Looking Back At Our 2011 Pilot Wishlist

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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.

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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