I tried to find the perfect stock photo for this article and I think I have. It’s a child dressed as a pilot writing in his notebook. Not only is this a nice little pun on the word “pilot,” but it also gives me the distinct impression that all the network executives are children just randomly eenie-meenie-miney-moeing which shows will go on and which will be assigned to the dust-heap of history. Let’s take a look!
One important lesson I learned while reading about all the pilots was this: apparently, either people are really unimaginative or the network loves making shows out of movies (I don’t know why they didn’t learn their lesson from Minority Report and Rush Hour): ABC: Time After Time. CBS: Training Day. Fox: The Exorcist, Lethal Weapon, Urban Cowboy. NBC: Cruel Intentions, Taken. The CW: Frequency.
Also, the networks apparently really like shows that used to be on the air, had a good long run, and now someone wants to revive them: CBS: MacGyver. Fox: 24: Legacy, Prison Break.
Other things the networks apparently like include time travel (ABC: Time After Time. Fox: Making History. NBC: Time. The CW: Frequency), lawyers (ABC: Conviction, Notorious, Broken. CBS: Doubt. NBC: Trial and Error, Chicago Justice, Miranda’s Rights), and, perhaps unsurprisingly, reinventing childhood heroes to be more hip to the kids today (CBS: Drew, MacGyver. The CW: Riverdale).
Things that the networks do not like apparently include originality. These are the pilots that were passed over:
The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez* — PASSED OVER
Logline: An immigrant who rose from rags to riches, Eva Sofia Valdez (Suits’ Gina Torres, in second position), is a celebrated Miami entrepreneur and a champion for immigrant rights. But her success is fueled by an insatiable ambition that could destroy her family, a vendetta against the lover who betrayed her, and ghosts from the past who threaten to reveal the dark sacrifices Eva Sofia made to attain the American Dream. Described as MacBeth with a Cuban twist.
Cast: Gina Torres (2nd position to Suits), Eric Close (Nashville), Raul Castillo (Looking), Marta Milans, Zabryna Guevara, Alison Fernandez, Christian Ochoa, Christina Pickles, Angelica Celaya, Melora Hardin, Debra Mooney, Alison Fernandez, Jeimy Osorio
Team: W/EP Charise Castro Smith (Devious Maids); EP Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters
Studio: ABC Studios
Location: Myrtle Beach
We almost had a female Cuban Macbeth starring Gina Torres and run by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters. Holy crap, this sounds awesome.
Presence (unlic)* — PASSED OVER
Logline: Centers on a former Army veteran Presence Foster (Stephanie Sigman) who finds herself interacting with a widely divergent and highly colorful cross-section of Los Angeles as she unintentionally begins a career as an unlicensed private investigator.
Cast: Stephanie Sigman, Rick Gonzalez, Marcus Anderson, Colin Woodell, Felicity Huffman (guest in the pilot)
Team: W/EP John Ridley; EP Michael McDonald
Studio: ABC Studios, International Famous Players Radio Picture Corp., Stearns Castle
Location: Los Angeles
A John Ridley show about a female private investigator in Los Angeles! This sounds even more awesome! Why was this passed over?
Spark* — PASSED OVER
Logline: Set in an alternate history where gas and coal fuel the world, this genre soap centers on the battle for power between two rival families and a rebellious young woman with a spark of invention that could level both their empires.
Cast: Antonia Thomas, Rege-Jean Page, Tracy Ifeachor, Lena Olin, Tom Brittney, Alex Lanipekun, Austin Hebert, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Rachel Hurd-Wood
Team: W/EP Michael Cooney (Center Stage); EP Ian Sander, Kim Moses
Studio: ABC Studios
An no-electricity AU? Sweet. Oh, wait, we’ll never get to see it.
Huh, I wonder what ABC didn’t pass on. Let’s check it out:
Still Star-Crossed* — ORDERED TO SERIES
Logline: A period drama that picks up where Romeo & Juliet left off, charting the treachery, palace intrigue and ill-fated romances of the Montagues and Capulets in the wake of the young lovers’ tragic fate. Based on the book by Melinda Taub.
Cast: Clara Rugaard (as Juliet), Anthony Head, Lashana Lynch, Zuleikha Robinson, Medalion Rahimi, Ebonee Noel, Torrance Coombs (1st position to Reign), Wade Briggs, Medalion Rahimi, Ebonee Noel, Sterling Sulieman, Dan Hildebrand, Susan Woolridge, Grant Bowler
Team: W/EP Heather Mitchell (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal); EP Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Michael Goldstein; EP/D Michael Offer
Studio: ABC Studios, Shondaland
...what. It picks up after Romeo & Juliet. When, you know, Romeo and Juliet are both dead. And yet, somehow, Juliet is a character. And it’s being run by the people who do Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. Yeah, okay.
I’m going to drink some more now.