Holding steady at fourth place with a lackluster fall 2011 season, NBC has seemingly nothing—and everything—to lose in 2012. And so the network is spending unprecedented amounts (The Hollywood Reporter estimates the cost of the Peacock's development season to be somewhere in the $100 million range) in its desperate search for the one hit, or hits, that can turn the ship around. With news of NBC pilot orders arriving every day (today’s was for Sarah Silverman’s still-untitled autobiographical sitcom), we thought we’d take a closer look at where all that money is going—and play a little armchair quarterback based on whatever information is available thus far. Keep in mind: These are all snap judgments! We haven’t read any of these pilots.
The Munsters (ordered to pilot)
Logline: A “visually spectacular” one-hour drama. Like [Bryan] Fuller’s previous series, Pushing Daisies, the project features striking visuals mixed with all the classic Munsters archetypes. Grandpa Sam Dracula is essentially Dracula who assembled Herman because no man was good enough for his daughter Lily, a sexy vamp. Lily’s niece Marilyn the freak is actually normal and Lily and Herman’s only child, Eddie, has his werewolf tendencies surface in puberty, forcing the family to relocate to their famous 1313 Mockingbird Lane address.
Talent: Written by Bryan Fuller, beloved TV auteur.
Everything about this project sounds like TV crack. The Munsters is a great vintage sitcom that has huge potential as a darker and more ambitious show, and Fuller is just the guy to mine it. We're hearing great things about the script, too. Let’s hope they keep the theme song.
Untitled Sarah Silverman Comedy (ordered to pilot)
Logline: An autobiographical series about a woman readjusting to the single life after a decade-long live-in relationship.
Talent: The great Sarah S.
Silverman has changed the landscape for women in comedy (there would be no Whitney without her, for better or for worse), but no one matches her amazing mind. I’ve always felt the best is yet to come with Silverman, and I’m kind of hoping this is it.
Untitled Ryan Murphy/Allison Adler Comedy
Logline: A heartwarming comedy about a blended family of a gay couple and the woman who becomes a surrogate to help them start a family. Murphy and Adler conceived the idea for the comedy drawing on their real-life experiences of having a family or looking to have one.
Talent: Murphy, ‘nuff said. And Adler is co-E.P. of Glee.
Prognosis: VERY GOOD
I hate shows about parenting almost as much as I hate hearing people talk about their kids. Sorry, Up All Night. And gay parents on network TV—it may work as one-third of Modern Family, but I wonder if there’s really an appetite for it out in Americaland. But the pedigree is superb, and American Horror Story has managed to win over most of the early naysayers (including me), making this project a must-see before a word has been put on the page.
Isabel (ordered to pilot)
Logline: A single-camera family comedy with “a magical twist,” based on French-Canadian series Le Monde De Charlotte.
Talent: Director Todd Holland, who won two Emmys for his work on Malcolm in the Middle.
Too little to go on here, but assuming it’s a Coraline-style story, I’m in. You may not know it, but I’m a “little girl lost in a magic world” kind of guy at heart.
Beautiful People (ordered to pilot)
Logline: A character-driven futuristic drama set 10 minutes into the future where families of mechanical human beings who look human exist to service the human population—that is, until some of the mechanicals begin to “awaken.”
Talent: Written ten years ago by MAD TV alum/Cougar Town co-executive producer Michael McDonald.
Sci-fi has been so spotty on TV, I’m finding it hard to believe this story of replicants and their oppressors is really going to catch on with a wider audience.
Logline: A “re-imagining” of the original series centers on a disgraced former cop who, while serving time in prison, cuts a deal to work undercover for time off his sentence. The show begins as he’s being released — now he’ll put the connections he made behind bars to good use in the field as he helps the police take down a criminal organization.
Talent: Homeland’s Alex Cary writes.
Wiseguy is one of those classic series that has been elevated over the years to the pantheon of TV legend. With Cary—who crafts gripping mindf*ckery every week on Homeland—on board, this could be a reboot in great hands.
Logline: Based on the iconic literary and film character Hannibal Lecter. [Bryan] Fuller, a well-known foodie as evidenced by his previous series Pushing Daisies, loved the dark, sick side of Hannibal, who tends to feast on his victims.
Talent: Bryan Fuller again.
Hannibal Lecter, the TV show? Are you kidding me? Worth a check-out at least.
Logline: Single-camera comedy about a group of men who meet at a weight-loss clinic.
Talent: Written by Irish Bridesmaids star and comedian Chris O’Dowd, based on his idea.
O’Dowd won over hearts in Bridesmaids as a puppydog policeman, and the premise of this show is so out-there, I’m extremely intrigued.
The New Nabors
Logline: A comedy from The Jim Henson Company about a human family and the repercussions they encounter living next door to a family of puppets.
Talent: Muppets people and John Hoffman, who wrote and directed 2003 family comedy Good Boy!.
Puppets are hot again.
Logline: About a dysfunctional family that just happens to live at the most famous address in America, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Talent: Created by Josh Gad (Broadway’s Book of Mormon) and Jon Lovett, former speechwriter for Barack Obama.
We have already explored the possibilities of this show, and concluded a White House sitcom seems like it could be good if done right.
Logline: Centers on a man with a mysterious past who protects deserving people from danger, and helps them disappear.
Talent: Written by Moonlight creator Trevor Munson and produced by Sam Raimi.
