Looking Back At Our 2011 Pilot Wishlist

In our ongoing coverage of the metamorphosis of television from tadpole (a pilot script) to bullfrog (six seasons and a movie!), we're about to hit you with a list of the 20 current pilots (out of the 100+ in development) that we hope earn a spot on next season's schedule. But before we do that, let's time-travel back to just over a year ago, when I engaged in the very same exercise by digging through the television development slate and named the pilots I hoped would get picked up to series based on what little information was available at the time.

Now that we know how everything turned out, I can say one thing with absolute certainty: I am a moron. Seriously, you have every right to take this opportunity to point out my distinct lack of prognostication, but first let me just say that PREDICTING PILOTS IS HARD, YOU GUYS!

Anyway, let's take a look at where the items on last year's list ended up by dividing them into five different categories: what was good, what was just okay, what was horrible, what's still in development, and what never got made. We'll start with the good I can build some credibility before tearing it all down...


What turned out to be good:

Awake, Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23, The Secret Circle

Okay, I'm using the term "good" loosely. But Awake is, in my opinion, one of the best new network shows of the year, and Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 has already bubbled up to somewhere near the top of this year's new comedies. The young kids on the message boards I lurk tell me The Secret Circle is pretty good, too. But where was Homeland? Or Suburgatory? Or Enlightened? Let's take a look at the batting average: 3 out of 20. That's a .150. Good enough to be the chief of programming for NBC, but not good enough to be a real programmer. This is embarrassing.


What turned out to be just okay:

House of Lies, Pan Am, Prime Suspect, The River, NYC 22

These are the shows I was looking forward to but that never really achieved greatness (though to be fair, NYC 22 has only aired one episode so far). That's to be expected because things always sound better on paper. For example, I thought it'd be a great idea to write this story until I realized how stupid it's going to make me look. I'm sure Maria Bello thought the same thing about wearing "cool" hats and the producers of The River were convinced a jungle full of cameras was a novel idea.


What turned out to be terrible:

How to Be a Gentleman, Alcatraz, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, The Playboy Club

And here's the part where we all point at Tim and laugh. I'll try to defend these picks as best I can, but I will make no argument that any of these shows were good because they were horrible. Between How to Be a Gentleman and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, I don't even know which one I'm more embarrassed about. With those two, I was looking at casts. That guy from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as the prude? Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords? Emmy-winner Jaime Pressly? Those are three proven commodities! It just goes to show that a pilot's cast means squat in terms of overall quality and you'll be even more depressed if the show stinks. And The Playboy Club? Well, admit it. We were all curious with regard to finding out what NBC was thinking.


What didn't ever get made:
17th Precinct, The Crossing, Tagged, Brave New World, Locke & Key

Look, I don't know if these shows would have been good if they'd been picked up, but for the sake of my reputation I'm gonna say they would have been AWESOME. Like if the first seasons of Lost and Battlestar Galactica had a baby and named it after The West Wing.


What still has yet to air:

Powers, The Newsroom

FX is reportedly still thinking about Powers, a slick-sounding drama about cops who investigate superhero crime, but there's still no timetable or indication if it will actually become a series. HBO's The Newsroom (previously More As the Story Develops) looks very solid, according to this trailer and will debut this summer. If these end up being good, expect a follow-up article with the headline of "Toldja!"


Check back tomorrow for this year's list of the 20 pilots I think should get picked up to series! And please, have mercy when discussing my TV-prediction shortcomings in the comments.


RELATED STORIES:
Learning About Pilot Season Through Pie Charts
Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23: A Wacky, Live-Action Cartoon
20 TV Pilots We Hope Get Made Into Series (2011 Edition)

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Why isn't anyone talking about Grimm? Best new show of 2011 hands-down. In David Greenwalt we trust.
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Who put House of Lies in the OK category. I don't even know whether to call it a TV series or just another one of the Showtime products. We know that SHO bases its series not on protagonist but rather on the antagonist, but it seems lately that all of their series follow the same concept. A narcissist sociopath/psychopath/homicidal maniac is the central character and we are supposed to empathize with all of their anti social behavior just because they have faced difficulties in their lives. I watched House of Lies because of Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell but halfway through the series i realized, none of the characters in the series are relatable let alone deserving of our sympathy. It seems that they just come up with stuff for each episode right before the shooting and all the network money is being used just to hire attractive actors/actresses and to include some random nudity in each episode just because it is on premium cable TV. Come on showtime, show us some good material. Your father HBO and younger brother Starrzboth have come up with genuine material to cater to the tastes of the viewers, while you are still thinking that by including nudity in each episode you can sell it..............

