’, ‘Limitless’). Fulwell 73 and CBS TV Studios produce the series.

Superman and Lois – The CW

Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch reprise their Arrowverse roles as the man of steel and his intrepid reporter wife. The series revolves around the world’s most famous superhero and comic books’ most famous journalist as they deal with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society.

Alongside Hoechlin and Tulloch, the series stars Jordan Elsass (‘Little Fires Everywhere’) & Alexander Garfin (‘The Peanuts Movie’) as the couples now teen children, Jonathan and Jordan Kent; Dylan Walsh (‘Nip/Tuck’, ‘Longmire’, ‘Unforgettable’) who takes over the role of General Samuel Lane, Lois’s father; Emmanuelle Chriqui (‘The Passage’) takes the role of Lana Lang, whilst Erik Valdez (‘Graceland’) plays her husband, Kyle Cushing.

Former ‘Flash’ showrunner Todd Helbing exec produces the series alongside with Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Geoff Johns via Berlanti Productions. ‘Superman & Lois’ was given a straight-to-series order of 13-episodes.

Walker – The CW

Starring one half of ‘Supernatural’s Winchester brothers, Jared Padalecki, the “reimagining” of the 90s action series ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’, follows Cordell Walker (Padalecki), a man finding his way back to his family while investigating crime in the state’s most elite unit. The broken widower and father of two returns home to Austin after being undercover for two years for a high profile case, only to discover that there’s even more work to be done at home.

In this new version, Walker has a female partner, Micki, one of the only women in Texas Rangers’ history. She is played by Lindsey Morgan, who is probably best known for her role as Raven Reyes in ‘The 100’. Together, they are described as “the modern-day heroes our world needs, following their own moral code to fight for what’s right, regardless of the rules.”

The series also stars Mitch Pileggi as Bonham Walker, the “conservative and tough as nails” father to Cordell; Molly Hagan (‘Sully’) as Abeline Walker, Cordell’s mother, an unstoppable force of nature; Violet Brinson (‘Sharp Objects’) and Kale Culley (‘Me, Myself and I’) as Cordell’s teen kids, Stella and Arlo; Jeff Pierre (‘Once Upon a Time’) as Trey Barnett, Micki’s warm and loving, but haunted, boyfriend; And Coby Bell (‘The Gifted’) as Captain Larry James, a Texas Ranger Captain, a trailblazer in his division, confident, sharp as a razor.

The drama is written by Anna Fricke (‘Wayward Pines’, ‘Being Human’, ‘Valor’) with Fricke, Padalecki, and Dan Lin (‘Lethal Weapon’) exec producing.

Pilots Still in Contention At The CW

As I mentioned above, more pilots are expected to be picked up as the US broadcasters get back to filming. Shows still in contention for The CW include the much talked about tv remake of ‘The Lost Boys’, which has been “rolled” to a possible pick up next season; Also “rolled” is political drama ‘Maverick’, set in a present-day America that finds itself under authoritarian rule, and follows the president’s daughter who starts questioning her loyalty to her father; ‘Green Arrow and the Canaries’, which was backdoor piloted during the final season of ‘Arrow’; And The 100′ Prequel, set 97 years before the events of the original series, and was also backdoor piloted during the final season of the parent show.


Big Sky – ABC

From ‘Big Little Lies’ creator David E. Kelley, the series follows private detectives Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt who join forces with his estranged wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt, to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. But when they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they must race against the clock to stop the killer before another woman is taken.

The series stars Katheryn Winnick (‘Vikings’) as Jenny Hoyt, Kylie Bunbury (‘When They See Us’) as Cassie Dewell, Brian Geraghty (‘Chicago Fire/PD’) as Ronald Pergman, Dedee Pfeiffer (‘Cybill’) as Denise Brisbane, Natalie Alyn Lind (‘The Gifted’) as Danielle Sullivan, Jesse James Keitel (‘Forever Alone’) as Jerrie, with John Carroll Lynch (‘American Horror Story’) as Rick Legarski and Ryan Phillippe (‘Shooter’) as Cody Hoyt.

