facebook_pixel Press "Enter" to skip to content

Looking to start your TV writing journey?

Pilot Pick-Up Review (CBS) – 2011-2012 Season

Development season is right now, and with the scripts picked to pilot about to be shot, the next best thing besides watching the finished product is reading them. As well as reviewing them. I’ll also venture a guess as to whether I think they’ll go to series or not (all of which is announced as usual at the Upfronts). So here goes.

It’s CBS’ turn, world of the procedural and classic comedies.
This season, they are keen to find a medical drama that will work for them, while slowly moving towards more character-driven shows. On the comedy front, multi-cameras are still more present than ever, especially the ones centering around a male lead.

Dramas (One-hour)
The Doctor (Rina Mimoun)
Logline: A dramatic series centering on a woman who abandoned her career as a doctor to be a stay at home mom. Thirty years on, she has no regrets. But when she’s widowed, she’s inspired to return to medicine to carry on her deceased husband’s practice. The catch is that she not only needs to complete her medical residency, but her adult kids (one of whom is a surgeon and the other of whom is a recovering addict) are ambivalent about her choice.
With: Eva Amurri, Michael Boatman, Scott Foley, Christine Lahti, Kyle MacLachlan
My thoughts:
I feel lukewarm about the script. A few elements seem downright weird. The deceased husband’s partner in the company gives away one of his patients’ charts to Lahti’s character just like that. Doctor/patient confidentiality anyone?
It’s interesting that CBS is going with a lead in her 60s (plus it’s Christine Lahti’s big return to television), but it makes the show even more realistic so good for them.
Going to series? Tough choice. The concept isn’t strong to pull in viewers, but Lahti’s big return to television might be enough for CBS to strongly consider the project.

Untitled Susannah Grant
Logline: A dramatic series centering on a doctor whose life changes when his colleague dies and gives him life lessons from beyond the grave.
With: Julie Benz, Jennifer Ehle, S. Epatha Merkerson, Afton Williamson, Patrick Wilson
My thoughts:
First, don’t be fooled by the terrible logline. I was expecting some boring Ghost Whisperer copy-cat, but this is not it (thankfully). Patrick Wilson is a great casting coup, although his character is downright unlikeable so he’ll need to work his charm.
My main gripe is with the longevity of the concept. He pretty much comes to term with Anna’s ghost by the end of the pilot, so what else is there to explore? It’s an interesting story as a closed oned, but as a show? Difficult to tell.
Going to series? Yes. Despite a somewhat lukewarm logline, the pilot is pretty good and Wilson as the lead seals the deal.

Hail Mary (Jeff Wadlow)
Logline: A dramatic series centering on a pair of detectives in Atlanta, comprised of a single mom from the suburbs who teams up with her murdered son’s best friend who is a small time con artist from the projects who solve the crimes that the cops don’t have time for.
With: Noureen DeWulf, Minnie Driver, Brandon T. Jackson, Enrique Murciano, Stephen Tobolowsky
My thoughts:
I’m assuming this is one show going for the Medium crowd.
It’s kind of weird premise (i.e. mom teams up with black kid to become P.I.), somewhat reminiscent of The Blind Side. The P.I. aspect especially takes a long time to get set up.
Plus, the murder mystery of Driver’s son is pretty much solved in the pilot. It probably should have been a longer arc.
Going to series? Not sure. Driver and Jackson are definitely strong casting bets, but the premise isn’t that noteworthy.

The Rememberer (Ed Redlich/John Bellucci)
Logline: A dramatic series loosely based on the short story The Rememberer by J. Robert Lennon, centering on a female detective for the New York Police Department who never forgets anything thanks to a special ability.
With: Michael Gaston, Poppy Montgomery, Kevin Rankin, Daya Vaidya, Dylan Walsh
My thoughts:
Besides getting the Emmy for worst title ever, this is in many regards a female version of The Mentalist, only less douchey. The introduction to the main character’s abilities is pretty interesting, and you’re not buried in exposition unlike other procedurals, but the case’s conclusion is unsatisfying.
Going to series? It’s CBS’ bread and butter: a cop procedural with a character twist and serialized elements.

