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Posts tagged as “TNT”

Drama Spec Script 2019 – What is hot and what is not

Like every year, it is now time to review the popularity of TV shows to spec.
Dedicated posts will be made respectively for the best comedies (half-hour) and the best dramas (one-hour).
As the title says, this post is all about the dramas.
In addition, you’ll also find (when available) a script for the corresponding show for educational purposes only.
Canceled or dead shows have been removed since last season’s spec list.

In addition, you’ll also find (when available) a script for the corresponding show for educational purposes (title will be in red).

NOTE:
Given Warner Bros’ and NBC’s show lists for their fellowship, I have indicated with:
– An asterisk (*) any series that will not be accepted by WB.
– A dagger () any series that will not be accepted by NBC.
Any public update will be reflected on this list.

Here is a quick recap of how the list works:
The shows are divided into five categories regarding their appeal to readers and how well they are known/read:
Over-specced (shows that have passed their prime, try to avoid doing them)
Mainstream (shows that have matured enough to have become on-the-nose speccers — with a lot of people speccing them)
Wild Cards (soon, everyone will spec these, maybe you can get a head start)
Outsiders (specs that will get you out from the pack)
Gamblers (risky shows that could pay off, or bomb)

There is also a grade regarding the show’s longevity in relation to its speccability.
Meaning, how long can you keep your spec script fresh without having to throw it in the trash?
To do this, we will use the greatest grading system on Earth; stars:
★★★★★ – Excellent
★★★★ – Very Good
★★★★★ – Average
★★★★★ – Fair
★★★★ – Poor

And here we go.

Over-Specced

Re-tool your spec if you have one, but you probably shouldn’t bother beginning a new one for these shows.

The 100 (The CW)
Type: Serialized science-fiction drama
New planet, new stories.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Humanity destroying itself is a repetitive cycle.

The Affair (Showtime) *
Type: Serialized relationship drama
A show trying to reinvent itself with one final time jump.
Longevity: ★★★★ – It’s the last season either way.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Type: Fantasy/action procedural
Agents assemble.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – In season seven, filmed back-to-back. Thanks to contract negotiations.

American Horror Story (FX) *
Type: Serialized horror
An anthology with little rhyme or reason.
Longevity: ★★★★ – How can you write a spec for this?

Arrow/The Flash (The CW)
Type: Action/fantasy procedural
Years of popularity have led it to be a classic pick.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – An end is just a beginning.

Better Call Saul (AMC)
Type: Crime drama
Still a choice for your traditional premium cable character drama.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Will you distinguish yourself from all other Sauls?

The Blacklist/MacGyver (NBC/CBS)
Type: Action procedural
I challenge you to use a lighter and a candy bar in your spec.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Even better if you make them explode.

Black Mirror (Netflix) *
Type: Science-fiction anthology
Writing a pilot might be a better option at this point.
Longevity: ★★★★ – There’s no real longevity for something that can easily be a standalone original.

Blindspot (NBC)
Type: Action procedural
Adjust your mirrors.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Reveal a secret new tattoo.

Bosch (Amazon)
Type: Serialized dramas
With a name like that, you’d think we were talking about a dishwasher.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – But it’s a cop drama, so you’re better off.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend/Jane the Virgin (The CW) *
Type: Family dramedy
Aging out…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …but with spin-offs on the way in.

Elementary (CBS)
Type: Police procedural
Did you know the size of the brownstones on the show were praised by some critics?
Longevity: ★★★★ – Concluding.

Empire (FOX)
Type: Family soap
Touchy subject.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – No comment.

Game of Thrones (HBO)
Type: Serialized fantasy drama
Spoiler alert: everyone dies.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Wait for the prequel.

Gotham (FOX)
Type: Superhero procedural
I’m Batman.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – ‘Tis the end.

Grey’s Anatomy/How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
Type: Prime-time soaps
They’ve transcended the notion of case of the week.
Longevity: ★★★★ – On and on and on and on.

Hawaii Five-0/NCIS:LA/NCIS:NOLA (CBS) *
Type: Police/Action procedural
Accepted by middle-America, not accepted by most writing programs.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Both always speccable and never speccable.

Homeland (Showtime) *
Type: Serialized thriller
Has really become unwanted.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Nope.

iZombie (The CW)
Type: Fantasy crime procedural
Take one last bite out of it if you can, otherwise don’t.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – It’s the final countdown.