Based on the series of books by C.J. Box, ‘Big Sky’ is executive produced by David E. Kelley, Ross Fineman, Matthew Gross, Paul McGuigan and C.J. Box and is produced by A+E Studios in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Kelley writes multiple episodes and serves as showrunner in its premiere season.

Call Your Mother – ABC

From Kari Lizer (‘The New Adventures of Old Christine’), this multicamera comedy follows an empty-nester mom who wonders how she ended up alone while her children live their best lives thousands of miles away. She decides her place is with her family and as she reinserts herself into their lives, her kids realize they might actually need her more than they thought.

The series stars Kyra Sedgwick (‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’) as Jean Raines, Rachel Sennott (‘Shiva Baby’) as Jackie Raines, Joey Bragg (‘Liv and Maddie’) as Freddie Raines, Patrick Brammall (‘Evil’) as Danny, Emma Caymares (‘Fosse/Verdon’) as Celia and Austin Crute (‘Daybreak’) as Lane.

‘Call Your Mother’ is produced by Sony Pictures Television & ABC Studios. ABC Studios is a part of Disney Television Studios, alongside 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios.

Pilots Still in Contention At ABC

ABC still has around 13 possible which still have a possibility of being picked up, so I’m not going to list them all here. However, highlights include Berlanti Productions’ The Brides, a contemporary re-imagining of Dracula tale is a vampire soap about empowered, immortal women and the things they do to maintain wealth, prestige, legacy, and their non-traditional family; ‘Thirtysomething(else)’ a sequel to the 1987-91 series ‘Thirtysomething’; Erin Brockovich-style legal drama ‘Rebel’, starring Katey Sagal; And ‘Triage’, a medical drama from Erica Messer (‘Criminal Minds’), Jon M. Chu (‘Crazy Rich Asians’) and David Cornue, which follows pioneering surgeon Finley Briar over three distinct decades at the same hospital. This has been handed a “second cycle pilot order”, so the pilot will be filmed at some point once they can get back behind the cameras.

UPDATE 30/06/20: ‘Thirtysomething(else)’ and ‘The Brides’ not moving forward.


Clarice – CBS

From acclaimed executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet (‘Star Trek: Discovery’), and starring Rebecca Breeds (‘Pretty Little Liars’) in the title role, ‘Clarice’ is a deep dive into the untold personal story of FBI Agent Clarice Starling as she returns to the field in 1993, six months after the events of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. Brilliant and vulnerable, Clarice’s bravery gives her an inner light that draws monsters and madmen to her. However, her complex psychological makeup that comes from a challenging childhood empowers her to begin to find her voice while working in a man’s world, as well as escape the family secrets that have haunted her throughout her life. Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet, Elizabeth J.B. Klaviter and Heather Kadin are executive producers for MGM Television and CBS Television Studios in association with Secret Hideout. Aaron Baiers is a co-executive producer. Maja Vrvilo will direct the pilot episode from a script by Lumet and Kurtzman.

Alongside Breeds, the series stars Kal Penn (‘Designated Survivor’, ‘House’) as Emin Grigoriyan, Nick Sandow (‘Orange Is the New Black’) as Murray Clarke, Lucca de Oliveira (‘SEAL Team’) as Tomas Esquivel, Michael Cudlitz (‘The Walking Dead’) as Paul Krendler and Devyn A. Tyler (‘The Purge’) as Ardelia Mapp.

The Equalizer – CBS

‘The Equalizer’ is a reimagining of the classic series starring Academy Award nominee and multi-hyphenate Queen Latifah (‘Chicago’, ‘Bessie’) as Robyn McCall, an enigmatic woman with a mysterious background who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. McCall presents to most as an average single mom who is quietly raising her teenage daughter. But to a trusted few, she is The Equalizer – an anonymous guardian angel and defender of the downtrodden, who’s also dogged in her pursuit of personal redemption.

