Pilot Season 2013: Get Scoop on This Fall's (Possible) Newcomers, and Who's In Them

PilotGlossaryPilot season is here, meaning the networks are taking stock of their needs for 2013-14 and getting the ball rolling toward filling any gaps. With development season about to get really interesting — meaning it’s time to start booking actors for these wannabe series! — we thought it might help to round up the current crop, and well as define some of the lingo that gets tossed around.

For easy access: Review our always-updated list of pilots for ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC.

PILOT | You really want get basic, eh? When a network orders (or “picks up”) a pilot, they’re asking its writers/producers/studio to cast and produce a close facsimile of what their series’ first episode will look like. Each pilot is reviewed by network brass, then typically put into testing before a decision is made on whether it’ll land on the schedule (for fall or midseason).

PLANTED SPIN-OFF | Also called a “backdoor” pilot, this is an episode of an existing series that sets up a prospective offshoot. For example, The Vampire Diaries this April will air an episode focused around Klaus, Elijah and Hayley in New Orleans, and that’s a planted pilot for the potential spin-off The Originals. Free History Lesson: That Brady Bunch episode with new neighbor Ken Berry adopting three orphans? That was a(n ill-fated) planted pilot for a spin-off to be called Kelly’s Kids.

DRAMA/COMEDY PRESENTATION | Occasionally, due to time or budget restraints, a network won’t order a full pilot but a “presentation” of a not-quite-complete drama or a taste of what a sitcom would look like.

CAST-CONTINGENT/CAST CONTINGENCY | Sometimes a network will order a pilot with the caveat that production can’t start until a suitable (usually “name”) actor has been cast in the starring role. (A possible translation: “The premise is iffy, but a big star could really help sell us.”) So you’ll sometimes hear that with the casting of so-and-so, “the cast contingency has been lifted” on a pilot. (The sorta flip-side is an “if-come deal,” meaning the major players are pre-signed and rarin’ to go the instant the network OKs the pilot itself.)

SECOND POSITION | These are perhaps the two words that makes fans of “bubble” shows most nervous each spring, as stars from underperforming series start booking pilots (provided they get the OK from their current bosses). The term literally means that the pilot role is in second position (or priority) should their current show be renewed. Example: In spring 2011, Damon Wayans Jr. booked a lead on Fox’s New Girl, but when ABC renewed Happy Endings, New Girl had to replace his character. An actor booking a second position gig doesn’t always mean his/her current show is doomed… though it often tends to. Variation: A “safe second” means the pilot’s bosses have been discreetly all-but-assured that the actor will be available.

UPFRONTS | This is the week in mid-May when the networks take turns unveiling their schedules for next season — including the pilots that have been ordered to series. With rare exception, if your show doesn’t make the cut here, it’s (gulp) officially a goner.

And now, our running update of pilots ordered for the 2013-14 TV season, going network by network….

CLICK HERE FOR ABC PILOTS (PAGE 2)

GET MORE: Casting News, Pilots

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102 Comments
  1. Betty says:

    This is a great thing, thanks for posting it. It is hard to imagine some of the shows without knowing who the actors will be, which could make all the difference. It will be interesting to see who ends up with the pilots and which ones make it.

    • Angela says:

      My thoughts exactly. Some of these summaries may not sound all that adventurous or exciting right now, but with the right cast they could wind up working out really well, so I’ll show much more interest once I find out who’s going to be in what. There are a couple ideas here and there that have me slightly curious…guess we’ll see what happens in the coming months!

  2. Denise says:

    Still waiting for Corey Reynolds(The Closer) to show up in a pilot. He is really missed on the screen.

  3. Mary says:

    If these are the shows they decided to pick up, I’d hate to see what they passed on. The only one that sounds worth checking out is Sleepy Hollow and they don’t give much info on that.

  4. I’m only interested fully in The Sixth Gun, The Returned, Sleepy Hollow and Delirium. I’m partially interested in Super Fun Night and Venice.

  5. Ella B. says:

    Looks like there’s a heavy comedic presence this year — I’m seeing a smattering of shows across networks that look like they’ll be really interesting, but it looks to me like NBC’s (potentially) got the strongest lineup.

  6. Shaun says:

    Horrible pilot season!!

  7. Chance says:

    Girlfriend in a Coma is a TERRIBLE title. That will definitely change before it’s seen (if it gets picked up) a la Are you There Chelsea, GCB and Don’t Trust the B-

    • Emily says:

      Well, it is the title of a Smiths song. Can’t blame them for thinking it might fly

      • Chance says:

        And the original title of Are you There and GCB were book titles. That doesn’t mean they’ll make good series titles. Can shows with/misleading titles work? Absolutely, Cougar Town has shown that. But Cougar Town has also shown that a bad title can affect viewership.

