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Tuesday, 26 February 2013 14:44

Pushing Pilot Season

Written by  Gordon Meyer
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nbc_logoAfter a lackluster 2012/13 television season that was sparse on new hits, the broadcast networks have increased the number of pilots ordered in hopes of striking gold.  According to a report filed by Nellie Andreeva of Deadline.com, ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC have a combined order of 98 pilots, including straight-to-series orders, making for a 14-percent increase over last season.

CBS has ordered 12 comedy and 11 drama pilots (up from last year’s 8 comedies and 7 dramas), even though CBS Chief Les Moonves reportedly said that, in spite of the increase in pilot orders, the number of new shows actually slated to go to series will remain roughly the same. The specific number of available series slots has yet to be announced, but it’s speculated that new sitcoms, from Showrunners like Chuck Lorre and Greg Garcia, have an inside edge on a green light. Fourth-ranked network NBC ordered pilots for 15 comedies and 11 dramas plus a series commitment for Michael J. Fox’s return to a prime time sitcom. Last year, the Peacock Network ordered pilots for 14 comedies and 9 dramas. According to Andreeva’s analysis, only a handful of scripted dramas from the current season are likely to make the cut for 2013/14.

While Fox’s new pilot total remains the same as last year’s 16, it’s an equal mix of drama and comedy while last year’s order had more sitcom pilots than dramas. As with NBC, many of Fox’s current dramas and comedies have been struggling in the ratings. The new crop of shows will offer an emphasis on male-oriented comedy and family fare, while the dramas have an eclectic mix of dramedy (“Rake”), crime (“Gang Related”), classic literature (“Sleepy Hollow”) and a new project from the prolific J.J. Abrams.

ABC has ordered an equal mix of 12 comedies and 12 dramas, the same as last year’s order. The Alphabet Network’s comedy choices are a mix of female- and family-oriented fare. Building on a successful track record with nighttime soap dramas, like “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC now has similar shows in the works. The network’s ownership of Marvel has led to “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a new show based on the popular comic books and spearheaded by Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly”). And ABC’s biggest gamble may be a new series crafted around the popular Disneyland ride “Big Thunder Railroad.”
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