Ray Donovan/Shameless (Showtime) *
Type: Family drama
Is this the walk of shame I’ve heard so much about?
Longevity: ★★★★★ – It’s Showtime so Ray will probably last for another decade or two.

Stranger Things (Netflix)
Type: Serialized period drama
Burned bright and fast.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Write about your next D&D campaign.

Suits (USA)
Type: Light procedural
Something about royals.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Tune in for the Gina Torres spin-off.

The Walking Dead (AMC)
Type: Ensemble/horror drama
It’s a soap opera with blood, what more could you ask for?
Longevity: ★★★★ – Coherent plot?


Mainstream

The current and new widespread shows in town that are getting read.

13 Reasons Why/Ozark (Netflix)
Type: Serialized drama
Mixed reception for both, but that brings a lot of potential.
Longevity: ★★★★ – They’ll continue being on thanks in part to the press they get.

Billions (Showtime)
Type: Serialized drama
Email me for my Venmo.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Make it rain.

Big Little Lies (HBO)
Type: Family drama
First world problems.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Merryl Streep will get an Emmy and the episodes haven’t even aired yet.

The Chi (Showtime)
Type: Drama
Is this a show about the vital force forming part of any living entity in traditional Chinese culture?
Longevity: ★★★★ – Wait, wrong pronunciation.

Chicago Fire/Chicago Med/Chicago PD (NBC)
Type: Action/medical procedural
Can’t wait for Chicago Endgame.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Thanos was awesome.

The Crown (Netflix)
Type: Period drama
A refreshed cast with refreshed stories.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Will last as long as the Queen’s reign. In a manner of speaking.

Fargo (FX)
Type: Crime drama
Huge gaps between seasons allows it to maintain its position.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – We shall see how long that lasts.

Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
Type: Serialized survival horror
Zombies with more family.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – AMC isn’t afraid of money.

The Good Fight/Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All-Access) *
Type: Legal/science-fiction drama
Big shows, yet one ain’t a go-to.
Longevity: ★★★★ – An OTT trying to define its impact, meaning they’ll be picked up until the creatives have had enough (or they get too expensive).

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Type: Dystopic drama
Too depressing for me to watch.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Also too real.

Into the Badlands (AMC) *
Type: Serialized drama
Fun action drama which is sadly not as accepted as it should.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Writing those fight setpieces might be complicated though.

Killing Eve (BBC America)
Type: Serialized police drama
A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Excited for the second season.

Legends of Tomorrow/Supergirl (The CW)
Type: Action/Fantasy procedural
The now-established major forces of the DCWU.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Might be their last season at this level.

Lucifer (Netflix)
Type: Police/supernatural procedural
One of multiple devil-based dramas on the air.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Brought back from the dead by an OTT.

Madam Secretary (CBS)
Type: Political drama
Never reached the popularity of The Good Wife, but still endures.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – If only she became president.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Type: Period dramedy
One of the best shows on the air, hands down. Good luck writing that dialogue.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – No reason to think Amazon is going to get rid of its golden show anytime soon.

Narcos (Netflix)
Type: Serialized period drama
Addictive.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Was able to spin itself off, so it can probably go on for a bit.

Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
Type: Period crime drama
Connecting the dots.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Six years later, and another season a long ways away. Seven are expected in total.

Riverdale (The CW)
Type: Teen drama
R.I.P. Luke Perry.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Find the missing episode.

This Is Us (NBC)
Type: Family drama
Get out the kleenex.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – A single-tear is forming down my cheek.

Westworld (HBO)
Type: Serialized science-fiction
Abstract metaphysical algorithmic artificial machine learning intelligence.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – It took a while for season two to appear. You have some time before year three.


Wild Cards

Not quite fully widespread but will get there given the chance.

9-1-1/The Resident (FOX) *
Type: Procedurals
What is your emergency?
Longevity: ★★★★★ – No end.

Black Lightning (The CW)
Type: Superhero drama
Expanding the DCWU.
Longevity: ★★★★ – The closest thing to a bubble show out of that group, but still got a renewal.