    • Singing gal says:

      Douglas Coupland does have a lot of control over things developed from his work, including the name (see CBC’s jpod). This is a fantastic book based in my hometown of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. However, I would guess they will change where the show would be based. I would also wonder about the category of ‘comedy’. I found the book to be definitely more ‘drama sci-fi’. And it reads more like a mini-series to me rather than a regular 22 ep. Guess we shall see!

  8. shamangrrl says:

    Wow. All that, and there’s one show I’m definitely interested in, and one show that’s a maybe. I’m so happy I cut the cable.

  9. Babybop says:

    Ooh! I was hoping Kal Penn would get a pilot. Love him, I’ll watch.

  10. Emily says:

    I had no idea FOX picked up a pilot based on a YA dystopian series too, considering all we’ve been hearing about CW’s Selection.

    • Elyse says:

      Delirium JUST got picked up and the Selection was picked up last year. Delirium is a good series though. i’m currently reading the books.

      • Jules says:

        Yes, the books are great (I’m currently half-way through the second one) but I can’t really picture it as a TV series… there are so many different characters in the second book, which just didn’t appear in the first one, so I’d hate to loose the way the storyline played out in the first book, just so yu can introduce all the characters in the Pilot…. in my opinion, the story would have been much better suited for movies.

  11. Joe says:

    What’s the point? They’re just gonna cancel everything anyway.

  12. Jay says:

    I hope they can pull off the Pulling remake. The original bbc series was fantastic.

  13. dude says:

    Super Fun Night! Damn I hope this makes it!

  14. Danielle H. says:

    Only a few things sound decent (Delirium, The Selection, Venice..and I guess The Originals because I’m such a huge TVD fan)… all the comedy descriptions just blend together. I am as of right now truely disappointed and happy that I have a Netflix subscription because I don’t foresee much decent new TV next year.
    I miss the fantastical edge that pilot seasons has the past few years. Now we seem to be getting straightforward dramas and tons of meaningless 1/2 hr comedies. Hopefully some good things come around.

  15. Danny says:

    I’m interested in the comedies on ABC list (Supre Fun Night, etc), Venice, Delirium, The Sixth Gun, The serial killer pilot on NBC and The Selection.

    Some scripts that I hope get a green light are NBC’s Cleopatra, ABC’s Chosen, ABC’s The Clan, ABC’s End Game, ABC’s Evolve, ABC’S Finn & Sawyer, ABC’s MILA 2.0, ABC’s The Royals, ABC’s Weird Desk, FOX’s Athena, FOX’s Shelter, NBC’s Believe, NBC’s Bloodline, and NBC’s Midnight Mass.

    I just think there are a TON of amazing concepts still in the coffer at most nextworks (except maybe CBS). Right now the pattern seems to be standard soap or standard “obnoxious main character, with quirks that make them likeable”. I think the networks need more ADVENTURE, GENRE, ROMANTIC – EPIC shows. Less soaps about rich people no one cares about or the next generation of procedural. I hope that the networks really challenge themselve and pick up a couple of extra risker pilots. I think they could support more diversity on their schedules if they have shorter run series (like two genre shows in the same timeslot- one runs 13-15 straight in the fall and the other runs 13-15 straight in the spring). It works folks, check out cable models. It would work and allow the networks to be more creative in the line-ups. Be Brave! Take some risks!

    • Marta says:

      Also, most people watch television for an escape… take a look at what people went in droves to see this year…Hunger Games (Adventure, Romance, Epic Battles), The Avengers (Heroes and Adventure), Batman (Genre and Action) and Eclipse (Romace, Epic Battles and Adventure).
      Get it, people don’t want to watch shows about the rich people and their debaucheries, they want to be swept away and escape life for an hour, but they also want to be satisfied at the end of the hour. So, please branch out and bring back some Epic Adventures with a strong Romantic Component. You have the stories there in the potential scripts. Please step out of the box.

  16. James says:

    wow with the exception of a couple interesting ones the rest look God awful. i don’t think i see one good comedy their all recycled dribble, maybe the Michael J Fox one cuz he’s always good. i’d be weary of letting any bubble shows go this season because from what i can see theirs nothing much to replace it with. IMO

  17. Ashley says:

    Bethany Joy Lenz for Company Town? Or anything really? I just miss having her on TV and would like to see her on something with quality writing (even though that’s rarely found at the CW).