Rookies (Richard Price)
Logline: A dramatic series centering on a group of rookie cops working in high crime areas of Manhattan. Their backgrounds are diverse – one is from a family of criminals, another from a family of cops. The others are a former reporter, an immigrant from Afganistan, a retired NBA player and a former Olympian/Marine with whose beauty belies her toughness.
With: Adam Goldberg, Terry Kinney, Judy Marte, Tom Reed, Stark Sands, Leelee Sobieski
My thoughts:
Pretty much the American version of Rookie Blue (and we know how that one fared).
The character archetypes are all over the place, which might be interesting but it’s as if they were all needed–which is not the case.
It’s not a bad show though. Closer to Southland than CBS’ usual cop show, which means…
Going to series? Possibly…as a mid-season show that will get buried in terrible programming and swiftly canceled.

Multi-camera Comedies (Half-hour)
Herd Mentality (Bill Martin/Mike Schiff)
Logline: A multi-camera comedy series based on the life of sports journalist/commentator Colin Cowherd.
With: Danny Comden, Eliza Dushku, Damon Wayans
My thoughts:
Talk about a reach in pilot pick-up. CBS must be really in love with the NFL because, apart from retransmitting the league, this is a sports-driven show that would fit pretty much anywhere else but The Eye. FOX anyone?
I’ll give you the fact that it heavily centers on a couple and the sports talk somewhat takes a back-seat, but it still heavily feels in opposition to what CBS is trying to go for.
Going to series? Hard to imagine. For the reasons I just listed.

Home Grown (Jackie Filgo/Jeff Filgo)
Logline: A multi-camera comedy series centering on a large extended working-class family in the Midwest.
With: Shane McRae, Becki Newton
My thoughts:
Kind of the poor man’s Raising Hope (no pun intended) in multi-cam version. Not really funny and plain overall.
Going to series? Let’s hope not.

Home Game (Warren Bell/Chris Nowak)
Logline: A multi-camera comedy series which is loosely autobiographical for former NFL player Mark Schlereth, centering on an NFL football player who retires from the game and now is spending a lot of time with his all-female family. His testosterone-soaked years in the locker room have made his teen daughters seem like an alien species. But his ignorance of women doesn’t lessen his belief that father knows best, which drives his wife a little crazy.
With: Jenn Proske, Rob Riggle, Constance Zimmer
My thoughts:
Yup, another NFL show, although this one is definitely more family-oriented than the former.
Actually, it pretty much ends up being a classic multi-cam sitcom. Gold territory for CBS one might say.
I’m personally turned off by the show but I’m not middle-America so what do I know.
Going to series? Maybe. It’s obvious they’re trying to get some kind of NFL-related show on the air, and this one is closer to what CBS stands for than Herd Mentality. Whether that’s enough remains to be seen.

Untitled Peter Knight
Logline: A multi-camera comedy series centering on young people in their first jobs in a venture capital firm dealing with their personal and professional lives.
With: Tim Peper, Michelle Trachtenberg, Larry Wilmore
My thoughts:
Nothing groundbreaking there. It’s far from bad but it’s pretty much a typical workplace comedy, only this time with 20 year-olds at the center of it.
Going to series? Doubtful. Feels almost more like an NBC-type comedy than CBS.

Untitled Rob Schneider
Logline: A multi-camera comedy series about a guy who marries a Mexican-American woman with a huge family and has to adjust to never being alone.
With: Lupe Ontiveros, Tony Plana, Rob Schneider, Nadine Velazquez
My thoughts:
I’ll just say it: it’s bad.
Right now, I just feel sorry for Nadine Velazquez for having gone from My Name is Earl to…this.
Whatever you think this show is, it’s worse.
Going to series? *crickets*

Vince Uncensored
Logline: A multi-camera comedy series centering on a man who decides to approach his working and domestic lives more honestly after a life-altering experience.
With: Michael Chiklis, Elizabeth Perkins
My thoughts:
Surprisingly decent. I say surprisingly because we’re talking about a multi-camera (and I’m not a huge fan of those). Plus the premise wasn’t that interesting to begin with. But it works.
I’m still hoping they somehow come to their senses and make it a single-cam.
Going to series? Probably. Chicklis is somewhat of a casting coup considering this is a multi-cam and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Conan O’Brien’s prodco is behind the project (plus veteran writer!).