Alongside Latifah, the series stars Chris Noth (‘The Good Wife’, ‘Sex and the City’) as William Bishop, Lorraine Toussaint (‘Into the Badlands’) as Viola “Aunt Vi” Lascombe, Tory Kittles (‘Colony’) as Marcus Dante, Liza Lapira (‘Unbelievable’, ‘Nancy Drew’) as Melody Zhao and Laya DeLeon Hayes (‘Just Add Magic’) as Delilah.

Andrew Marlowe, Terri Miller, Dana Owens (Queen Latifah), John Davis, John Fox, Debra Martin Chase, Richard Lindheim (co-creator of the original TV series), Shakim Compere and Liz Friedlander (pilot only) are executive producers for Universal Television, a division of NBCUniversal Content Studios, in association with CBS Television Studios. Friedlander will directed the pilot episode from a script by Marlowe and Miller.

B Positive – CBS

Remember I mentioned only one pilot was filmed this year earlier? This is that show, which is why there is a trailer! ‘B Positive’ comes award-winning executive producer, writer and creator Chuck Lorre and Marco Pennette, and stars Emmy Award nominee Thomas Middleditch (‘Silicon Valley’) and Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford (‘Masters of Sex’).

The comedy revolves around Drew (Middleditch), a therapist and newly divorced dad who is faced with finding a kidney donor when he runs into Gina (Ashford), a rough-around-the-edges woman from his past who volunteers her own. Together, they form an unlikely and life-affirming friendship as they begin a journey that will forever impact both of their lives.

The series also stars Kether Donohue (‘You’re the Worst’) as Leanne, Sara Rue (‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, ‘American Housewife’) as Julia and Kamryn Kunody (‘Modern Family’) as Maddie.

Chuck Lorre and Marco Pennette are executive producers for Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. James Burrows directed the pilot from a script by Pennette.

Pilots Still in Contention At CBS

CBS has 9 possible pilots still in contention. Highlights include ‘Good Sam’, which stars Sophia Bush (‘Chicago P.D.’) as a talented yet stifled heart surgeon who embraces her leadership role after her renowned and pompous boss, Griff (played by Jason Isaacs), falls into a coma. When he awakens and wants to resume surgery, however, it falls to her to supervise this overbearing blowhard who never acknowledged her talents… and also happens to be her father; Comedy ‘Jury Duty’, which sees Meaghan Rath (‘Hawaii Five-0’) lead a group of jurors who are sequestered together until they all agree on a verdict… and they can’t even agree on lunch; ‘Raised by Wolves’ and ‘Ghosts’, both US versions of the British TV shows; And ‘United States Of Al’, another Chuck Lorre comedy, about a Marine combat veteran struggling to readjust to civilian life in Ohio, and Awalmir, the Interpreter who served with his unit in Afghanistan who is starting a new life in the USA.


Law & Order: Organized Crime – NBC

Christopher Meloni reprises his beloved ‘Law & Order: SVU’ role as Elliot Stabler, who returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime after a devastating personal loss. However, the city and police department have changed dramatically in the decade he’s been away, and he must adapt to a criminal justice system in the midst of its own moment of reckoning. Throughout the series, we will follow Stabler’s journey to find absolution and rebuild his life, while leading a new elite task force that is taking apart the city’s most powerful criminal syndicates one by one.

The new spin-off series is the latest addition to the “Dick Wolf-verse”, after the legendary producer signed a multi-million, multi-year deal with Universal Television.

Kenan – NBC

‘Kenan’ sees ‘Saturday Night Live’ star Kenan Thompson as a recently widowed host of Atlanta’s #2 morning show who struggles to balance his job and being a super-dad to his adorable young daughters (Dani Lockett and Dannah Lockett). He does have “help” in the form of a father-in-law (Andy Garcia)… but he usually “helps” in the most inappropriate ways. Punam Patel also co-stars.

The single-camera comedy is executive produced by Thompson, from Universal TV and Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video.

