Every year, the TV networks take a look at a bunch of proposals for new shows. If they like something, they will order a pilot for it. If they like the pilot, and the show seems promising, they will order a set of episodes--usually 13 to start with, enough for half a season. If the show delivers great ratings, the network will order a full season--22 to 24 episodes.
It all starts somewhere, and right now, we're starting at the very beginning, in the words of Julie Andrews. We're in the thick of pilot season, and I thought I'd run through some of them for you. I'm only going to do 2 or 3 from each network, but they should give you a sense of where TV is trending.
Here, in no particular order, are what the networks are considering bringing to your television screens for the 2010-11 season:
...Chase. From Jerry Bruckheimer, who brought us CSI and The Amazing Race, as well as shows we'd like to forget, like The Forgotten, Chase is based on a real-life group of U.S. Marshals that tracks down criminals. Does this sound familiar? Yeah, it sounds like another NBC drama I will not be watching.
...Kindreds. From David E. Kelley, who created three shows I've never seen: Boston Legal, The Practice, L.A. Law. Kindreds is about a lawyer and his group of misfits who come together to form an unconventional law practice. So...it's basically a clips show of those three David E. Kelley shows I never watched.
...Outsourced. It's a comedy about a guy who's sent to India to train a bunch of customer service reps. I am confident NBC will find a way to cast all white people even though this show is set in India.
...ATF. It's about an ATF agent trying to raise a teenage daughter while hunting down criminals. Let me guess: season finale, daughter gets kidnapped. Season 2 finale (if the show makes it that far), daughter marries one of the hunted criminals. Season 3 finale, daughter ends up joining a gang of hunted criminals. Season 4 finale, daughter gets killed, and dad leaves his job, goes dark, seeks vengeance. You know, this show doesn't sound half-bad. I actually see a lot of potential. Hey, can we get Kristen Bell to play the daughter? She doesn't look a day over 16.
...The Quinn-tuplets. It's described as "a drama about the personal and professional lives of the adult Quinn quintuplets, whose whole lives have been documented on TV." So does this mean it's a scripted show about real people? Or a scripted show about scripted people? Or a scripted show about scripted people in which the scripted people are real people?
...Awkward Situations for Men. It's a comedy about a British dude (Danny Wallace) who moves to America with his wife, and gets into all sorts of trouble in his everyday life because he has no clue about American values. I already don't like this show because the British accent confounds me.
...Generation Y. It's about a bunch of people who have flashbacks to 10 years ago when they were in high school. I've already seen this show. It was called Reunion. It wasn't good. And yet, I want to watch this anyway.
...and untitled IRS workplace comedy. Yes, "IRS" and "workplace" and "comedy" can coexist in the same sentence. It's exec-produced by Ron Howard, who gave us movies like The Da Vinci Code and TV shows like Arrested Development. It stars David Krumholtz, from CBS's canceled Numb3rs. I don't have anything else to say about this show, but I included it because it's getting a lot of buzz.
...Ridealong. This is about police officers in Chicago, including a Polish-American cop and a female chief of police. Let's just call this premise what it is: a worthy substitute for Ambien. Look, change that to Martian-American cop and conjoined-twins chiefs of police, and maybe you'll have something.
The CW has...
...okay, before I get into this, know that I am a sucker for CW shows, particularly shows set in a time/place I wish to go back to, namely high school, because I had a really crappy time there, and if I could, I'd do it all over again, and do everything differently. Also, I miss college, because it was everything high school wasn't, so I am also a sucker for shows set in college. That said, I'm excited for:
...HMS. It's about a group of med students at Harvard. Hayden Panettiere (from Heroes) is exec-producing this show. I'm really hoping for a Felicity-like heroine on this show. I miss Felicity.
...Hellcats. Set in the world of competitive college cheerleading. Three words. BRING. IT. ON!
So there you have it. The usual mixed bag of cop shows, legal dramas, and workplace comedies. Nothing that makes me jump out of my seat the way Glee did. But who knows? If my early skepticism of FlashForward is any indicator, we're in for at least a few nice surprises this year.