Progress Report: Midseason Report Card for 2014-2015 Pilots

Though I’m behind on TV, you don’t have to be!  Below is handy report card on the status of pilots scheduled to premiere sometime during the 2014-2015 season, based on the Fall Selection entry published in the summer.  I will also follow up with a schedule grid for mid-season for shows (potentially) covered by this blog.  Also, in 2015, expect an unveiling…new ideas are on the horizon!

Thanks to TVLine for helping a girl out.

EDIT: I’m adding premiere dates as I find them even for shows passed.

A to Z

A to Z, NBC

WHO | Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother), Ben Feldman (Mad Men), Leonora Crichlow (Back in the Game), Christina Kirk (Girls), Henry Zebrowski

WHAT | Whimsical romantic comedy set in the world of an online dating company that details the “A to Z’s” of a relationship, from meeting to breakup. The ensemble navigates the complicated world of modern love and poses the question: Is there such a thing as destiny?

I initially passed on this seeming saccharine rom-com.

STATUS: Officially canceled.

A.D.

A.D., NBC

PREMIERE DATE | 2015

WHEN | Midseason

WHAT | The 12-episode miniseries picks up where History’s The Bible left off. In the dark days after Jesus’ betrayal and death, a perfect storm brews in the Holy Land, fueled by social injustice, Roman military oppression and religious unrest. High priests and the Herod dynasty vie for power. Zealot revolutionaries turn to violence to regain what they believe is their promised land. And in the face of terrible odds and brutal persecution, the small band of Jesus’ disciples stand against the combined might of Rome and their own local authorities. In a generation of rebellion, war, famine, and carnage, who can they trust? Who should they fear? Will tomorrow bring a violent death? For many, it does … but others survive, and as the storm around them breaks, the fate of Israel, of Rome and of their faith is decided.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  A Biblical miniseries…is not my cup of tea.  I also didn’t watch The Bible. I think New Testament followers (i.e. Christians) will love this, and while spiritually, I identify as predominantly Christian, I’m not sure I need to watch it.  Also, there is very little information about this one so far, so it doesn’t draw my interest.

Allegiance

Allegiance, NBC

PREMIERE DATE | 2015

WHEN | Midseason

WHO | Hope Davis (The Newsroom), Scott Cohen (The Carrie Diaries, Necessary Roughness), Gavin Stenhouse (the UK’s Iconicles), Margarita Levieva (Revenge), Kenneth Choi (Ironside), Annie Ilonzeh (Arrow), Morgan Spector (Person of Interest)

WHAT | Thriller revolving around the O’Connor family and their son Alex, a decorated American war hero and CIA analyst who is a true patriot and loves his country and family. Unbeknownst to him, both of his parents and his sister are part of a dormant Russian sleeper cell that has just been reactivated. Once the parents are reluctantly pulled back in, the stakes rise as they are coerced into spying on their own son and turning him against his country.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  This show sounds like a cross between The Americans and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I love the reanimated Cold War shadings in pop culture recently, by the by – it’s so retro (I’m being sarcastic, sorry).  Seriously, the mere description sounds contrived.  Perhaps, this will play well.  If reviews are good, I might reconsider.

American Crime

American Crime, ABC

PREMIERE DATE | March 15, 2015

WHO | Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Timothy Hutton (Leverage), Benito Martinez (Sons of Anarchy), W. Earl Brown (Deadwood), Penelope Ann Miller (Mistresses), Richard Cabral

WHAT | Set in California’s Central Valley, it centers on a racially charged murder and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved. The case takes on greater meaning in the community, bringing to the forefront America’s hardened views on race, class and gender politics.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick up (hesitantly).  I am seriously on the fence about this one.  My gut reaction is telling me that this might be a somewhat updated and less manipulative version of Crash, the controversial Best Picture from ten or so years ago.  Still, the topics explored here are achingly relevant to today’s society, particularly with deference to illegal immigrants and stereotypes about Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and, separately, men and women.  I’m not sure how devoted I can be to such a serious drama – but I’m going to try.  This could wow but could also fail to work if it does not tread carefully with its subject matter.  Gritty and personal seem to be the underlying qualities of this program.  Also, there are several good ensemble players here, particularly Felicity Huffman, who never fails to put her all into a performance.

