I’m back from my annual pilgrimage to LA where I had the privilege of screening over 40 TV pilots in 6 days on six different screening lots (FOX, NBC Universal, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, CBS, and Disney). Now that I’m back from the screening rooms, I’m excited to share some of my favorite picks with you over several blog posts.
Day 1 – Warner Brothers
For my first screening we were shown the highly anticipated Batman prequel Gotham. Unlike other “Superhero” TV shows, this format doesn’t centre around Batman (although young Bruce Wayne was a focal point).The focus is the city of Gotham and young James Gordon (currently a rookie detective but eventually will become Commissioner Gordon played by Ben McKenzie). Featured in the pilot where a slew of young villains (who have not come into their own), such as The Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivey and The Penguin.
Unlike other origin stories, Gotham is a lot grittier than anything else you have seen. In this first episode, we see the catalyst event – the death of the Wayne parents – sparks the friendship between Bruce Wayne and Detective Gordon who vows to find the killer. As Gordon gets to know the underbelly of Gotham, we start to see the rise of The Penguin who will become the focal point of Season 1. I am told each season will centre on the rise of a new villain.
A to Z
This witty single-camera comedy (aka no laugh track) follows the relationship of Andrew, played by Ben Feldman (Mad Men) and Zelda, played by Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother). Andrew works for an internet dating site and believes in “the one” while Zelda is a lawyer who wants to believe in love, but is jaded by life.
This show is funny and has some great gags but with a warm touch much like the successful Modern Family.
The Mysteries of Laura
What was pitched to us as a dramedy, delivered in both comedy and drama. Detective, single mom of two hell-bent boys, Laura Diamond (Debra Messing of Will and Grace) solves crimes while juggling her soon to be ex-husband but now boss, and her kids (who can’t stay out of trouble) and murder!
Mix one part Elementary and one part Unbreakable (the movie) and you have Forever. The premise is simple. For some reason Henry Morgan, who works at the Medical Examiner’s office, has one problem: he can’t die. In the pilot he is able to solve a crime involving poison by ingesting it, dying, coming back to life and is able to identify the poison by his own symptoms. Don’t worry, I’m not really spoiling anything for you.
Kevin Williamson (Scream, The Following) is back with his new very creepy thriller called Stalker. The show stars Dermot Mulroney, best known for his role in My Best Friend’s Wedding, a newly transferred LAPD agent assigned to the Threat Assessment Unit that takes on stalking crimes.
Based on a popular comic book series, director and writer Rob Thomas (known for Veronica Mars) tells the story of Olivia, a medical student who joins the Coroner’s Office. Oh, and did I forget to mention she is a zombie and needs to eat the brains of the dead people she examines. Also, she inherits some of the memories of these dead people, which allows her to solve how they died. Sounds like a terrible premise, but for some weird reason it actually works. For those of you that loved Veronica Mars you will definitely like the tone and style of this show.
No trailer available yet.
Building on the success of Arrow comes the next installment franchise, The Flash. In the pilot we get to see how the young Barry Allen, a forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department is transformed into the superhero we know as The Flash. If you love the tone of a good CW superhero story then this show will be perfect for you. It’s very light and draws on the DC Universe as The Flash tries to solve the murder of his parents.
While I would love to review everything, it would be difficult to review over 40 shows. For now here are some other trailers to get you in the mood for Fall TV 2014 from Warner Brothers.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment where I feature what I saw at the NBC Universal Lot.
Dan Page is Director, Content Programming and Acquisitions at TELUS. Find him at @therealdanpage.