More+
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What's up with having to click through a bunch of security warnings just to enter TV.com?? Gaaa, now my comment isn't posting (and I'll probably multi-post too - did TV.com hire Hollywood writers as their webmaster?)



THE RIVER: Hand-cam=FAIL! At least they ended it at a stopping point.

B in 23: IMO creepy and over-acted

ALCATRAZ: I'd still watch another season - close it out properly!

HOUSE OF LIES: WTF was that cr@p? I was hoping for a US version of Hustle, and was *extremely* disappointed.

HOMELAND: I had to force myself to watch the 2nd season.

SUBURBATORY: Amusing filler, but the over-the-top telenovella costumes detract from it IMO

THE SECRET CIRCLE: Not quite up there with The Vampire Diaries, but I hope they get a few more seasons.
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What second season of homeland? I guess u confused one of best show this year only one season
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After reading this article it made me realize...TV really sucked this year for new shows...other than Homeland... no TV show has made me look forward to its next episode....Awake and Person of Interest Ive watched and I have enjoyed both shows.... however I'll probably only end up watching the episodes I've missed when Im really really bored one day
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Put Terra Nova in horrible. The show was a disgrace. Everyone involved deserves to be slapped for wasting money and resources.
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Woah,woah--How to Be a Gentleman was a good show. It just needed more time.
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Right there with ya on I Hate My Teenage Daughter and Alcatraz.... both seemed really promising. Can't agree about Secret Circle, though. Just because it's still on doesn't mean it's good. :(
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Come to think of it, there wasn't really any good show that I really liked this year. I like New Girl and it survived but not that much. I also like Suburgatory but not a major fan. I think my top new show this TV year was Terra Nova because I'm a sucker for campy cheese, but it did not survive.
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I don't think I will try any of the new programs. I am so tired of getting invested in some of the programs and then they get cancelled. I am just going to stick to the older one's that I have been watching because I can't stand the way they leave programs hanging for the final show of the season and they don't give them a solid ending and your left hanging after you have gotten emotionally involved with the characters and the story line. I don't think it's fair to the fan's the cancelled programs did have. I belive they should make a solid ending for each program that gets the axe for the fan's who do love them.
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I don't know if anyone else has pointed this out, but you only chose 19 shows, not 20. Seems your counting is as good as your prognostication.



I don't think you did too badly, with five of them not making it to pilot and two still to air, you chose about seven out of 12 that were worth watching - Awake, Appartment 23, The Secret Circle, House of Lies, Pan Am, The River and Prime Suspect (although it is a bit debateable with The River and Prime Suspect).

NYC 22 hasn't only just begun, but i suspect it will fail.

Alcatraz was the biggest disappointment for me, I was really looking forward to it, but it had some very big, yet annoyingly easy to fix, flaws.

The Newsroom is going to be fantastic, so there is another you can add to the plus column.



I'm looking forward to tomorrow to see how your new list compares to mine!
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Wow, does everyone really think Alcatraz is that bad? Sure, it's a procedural disguised as..some sort of mysterious procedural. But it's entertaining - one of the shows I look forward to each week. Also, where is Revenge? Person of Interest? Both of those are awesome, but somehow got left off the list...
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Revenge and POI haven't been on the list because they haven't been between the 20 shows which have been predicted.
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It's not entertaining. It's horrible. It's bad because it just doesn't make any sense. As the criminals said "We went to sleep in the past woke up here" and the first thing they do is return to their old crimes?

The writing is lazy, the mystery is being just slightly too mysterious, and and the lead character really isn't likeable.
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It wasn't a terribly well thought out show and it did have its logistical issues (I, too, wondered why the criminals did exactly the same things they'd been in jail for doing) but I enjoyed it. But maybe that's just because I've got a slight fascination with old prisons? :D
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Oh and The Playboy Club should have never been canceled!

Let's hope Magic City will do well!

(pan am i still like too)
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Don't Trust...is one of the worst new shows ever...for one,

And House Of Lies was fantastic! Way off there for me pal...

Also on top were Homeland, Person Of Interest, Suburgatory, and the truly ever so

amazing REVENGE! Also great is Once Upon A Time and

Awake is good too, but little less than the above mentioned shows...

all other shows i either do not care for or just stink (Touch is the best example)
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I really only looked forward to five shows before the season:

Homeland, Person of Interest, House of Lies, Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23, and Awake -- although Awake came a little later, after I saw the trailer.



So I think I batted really well. House of Lies hasn't lived up to my expectations necessarily, but it's been cool enough to keep watching.



Suburgatory is really the only show I think I predicted would suck and turned out to be wrong.