Aquarius, NBC

PREMIERE DATE | 2015

WHEN | Midseason

WHO | David Duchovny (Californication)

WHAT | The “event” series follows a 1960s cop who is tracking serial killer Charles Manson’s rise to popularity.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick up.  This may just be morbid curiosity on my part, and I don’t know how I feel about a series that documents a serial killer’s rise to popularity when that killer is still alive.  Also, I was not aware that Californication is apparently over.  I do, however, love David Duchovny thanks to his stint as Mulder, and the subject of Manson’s cult like following is somewhat fascinating given its time, at the heyday of peace and love.  Also, the program has a catchy title.  This could be bad, but I think I want to give it a shot.

The Astronaut Wives Club, ABC

PREMIERE DATE | 2015

WHEN | Midseason

WHO | JoAnna Garcia Swisher (Once Upon a Time, Better With You, Gossip Girl), Odette Annable (House), Azure Parsons (True Detective), Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey, Sons of Anarchy), Desmond Harrington (Dexter, Gossip Girl), Erin Cummings (Spartacus: Blood & Sand), Dominique McElligott (Hell on Wheels), Bret Harrison (Reaper), Aaron McCusker (Shameless, Dexter), Joel Johnstone (The Newsroom), Kenneth Mitchell (Switched at Birth, Jericho)

WHAT | Chronicles the lives of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo mission crews’ spouses.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  I think this is a remake of a film; even if it’s not, it sounds like a cross between Apollo 13 and The First Wives Club.  If it is reviewed well, I might reconsider, as I do have some interest in the space program.  Yet, I feel this is going to be a dated throwback to decades gone by, complete with gossip and wifely fretting over the husbands that risk their lives to go into space, which doesn’t do much for me.

Backstrom

Backstrom, Fox

PREMIERE DATE | January 22, 2015

WHO | Rainn Wilson (The Office), Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer), Dennis Haysbert (24), Page Kennedy, Beatrice Rosen (Blue Mountain State), Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Genevieve Angelson (House of Lies)

WHAT | Offensive, irascible Detective Everett Backstrom tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior while leading his team, the Serious Crimes Unit, as they navigate Portland’s most sensitive cases.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick up.  This good go very well or very badly, but I think it would be fun to see Rainn Wilson in a new role that is nothing like Dwight Schrute from The Office.  The trailer also implies that despite Backstrom’s many hang-ups, he has an uncanny ability to solve crimes, and it’s by the creator of Bones, a show I have enjoyed for several years.  I think it’s worth a shot.

Bad Judge

Bad Judge, NBC

WHO | Kate Walsh (Private Practice), John Ducey, Mather Zickel (House of Lies, Masters of Sex), Arden Myrin (MADtv), Tone Bell (Whitney), Miguel Sandoval (Medium)

WHAT | It centers on a hard-living, sexually unapologetic woman who plays with the law and whose life on the edge is constantly in balance because she also happens to be a judge in the criminal court system.

I initially passed on this Kate Walsh-headed Night Court wannabe, particularly because I didn’t believe her in this role.

STATUS: Officially canceled.

Battle Creek

Battle Creek, CBS

PREMIERE DATE | March 1, 2015

WHEN | Sundays

WHO | Dean Winters (Law & Order: SVU), Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas), Kal Penn (House), Janet McTeer (The White Queen), Damon Herriman (Justified), Aubrey Dollar, Edward Fordham Jr.

WHAT | Two detectives with very different worldviews are teamed up and must answer the question: Are cynicism, guile and deception enough to clean up the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, Mich., in the face of a complete lack of resources; or is the exact opposite true — it takes naïveté, trust and a boatload of resources?

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick up.  Though I’m not much for procedural cop shows, this is about a town in Michigan, and that’s where I’m from.  The town itself is about 45 miles from me in Grand Rapids, and it’s the home of cereal brands like Kelloggs and Post.  So, I’m curious enough to watch it.

Black-ish

Black-ish, ABC

WHEN | Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c

WHO | Anthony Anderson (Guys With Kids), Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends), Yara Shahidi (Scandal), recurring star Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)

WHAT | An upper-middle class black man struggles to raise his children with a sense of cultural identity despite constant contradictions and obstacles coming from his liberal wife, old-school father and his own assimilated, color-blind kids.

I initially passed on this culturally-based sitcom that takes elements of the Bernie Mac Show and sets them in the suburbs.  I might have to change my mind.

STATUS: Picked up for full season.  Renewal looks promising.