Bull/Magnum P.I./S.W.A.T./SEAL Team (CBS) *
Type: Procedurals
Another batch of network procedurals not read or accepted widely. The shift is almost complete.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Don’t be afraid of cancellation. Be afraid of innapropriate behavior.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
Type: Supernatural drama
Step one: hail satan.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Already renewed deep into our lives.

Claws (TNT)
Type: Workplace drama
Surprisingly subversive.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Renewed and no real dips in sight.

Cloak & Dagger (Freeform)
Type: Superhero drama
A potent combination of soap and grit.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Second season incoming with the first having great ratings for the network.

Goliath/Patriot/Sneaky Pete (Amazon)
Type: Serialized drama
Always on the cusp of breaking big. They have the potential reach.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – As they continue to age, they may never get the chance.

The Good Doctor (ABC)
Type: Medical procedural
He’s both good and a doctor.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Ratings hit and medical drama means long-lasting.

Good Girls (NBC)
Type: Crime dramedy
Mother knows best.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – A network dramedy lauded by critics isn’t usually a recipe for everlasting success.

Greenleaf/Queen Sugar (OWN)
Type: Family drama
Bring forth the mysteries.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – They’re both getting long in the tooth, which could force OWN to find other headliners soon.

Jack Ryan (Amazon)
Type: Action drama
Pew pew pew!
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Kaboom!

Krypton (Syfy)
Type: Science-fiction dramedy
Like a prequel to an origin story.
Longevity: ★★★★ – It’s Syfy so it could be both renewed and cancelled.

Legion (FX) *
Type: Serialized superhero drama
There’s a reason it’s not read by most…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …adaptation + unreliable schedule + serialization + minimal episode orders.

Lethal Weapon (FOX)
Type: Police procedural
A one-hour with a lot of comedy makes for a half-decent pick if you need a transitional spec.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Likely on its way out.

Lost in Space (Netflix)
Type: Science-fiction/family drama
One of the few cable sci-fi shows more commonly accepted.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Perhaps you can add depth to the narrative.

Mindhunter (Netflix)
Type: Crime drama
Almost a how-to guide.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Second season still incoming after a two-year wait. Gap show.

Outlander/Power (Starz) *
Type: Serialized historical/family drama
Finally read after several seasons undervalued. Might be too little too late.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Starz is trying to bring forth its next generation of dramas.

Pose (FX)
Type: Period drama
Ball culture is great, the yuppie story not so much.
Longevity: ★★★★ – The serialization might prove trouble, but you have room to improvise.

Preacher (AMC)
Type: Serialized genre
One man’s quest to find something else.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Low ratings might mean an end after the fourth season.

Succession (HBO)
Type: Family dramedy
Vicious, quippy dialogue. Brings me back to the days of The Thick of It.
Longevity: ★★★★ – A second season is still to be dated, so cash in now.

Whiskey Cavalier (ABC) *
Type: Action procedural
WC? Like Water Closet?
Longevity: ★★★★

You (Lifetime)
Type: Serialized drama
Me.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Us.


Outsiders

The shows (mostly cable) you may be tempted to take a risk on, getting you on top of the reading pile. Beyond that, it depends on the willingness of the reader and his/her knowledge of the show.

Altered Carbon/The OA/The Umbrella Academy (Netflix) *
Type: Serialized science-fiction/fantasy
For some reason, serialized science-fiction and fantasy from Netflix doesn’t translate to readership in the spec world.
Longevity: ★★★★ – But given the gap between seasons, you’ve got the opportunity to write something that’ll last for a bit.

American Gods/Counterpart (Starz)
Type: Serialized fantasy/science-fiction
Dead heroes walking.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – One has had massive behind-the-scenes turnover, the other just got canned.

Animal Kingdom (TNT)
Type: Crime/family drama
Now is the time to make some animal sounds or something.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Might be in its fourth season but with a stable audience, there are still options.

Bodyguard (BBC)
Type: Action drama
A mini-series that became a show. Given how the last episodes went…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …can you guess who he’s going to protect next?

Castle Rock (Hulu)
Type: Horror drama
Not to be confused with Casterly Rock.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Every season is themed differently. The next one may bring you some Misery. (Get it?)

Deadly Class/Runaways (Syfy/Hulu) *
Type: Fantasy family drama
Connect the superhero’s problems with an internal family struggle, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Longevity: ★★★★ – How many issues of the comics are there?