    A lot of them don’t sound like anything that appeals to me, but there are several I’ll check out. I’m concerned that a third NCIS is going to be way too much. I feel like it might bomb like Criminal Minds’ spin-off did. Then again, I thought that about LA too, and I enjoy that more lately than the original.

    I really hope the Rebel Wilson and Liza Lapira show gets a pick up!

  18. Piija says:

    “Backstrom (Drama)
    EPs | Hart Hanson (Bones), Leif G.W. Persson, Niclas Salomonsson
    CAST | TBA
    Based on the Swedish book series about an overweight, offensive, irascible detective as he tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior.”

    Never read any of Leifs book, but it sure sounds like this is going to be about himself… Also why is the title not with swedish letters, that’s just annoying.

  19. My wish for this year’s pilot season is that Jason Dohring is cast on a show that not only gets picked up, but also manages to survive past the first season.

  20. JimC says:

    S.H.I.E.L.D, Sleepy Hollow, Micheal Fox thing and Sixth Gun sound promising. WAY, WAY too many half hour sitcoms that are usually completely unfunny because it’s humor we’ve seen just too many times before. Which is why the Fox thing just might work. The absolute best news is, Im seeing very few “reality” shows. Hopefully that garbage has finally run it’s course.

  21. Evan says:

    What about Julian Fellows’ “The Gilded Age”?

  22. hal says:

    I want to see some new Science Fiction !

  23. Amy says:

    I know it’s hard tell anything about a show based on a two sentence description but really…most of these sound just awful.

  24. Jackie says:

    There are a couple of actors I really, really want to see back on television but honestly I don’t want them stuck in any of these crappy sounding shows.

  25. MT says:

    Let’s see….we have multiple detectives/lawyers with self-destructive behavior, poor, dopey, divorced men moving in with family/friends/other loosers, and a load of 20 something people trying to figure themselves out. These pilots all sound exactly alike.

  26. Brandy says:

    The Selection and The Originals sound good but that’s it for the pilots.CW has a few other shows in development that sound good:Sleepy Hallow,Wunderland,Amazon/Iris/wonder Woman, and Confessions of a Backup Dancer and the mystical drama about a pop star whose touch heals a fan.My hubby and I like Micheal J Fox so well check out his new show probably.

  27. wassita says:

    Is it me of does it seem like there are waaaaaaaay more comedies than dramas on this list?

  28. Lauren says:

    For Super Fun Night, it’s Liza Lapira.
    Meh, not interested in most of them. Which is a good thing because I already don’t have time to watch all the shows I like.

  29. Amanda says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t want a Vampire Diaries Spin Off? I like having Klaus and the other Originals on VD. I don’t want to lose them as Characters.

    • Annie-Claude says:

      The problem is that the originals are supposed to be like the bad guys. They were never meant to stay forever. Klaus would have been killed last season if he hadn’t been such a popular character. The spin-off is a solution to the “originals are more popular than planned” problem. So we can still have them even though they can’t be in TVD forever

  30. Annie says:

    Just please bring Jason Isaacs back to my telly!

  31. Alyssa says:

    “Mom” and “Dads” should both get picked up and air at the same time. Oh, the jokes that could come…

  32. ninamags says:

    Tom Welling

  33. Lorena says:

    I want Jason Behr, Tom Welliing, Erica Durance, Katie Holmes, Lisa Kudrow, Autum Reeser, Mathew Fox, SMG, they need new shows

  34. Brian says:

    “Mom” sounds incredibly original. Anyone else remember when Chuck Lorre used that exact same premise in 1993 and called it “Grace Under Fire”?

  35. Zorkel567 says:

    The only ones I am truly interested in are NCIS: Red, ABC’s SHIELD, and CW’s Amazon.

  36. Adam says:

    Is ABC’s “The Returned” a remake of the French drama series “Les Revenants”?

  37. TheFirst says:

    Excited for the Originals, the Selection, Delirium, SHIELD and Sleepy Hollow.

  38. Luke says:

    ABC Drama: Venice and S.H.I.E.L.D. sound good, but maybe just because they are original concepts. The Returned is trying to hitch a ride with The Walking Dead succes (which obviously will fail on one of the big five networks) and Betrayal is just another Revenge

    • Dave says:

      Venice might be ok and S.H.I.E.L.D. should be great, but I’m not sure why you think they are original concepts. Venice is just a rehash of Romeo and Juliet, which has been done on TV hundreds of times before. And S.H.I.E.L.D. has been around for over 30 years in Marvel comics, and even as a TV concept has been tried before 15 years ago, with David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury!

