I couldn’t tell you how many pilots have been announced so far during this pilot season — 40? 50? — but many of them sound as terribly generic as much of what’s already on TV right now. However, there were several with great promise, either because of the showrunner, the talent involved, or because of an intriguing premise. There’s no promise, of course, that any of them will be greenlit to series for next fall (or midseason), but of the announcements made so far, these are the 15 Most Promising Pilots (networks only). Hopefully, a few of these will vie for the slots left by the slew of cancellations we can expect in March and April.
15. Let It Go — The pilot is an ensemble comedy about a married couple, the husband, his best friend, and her sister as they try to navigate, negotiate, and sometimes manipulate society’s unspoken rules. I’ll grant that the premise sounds terrible, but it will star Zachary Levi, who was much sought after during this pilot season. The fact that he chose this project over all the rest suggests that it must have some promise, despite the premise. Either that, or Zachary Levi just has terrible taste.
14. Animal Kingdom — This NBC pilot basically sounds like a comedy version of “House,” but instead of a hospital, it’s a veterinarian’s office, and instead of Hugh Laurie, it’s Justin Kirk (“Weeds”). It could be good, it could be terrible, but I’d hedge my bets to the positive side simply because Justin Kirk is so good.
13. Prairie Dogs — I know that people have caught on to the fact that the idea was basically ripped off of a “Friends” episode, but I do like Kal Penn, and it comes from the makers of “That 70’s Show,” so there’s some promise here. The show is about an uncool cubicle worker named Neil who is the victim of identity theft. Said corporate drone ultimately discovers the thief created a much more fulfilling life with his identity than he ever did — and thus he engages the con man to help him improve his prospects.
12. Living Loaded — The Fox pilot doesn’t have a terribly intriguing premise — it’s about a loose partying blogger who is forced to change his career plans when he becomes an NPR radio host — but it comes from Rob McElhenney (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and has tapped Donald Sutherland as the manager of the NPR station. Mike Vogel (Cloverfield) has been cast in the lead.
11. How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life — I will basically follow Sarah Chalke anywhere (I even watched the dreadful CBS sitcom “Mad Love” for much longer than I should have). This one is for ABC, and it’s about a recently divorced single mom who moves in with her eccentric parents, Elaine and Max, a couple who’s full of life but knows no boundaries. It will be a multi-camera/hybrid comedy, similar to “How I Met Your Mother.”