Next week, network TV executives will converge on New York City to announce their new fall TV schedules.
More than 80 new pilots are currently being screened and selected to join returning favorite shows, and here’s a glimpse at a few of the criminally inclined that we’re hoping to see on the boob tube come September:
There’s a plethora of female-starring shows in contention at all the networks this year for a welcome change. One of the highest profile debuts for fall is ABC’s reboot of Charlie's Angels. Featuring a trio of lovely (and multi-racial!) crime solving ladies who report to the mysterious Charlie (voiced by Robert Wagner), this one’s reportedly a lock for fall. ABC also has Partners in contention, featuring half-sisters who tag-team as police detectives (starring 24’s Annie Wersching and the lesser-known Scottie Thompson) and the CW has Cooper and Stone as a new Cagney and Lacey-ish duo with far more pop culture savvy and fashion acumen than those old school partners. The remake of the successful British crime drama Prime Suspect, with Maria Bello stepping into Helen Mirren’s venerable shoes, could be the beginning of a beautiful franchise for NBC and is considered a sure bet for fall. Meanwhile, CBS is keen on Poppy Montgomery as The Rememberer, a former cop who has hyperthymesia – like Pacey Witter, she remembers everything—and is brought back onto the NYPD force.
Minnie Driver plays a soccer mom who looks into the murder of her son and somehow forms an unlikely crime-solving duo with his best friend—who happens to be a drug dealer—in CBS’s Hail Mary. Traveling back to the Boston of 1840, Poe (ABC) finds Christopher Egan (of Kings and Eragon) starring as the famous gothic horror novelist. But he doesn’t just write about ticking hearts under floorboards. Nope. In this show, he investigates them as the world’s first detective. FOX’s The Finder, a spinoff from Hart Hanson’s Bones, features sexy Geoff Stults as a former soldier with a unique talent for unearthing anything, including clues and bodies. This one’s already aired a test-drive as part of Bones’ current season, but to little fanfare and average ratings. It remains to be seen if the network will take a chance on it full-time.
THINK TANK THRILLERS
Touted by many as the smartest script of all the fall prospects, NBC’s REM was created by hot writer Kyle Killen, of last season’s critically praised, but swiftly cancelled, Lone Star and Mel Gibson’s latest movie, The Beaver. It features Jason Isaacs as a cop whose life fractures in two after a tragic accident. In one possible reality, the accident killed his son; in the other, his wife. Living this double life means contending with two therapists, two cop partners and clues to the week’s cases in one universe that help him solve crimes in the other. The question: which world is real? Does he want to find the answer and possibly give one of them up forever? Clearly ambitious. If audiences can wrap their minds around this twisty, almost Inception-like premise, it could be the buzzworthy hit NBC desperately needs. From the co-writer of Inception himself, Jonah Nolan, comes CBS’s Person of Interest. The net is keeping this one under tight wraps, no doubt to preserve the pretzel-y goodness it entails? All we know is that Lost’s chillingly conniving Michael Emerson stars as a crazy billionaire who recruits a former CIA agent, played by Jim Caviezel (movie star and one-time Jesus!), to fight crime in New York City.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Ensemble dramas are hot as always with crime-fighting task forces and police precincts abounding. One of FOX’s top prospects is said to be Exit Strategy, starring Ethan Hawke as part of a team of CIA agents who are sent in when tricky missions go wrong. Angela Bassett and Orlando Jones star in Identity (ABC) playing members of the FBI’s Identity Crimes division, tackling hacker thiefs and cyber criminals. Crime novelist Richard Price created Rookies (CBS) featuring six new NYC cops, including Leelee Sobieski and Adam Goldberg. This sure-to-be-gritty drama also comes with Robert DeNiro attached as an executive producer. And in a change of coasts, Metro (NBC) features a group of L.A. investigators led by Jimmy Smits who navigate the criminal and political worlds in a tangled drama penned by Crash writer Stephen Gaghan.
Not every crime show has murder in its heart though. Missing (ABC) sees Ashley Judd and Sean Bean (who’s already delighting weekly as Ned Stark on Game of Thrones for HBO) in a tense drama. Ashley’s a former CIA agent who takes matters into her own hands when her son goes missing while doing a summer internship in Europe. In ABC’s The River, it’s a different kind of search, as the crew of a state-of-the-art research vessel goes on a quest to find a missing TV explorer, their excursion captured by a documentary crew. So, think Lost meets The Blair Witch Project meets the technical parts of Titanic? Over at FOX, J. J. Abrams’ new show Alcatraz is surprisingly being called an iffy prospect, despite stars Jorge Garcia (Lost’s lovable Hurley), Sam Neill and Robert Forster on-board. As you’d expect from Abrams, the drama bends the time-space continuum, following a group of prisoners and guards who magically appear in the present-day prison as well as the FBI team investigating their disappearance… thirty years in the past.
MAGIC AND MAYHEM
Bringing a new twist to an old format, a pair of dueling procedurals with a magical bent are vying for a slot on NBC’s schedule. Grimm, created by Buffy and Angel exec producer David Greenwalt about a cop who figures out that fairy tale monsters are real (Oh No!) and living among us, has the edge over Battlestar Galactica creator Ron Moore’s 17th Precinct, an ensemble drama featuring cops who use magic to solve crimes in an alternate universe called Excelsior. The latter’s strong cast (featuring Stockard Channing, Eamonn Walker, Matt Long, and a trio of BSG faves Jamie Bamber, James Callis, and Tricia Helfer, plus bonus Caprica vet Esai Morales!) is very appealing, but insider buzz is inexplicably laying the odds on the former in this showdown. At FOX, Heroes producer Tim Kring is lining up Touch for this summer, starring Keifer Sutherland as a JFK airport baggage-handler who discovers his mute, autistic son is psychic. Even though the pilot won’t be shot till after Keifer takes his final bow in the Broadway play he’s currently doing, the network is said to be so keen on the concept that it’s a strong contender for fall, or possibly, midseason.
For more peeks at this pilot season’s offerings, including sizzling soaps and comic capers, check out Heroes and Heartbreakers.
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.