Pilot Season: First look at CBS' 2010 drama pilots
There's an adage about writing that advises those wanting to communicate through the written word to write what they know. This pilot season, CBS, the network that turned its fortunes on many successful crime procedurals, is sticking to that motto. Of the network's 11 drama pilots, only two do not involve any crime- solving. One of those is a medical show, and the other is a story probably inspired by the public fascination with Kate and Jon Gosselin and/or Octomom.
But let's begin with the nine shows that involve crime fighters, lawyers, and victims. The first is a "Criminal Minds" spinoff that will be introduced on the mother ship this season as a two-hour episode. Written by Chris Mundy ("Criminal Minds"), it stars Forest Whitaker, Matt Ryan, Michael Kelly, Beau Garrett and Jason Wiles. In the hands of the original's writing and executive producing team, and with Whitaker (pictured right) at the forefront (did you see him play a cop on "The Shield?"), this could be another gold star for CBS.
One spinoff in the mix, why not add a remake? "Hawaii Five-O" 2.0 is coming our way, with Daniel Dae Kim ("Lost") and Alex O'Loughlin ("Moonlight" and "Three Rivers") in the roles of Chin Ho Kelly and Steve McGarrett. Taryn Manning ("Drive") also has been cast. Peter Lenkov ("CSI: New York") wrote the script, and the "Fringe" and "Alias" producing team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman is behind it. "Lost" fans everywhere will love knowing that Kim is alive and well off the island. Well, not really off the island, because the pilot is filming in Oahu. Let's hope the third time's the charm for O'Loughlin, who is beloved by CBS President of Entertainment Nina Tassler but hasn't found a stable job on her network.
CBS also seems to be looking for the female answer to Patrick Jane (a.k.a Simon Baker on "The Mentalist") in two shows. In one untitled project, a female New York police detective who possesses the ability to remember everything excels at her job but finds her gift challenging in her personal life. It is co-written by Ed Redlich ("Shark") and John Belluci ("Revolution"), and no one has been cast yet. In "I Witness," a detective and professor uses her psycho-physiological skills to solve crimes. Rolled over from last season, this project is in the early stages with no writer or actors attached. It will be produced by Trey Calloway and Pam Veasey, both of "CSI: New York").
Two of the crime shows will delve into the family lives of crime fighters, which this season's legal drama, "The Good Wife," has achieved with aplomb because it's so much more than a show about litigators. An untitled project by Michael Dinner ("Justified," "Sons of Anarchy"), centers on an Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who hunts down dangerous criminals while taking care of his teenage daughter, who has just reentered his life. No one has been cast yet. "Southland" writing team Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green have penned a script about a multi-generational cop family in New York. No one has been cast for that either.
Move over, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," there's a new sheriff in town. Well, sort of. "The Odds" is a buddy cop show set in Las Vegas, where the cops are just as outrageous as the crimes they solve. Starring Donald Faison ("Scrubs") and Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, it was written by a new writer, Jeff Wadlow. It will co-produced by Joel Silver and Ian Biederman ("Shark").
"Chaos" follows a group of rogue CIA operatives who combat government bureaucracy, rampant incompetence and political infighting. (Sounds like a day in the life of Jack Bauer with some humor added). With Tom Spezialy ("Desperate Housewives," "Men In Trees" and "Reaper") as its writer, Brett Ratner directing and Freddy Rodriguez ("Ugly Betty" and "Six Feet Under") and James Murray ("Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire") as the leads, this could be a standout. But then again, I'll give anything with Rodriguez in it a try.
Jim Belushi stars in the network's only legal drama alongside Tanya Fischer ("Life on Mars"). "Defenders" centers on two charismatic and fiery Las Vegas defense attorneys who go to the mat for their clients. Written by newcomers Niels Mueller and Kevin Kennedy, it will be directed by the Oscar-winning Davis Guggenheim. Carol Mendelsohn of the "CSI" franchise is producing it.
Speaking of heavy hitters, John Wells has returned to the medical arena, executive producing an untitled medical project written by Hannah Shakespeare ("The Philanthropist" and "Close to Home"). Starring Amy Smart ("Felicity" and "Robot Chicken") (pictured left) and Rachelle Lefevre ("The Deep End," "Eli Stone"), it focuses on a mobile medical team that travels the United States to help people in life-and-death crises. With two likable actresses at the forefront, and veteran "ER" producers behind the scenes, this has potential.
The network's only true departure is "The Quinn-Tuplets," written by Mike Kelley and Chris Kelley of "The Beautiful Life" and "Swingtown." The drama follows the personal and professional lives of the Quinn-tuplets -- five adults whose lives had been documented and broadcast since childbirth So far, the cast includes: Sam Witwer ("Star Wars: The Force Unleashed"), David Giuntoli ("Nip/Tuck," "The Unit"), Juliette Goglia ("Fired Up," "Garfield"). CBS hasn't had much luck venturing out of genre, so we'll have to wait and see on this one.
Check back later for a post about CBS' comedy pilots.
-- Maria Elena Fernandez (follow me on Twitter @writerchica)
Upper photo: Forest Whitaker. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Lower photo: Amy Smart. Credit: Getty Images
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