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Predicting The 5 Best (And 10 Worst) TV Pilots For 2014-2015 Based On Premise Alone

By 01.28.14

erin the office

Would you believe me if I told you that this time next year, you might not only be watching, but ENJOYING a sitcom called Fatrick? That’s a terrible, awful, no-good name for anything, but the show comes from Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23‘s Nahnatchka Khan and the pilot will be directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the dean-o behind The Descendents and the underrated The Way Way Back. That’s an impressive enough assemblage of talent that Fatrick might make it to the DVR next September, and may god have mercy on us all.

TVLine collected all the pilots for the 2014-2015 season, and sorted them by network. It’s fun browsing through the list, predicting the next Brooklyn Nine-Nine (that’s good) and future We Are Men (that’s…no), so based mostly on premise (and slightly cast and crew), here are five that sound promising, and ten that don’t.

The best:

Battle Creek (CBS) — ORDERED TO SERIES
EPs | Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), David Shore (House), Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad)
Two detectives with very different worldviews are teamed up and must answer the question: Are cynicism, guile and deception enough to clean up the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, Mich., in the face of a complete lack of resources; or is the exact opposite true – it takes naïveté, trust and a boatload of resources?

True Detective has proven there’s still life left in the “mismatched detectives” genre, as long as the setting and story is strong enough. Battle Creek checks both boxes: it takes place in a Michigan town that isn’t Detroit, and it can be described with the words “cynicism” and “Vince Gilligan.” That’s story enough for me!

Mr. Robinson (NBC) — ORDERED TO SERIES
EPs | Mark Cullen and Rob Cullen (Back in the Game), Howard Klein, Mark Schulman
CAST | Craig Robinson (The Office), Larenz Tate (House of Lies), Amanda Lund, Jean Smart
A talented musician adjusts to his new life as a middle school music teacher, where he maneuvers precocious kids, teacher politics, and the temptations of single moms.

Mr. Robinson is basically School of Rock: The TV Show. But School is Rock is pretty good, so…

Mulaney (Fox) – ORDERED TO SERIES
EPs | John Mulaney (SNL), Lorne Michaels (SNL), Andrew Singer, Andy Ackerman, Dave Becky, David Miner
CAST | John Mulaney (SNL), Martin Short (How I Met Your Mother), Elliott Gould (Ray Donovan), Nasim Pedrad (SSNL), Seaton Smith, Zack Pearlman
Follows an aspiring comedian in NYC under the influence of his over-the-top boss – who was a major stand-up comedian in the 1980’s and ’90s and now hosts a game show — his roommates and his neighbors.

This has the makings of being the next 30 Rock. Vaguely-autobiographical, New York City, entertainment job, created by and starring an ex-SNL writer, starring SNL cast member, produced by Lorne Michaels, etc. Probably the pilot I’m most looking forward to. (Also, I like how Martin Short’s claim-to-fame is How I Met?)

Strange Calls (ABC)
EPs | Donick Cary (New Girl), Ruben Fleischer, Aaron Kaplan, Tracey Robertson, Nathan Mayfield
Good-hearted, bumbling cop Toby Banks is exiled to night duty on Nantucket island, where strange, unexplainable occurrences become the norm nine months out of the year. Working out of a creaky lighthouse on the outskirts of town, he is teamed with Gregor, the eccentric lighthouse keeper and local paranormal authority. The two make an unlikely crimefighting duo dealing with the “strange calls” that come into the station at night. Based on an Australian series.

When I first read the premise for Strange Calls, I thought it was a drama. I was horrified. But when I realized it was comedy, terror turnd to intrigue, not only because it comes from New Girl and Zombieland folks, but because the premise is weird enough that it just might work. Or be completely horrible. Total toss-up.

Tooken (NBC) — ORDERED TO SERIES
EPs | Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, David Miner
CAST | Ellie Kemper (The Office)
Centers on a woman who escapes from a doomsday cult and starts life over in New York City.

You had me at “doomsday cult.”

The worst:

Astronaut Wives Club (Drama)
EP | Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl)
Tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race.

