Mega TV pilot preview: 17 new series we may be watching this fall

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:51 PM EST

With dozens of television pilots ordered during pilot season, the sci-fi, fantasy and horror possibilities look promising. We found 17 network pilots with potential. While most of them won't ever be ordered to series, a lucky few will join Steven Spielberg's Terra Nova on the fall schedule.

Here's a look at the pilots the broadcast networks are developing, along with our best guesses on their chances based on how they sound and who's involved:


Stars: Terry O'Quinn (Lost), Donal Logue (Terriers), Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order) and Frances O'Connor
Log Line: The tiny town of Hallelujah, Tenn., is torn between the forces of good and evil. Del Roman (O'Quinn) is the town's kingpin, and Rye Turner (Logue) is an honest family man and owner of the local diner who's tired of Del's rule. However, everything changes when a mysterious stranger comes to town and Rye and his wife welcome the man into their home. From writer Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) and director Michael Apted (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).
Why Hallelujah might not make it: While we'd love to see Terry O'Quinn in another complex, villainous role, the series sounds a little heavy-handed. Past shows, even really good ones, about small communities caught in the battle between good and evil (American Gothic, Carnivàle) haven't fared very well.

Stars: Tim Allen (Home Improvement)
Log Line: While we're not sure that there's any sci-fi to be had here, this half-hour comedy follows a married father of three (Allen) who tries to hold on to his manliness in a world increasingly dominated by women. From creator Jack Burditt (30 Rock) and pilot director John Pasquin (Home Improvement).
Why The Last Days of Man might make it: ABC is determined to develop more comedy series to build on the success they've had with shows like Modern Family. Tim Allen is a big name when it comes to TV, and the pilot sounds like it will play to Allen's strengths.

Stars: Jennifer Morrison (Star Trek, House), Robert Carlyle (Stargate Universe), Ginnifer Goodwin (Robot Chicken) and Jamie Dornan
Log Line: A woman with a troubled past (Morrison) finds herself drawn to Storybrooke, a small Maine town where magic and fairy tales might just be real. From creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (Lost), with Mark Mylod (Entourage) directing the pilot.
Why Once Upon a Time might work: You've got to love a series that has Robert Carlyle cast as Rumpelstiltskin. This sounds like it could be lots of fun, or it could go a little Twin Peaks. Either way, there's interesting potential.

Stars: Chris Egan (Kings), Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean), Natalie Dormer (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Tabrett Bethell (Legend of the Seeker)
Log Line: Set in 1840s Boston, the story follows Edgar Allan Poe as the world's first detective, who used unconventional methods to investigate dark mysteries. From creator Christopher Hollier (Kyle XY), director Alex Graves (Terra Nova, Journeyman) and executive producer/showrunner Brad Kern (Charmed, Human Target).
Why Poe may not make it: While we kind of like the possibilities when it comes to seeing Poe run into some of the characters during his investigations who eventually end up in his writing, period shows can be very expensive to make. It seems like a long shot.

Stars: Bruce Greenwood (Nowhere Man, Star Trek), Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files, The Gates), Joe Anderson (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Leslie Hope (24) and Eloise Mumford
Log Line: When a TV explorer (Greenwood) and his crew go missing in the Amazon, a group sets off to find them in a state-of-the-art research vessel. From creators Michael R. Perry and Michael Green (Kings) and director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown), with Green, Zack Estrin (No Ordinary Family) and Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) executive-producing.
What we like about The River: Pitched as a horror story, The River might well have a touch of Lost in its bones. It seems likely this will be a serialized story, and ABC's been looking for a series to fill Lost's shoes since that series ended.


Stars: Michael Emerson (Lost), Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) and Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Log Line: A billionaire (Emerson) recruits a CIA agent who's been presumed dead (Caviezel) to stop violent crimes in New York City before they happen.
Why Person of Interest has potential: It's from Lost's J.J. Abrams and The Dark Knight's Jonah Nolan, and it stars Emerson and Caviezel, so we love the cast and the behind-the-scenes talent. Let's just hope it's not another Undercovers.

Stars: Patrick Wilson (Insidious), Jennifer Ehle (The King's Speech) and Julie Benz (No Ordinary Family, Dexter)
Log Line: This drama from Susannah Grant follows an ultra-competitive surgeon who finds his life forever changed when his ex-wife dies, only to reappear to him as a ghost who wants to teach him what life is really all about. From Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and pilot director and executive producer Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs).
Why this pilot may not make it: The fact that the pilot doesn't have a title yet isn't much of a concern. However, CBS is coming off of low ratings for Medium and Ghost Whisperer, and it seems unlikely they'd go back into the ghost business at this point. Also, there's very little room on CBS's successful schedule these days. That said, Demme and Grant could pull off a stunning pilot that might surprise us.


Stars: Esai Morales (Caprica) and Battlestar Galactica's James Callis, Tricia Helfer and Jamie Bamber.
Log Line: This police drama from Battlestar's Ronald D. Moore takes place in an alternate version of San Francisco where magic rules instead of science. Michael Rymer (Battlestar Galactica) directs the pilot.
What we like about 17th Precinct: It's from Moore, and he's filled it with Battlestar and Caprica alumni. And you have to admit the idea is pretty cool.

