2013 Pilot Watch: ABC

While there is no question NBC is in the shittier, ABC is a bit of a mystery. Their shows are good, and they have a loyal audience but somehow they have been trailing in network ratings. It becomes a little clearer when you take a look at their lineup. They have some very good dramas, Castle, Once Upon a Time, Scandal, Revenge, and even though Grey’s Anatomy should have ended years ago, people are still tuning in. Of course their reality shows are popular – Dancing with the Stars, and The Bachelor, but I ignore that those exist so there are neither here nor there. ABC’s problem area? Clearly their comedies. Don’t Trust the B sadly has been cancelled, Happy Endings is being moved, The Neighbors is in the basement, and if you can name any other ABC comedy besides Modern Family, congrats.


One has to imagine that ABC is wondering what they can do to get to the top. Luckily for them, some of their pilots looks to have great potential, one from a certain Joss Whedon most especially. Without further adieu, some of the best looking prospects for ABC this pilot season.

[tabgroup][tab title=”S.H.I.E.L.D.”]

ABC Pilot

Is there an upcoming show that has more geeks all atwitter than this one? I don’t think so. Of course the show itself is exciting but when they announced that Agent Coulson was actually not dead and Clark Gregg would be bringing his character to the ABC pilot? Well that just put a cherry on this fantastic sundae.

There’s been quite a few people added to the cast of this show since that announcement, including Ming-Na Wen from ER and Iain De Caestecker from the long running British soap, Coronation Street.

There is very little doubt that this will make it to series. ABC would be making a mistake of epic proportions if they let this one go.


[tab title=”SPY”]

Another British import, Spy is about a somewhat unsuccessful man who in the hopes to impress his son, goes out to get a good job and somehow finds himself a secret agent. The British show was fantastic, thanks in part to the cast. I’d like to say the American version looks as promising but I can’t. Now I’m perfectly willing to admit this is just me, but I can not stand Rob Corddry and have a hard time seeing him as Tim.

The most interesting casting news on this show though, would be that of Ken Jeong. Granted he hasn’t been seen much on Community here lately so perhaps they are trying to write him out completely, or even sadder, he’s preparing for the end of Community all together.

If this version has one thing going for it, it would be that Simeon Goulden who created and wrote the British version of Spy is writing this as well. All that said, I’d probably watch this, well at the very least I’d give it a shot because I enjoyed the original that much.


[tab title=”Gothica”]

ABC PilotMy love of the ‘Gone Too Soon’ Kings is no secret so you can only imagine how excited I was to see that Christopher Egan was in another pilot. Even better, it looks like a pilot that has potential.

[quote]Modern day show that weaves together a mythology that incorporates the legends of Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein and Dorian Gray among others.[/quote]

Egan will play Dorian Gray and he has a fantastic cast around him including Tom Ellis (from the incredibly funny Miranda) as Victor Frankenstein, Janet Montgomery (this year’s short lived Made in Jersey) as Grace Van Helsing, and Fringe star, Seth Gabel. As if the actors weren’t enough, the writers just might be. After signing an overall deal with ABC, the creators of Reaper, Tara Butters and Michele Fazakas have been tapped to run Gothica. These two ladies also had a hand in Dollhouse which was another show canceled way before it’s time. Let’s just hope that Gothica turns the tide for them.


[tab title=”Super Fun Night”]

Unlike NBC that has a penchant for hyping crappy sitcoms (whilst ignoring their good ones) and CBS that just makes all crappy sitcoms, ABC has done pretty well. Okay, they’ve done well from a critical standpoint, obviously they haven’t done well on the viewers front because these great shows are getting canceled or just ignored. It really is a crime. However if Super Fun Night makes it to series and is then canceled or ignored, I will be crushed. Crushed!

ABC Pilot

First off, this pilot is being directed by John Riggi of 30 Rock. That right there should be enough but no, it stars Rebel Wilson and if that wasn’t enough, Keegan Michael Key of Key and Peele has signed on! Seriously, this show has so much going for it. Even it’s premise, while simple, sounds entertaining – Three nerdy female friends decide to have super fun every Friday night. That’s it, that’s all we know about it so far. Is it going to be like Big Bang Theory but with chicks? Who knows. One could hope the writing is better and that the audience will be there but we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m losing a lot of shows this year and if this one is picked up, rest assured, I will be watching. I’d be lying if part of me doesn’t hope it get’s picked up for the sole reason that it would give better odds to seeing Rebel Wilson on SNL.


[tab title=”Influence”]

If you don’t know, I’m a huge fan of sibling relationships on shows. Of course if you’ve had the pleasure of reading previous Grizzly Bomb contributions of mine you are probably saying “we know! You like siblings! Stop telling us!” but I just thought it bore repeating. Anyways – I like watching sibling relationships.

ABC Pilot

I also like Steve Zahn. I also like Christian Slater. I also liked Kyle Killen’s shows Awake and Lone Star.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a show by Kyle Killen starring Steve Zahn and Christian Slater as brothers just might be a show I’d watch.

[quote]Centers on the complicated relationship between two brothers, Clark, a bipolar genius in human psychology, and Ross, a slick ex-con, who solve their clients’ problems using the real science of human motivation and manipulation.[/quote]

Just on the surface, it seems a bit like Lie to Me but switch out facial tics for psychology. Best part of this casting is who is who. Because I always associate Steve Zahn as the Neil Diamond restraining order recipient/raccoon wrestler from Saving Silverman, I was pretty certain he would be the “slick ex-con” but I would be wrong. Zahn is actually Clark the bipolar genius (yea I can see that) and Christian Slater will be playing Ross.

One can hope that this won’t be a predictable crime procedural, and that it will last longer than both Awake and Lone Star.


[tab title=”Big Thunder”]

I want everyone that has a screenplay sitting in a desk drawer (or documents folder) to go ahead and dust it off because apparently the world is in desperate need of new ideas. I’m just going to float this logline out there and see what grabs you.

[quote]A late 19th century New York doctor and his family relocate to a frontier mining town run by a powerful, but mysterious tycoon. Unfortunately, they quickly realize that not everything in the titular city is as it seems. (Inspired by the Disney Parks ride Thunder Mountain Railroad.)[/quote]

In case you missed it… Inspired by the Disney Parks ride Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Every single time I’ve seen this show mentioned, my head explodes. I know I mentioned back in the NBC Dramas discussion that I appreciate the idea of a Western coming back to network television but this is not at all what I had in mind. If the fact that it’s “inspired” by an amusement park ride isn’t baffling enough, get this – it’s a drama. A drama, based on a railroad ride at Disney World/Land/whatever.

My “cyborg looks for love in the most unlikely of places, a retirement facility for astronauts” pilot isn’t looking so crappy all of a sudden.



So there you have it! There’s some that are sure hits (S.H.I.E.L.D.) and some that have real potential, but it very easily could turn out that I have no idea what I’m talking about and Big Thunder will end up being a huge success and having a ten year run. You’ll find me in the corner, rocking and muttering to myself if that happens.

There are a few other shows filming pilots right now like a “Romeo and Juliet-esque” drama called Westside starring Jennifer Beals and Dennis Duffy Dean Winters and a comedy starring MadTV’s Will Sasso but outside of those actors I don’t find much appeal in the shows at all. Hopefully one of the above pilots will find their way to a series order and we can all sit back and laugh at those days when ABC finished behind NBC back in the spring of 2013.

Update: As series orders roll in, see how I did across the board!
NBC Comedies
NBC Dramas
FOX and The CW

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