When in doubt – copy, steal, adapt
By Bert Ehrmann
2006-03-06 – It’s that time of year again – time for television producers to begin pitching, writing and filming television shows, a tiny minority of which will turn up on television screens later this fall. That’s right, it’s pilot season!
Next season two networks will be missing from the television dial when UPN and The WB merge together forming a combined network dubbed “The CW.” Producers who were developing shows for The WB and/or UPN are now left scrambling for whatever airtime’s left on this new network.
Still, just because there’s going to be one less network this fall doesn’t mean that there are fewer new shows in development. What sense would that make?
The show I’m most hopeful about is Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Studio 60 follows the behind-the-scenes goings on at a Saturday Night Live type show. Sorkin is probably best known for creating the series The West Wing, but he also created Sports Night, one of the most underrated shows ever, which starred Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman, now of Desperate Housewives.
Every pilot season there are a slew of shows that bear a lot of resemblance to each other. Last season there were three new shows about aliens coming from the ocean. A few years back, there were competing shows set in Hawaii. Even when Lost was in production there was a show in development on another network about castaways stranded on an island.
This year, bounty hunting, season-long stories and series based on movies are all the rage.
NBC has an untitled show in the works about a pair of bounty-hunting brothers who shun guns in lieu of kung fu, looking to earn some extra cash and save their mother’s restaurant in the process. FOX has their own bounty hunting show entitled Bust, about a single mom who takes up bounty hunting to support her kids.
There are a lot of series based on feature films possibly coming your way. In my estimation, there are more movies to television series in the works this year than in the last few combined.
ABC has a series based on the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith (which should really be titled Guaranteed Not to Star Brad or Angelina), while Spike TV has a series based on the Blade the Vampire Hunter movies. The Sci Fi Channel is looking to take a trip through time with a series based on Butterfly Effect while TheWB/CW takes The Gift, about a psychic woman living in the south, and moves the setting and character to a young woman at college.
AMC takes the cake, though, in trying to develop a series based on the movie The French Connection. Hopefully, AMC will have better luck than NBC, since last year NBC tried, and failed, to do exactly the same thing.
After the success of the season-long story format of 24, Lost and Prison Break, the networks are all trying their hand at these types of series next fall.
NBC is hoping Kidnapped will steal an audience when they focus on a season-long investigation of a disappearance of the son of a wealthy New York family. Fox has Vanished, which follows the investigation of the disappearance of a senator’s wife. Fox also has The Operative, about a mole in a family of mobsters, where the audience will be given clues about the mole’s identity over the course of the season.
Along with The Operative, there are also a whole slew of shows about mobsters and mob families. Fox has Faceless about an undercover prosecutor trying to take down a crime family, and Southern Comfort, about a mob family operating in Mississippi.
But wait, that’s not all! There are also shows about private investigators, government agents and at least one that features an ex-government agent who becomes a private investigator.
Where’s Magnum P.I. when you need him?