Get Shorty (Epix)
Type: Dramedy
Moviemaking meets gangster.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Barely based on the book, you have ample room for story.

Hanna (Amazon) *
Type: Action/family drama
Eric Bana got traded for Joel Kinnaman.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Amazon poured too much money to let it go this easily.

Homecoming/Sweetbitter/Vida (Hulu/Starz)
Type: Serialized drama
Half-hour dramas are becoming all the rage.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Livin’ la vida loca.

Titans (DC Universe)
Type: Superhero drama
The setup to the new DC Universe.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – New network, new gamble.


Gamblers

For one reason or another, these are much riskier specs to do right now. You have been warned.

Doom Patrol (DC Universe) *
Type: Super-hero drama
The show is weird. Alan Tudyk is a villain. Highly recommended.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Lean into the self-referential.

The Expanse (Amazon) *
Type: Science-fiction drama
Quality hard sci-fi. I’m here for it.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Thankfully got saved by Amazon, which means it’ll probably last a hot minute.

The Fix (ABC) *
Type: Procedural
Heads-up: it’s not a fix for that bug in your operating system.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Hard to predict off a couple of episodes.

Nightflyers/The Passage/Roswell, New Mexico (Syfy/FOX/The CW) *
Type: Genre drama
Not based on the novel Push by Sapphire.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Mid-season genre shows will always be at risk (and one of the three is already cancelled).

The Order (Netflix) *
Type: Supernatural drama
All hail our binge deity.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Too new, too fresh, too too.

The Orville (FOX) *
Type: Science-fiction drama
A true Star Trek:TNG heir which is actually not that read.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Long season gaps and procedural elements last for a while.


2019 Trends

A gigantic 109 (!) dramas are analyzed on this year’s TV spec script list (compared to 104 last season). We keep expanding the definition of “too much television”, even though, like with half-hours, we’re seeing a level of stagnation.

The breakdown of content between network, linear cable and OTTs is also fairly even, with respectively 39, 37 and 32 dramas for each. Last year saw new entrant CBS All-Access, and this time we have DC Universe. It’s likely that our 2020 drama list will feature even more OTT players (Disney+, Apple+, etc.). They still don’t have more offerings than linear channels when it comes to spec opportunities, but that will undoubtedly change in years to come.

Sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero dramas also have a strong showing, which proves the staying power of genre television. That doesn’t mean they’re as widely read as their more “traditional” drama counterparts. In particular, overt science-fiction series from cable and OTTs (The Expanse, Altered Carbon, The OA, Legion, Star Trek) seem to not get the reads they should. Hard to tell if this trend will continue.
Like last year, we’re continuing to see the popularity of anthology series winding down. However, we’re only months away from new OTT offerings in that format, so things may change soon.

Overall, it’s a whole lot of TV drama on a whole lot of TV platforms. Fragmentation of content may mean more opportunities for some, but also more safe bets on tried auspices. Knowing your voice — and finding the right show to spec to fit that voice — is as crucial as ever.

Paper Scraps Monthly II – Audience Questions and July TV News (PT97)

Alex and Nick answer more TV writing questions and react to recent TV business news, including WGAW’s yearly earnings, CAA’s Amplify database, Snowpiercer reshoots, and industry mergers.

Where should you get feedback on your TV scripts? Is it better to write single-cams over multi-cams? Should a one-hour drama writer switch to writing half-hour comedies? How much of an impact does Netflix have on TV viewing habits? What influence do the AT&T/Time Warner and Disney/Fox mergers have on content?

Plus, we reveal a major announcement for our 100th episode and crown the July Paper Tease winners.

The Paper Team buys in…

SHOWNOTES

Content

100th Episode Announcement (00:54)
Paper Tease Session (02:39)
1 – Audience Questions about TV writing (14:33)
2 – July TV news: Netflix, WGAW’s earnings, CAA’s database, Snowpiercer, industry mergers, showrunner panel, TV writing Twitter thread (37:00)

Announcement

The 100th episode of Paper Team will be a live event on Saturday, August 4.
Find out more and get your free tickets now at http://paperteam.co/panel100

