In about a month, the broadcast networks will be making their final decisions about which pilots to pick up for the 2012-13 season. A lot can happen between now and then, but we’re comfortable making this prediction: You’ll be seeing at least a couple new family sitcoms in the fall.
Various permutations of the family comedy, featuring everything from multi-generational clans clashing with the neighbors (“The Manzanis” on ABC) to a gay couple and the woman carrying their baby (“The New Normal” on NBC), are in development. We counted almost 20 “my [insert synonym for ‘lovingly dysfunctional’ here] family” shows on the networks’ dockets, including at least seven at ABC alone.
That the Alphabet would make such a heavy investment in family comedies is no surprise. Its successful Wednesday block is mostly family-centered, and it’s probably looking for something to pair with the likely-to-be-renewed “Last Man Standing” as well.
And while every pilot season brings a fair number of family comedies, but the sheer numbers this year are a bit unusual. We counted about twice as many family shows, for instance, as “Friends”-like ensemble shows or workplace comedies.
So what else might be coming down the pike in 2012-13? Combing through the pilot rosters, here are some other trends we noticed.
With the success of “Revenge” this season, ABC in particular is devoting resources to developing soapy dramas, ranging from the country-music saga “Nashville” (starring Connie Britton) to a ’70s-set adaptation of the Judith Krantz novel “Scruples” (which was previously a 1980 CBS miniseries starring Lindsay Wagner). NBC is in the mix too with “Bad Girls” and the very “Revenge”-y-sounding “Notorious.”
Speaking of “Scruples,” that brings us to …
The past comes alive (again)
The low ratings for “The Playboy Club” and “Pan Am” this season don’t seem to have scared the networks away from developing a number of shows set in the past. There’s an 1840s western (“The Frontier” at NBC), an 1890s family drama (ABC’s “Gilded Lilys”) and a 1960s crime drama (CBS’ Ralph Lamb project, starring Dennis Quaid). Curiously, the youth-focused CW has two shows set in the past in development — if you consider the 1980s (“The Carrie Diaries”) and ’90s (“Joey Dakota”) “the past.”
Women in the lead
CBS is mostly staying in its procedural wheelhouse with its drama development, but the network has apparently taken notice of the fact that the audience for crime shows tends to skew female. Three of its seven drama pilots — cop show “Trooper,” private-eye drama “Applebaum” and legal show “Baby Big Shot” — feature female leads. ABC’s “Gotham” and two FOX spy shows — “The Asset” and the untitled Karyn Usher drama — also revolve around female characters.
The obligatory two shows with the same premise
We’ve previously noted that both ABC and The CW are developing takes on “Beauty and the Beast.” The CW’s is more or less a remake of the late-’80s CBS drama — Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan star, and the show is set in present-day New York. ABC’s version hews closer to the fairy tale and is set in a fictional kingdom (and sounds as if it were specifically designed as a companion to “Once Upon a Time”).