We’re deep in the midst of pilot season casting frenzy, the time of year when networks cast a bunch of actors and start figuring out what’s actually going to work in their schedules come fall. We’re a long way from any of these concepts actually being a show. But in browsing through the Hollywood Reporter’s list of all the shows in development right now, these are the ten—from a story about an Alaskan cult to a secessionist nuclear sub—that have me most excited. And after how disappointing the 2011-2012 pilot season was, I need some pick-me-ups:
Counter Culture, ABC: Look, I’d probably be in for a show about older women running a diner in Texas under any circumstances—we need some sort of recompense for Good Christian Bitches, and I’ve been excited for stories about women who are in the demographic I’ll be joining in a couple of decades. And I’d sort of like to see a female-led equivalent of Cheers. But given that Margo Martindale’s in the cast, I’m particularly excited. She’s always fantastic, and if the show’s willing to make jokes about Mags Bennett’s Apple Pie, all the better.
Untitled Dan Fogelman project, ABC: I love Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans, the network’s riff on immigration reform but with actual aliens and monsters. And I have a lot of Men in Black nostalgia. Maybe that makes me weak. But a show about a gated community full of aliens sounds pretty funny. And potentially a great way to riff on the inherent weirdness of the one percent.
Last Resort, ABC: Given how deeply Hollywood and the military are intertwined, I almost can’t believe that a major network is making a show about a nuclear submarine crew who refuse to fire the missiles they have aboard and go AWOL, declaring themselves a tiny, independent nuclear nation. It might be awful, but the fact that something this wonky about nuclear policy (and this potentially anti-war) is being made at all has my ears all pricked up. Also, it stars Andre Braugher.
Partners, CBS: Okay, I may be rooting for this show in part because I want it to beat Ryan Murphy’s The New Normal in the gay-family-comedies-of-fall-2012 competition. But the cast, which includes Ugly Betty’s wonderful Michael Urie, David Krumholtz, who can ride the good vibe of 10 Things I Hate About You literally forever, and Brandon Routh, who’s been doing a wonderful job of reinventing himself as something other than simply amazingly handsome, is strong. And more comedies about gay men and straight men who are uncomplicatedly friends are a nice thing to have, and a step beyond the sassy gay archetype.
Untitled Louis C.K., Spike Feresten, CBS: If Louis C.K. wasn’t involved in this show about young people trying to make it in the recession economy, I’m not sure I’d be interested. And even his streak outside of Louie is a little uneven. But C.K. is on a streak so hot right now that I’d be excited for anything he’s even tangentially involved with.
Elementary, CBS: I blogged about this show, which stars Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson on Friday. It strikes me as high risk, high reward—it’s not as if this isn’t well-trod territory where people are doing innovative work. But the chance to see how the male-female dynamic works, and to see what Miller and Liu, both somewhat underrated actors to my mind, do together is intriguing.
1600 Penn, NBC: It could very easily be quite silly. But I like the idea of a comedy set in the White House that acknowledges just how weird the presidency and the whole First Family thing is. I like Bill Pullman. And I like Brittany Snow a lot. She’s not going to experience what Sasha and Malia are, by a long shot, but the pressure on First Kids and First Daughters in particular is absolutely insane, and I look forward to seeing someone tackle it.
Beautiful People, NBC: It may be that I just finished a soon-to-be-released (and blogged about, I promise) novel about the rise of uncanny artificial intelligences, but I’m looking forward to NBC’s exploration of a class-stratified society where robots, despite their evolving consciousness, don’t have the same rights as the humans they serve.
Midnight Sun, NBC: Adaptations of Israeli shows have been on kind of a tear lately. Plus, the idea of an FBI agent investigating the disappearance of an Alaska cult sounds like a pretty intriguing show—closed groups and wildernesses have a lot of promise.Julia Stiles is starring in the show—it’s hard for me to think about an actress I’m more excited to see working regularly again. And hey, maybe Twilight fans will accidentally boost the show’s ratings, mistaking it for Stephenie Meyer’s unreleased novel in the series. NBC will take what it can get at some point.
Untitled Mindy Kaling comedy, Fox: Mindy Kaling. As an ob/gyn. Do I actually have to say more about this? If I do, it’s that thank goodness Kaling’s getting sprung from the sinking ship that is The Office, and that given how awful the public conversation around women and reproductive rights has been, maybe television can, for once, provide us with a respite.