Paper Tease Entries

“Miracle Village” by Alan R. Baxter
“Unpresidented” by Matty Mendez

Links

Rewriting Your TV Script (PT90)
Feedback and Notes: Building Your Reading Onion (PT08)
CoverflyX
Comedy v. Drama: Declare Your TV Major (PT02)
TV Spec Script 101 (PT34)
TV Spec Script 201 (PT79)
“Netflix Is No. 1 Choice for TV Viewing, Beating Broadcast, Cable and YouTube” – Variety
“WGA West Earnings Hit Record $1.4 Billion In 2017” – Deadline
CAA’s Amplify Database
Scott Derrickson tweets about Snowpiercer reshoots
Time Warner acquisition by AT&T
Acquisition of 21st Century Fox
Electronic Frontier Foundation
“An Evening with Female Showrunners – Panel 1” (Video)
“An Evening with Female Showrunners – Panel 2” (Video)
Jose Molina’s Twitter thread on “things you wish you knew then”

This episode brought to you by Roadmap Writers’ JumpStart Writing Competition

Special thanks to Alex Switzky for helping us edit this episode.

If you enjoyed this episode (and others), please consider leaving us an iTunes review at paperteam.co/itunes! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Drama Spec Script 2018 – What is hot and what is not


UPDATED:
A brand new 2019 list has been posted.
Click here to access it.

Like every year, it is now time to review which TV shows are good to spec, and which are not.
Dedicated posts will be made respectively for the best comedies (half-hour) and the best dramas (one-hour).
As the title says, this post is all about the dramas.
Canceled or dead shows have been removed since last season’s spec list.

In addition, you’ll also find (when available) a script for the corresponding show for educational purposes (title will be in red).

NOTE:
Given Warner Bros’ and NBC’s show lists for their fellowship, I have indicated with:
– An asterisk (*) any series that will not be accepted by WB.
– A dagger () any series that will not be accepted by NBC.
Any public update will be reflected on this list.

Here is a quick recap of how the list works:
The shows are divided into five categories regarding their appeal to readers and how well they are known/read:
Over-specced (shows that have passed their prime, try to avoid doing them)
Mainstream (shows that have matured enough to have become on-the-nose speccers — with a lot of people speccing them)
Wild Cards (soon, everyone will spec these, maybe you can get a head start)
Outsiders (specs that will get you out from the pack)
Gamblers (risky shows that could pay off, or bomb)

There is also a grade regarding the show’s longevity in relation to its speccability.
Meaning, how long can you keep your spec script fresh without having to throw it in the trash?
To do this, we will use the greatest grading system on Earth; stars:
★★★★★ – Excellent
★★★★ – Very Good
★★★★★ – Average
★★★★★ – Fair
★★★★ – Poor

And here we go.

Over-Specced

Re-tool your spec if you have one, but you probably shouldn’t bother beginning a new one for these shows.

The 100 (The CW)
Type: Serialized science-fiction drama
The 10^2
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Can you keep up with the pacing?

The Affair (Showtime)
Type: Serialized relationship drama
My perspective is that it’s past its due date.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – My perspective is different: it’s past its due date. Hold on…

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Type: Fantasy/action procedural
Is that the one with Thanos?
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Nevermind, that’s Avengers Assemble.

The Americans (FX)
Type: Serialized historical thriller
Don’t forget to specify which wigs the leads are wearing.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – One last ride.

American Horror Story (FX) *
Type: Serialized horror
I’m scared for you if that’s your spec.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Unless you preemptively make a season premiere episode about the 2018 election, in which case I actually hate you.

Arrow/The Flash (The CW)
Type: Action/fantasy procedural
There are better, fresher superhero choices on this list.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Doesn’t mean these shows won’t last forever.

Better Call Saul (AMC)
Type: Crime drama
Burned as bright as it could.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Expecting a third spinoff any minute to cement the Breaking Bad Televisual Universe.

The Blacklist (NBC)
Type: Action procedural
[opinion redacted] Longevity: ★★★★★ – Does Spader want a sixth kitchen?

Black Mirror (Netflix) *
Type: Science-fiction anthology
How is Black Mirror already overspecced? Well, it’s petty simple: the fact that you can disguise a feature or pilot as a spec episode is very attractive to a lot of writers.
Longevity: ★★★★ – It’s an anthology.

Bosch/The Man in the High Castle/Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon) *
Type: Serialized dramas
Ageing Amazon shows.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Wildcard renewals.

Elementary (CBS)
Type: Police procedural
Morgan Freeman is so underrated.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Yes, it’s still on the air with a full sixth season about to premiere.

Empire (FOX)
Type: Family soap
People couldn’t wait to spec it as soon as it broke big.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Now mostly doing crossovers and continuing its legacy.

Game of Thrones (HBO)
Type: Serialized fantasy drama
Ever heard of this show?
Longevity: ★★★★ – I mean.

Gotham (FOX)
Type: Superhero procedural
Really getting long in the cowl.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Can’t wait until Arnold Schwarzenegger returns.

Grey’s Anatomy/How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
Type: Prime-time soaps
Coming soon to Netflix.
Longevity: ★★★★ – What’s more insane than any of the past two seasons?

Hawaii Five-0/NCIS:LA/NCIS:NOLA (CBS) *
Type: Police/Action procedural
Widely watched, rarely accepted.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – It keeps on keeping on.

Homeland (Showtime)
Type: Serialized thriller
Quite a long ways from where it started.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Eight season planned to be the final nail.

House of Cards/Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
Type: Serialized political/relationship drama
No comment.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Winding down.

iZombie (The CW)
Type: Fantasy crime procedural
One of people’s fave CW pick outside of their DC slate.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Fourth season currently getting as many viewers as its third year, which may or may not be good news.

Mr. Robot (USA Network)
Type: Serialized thriller
We’re all part of E Corp.
Longevity: ★★★★ – The twist is that the show was dead the whole time.

The Originals (The CW)
Type: Fantasy drama
Once it was the most-watched series on its network…
Longevity: ★★★★ – ..and is now about to conclude.

Ray Donovan/Shameless (Showtime) *
Type: Family drama
Boston and Chicago representing.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Showtime loves to run series deep into their old age, as they currently stand at six and nine seasons.

Suits (USA)
Type: Light procedural
This show is now royalty. Get it?
Longevity: ★★★★ – Renewed without two of its leads, including the protagonist. What.

The Walking Dead (AMC)
Type: Ensemble/horror drama
WATCH OUT SOMETHING IS BEHIND YOU
Longevity: ★★★★ – It’s a soap, so it could last for generations.


Mainstream

The current and new widespread shows in town that are getting read.

Blindspot (NBC)
Type: Action procedural
She just got re-tattooed…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …time for another decade of stories.

Chicago Fire/Chicago Med/Chicago PD/Code Black (NBC/CBS)
Type: Action/medical procedural
Soon to be joined by Station 19.
Longevity: ★★★★ – As long as people need savin’, these shows will keep comin’.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend/Jane the Virgin (The CW)
Type: Family dramedy
Great shows beget great specs.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Can critical success translate to renewals? Apparently yes.

The Crown (Netflix)
Type: Serialized drama
Pay your lead!
Longevity: ★★★★★ – New cast, new years, new drama.

Daredevil/Jessica Jones/Luke Cage (Netflix)
Type: Serialized superhero drama
There’s a reason I didn’t include Iron Fist.
Longevity: ★★★★ – These three are going long term.

Fargo (FX)
Type: Crime drama
*cue Curb Your Enthusiasm music as an act out*
Longevity: ★★★★★ – The storylines can’t be predicted, the non-linear anthological aspect is all over the place, and a fourth season isn’t happening for another year or two. Definitely a long-term spec.

Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
Type: Serialized survival horror
It’s like Civ but with zombies and family drama and not at all like Civ.
Longevity: ★★★★ – It’s musical chairs over there.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Type:
This is us. For real.
Longevity: ★★★★ – How long can it sustain its mirror-like reflection on our reality?

Into the Badlands (AMC) *
Type: Serialized drama
Genre enough to not be read.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Still hasn’t aired its third season, so you have some leeway.

Legends of Tomorrow/Supergirl (The CW)
Type: Action/Fantasy procedural
Passing the torch.
Longevity: ★★★★ – If they can survive scandals, they can survive anything.

Lucifer (FOX)
Type: Police/supernatural procedural
The devil who solves crime on a weekly basis is better than the devil who doesn’t.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Many, many episodes.

Madam Secretary (CBS)
Type: Political drama
Hasn’t caught The Good Wife fervor (probably because The Good Fight took its place), but Madam still remains a decent CBS political drama pick.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Especially since they secured last year a huge multi-platform syndication deal.

Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
Type: Period crime drama
A slow burn that finally broke mainstream.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Might be late in the game as it approaches its fifth year.

Quantico/Scorpion (ABC/CBS)
Type: Action/thriller procedural
Quan2co wasn’t as successful as Quan1co…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …but we’ll have to see how Quan3co performs.

Riverdale (The CW)
Type: Teen drama
Whatever you’re doing, go crazier.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Already creating its cross-platform universe.

Stranger Things (Netflix)
Type: Serialized period drama
Let’s make a story about 2010s shows inspired by the 1980s
Longevity: ★★★★ – Probably ending around its fourth or fifth year, so you’ve got time. At least until they start milking 90s nostalgia.

This Is Us (NBC)
Type: Family drama
Called it last year as the new Parenthood spec. And boy was I right.
Longevity: ★★★★ – I’m already crying because of all the emotional manipulation.

UnReal (Lifetime)
Type: Serialized drama
A fresh third year is giving new life to this industry darling.
Longevity: ★★★★ – How many seasons of The Bachelor have there been?


Wild Cards

Not quite fully widespread but will get there given the chance.

13 Reasons Why/Ozark (Amazon)
Type: Serialized drama
Two fresh Netflix fares with a lot of momentum to go mainstream.
Longevity: ★★★★ – As long as you capitalize on the emotional pull.

9-1-1/The Gifted/The Resident (FOX) *
Type: Procedurals/Family drama
FOX equivalent of shows with longterm potential…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …or maybe one of them will be nixed.

American Crime/American Crime Story (ABC/FX) *
Type: Serialized crime/legal anthologies
Still on some level small gambles…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …especially given they are seasonal anthologies.

Billions (Showtime)
Type: Serialized drama
I bet they invested in Bitcoin.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Which would explain its continuous renewals despite lukewarm reception and viewership.

Black Lightning (The CW) *
Type: Superhero drama
A new superhero has entered the game…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …and he’s more compelling than most of the previous ones.

Bull/S.W.A.T./Salvation/SEAL Team (CBS) *
Type: Procedurals
Fresh from your nearby screen, so not taken in by fellowships just yet. But just you wait.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Successful CBS dramas. Let me think on that…

Claws/Good Behavior (TNT)
Type: Workplace drama
You wouldn’t think TNT shows would be as big, and yet these two are surprisingly wildly accepted (unlike a lot of its counterparts).
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Knowing the network, if it works, it’ll be a while.

Goliath/Patriot/Sneaky Pete (Amazon)
Type: Serialized drama
Amazon shows may make a small splash when they land, but they sadly have a tough time breaking out.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Mish-mash of successes, although the OTT really wants content no matter what.

The Good Doctor (ABC) *
Type: Medical procedural
The closest thing to a sure long-term spec for first-season newbies, so let’s be honest…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …this one is gonna last a while.

Greenleaf/Queen Sugar (OWN)
Type: Family drama
Right on the verge of breaking mainstream…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …but they may not by the time they end.

Humans (AMC)
Type: Science-fiction drama
Bumped a bump thanks to its (now-)wider readership.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Resistance is futile.

Legion (FX) *
Type: Serialized superhero drama
A really tumultuous acceptance rate in its first season that still isn’t fully overcome. When and if it finally does, it will probably instantly become mainstream.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Still an insane narrative.

Lethal Weapon (FOX)
Type: Police procedural
The one-hour version of a broadcast dramedy…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …which may end up in the can sooner than later.

Narcos (Netflix)
Type: Serialized period drama
Although partnered up with Stranger Things in the last list, the show didn’t pick up as much steam as its other period friend.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Already renewed up to a fourth season, if it can produce itself that far.

Outlander/Power (Starz) *
Type: Serialized historical/family drama
Now more accepted, which bumped both up a notch, but still not as mainstream as fans would like them to be.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Will probably show its age by next year, as it moves to reach fifty episodes.

The Path (Hulu)
Type: Serialized drama
Do you believe?
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Praise be to three seasons.

Preacher (AMC)
Type: Serialized genre
Went from a prequel season to actual storylines from the comics…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …which may or may not help you down the line.