Powers still sounds pretty cool; I hope they air the pilot, at least.
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The one I really miss is Prime Suspect. Such a good show that seemed to be getting a following, but just fizzled. Did folks really stop watching it because of a hat?



I find it interesting that one of the most highly anticipated shows for 11-12 and probably the biggest flop - Terra Nova - doesn't even get mentioned.



Perhaps that says something right there?
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I think Terra Nova wasn't mentioned because it didn't have to "pitch" a pilot. It was picked up for 13 episodes right away.
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I for one like Alcatraz, but I must admit most of the shows I was looking forward to seeing pilots from are on the 'didn't get made' list so maybe that is a sign. I still want to see the pilot for Powers (whenever that airs).



What about Touch?
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If you hadn't said TSC was good, I was gonna clock you over the head. I'll admit the first 9 eps were rough. But the last 9 have been excellent on almost all counts. Can't wait for the new ep on Thursday. We're gonna find out who the Blackwell child is :D So excited.
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Agreed.

The show ain't perfect. I talk about it so much I probably sound like I think it's perfect...but it's a show aimed at teens. Like with the YA genre of literature, people just don't invest as much into making sense. But I do think TSC has a great many things going for it. I like that it was a slow builder. I've enjoyed the fact that it's progressively become more and more exhilirating. Every now and again, we got teased...and I enjoyed it. It's not yet 'stellar', still has some issues to work out (I love Cassie, but Britt's too funny to be given a character who is so often humorless) and there are a couple of plot holes...but it's great.
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very sad TV mid season this year. One show out of several newcomers is Awake that lived up to expectations. Fall season was better - Homeland, Enlightened, Suburgatory. House of lies is okay but it is not what everyone expected I guess. No media attention at all. Prime Suspect had to stick to sexism issues instead they erased it completely after two episodes. shame. Revenge is okay too I guess accordin' to reviews here. But I'm not that interested. Not enough Margarita Levieva and Madeleine Stowe.
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Does anyone know if there are any fresh news about the 100 Bullets adaptation that was a big deal last summer? All I get in the Internet is the old articles that David S. Goyer was planning a tv adaptation of 100 bullets for Showtime. But for the last 5 months...nothing new. I seriously hope they will go through this. It would be the tv show to rule over all other tv shows
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I've only seen 2 or 3 eps, but Alacatraz seemed decent. Does it get horrible after that? Somebody tell me so I can delete them from my queue.
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It never really goes anywhere, until the finale, when it goes nowhere good.
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What About Grimm? That turned out to be better then expected.
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Alcatraz was definately NOT the worst of the season. Of all the new shows it belongs with the great new shows. There was tons of excitement in the series and lots of mysteries. Honestly can't believe most people don't like this show. I'd trade in The River for Alcatraz. Haven't been able to even watch that series beyond the first episode. :/
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The river was horrible. I couldn't even make it through the first episode, but alcatraz was not exciting .It went no where and the writing was lazy.
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He wants mercy...? It's like he doesn't know us at all :D
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Homeland was definitely the best new show of the season. I have never been so on edge for a show. That scene were Carrie decided to go face to face with Brody at the Support group was so nerve racking. I had no idea what she was up to. Then to see the plan in the season finale come together as it was happening...It was amazing.
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Wow putting The River and NYC22 as Okay and Alcatraz; How To Be A Gentleman and I Hate My Teenage Daughter as terrible, i want whatever he is smoking. Even though i agree that I Hate My Teenage Daughter isn't entirely misplaced it was still better than NYC22 and The River put togther, and Alcatraz was just okay in my opinion, i would watch season 2 if there will be one, and i simply loved How To Be Gentleman. But beside The Secret Circle i agree with the good list.
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Awakew is a good surprise and has a great suport actor in place... you didint mention TOUCH, that I disliked greatly...But watching this bad tentatives maikes me wish more and more that FRINGE make another season!
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I still wish they had picked up Locke & Key, it would have been UNREAL!
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It's unclear if you're only doing midseason replacements or the full season...you MOSTLY list midseason fare, but have some that debuted last fall (like Pan Am, Secret Circle and Playboy Club)



I think Awake is FAR and away the best mid season replacement....but as for this year? it's not as good as either Person of Interest or Once Upon a Time.



Revenge started really REALLY strong, but introduced characters that were loathsome (Tyler and the *real* Emily) ...it's since devolved into soap opera territory. I still like it, but it's wearing thin. It had a clip show. A CLIP SHOW, for god sakes...a clip show serves two purposes - catch people up, save production costs. In an age of streaming television, on demand and DVRs catching people simply isn't necessary anymore, so that leaves only one penny pinching reason to do it.