Bordertown

Bordertown, Fox

PREMIERE DATE | 2015

WHO | Nicholas Gonzalez, Alex Borstein, Missi Pyle, Judah Friedlander, Efren Ramirez

WHAT | A satirical look at the cultural shifts taking place in America. Exploring family, politics and everything in between with a cross-cultural wink, the series centers on two very different families living in a fictional Southwest desert town on the U.S. – Mexico border.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass.  Again, a culturally relevant, now animated sitcom will be introduced by Fox.  I don’t really gravitate toward adult cartoons beyond the mainstays like The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy, but if the show garners good reviews and/or readings, I may reconsider.

Constantine

Constantine, NBC

WHO | Matt Ryan, Lucy Griffiths (True Blood), Harold Perrineau (Lost)

WHAT | Based on the characters in DC Comics’ stories about John Constantine, an enigmatic and irreverent con man-turned-reluctant supernatural detective who is thrust into the role of defending us against dark forces from beyond.

I initially picked up this comic adaptation of DC’s Hellblazer, given its Friday fright night aspects that reminded me of The Exorcist, Supernatural, etc.  

STATUS: A full season was not ordered; production halted after thirteen episodes.  Renewal is highly unlikely.  I have not watched it yet but plan to still do so.

CRISTELA

Cristela, ABC

WHEN | Fridays at 8:30/7:30c

WHO | Cristela Alonzo, Carlos Ponce, Terri Hoyos, Andrew Leeds, Sam McMurray

WHAT | In her sixth year of law school, Cristela is finally on the brink of landing her first big (unpaid) internship at a prestigious law firm. The only problem is that her pursuit of success is more ambitious than her traditional Mexican-American family thinks is appropriate. She’s stuck straddling the old culture she’s trying to modernize at home with her working-class family and the modern world she’s trying to embrace in her professional career.

I initially passed on what seemed to be George Lopez’s prior sitcom meets Family Matters.

STATUS: A full season was ordered.  Renewal looks promising.

CSI: Cyber

CSI: Cyber, CBS

PREMIERE DATE | March 4, 2015

WHEN | Wednesdays at 10/9c

WHO | Patricia Arquette (Medium), Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal)

WHAT | Centers on Avery Ryan, Special Agent in Charge at the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI in Quantico, VA. Ryan is tasked with solving high-octane crimes that start in the mind, live on-line, and play out into the real world.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pass. I have never watched a CSI, and I’m not about to start.  Procedural crime shows are not my cup of tea; they involve too much realism.  Also, this particular spin-off the CSI brand is being released on the heels of cancellation of Intelligence, which involves spy warfare at the fictional agency “US Cyber Command.”  Nothing about this appeals to me.

Emerald City

Emerald City, NBC

PREMIERE DATE | TBA

WHEN | Midseason

WHAT | The “event” series is a modern and dark reimagining of the classic tale of Oz that includes lethal warriors, competing kingdoms, and the infamous wizard as we’ve never seen him before. A headstrong 20-year-old Dorothy Gale is unwittingly sent on a journey that thrusts her into the center of an epic and bloody battle for the control of Oz.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick up. Even though Once Upon a Time just aired its take on L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, The Wizard of Oz has witnessed quite a bit of cultural resurgence lately, as the story seems to resonate in these modern times.  I’m a fan.  I’m also a fan of American McGee’s Alice, which spins Alice in Wonderland into a dark re-imagining of a classic tale.  I further enjoyed Tin Man, a steampunk portrayal of the same story starring Zooey Deschanel.  Based on all these reasons, I want to give it a shot.

Empire

Empire, Fox

PREMIERE DATE | January 7, 2015

WHO | Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson (Person of Interest), Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Y. Gray, Malik Yoba (Revolution, Alphas), Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Kaitlin Doubleday, recurring player Gabourey Sidibe (American Horror Story: Coven)

WHAT | A unique family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire and centering on music mogul Lucious Lyon.

PICKUP OR PASS?

VERDICT: Pick up.  I was initially going to pass, but the trailer was so intriguing, and I respect the principal cast and creator Lee Daniels (Precious) so much, I might have to take a peek at it. There is a Shakespearean undertone to this story about a hip hop mogul’s family and the dreams for his legacy, and Terrence Howard and Taraji Henson are favorites of mine from past projects.  I think it has real potential, and the trailer certainly captivated me.  Also, it’s something totally different from other fare on television.

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