Westworld (HBO)
Type: Serialized science-fiction
I’m already predicting this to be the number one searched show on this year’s list. This is poised to garner Game of Thrones-level thirst for specs, albeit being a show people will actually read since it isn’t based on books. For now, it is a wild card per tradition for popular first-season shows.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Impossible to say. Even the writers don’t even know where they are between each episodes.


Outsiders

The shows (mostly cable) you may be tempted to take a risk on, getting you on top of the reading pile. Beyond that, it depends on the willingness of the reader and his/her knowledge of the show.

Altered Carbon/The OA (Netflix) *
Type: Serialized science-fiction/fantasy
One is brand new, the other is still niche enough to alienate some. Still some rungs to climb to be considered viable spec contenders.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Evergreen or serialized spec? Hard choice.

American Gods/Counterpart (Starz) *
Type: Serialized fantasy/science-fiction
If I didn’t add them to this list, these two would have been the most requested shows in comments and emails. The harsh reality is that both series are way too new and not widely accepted to be considered any higher.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Time will tell how much of the behind-the-scene drama influences production and renewals.

Animal Kingdom (TNT)
Type: Crime/family drama
It didn’t bank on the traction it initially had, which means it just had enough to be upped a single step.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – [insert joke about endangered animals and their kindgom]

Ash vs Evil Dead (Starz)
Type: Serialized comedic horror
Shockingly read by many.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Already deep in its third season.

The Fosters (Freeform) *
Type: Serialized family/workplace drama
After all these years, still not widely accepted.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Concluding with a spin-off prequel. Wait, what?

The Good Fight/Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All-Access) *
Type: Legal/science-fiction drama
Wait a minute. How can two of the biggest new shows on TV be placed so low? Reality check: CBS All-Access isn’t watched by many and neither series are currently accepted by most programs.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Beyond that, CBS has gone all-in on these two, so (unless some major behind-the-scene drama happens) you can stick around for them to be right back.


Gamblers

For one reason or another, these are much riskier specs to do right now. You have been warned.

Colony/The Expanse (Syfy/USA) *
Type: Science-fiction drama
Basic cable science-fiction has a really hard time breaking on the spec scene, in large part due to its lack of readership.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Always tough to say how many seasons genre can get you.

The Exorcist (FOX) *
Type: Serialized horror
Underrated broadcast drama.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Which also happens to be the definition of a bubble show.

Happy Valley (Netflix) *
Type: Crime drama
Like many other Gamblers this season, it stagnates at this level due to its lack of acceptance.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – British seasons are abstract concepts.

The Last Ship (TNT) *
Type: Action procedural
Yes it’s still on.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – No it’s still not read.

Runaways (Hulu) *
Type: Fantasy family drama
The temptation is strong to go with it, but remember it’s not accepted.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Since this was just a prequel to the real story, I’m sure you got some room for improvement.

Timeless (NBC) *
Type: Time-travel procedural
It could have gone either way last season, but this time around there’s no question about the Timeless status due to its lack of success.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Already got the pleasure of being renewed thanks to its fans. Unlikely it can pull the same feat twice.

2018 Trends

An enormous 104 one-hour shows are tallied on this year’s TV spec script list. We continue breaking new records every time, increasing into triple digits.

For the first time in the list’s history, broadcast networks are being completely overshadowed by cable and OTT. The Big Five have way fewer TV shows accounted for than their cable counterparts (43 against 61). A momentous upset that will probably never be reversed in the foreseeable future. In fact, new entrant CBS All-Access may herald a new era of compartmentalized OTT, strikingly similar to the way cable channels are currently being presented.

This spec crop also presents a large increase in genre shows, with over 35 listed, building on the past few seasons’ trends (including the fresh additions of Altered Carbon, American Gods, Star Trek: Discovery, and Westworld). Unfortunately for their speccers, the number of genre specs read are few and far between: only half of them are being accepted to begin with. Both cable outlets and broadcast are digging their teeth in the format though, so they may become more widely received in years to come.
Conversely, the popularity of anthology series seems to be winding down, in favor of more traditional serialized intimate dramas (like This is Us and even The Crown). It will be interesting to see if their success translate to more personal TV series.

Is more TV better for scripts? Well, it certainly means a more crowded marketplace, with more diverse formats, and more overall content. And with increasingly picky programs, these are all added reasons to write a great spec — as long as you choose the right TV show.