Single-camera Comedies (Half-hour)
The Assistants (Tucker Cawley)
Logline: A single-camera comedy series centering on a group of four assistants who work for two high-maintenance celebrities.
With: David Henrie, Heather Locklear, T.J. Miller, Lamorne Morris, Emily Rutherfurd
My thoughts:
You might not know this but The N had an extremely similar show back in 2009. Right down to the title.
Now the question is whether this version is good or not.
Well, for one, the script was way too dense. Think one-hour 60-page long.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the bosses are really unlikeable. And I don’t mean Ari Gold-unlikeable where you love to hate them. No, no. I’m talking so unlikeable you might want to switch channels altogether.
There’s also the question of who they’re targeting with this project. It seems a little too…young for CBS.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that T.J. Miller is getting some much needed screen time,
Going to series? Possibly. This is one of the only clear-cut comedy concepts they have, but it’s hard to see what existing show can serve as lead-in.

How To Be a Gentleman (David Hornsby)
Logline: A single-camera comedy series loosely based on the book How To Be A Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy by John Bridges. The book answers questions of etiquette, such as “should you take a business call on your cellular phone during a dinner date?” The series centers on an uptight guy with an old-fashioned sensibility which makes him a bit of an outsider in today’s society. He’s forced to update his attitudes when the magazine that he writes his etiquette column for gets a new owner, which wants a fresher approach. He gets help from his male friend from high school who owns a gym.
With: Rhys Darby, Kevin Dillon, Dave Foley, David Hornsby, Nancy Lenehan
My thoughts:
Decently funny and definitely going for that young, male-skewing vibe How I Met Your Mother is already angling towards.
Going to series? Yes. Known property, strong casting, and perfect companion to already-existing shows.

Next up in the broadcast world is The CW.


  1. C.B.

    Interesting about “Vince Uncensored.” I’d heard less-than-great things about the script, but people always say that about multi-cam pilots; the double spacing, like the audience laughter, gets people’s dander up.

    I doubt CBS would be wise to make it a single-cam. Not only is the writer a multi-cam veteran, but multi-cams are still more popular than single-cams (except Modern Family) and at this point single-cams are pretty much where multi-cams were in the late ’90s – there have been too many of them and they feel a bit stale. There’s more opportunity for an actor like Chiklis to do something interesting or new in front of an audience than in single-cam, where actors and writers don’t take as many chances.

  2. Lucas

    Why both single-camera tell in the logline they are multi-camera?
    And also let’s face it, what’s the chance of CBS green-lighting single-camera comedies?

    @C.B. I disagree. The only broadcast network with successful multi-camera comedies is CBS. In any other network those shows would probably fail. And they do a lot better at total viewers than demo (18-49), and let’s face it, total viewers don’t really matter business-wise. The only comedies that pull off more than a 3.5 demo today are The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, The Office and Glee if you count it as a comedy, and only one of those is multi-camera. But I agree that for CBS, and CBS only, you’re right.

  3. Tom

    Where’s Ringer and Person of Interest? Those are CBS two biggest projects…

  4. Alex

    Nice catch about the single-cam/multi-cam mix-up in the description (for clarification’s sake, both comedies in the single-cam realm were indeed single-cams).

    Ringer is sitting on my desk and I have yet to muster the courage to read it. I’m finishing up the cable reads at the moment, so if I do get to read it, it will be after those (might even update the CBS post).
    As for Person of Interest, well that’s a Bad Robot show, which means virtually no one has been able to get the script (ditto for Fox’s Alcatraz).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *