The Ten Most Promising Pilots for Fall 2011 (Plus One Guaranteed Bomb)

By: 03.31.11  •  48 Comments

He's a pilot. Get it?

The majority of new shows are complete bullcrap. Of the dozens of shows that premiered on a network channel during the 2010-2011 season, only three have been any good: “Bob’s Burgers,” “Lone Star,” and “Raising Hope” (all Fox shows incidentally) — and only “Hawaii Five-0” was a breakout success.

All we have between May (when shows are picked up) and September (when they air) is optimism that this year will be as good as, say, the 1999-2000 season, when “Freaks and Geeks,” “Angel,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “The West Wing,” “Popular,” and “Shasta McNasty” all debuted. With that in mind, here are the ten new pilots that sound the most promising.

#10. “How to Be a Gentleman

“Homer and Marge Simpson raise Bart, Lisa, and baby Maggie.” That’s how my DVR describes “The Simpsons”, the greatest show of all time. Point is, it’s tough to judge a show by its blurb, especially when it comes to sitcoms. So, when deciding what new shows to watch, you’re left with two options: what do critics think and whether it stars anyone you like. The Wrap says “How to Be a Gentleman” is about “an oddball friendship between a straitlaced columnist and his less cultured pal/trainer” (ugh), starring Dave Foley, Rhys Darby, and David Hornsby, a.k.a. Rickety Cricket (not ugh).

#9. “Locke and Key

TV shows with puns in their titles should usually be avoided like…well, like “Miss Match,” that horrific NBC show starring Alicia Silverstone from 2003 (God, I miss Jeff Zucker), but “Locke and Key” has potential. It’s based on a graphic novel (a phrase you’ll read again later) and has family patriarchs getting murdered, uncles played by “Carnivàle” actors, secret keys, and, most importantly, a creative team that includes Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek. [Kurtzman and Orci are the geek heroes who wrote “Alias,” Star Trek, Cowboys & Aliens, and — less sexily — the last two Transformers movies. -Ed.]

#8. “Alcatraz

“Undercovers” notwithstanding, J.J. Abrams has an excellent track record on television, including “Felicity,” “Lost,” “Alias,” and “Fringe.” Along with former “Lost”-er Jorge Garcia and Sam “Not from the Front, but From the Side” Neil, Abrams is hoping to duplicate his previous successes with “Alcatraz,” about a team of FBI agents looking into the disappearance of a group of prisoners from 30 years ago. If it’s anything like The Rock, it’s worth a season pass on your DVR.

[Ed. note: The show will also star Sarah Jones, AKA Polly Zobelle from Season 2 of “Sons of Anarchy.”]

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