  39. Luke says:

    ABC Comedy: Super Fun Night sounds the best, and deserves attention on Rebel Wilson alone. Pulling doesn’t sound very interesting for guys and Adam Goldberg Project could go either way, depends on how they work the ’80s angle

  40. Nicole Green says:

    I hope with all my heart to review Tom Welling maybe as an actor in the role of the villain, he is fantastic with great charisma, Tom we miss you very much.

  41. Marta says:

    Yes I want TOM WELLING on my television! Please…Tom Tom where are you? pause is over!

  42. Antony says:

    the network Cw with the end of Smallville has lost a part of the public in fact the result is negative. They were fans of Tom Welling! Pedowitz should call Tom for a new show!

  43. Lee Fowler says:

    What happened with that Sarah Michelle Gellar pilot that was mentioned a few weeks ago?

  44. nick1372 says:

    My thoughts
    ABC-
    Looking interesting: S.H.E.I.L.D
    Still hoping gets a pilot: Birthright, Now What?
    CBS-
    Looks interesting: Beverly Hills Cop, Mom
    Still hoping: Darkness Falls, Intelligence
    CW-
    Looks interesting: THE SELECTION!! (seriously, it’s an awesome book)
    Still hoping: The Hundred
    FOX-
    Looks interesting: 2 Wrongs, Delirium
    Still hoping: Gun Machine, Wendy & Peter, Untitled Wyman/Abrams Project
    NBC-
    Looks interesting: The Gates, Untitled Nash/Bateman Project, Untitled Michael J Fox Project
    Still hoping: Family Affair
    Looks like the CW & Fox will be my main two networks next fall. Oddly, that’s the opposite of this fall. Also, the first pilot season in years nothing on ABC screams out at me. I always end up loving at least 1 show a year from them (The Middle/Modern Family, Body of Proof, Once Upon a Time/Revenge, Last Resort).

  45. Francesca says:

    Please, We’re waiting for any good news about SMG sitcom!

  46. n8ball78 says:

    I hate network tv now. As of now there are only 2 or 3 that really look any good to me and that’s not even for sure. Its bad the only nights I watch anything on network tv now is Sunday nights right now. Between abc’s dramas, football on nbc, and fox’s cartoon night its a busy night for me. Way to many comedys coming out and none of them look original. Bring back the good mystery shows. I know there will never be another show as good as lost was but it wouldn’t kill anyone to atleast try.

  47. Me says:

    WOW! Almost everything sounds DREADFUL! The only 2 shows that sound interesting are Sleepy Hollow & the untitled show by JJ Abrams & JH Wyman.

  48. Mare says:

    The historical nerd in me is crossing my fingers really really tightly in hopes that reign, the Mary, Queen of Scots show Is picked up!!

  49. Elle says:

    I want Zachery Levi, Adam Baldwin, Yvonne Strahovski, Summer Glau, June Diane Raphael, Justin Long, Isla Fisher, Krysten Ritter, Jason Dohring, Amber Heard, Rachael Taylor, Abby Elliot, Adam Brody, JoAnna Garcia, Regina Hall, Leslie Mann, Brittany Snow, Becki Newton, Sarah Silverman, Eva Longoria, Amy Acker, Laura Vandervoort, Alicia Silverstone, Lucy Punch, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Marsden, Michelle Trachtenberg, Autumn Reeser, Ryan Hansen, Tina Fey, James Marsden, Jane Krakowski, Fran Kranz, Brett Harrison, Thomas Dekker and of course the whole cast of Happy Endings.

    • Elle says:

      *to get roles in pilots.

    • Drake says:

      Well, Becki Newton likely won’t be in any pilots this season since she is currently on a show. Of course since it has already been cut down to 7 episodes and doesn’t premiere until April, I doubt Fox will renew it so next pilot season she can be in something else.

      • Josh says:

        She could always sign on to a pilot in second position – as in she stars in the pilot, but if her current show (The Goodwin Games, which looks incredible from the trailers) is renewed by Fox for a second season the coming fall, her character in the pilot that she has in second-position will be re-cast. However, if The Goodwin Games is not renewed, she will be able to fully commit to the show in second position.

  50. Mary says:

    On Big Thunder could you please pick one.

    “Unfortunately, they quickly realize that not everything in the titular city is not as it seems.”

    As in either “not everything in the titular city is as it seems,” or “everything in the titular city is not as it seems.”