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I also agree that Alcatraz was a disappointment, hoping it would be a replacement for Lost. One that I liked that I was upset about when it got cancelled was Prime Suspect. I'll admit that when I saw promos of Maria Bello wearing that hat I rolled my eyes but I gave the show a shot and ended up really liking it. It always lived in the shadow of the UK show it was based off of and being scheduled on a competitive Thursday night slot gave it little chance of being successful. It was a great police drama with a good amount of humor with a cast that worked well together.
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I think what disappoints me the most was Alcatraz. It had such a great potential with a story and a place rife with any number of plots, both historic and science fiction. And it was horrendously bad. And I mean bad. Like nearly Scfi movie of the week bad.



Also, Prime Suspect was good, its last few episodes were fantastic and it was replaced with the likes of The Firm, and Smash.



How about a discussion as to how NBC has an entire show that is a Ford Escape commercial?
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I think the biggest surprise of the season was "Revenge". I love this type of show, but given ABC's axe, the time slot and the genre - I expected it gone by Halloween (even though I loved it). Well, talk about being wrong - it has grown into (IMO) the best drama on TV, and a major hit for ABC. "Once Upon A Time" also - could have been really bad or extremely good - and viola - a major hit. CBS puddled along with it's typical boring cop/psychic formula. NBC had no new shows I liked except "Grimm" and am starting to like "Smash". Fox, well - what a mess... the only show I could even sit through was "Terra Nova" and was cool and new for the whole family and just as it hit it's stride - axed. "Ringer" was the wildest ride of the season - and should have been on the main CBS and not the teen leaning CW (truly one wickedly good show). The only one I have seen for next year I am excited about so far is "666 Park Avenue" on ABC. I quite like "GCB" - it's hilarious.
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I think we can already say that "The Newsroom" is good, because of course it is. I am not biased at all towards it either. (It's just that I happen to be this website's biggest Aaron Sorkin fan.)
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I just read last years original article, and one thing I noticed was how many things changed with these shows. Like Secret Circle was supposed to happen in New Salem, when the gang lives in Chance Harbour. OR the titles of a lot of these shows changed between the Pilot and now. Tim already mentioned the Newsroom's title change, but NYC 22 and Awake, were some of the others.



It actually is like seeing a tadpole change into a bullfrog. Or for the really good ones, a caterpillar to a butterfly.



Fingers crossed for The Newsroom (trailer looks awesome!)
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The reason why The Secret Circle had to change their location for the show was due to some legal issues if I recall correctly.
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Don't trust the Bitch in apt. 23 might as well be called "LOL guise dawsons creek".
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Most of the shows I really looked forwards to turned out to be great, the series I where uncertain about turned out to be horrible, and I decided to ignore a lot of shows I probably shouldn't. (I never even checked out Awake, and I gave up 3-4 episodes into The Secret Circle, Enlightened, Smash, and Grimm. Without any of them being bad)
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I'm totally with you on Awake. I watched the first half of the first show, and the rest are just waiting in my DVR. Smash, Enlightened and Grimm were Terrible. (Gave up on Enlightened during the forced camping scene. That was HORRIBLE to try to get through.)
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I'm kind of confused. What is this "recap" (for lack of a better term, I guess) saying about Homeland, Enlightened, and Suburgatory? Is it claiming that they're NOT good? I'm just a bit unclear on what the mention of those means. I'm not criticizing this article, I just don't understand what Tim's pointing out there.
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Whoops, maybe we should clarify. Homeland, Enlightened, and Suburgatory are all great shows - what we meant was, we apparently missed their potential for brilliance while compiling last year's list.
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Ohhhhh. That makes sense, then. Thanks!
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Locke & Key would have been awesome.
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Actually The Secret Circle is not good at all. LOL.
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Yeah, TSC may have started a little rough, but it has become a very good and entertaining show today and is really on a roll lately. I also agree with FringeFanatic, it's a great companion with TVD. It's what makes my Thursday nights so enjoyable, because I know I have two great shows to look forward to watching plus Awake at 10.



"Apartment 23" is also becoming quite a new favorite.
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Actually, to add to what I said above, Secret Circle turned out better than I expected, especially where it's at right now, because they've done things that I never thought they would do and have taken the show places I never thought it'd go when I first started watching.



If any show deserves a 2nd season renewal, TSC is definitely one of them!
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Does that LOL mean you're being sarcastic? I think TSC has been a very good companion for TVD. They're like two crazily hormonal but entertaining kids.



Those shows! Am I right?
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Oh, you are right!
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