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Pilot season: First look at ABC's 2010 drama pilots

February 22, 2010 |  2:16 pm
Editor's note: Over the next several days, Show Tracker will cover the pilots under contention for the fall season at the five broadcast networks, in the following order: ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC. (Yes, it's alphabetical).

It definitely seems that ABC is banking on (hoping?) that "Flash Forward" or "V" (probably the latter) winds up as its next mind-boggling pop-culture sensation a la "Lost," because none of the 11 dramas the network has in development is marked by any of the qualities that made the island mystery an international hit.

In fact, ABC's crop of dramas largely signals a return to the basics, with four crime shows, two legal shows and one medical show among the 11 dramas under consideration for the new fall season. Where do the other four dramas fit?

Let's begin with those:

Getprev-2 "No Ordinary Family" is basically "The Incredibles" in live action with (pictured left) Michael Chiklis ("The Shield") as the lead and the writing-producing team of Greg Berlanti and Jon Harmon Feldman. Do we need to know anything else? I'm in.

"Cutthroat" stars Roselyn Sanchez ("Without A Trace") in a dramedy about an ambitious single mother who finds that running her own international drug cartel is perfect training for navigating the "cutthroat" -- get it? -- world of Beverly Hills high society. So, it's like Nancy Botwin goes "90210." Hmm. I don't know. But wait! It might be worth noting that "Dollhouse" executive producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters are the writer-producers. That's something.

"Edgar Floats" centers on a police psychologist who, looking for more money and some excitement, becomes a bounty hunter at a company run by his ex-wife and her dad. Although he has none of the physical skills of a traditional bounty hunter, he has a special talent for getting people to talk. I wonder if this guy will like fruit and have red hair. The writer is Rand Ravich of "Life," and his partner, Far Shariat, is producing it. No one has been cast, but isn't Damian Lewis available?

"Generation Y" is a documentary-style dramedy that follows a group of high school classmates, tracking their paths over the last 10 years and the events that helped shape their lives. Why does this sound so familiar? Oh, yes, because Fox tried this in 2005 with "Reunion," which chronicled 20 years in the lives of a group of six high school friends, one of whom had been murdered. The ABC pilot was written by Noah Hawley ("Bones" and "The Unusuals"). So far, the only two cast members are Michael Stahl David ("Cloverfield") and Kier O'Donnell ("Wedding Crashers") and it's shooting in Austin, Texas.

Speaking of documentary-style: ABC's got a hit on its hands this year with the mockumentary comedy, "Modern Family," so it's trying the documentary narrative approach in another drama as well, "187 Detroit," one of the crime shows.

"187 Detroit" -- which shoots in Atlanta, incidentally -- follows Detroit's top homicide division through the eyes of a fictitious documentary crew. Written by screenwriter Jason Richman, it stars newcomer Jon Michael Hill, James McDaniel ("All My Children") and Aisha Hinds ("True Blood"). What does it say when I have nothing to say?

Getprev-3 The other three crime shows are "Body of Evidence," "True Blue" and an untitled Richard Hatem project ("The Dead Zone" and "Tru Calling") starring Katee Sackhoff (pictured right) Sackoff plays a beautiful detective who is teamed with a disgraced ex-cop to solve crimes and untangle the mystery that sent him underground. (Doesn't this vaguely sound like "Life"? Just sayin'). But I am happy for Sackhoff and hope that the role is more interesting than the silly one she plays on "24" and that she likes filming in Boston.

"Body of Evidence" is a procedural that follows a brilliant female medical examiner whose background as a neurosurgeon givers her a unique crime-solving perspective. Written by new TV scribe Chris Murphey, only one role has been cast, with Geoffrey Arend ("500 Days of Summer"). It's filming in Providence, R.I. Eh, need more info.

"True Blue" centers on a group of San Francisco homicide detectives reunited to solve the murder of one of their own. Written by the busy Jon Harmon Feldman, with Chris Brancato and Bret Salke, it stars Poppy Montgomery ("Without A Trace") and Marc Blucas ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). The concept sounds OK, but the producing and acting pedigree is high. Hmmm. Maybe.

The two legal dramas are "Matadors" and "The Whole Truth."

"Matadors" centers on two feuding families who battle each other as one populates the Chicago district attorney's office and the other manages an influential private law firm. Written by Jack Orman ("Men of a Certain Age"), I will watch it just because Zach Gilford is in a lead role, which means he is depressingly really gone from "Friday Night Lights" and I need to accept it. In the cast with Gilford are: David Strathairn ("Temple Grandin") and Jonathan Scarfe ("Raising the Bar"), and it's really filming in Chicago.

From Jerry Bruckheimer and company, and written by Tom Donaghy ("Without A Trace"), "The Whole Truth" shows both the defense and prosecution sides equally and keeps the audience guessing until the final scene. The cast, so far, is Eamonn Walker ("Unbreakable" and "Kings") and Sean Wing, who most recently was the evil Levi on "Melrose Place." Do I really need another legal show in my life? Meh.

The network also is back in business with Shonda Rhimes and her producing team ("Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice), who offer a new medical show that follows three doctors who leave the U.S. to work at an isolated tropical clinic. The pilot is filming in Puerto Rico and stars Martin Henderson, Enrique Murciano ("Traffic") and Caroline Dhavernas ("Wonderfalls"). Do I really need another medical show in my life? Double meh.

Check back later for a post on ABC's comedy pilot lineup.

-- Maria Elena Fernandez (follow me on Twitter @writerchica)

Upper photo: Michael Chiklis. Credit: Beatrice DeGea / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Katee Sackhoff. Credit: Getty Images

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