It comes down to, would you watch a show called Astronaut Wives Club? No Goldie Hawn, no care.

Backstrom (Fox) — ORDERED TO SERIES
EPs | Hart Hanson (Bones), Leif G.W. Persson, Niclas Salomonsson, Rainn Wilson, Josh Levy
CAST | Rainn Wilson (The Office), Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer), Dennis Haysbert (24), Page Kennedy, Beatrice Rosen (Blue Mountain State), Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Offensive, irascible Detective Everett Backstrom tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior while leading his team, the Serious Crimes Unit, as they navigate Portland’s most sensitive cases.

Oh good, just what TV needs: ANOTHER irascible cop/lawyer/doctor who’s brilliant at his (always “his”) job.

How to Get Away With Murder (Drama)
EPs | Peter Nowalk (Grey’s Anatomy), Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers
A sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller about a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that will rock the entire university and change the course of their lives.

Could it be the next Scandal? Certainly. Will it teach you how to get away with murder? Probably not.

Lifesaver (NBC)
EPs | Wil Calhoun (Friends), Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan
How do you get rid of the most maddening person in the world after he’s given you a kidney? An odd couple comedy in which two polar opposites become inextricably linked.

That sounds like a fake TV show The Simpsons could have made up. Or Seinfeld:

Madam Secretary (CBS)
EPs | Barbara Hall, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary and Tracy Mercer
Potential series about the personal and professional life of a maverick female Secretary of State as she drives international diplomacy, wrangles office politics and balances a complex family life.

This is the female Backstrom: women in dramas are always juggling “personal and professional” lives.

The McCarthys (CBS)
EPs | Brian Gallivan (Are You There, Chelsea?), Will Gluck (The Michael J. Fox Show), Richie Schwartz
CAST | Jack McGee (Common Law), Joey McIntyre (Boston Public), Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne), Jimmy Dunn, Kelen Coleman (The Newsroom)
Story about a big Irish Catholic, sports-crazed Boston clan and the gay son whose greatest sin is not his sexuality but his desire to spend less time with his family.

Because America will never tire of those lovable Bostonians? Fack you.

The Mysteries of Laura (NBC)
EPs | Jeff Rake (Cashmere Mafia), Greg Berlanti (Arrow), Aaron Kaplan, Melissa Kellner
Based on the popular Spanish series Los Misterios De Laura, it follows the life and relationships of a female homicide detective who can handle murderous criminals — but not her evil twins.

That is the most “based on the popular Spanish series” premise ever. I hope one of the characters has freckles.

NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)
EPs | Gary Glasberg, Mark Harmon
The New Orleans NCIS office handles cases from Pensacola through Mississippi and Louisiana to the Texas panhandle; to air as a spring episode of NCIS.

Hahaha, nope. Your uncle is totally stoked, though.

Tin Man (NBC)
EPs | Ehren Kruger (The Ring), John Glenn, Daniel Bobker
DIRECTOR | D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, I Am Number Four)
CAST | Patrick Heusinger (Revolution, Gossip Girl)
Psychological crime thriller set in the near future focuses on a fugitive robot accused of first-degree murder, who may hold the key to the future of human evolution, and the young female public defender forced to fight for his cause.

“Fugitive robot accused of first-degree murder.” Do you think television producers ever look at themselves in the mirror and think, “Dear god, what am I doing with my life?” No, of course they don’t; instead, they say YES to “fugitive robot accused of first-degree murder,” and snort a pound of cocaine from a lizard’s butt.

Untitled Richard LaGravenese Project (ABC)
EPs | LaGravenese (The Fisher King), Erwin Stoff, Ilene Staple and Wren Arthur
Set in New York City, it revolves around the love and rivalry between two equally matched, powerful socialites who play out their obsessive attraction and seduction of each other through their manipulation of others.

Who are these people that demand MORE shows about socialites, and where can I send them flaming bags of poo?

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Via TV Line


TAGS2014-2015 PILOTSELLIE KEMPERTV PILOTS

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