From the man who brought us Moonlight, CBS’s ill-fated Shannon Sossamon werewolf vehicle (just kidding about the werewolf part, chillax!), comes this story about a professional disappear-er. Seems like a lot of other shows that hinge on one gimmick, then promptly fade away.
Logline: Single-camera comedy about a reluctant angel: “A ‘Kindness Guru’ who happens to be an asshole dies and in order to get to heaven is forced to return to earth and help people with the aid of his simple-minded brother.”
Talent: Written by veteran TV director Marc Buckland, who most recently directed the Grimm pilot.
Sounds like Cupid meets My Name is Earl. Not really my cup of tea, but maybe it’s yours!
Logline: A multi-camera comedy about two friends who become supported by their respective wives after their business closes down.
Talent: From Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, members of the Broken Lizard comedy filmmaking group behind such movies as Super Troopers and Beerfest.
Well, say what you will about Broken Lizard, but the guys have worked in the comedy trenches and have an inkling about what’s funny. This show will probably never see the light of day, but I’d be willing to give it a shot if it did.
Logline: “ER in the LA prosecutor’s office.” Major Crimes is set in the world of young ADAs in a Los Angeles downtown court building. Moving at a bullet pace, the show focuses on an ensemble cast of massively overworked ADAs falling in love, battling their own demons and ambitions, while seeking out justice on the run.
Talent: Written by Josh Goldin and former LA Times entertainment reporter Rachel Abramowitz. FX recently passed on their other pilot, Outlaw Country, a crime story set in Nashville.
Outlaw Country was supposed to be a sure thing, which just goes to show that nothing is ever a sure thing! This one might need a new title, though. Major Crimes sounds weird, like your little sister is saying it. “Guys! Major crimes are happening! Stop fooling around and prosecute them!”
Untitled Karaoke Comedy Project
Logline: Based on the 2010 British feature film, a comedy, it centers on “a devoutly Muslim family man who is shocked to discover upon the death of his mother that he was adopted, and was actually born a Jew."
Talent: Stars Iranian actor-comedian Omid Djalili, who starred in the film. Written by Mark O’Keefe, who wrote Bruce Almighty.
America is not ready for another racist sitcom based on a movie. Just ask the makers of Outsourced.
Untitled Jim Gaffigan Comedy
Logline: Gaffigan will write and star in the project based on his life as a lazy man, married to a strong woman, raising four children in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City.
Talent: Jim Gaffigan, duh.
It’s just kind of hard to get excited about a Jim Gaffigan vehicle, you know? The guy has worked steadily forever, but has never really broken through to the next level. At what point do we stop giving him chances?
Untitled Tim and Michael Hobert Comedy
Logline: Written by brothers Tim and Michael Hobert based on their experience working together, the single-camera comedy centers on a twentysomething man who lands a dream job as the assistant to a commercial director—his older brother Tim—only to learn that his job is mostly about keeping his brother’s hectic home life running smoothly.
Talent: Tim Hobert, co-executive producer on ABC’s The Middle, and his littler brother, who's twelve years his junior.
Wow, it’s our lives, reflected on the screen: The successful sitcom writer and the little brother he transforms into his personal slave! People outside Hollywood don’t care about Hollywood. (And you can’t use Entourage as your evidence against that anymore, sorry.)
Logline: A family soap about “an Upstairs, Downstairs-style family in the exclusive enclave of Palm Beach.”
Talent: Written by Burr Steers, writer/director of films like Igby Goes Down, and Zac Efron vehicles 17 Again and Charlie St. Cloud.
Doing nighttime soaps isn’t as easy as it sounds, and this one just sounds kind of boring. Palm Beach? Upstairs, Downstairs? At least compare it to Downton Abbey so someone has some idea of what you’re referring to.
Life As I Blow It
Logline: Single-camera comedy based on a comedian in the Midwest surrounded by her eccentric friends and family whose opinions and actions know no boundaries.
Talent: Chelsea Lately comedian Sarah Colonna.
I realize not all loglines are going to give you goosebumps, but this one seriously put me to sleep before I reached “eccentric.”
Logline: It’s set in the chaotic world of satellite radio and centers around a former reluctant ’90s boy-band member and a female blogger/podcaster who co-host a relationship call-in show. They must contend not only with their loaded animosity for each other but also the insanity of working in the new world of radio—where the hip-hop station is across the hall from the gay station, which is next door to the nothing-but-windchimes station.
Talent: Weeds writer Stephen Falk is penning the script.
Seriously? Satellite radio? They know most of those stations are programmed by computers, right?
Logline: The ensemble comedy revolves around a family and friends living in a mobile home community.
Talent: Roseanne Barr co-created with her boyfriend and former Roseanne E.P. Eric Gilliland.
I totally concede that Roseanne was one of the best, most ahead-of-its-time sitcoms in TV history. But it belonged in a certain time and place, and as much as it pains me to say, there will be no comebacks for Roseanne Barr. Her outspokenness has turned her into something of a Hollywood pariah, and her reality TV show was atrocious.
Untitled Snoop Dogg Comedy
Logline: Snoop Dogg is the dad of a sitcom family.
Talent: Don Reo (Two and a Half Men, ‘Til Death) is writing.
This show will never see the light of day. If it does, I pledge to smoke an eighth of weed as my penance.
All loglines from Deadline.com.
Anything here sound good to you? Which of these ideas would you like to see get picked up to series?