Mr. Mayor – NBC

From ’30 Rock’s Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, ‘Mr. Mayor’ stars Ted Danson as a wealthy businessman who runs for mayor of Los Angeles for all the wrong reasons. Once he wins he has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his staff, and connect with his teenage daughter, all while controlling the coyote population.

The series is produced by Universal Television, Little Stranger, Bevel Gears and 3 Arts Entertainment. Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond and David Miner will executive produce.

Young Rock – NBC

From Nahnatchka Khan (‘Fresh Off the Boat’), ‘Young Rock’ focuses on and is inspired by the formative years of the global superstar, Dwayne Johnson. Johnson himself bookends each episode which will have a fluid-structure, and explore various periods in his life, along with his relationships with his family. There isn’t a full synopsis for this show yet, but Johnson did say “We’re going to find young Rock wreaking havoc in the streets of Hawaii, when I was a teenager, getting arrested seemingly every single week, doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, but still a good kid. Then we got evicted off the island, and moved to, of all places Nashville, Tennessee, where I continued to get in trouble…” It sounds… intriguing!

Pilots Still in Contention At NBC

NBC has 12 shows still with pilot potential. Highlights include Langdon, which sees ‘Succession’s Ashley Zukerman star in the early adventures of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon; Sci-fi ‘La Brea’, which sees a sinkhole open in LA separating a family, with half of them finding themselves in an unexplainable primaeval world!; Another sci-fi ‘Echo’, which sees people sent back into the bodies of victims to prevent the crime before it happens; ‘Debris’, yet another sci-fi, which follows two agents from different continents investigating an alien spaceship crash which has a mysterious effect on humankind; And comedy ‘Jefferies’, which sees Jim Jefferies plays a fictionalized version of himself.

UPDATE 30/06/20: Debris ordered to series; Update on the other NBC pilots.


Call Me Kat – FOX

Based on the beloved BBC series ‘Miranda’, ‘Call Me Kat’ stars Mayim Bialik as Carla, a 39-year-old woman who struggles every day against society and her mother to prove that you cannot have everything you want – and still be happy. Which is why she spent the money her parents set aside for her wedding to open a Cat Café in Louisville, KY.

The comedy is exec produced by Bialik’s Sad Clown Productions, alongside ‘Big Bang Theory’ co-star Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak for That’s Wonderful Productions, Angie Stephenson for BBC Studios and creator & star of the original series, Miranda Hart.

Housebroken – FOX

‘Housebroken’ is an irreverent animated comedy that explores human dysfunction and neurosis through a group of neighbourhood animals who live in the suburbs. The voice cast includes Lisa Kudrow, Clea Duvall, Nat Faxon, Sharon Horgan, Will Forte, Tony Hale, Jason Mantzoukas, Sam Richardson, Bresha Webb and Greta Lee.

The series comes from writer/producer/actress Sharon Horgan (‘Catastrophe’, ‘Divorce’), Clea DuVall (‘Veep’, ‘American Horror Story’), writer-producers Jennifer Crittenden & Gabrielle Allan (‘Veep’, ‘Divorce’) and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment (‘A Million Little Things’, ‘Divorce’).

Pilots Still in Contention At FOX

FOX have 6 potential shows on their pilot slate. These include ‘Blood Relative’ a forensic genealogy-themed crime drama starring Tate Donovan; Drama ‘The Cleaning Lady’, which follows a Cambodian doctor (Élodie Yung – ‘The Defenders’) who ends up going into hiding when the system fails her, and becomes a cleaning lady for the mob; A US version of British mockumentary sitcom ‘This Country’ starring Seann William Scott; And the bizarre idea of a drama about a new substitute teacher who finds herself helping three of her students with an impossibly ambitious shot-for-shot remake of their favourite film… ‘The Goonies’!

So that is our round-up of the newly ordered comedies and dramas, along with some of the pilots which are currently still waiting to see if they will become full shows. Due to the current pandemic, it’s likely most of these shows won’t make it to air until 2021, but we’ll let you know when we hear more.

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