Peak TV has been the rise of the nerds. The CW is practically wall-to-wall genre shows and comic book adaptations. Freeform is becoming the Marvel channel. The Walking Dead remains the biggest show on TV. And everybody wants a piece of that pie. So, for the 2017-2018 pilot season, we’ve picked out the most, and least, promising nerdy pilots.
Craig Robinson and Adam Scott as Mulder and Scully, but funny? The only question we have is why this isn’t already on the air.
The Crossing, ABC
250 years in the future, people fleeing a civil war in America wind up as refugees in a small town. This has a strong vibe of shows like Jericho, and if they can balance the future setting and the suddenly very current plot, it’ll be a fascinating return to socially conscious science fiction.
Black Lightning, The CW
A show we’ve said before, this is a smart addition to the CW’s stable of superhero shows, especially if Jesse L. Martin gets to crossover from The Flash and he and Black Lightning have a “damn superhero kids” discussion.
Untitled X-Men Show, Fox
Fox seems to be playing this one close to the vest, but the idea of following a bunch of mutants in an ongoing series is hard to turn down. And if nothing else, it gives Fox a chance to apologize for what they did to Generation X.
ABC goes full superhero with a splashy, straight-to-series order for Inhumans, featuring Marvel’s space royalty. The question really is how this will play with the wider audience that’s eluded Agents of SHIELD, and whether Scott Buck can redeem a messy run on Iron Fist with another Marvel show.
Thin Ice, Fox
The idea of a grounded woman surrounded by misfits in Antarctica could either be really funny, or it could The Big Bang Theory On Ice. We’re pulling for the former.
Essentially The Lawnmower Man as a police procedural, this show will feature a former detective who’s brought in to figure out what’s happening when a VR program goes awry. Provided the show handles the technology correctly, this could be a fun little riff on the detective story.
Young Sheldon, CBS
Yes, The Big Bang Theory is what they screen on all 500 channels of Nerd Hell, but a show about a young nerdy kid struggling to get by in East Texas could be promising if done right.
From Seth McFarlane, this show will follow an intergalactic ship that’s basically a Space Yugo exploring the final frontier. On the one hand, McFarlane can be uneven. On the other, science fiction is filled with a rich history of junker ships doing dirty jobs: Lexx, Red Dwarf, Farscape, Firefly, and Dark Matter all spring to mind. So the concept is promising, and since this is straight to series, we’ll see how it goes.
Mission Control, CBS
The problem with astronaut dramas is that real-life astronauts are way more interesting. The best movies about astronauts are based on actual astronauts. Nobody is interested in the made-up problems of fake astronauts. Give us the real stuff!
From, among others, Greg Berlanti, the plot of this show involves a stage magician who has his career destroyed by scandal and winds up working with the FBI to solve unsolvable cases and trap criminals with… deception! Perhaps, with the right tone and writing, this has an outside chance of working, but we’re not optimistic.
Wisdom Of The Crowd, CBS
This pilot is about a billionaire (Jeremy Piven) using crowdsourcing to solve his daughter’s murder. Which, you know, would be great if we didn’t know this was a terrible idea because the internet is stupid. People nearly got murdered by some idiot who bought into the idea that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex slavery ring out of a pizza place based on a string of Scooby-Doo-like garbage thrown into an echo chamber just a few months ago. The idea is not, perhaps, entirely unsalvageable if it explores the tension between the usefulness of crowdsourcing and the dangers of trusting total strangers who may have an agenda over trained investigators, but it’s difficult to see any network taking on a social morass that complicated.
Tune in Monday, and we’ll have a full look at the rest of this year’s pilots.