Pilot Fever

Posted in TV
By Sam Bathe on 14 Jul 2008

Every year the pilot season captures the imagination of TV fans, as the new wave US fall shows rear their heads with the hope of pulling in hoards of viewers. With the after effects of the writer’s strike still reverberating through production plans and shooting schedules, the frenzy of years gone by will be somewhat subdued but no doubt a handful of new shows will still make the grade and rouse the attention mustered by Chuck, Reaper and Pushing Daisies last fall. Here are our top picks to look out for:

Off the back of the hugely successful LOST series and his recent forays into cinema with Cloverfield and now the new Star Trek movie, J.J. Abrams is undoubtedly one of the hottest properties in the entertainment industry. And as almost everything he has touched so far has turned to gold, new TV show Fringe isn’t looking to be any different. Mixing The X-Files’ supernatural mysteries with Alias’ overarching mythology. The pilot, sees dissolving flesh and the introduction of a chain of remarkable events called The Pattern, and somehow manages matched the show’s highly anticipated billing. Given Abrams’ history of remarkable mythologies and limitless imagination, Fringe is a must watch.

Based on the legendary novel by Daniel Defoe, Crusoe will follow the happenings of Robinson Crusoe as he is shipwrecked on a remote island for 28 years. Starring Philip Winchester as Crusoe with Sean Bean and Sam Neill in the supporting cast, this somewhat pointless series is said to mix action with comedy but only time will tell if the show will make it beyond the pilot.

Capitalising on the recent obsession with supernatural dramas, The Listener is a new Canadian series about a young paramedic, the twist? He can listen to people’s thoughts. Using his power to solve mysteries, Toby Logan struggles to draw the line between a shady sleuth and his everyday life, in what sounds like a very promising plotline. The Listener will need to develop an a widespread story with snappy narrative to keep people watching long into the season, but the ingredients are there for success.

“Who can you trust when you can’t trust yourself?” is a very apt tagline for new show My Own Worst Enemy and will be aired under high expectations after being given a slot after Heroes on NBC, which last season crippled the surprisingly entertaining Journeyman. Starring Christian Slater as a split personality family man/spy, battling within himself to live two lives, ridding the world of enemy agents and tucking the kids in each night. Whether Christian Slater’s inner turmoil will provide ample televisual entertainment remains to be seen, but with Slater stumbling somewhat in recent years, this could yet be the role to relaunch his career.

Based on the 2006 British TV series staring Patrick Stewart, Eleventh Hour follows a US Government scientific advisor who investigates cases of science misuse. The has show already apparent longevity, bought for 13 episodes, well beyond the 4 of the original. Fingers crossed for this project as more information slowly seeps out of CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer.

Attempting to break in on CSI and NCIS’ domination of police dramas, The Mentalist follows yet another detective with an incredible ability to spot evidence and solve even the most complex crimes. While it will need something special to set itself apart from the crowd, The Mentalist at least has legs, and if shot with the stylish grace you can expect from the modern realm of TV shows, stay tuned as this could be a hit.

Like a number of other shows, the pilot of Leverage leaked online recently, long before its scheduled TV debut, however, unlike other leaks where viewer outcry has caused the cancellation of programmes before they had even started, blog phenomena have widely praised the series. Based around a team of thieves, hackers and grifters who target those who use their wealth and power to victimise others, this modern day story of Robin Hood gets hearts racing from the opening scene. Similar to popular UK series Hustle, the idea is a proven success, so here’s hoping TNT can pull it off.

Initially planned to air this fall but put back to January ’09 after strike delays, creator of cult TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, Joss Whedon, returns with Dollhouse, one of his most promising projects to date. Many of Whedon’s collaborators to date will return to work on Dollhouse, including none other than Eliza Dushku in the lead role. Proving their commitment to the project, FOX have decided to scrap plans to film a pilot, instead pushing on with production their 13 episode and the construction of an elaborate set. Dollhouse is based around a group of people known as ‘Dolls’ or ‘Actives’. The Dolls are essentially programmable beings, with their personalities wiped clean to be imprinted with a fresh persona and hired out for jobs or assignments. The show revolves around Echo, played by Dushku, who after countless missions, becomes less susceptible to the memory wipes and starts to remember as the Dollhouse becomes a much more dangerous place.

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