Stars: David Giuntoli (Eli Stone), Reggie Lee (No Ordinary Family), Bitsie Tulloch (Lonelygirl15), Russell Hornsby (Haunted), Sasha Roiz (Caprica) and Silas Weir Mitchell
Log Line: A cop discovers that fairytale creatures are real and ends up being tasked with protecting humans from them. From David Greenwalt (Angel) and Jim Kouf (National Treasure).
Why Grimm might not make it: Fairy tales are popular this year, but we like the sound of ABC's Once Upon a Time a little better. This seems a little too much like Special Unit 2. Plus, there's no big stars to get excited about in the cast.

Stars: Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter), Laura Allen (The 4400), Dylan Minnette (Lost), Cherry Jones (24), B.D. Wong (Jurassic Park)
Log Line: An Inception-like thriller that follows a police detective (Isaacs) after a horrible car accident when he finds himself living in two different realities. In one his son survived, and in the other his wife lived. From creator Kyle Killen (Lone Star), executive producer Howard Gordon (24) and consulting producer Tim Minear (Firefly, Angel).
Why REM has potential: We like this idea a lot, and Isaacs is a terrific actor. However, we'll have to see how many genre shows NBC will pick up, since Wonder Woman seems like a shoo-in.

Stars: Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights), Justin Bruening (Knight Rider), Cary Elwes (Saw, The Princess Bride), Elizabeth Hurley (Austin Powers) and Pedro Pascal (The Adjustment Bureau)
Log Line: Updated from the DC comics, this Wonder Woman is a successful corporate executive and modern woman in L.A. when she's not taking on bad guys as a vigilante crime fighter. From creator David E. Kelley (The Practice), with Jeffrey Reiner (The Event) directing the pilot.
Why Wonder Woman will probably get a pickup, even though we're not sure it should: Considering all the excitement regarding the casting of Palicki and the coverage of what her costume looks like, NBC has managed to create a lot of buzz for this reboot. While we love Kelley (and maybe he can even pull off a modern Wonder Woman with Palicki), we're still stinging from the recent disastrous Bionic Woman and Knight Rider remakes. Add into the mix Knight Rider star Justin Bruening taking on the role of Steve Trevor, and 17th Precinct and REM start to look even better.


Stars: Sarah Jones (Sons of Anarchy), Jorge Garcia (Lost), Robert Forster (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Jason Butler Harner (Next) and Jonny Coyne
Log Line: A group of Alcatraz prisoners and guards vanish, only to reappear 30 years later leading a team of FBI agents to try to track them down and figure out the mystery behind their disappearance. From executive producer J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Lost) and created by Bryan Wynbrandt (Kyle XY), Elizabeth Sarnoff (Lost) and Steven Lilien (Kyle XY). Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd) directs the pilot.
What we like about Alcatraz: Abrams knows how to put together a great pilot, and this sounds like it's got tons of Lost-esque potential. Also, this might make a good companion with the just-renewed Fringe on Friday nights.

Stars: Jesse McCartney (Young Justice), Mark Pellegrino (Lost, Syfy's Being Human), Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings), Nick Stahl (Carnivàle), Harrison Thomas, Sarah Bolger and Skylar Gaertner
Log Line: Based on the comic-book series by Joe Hill (Stephen King's son), the series follows the adventures of the Locke children, who after the murder of their father move in with their uncle to the family's estate in Lovecraft, Mass. There they discover special doorways that can be opened with keys hidden within the walls. Created by Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and Fringe's Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.
Why Locke & Key has potential: It's got a strong cast and an even stronger creative team behind the scenes. And considering Fox is also taking on Spielberg's Terra Nova, they might want to give this one extra consideration.

Stars: Kiefer Sutherland (24)
Log Line: Life gets complicated for a JFK baggage handler when he discovers that his autistic, mute son can predict the future. This midseason replacement comes from Tim Kring (Heroes), with Charles McDougall (The Good Wife) directing the pilot. Sutherland is also on board as one of the executive producers.
Why Touch might make it: Fox's schedule this year hasn't seemed quite right without Sutherland. This is planned as a midseason replacement, and it could turn into a good option to fill holes in their schedule come 2012.

The CW

Stars: Brian Hallisay (Priviledged), Lucy Griffiths (Robin Hood), Meredith Hagner (Lights Out) and Lost's Titus Welliver.
Log Line: Two combative sisters "come of age amid the beginning of a zombie uprising." From partners Bill Laurin and Glenn Davis (The Listener). David Van Ancken (The Vampire Diaries) directs the pilot.
What we like about Awakening: The CW knows how to jump on a trend, and zombies are hot thanks to The Walking Dead. It's a bunch of bright, pretty stars, with Welliver around to add some punch to the cast.

Stars: Lauren Cohan (The Vampire Diaries, Chuck), Ben Aldridge, Elizabeth Ho and Ryan Eggold (90210)
Log Line: The series revolves around a San Francisco attorney who teams up with a former angel in an effort to save their clients and their clients' souls. Created by Richard Hatem (The Gates, Supernatural), with Robert Doherty (Medium, Tru Calling) and Ross Fineman executive-producing. Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) directs the pilot.
Why Heavenly might not make it: While Lauren Cohan looks like a star to us after her strong outings on Vampire Diaries and Chuck, her pilot is up against zombies and witches. And since the CW doesn't have that many available slots for new shows ... well, you do the math.

Stars: Britt Robertson (Scream 4), Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Jessica Parker Kennedy (Smallville) and Phoebe Tonkin
Log Line: Adapted from the book trilogy Secret Circle by L.J. Smith, the story follows a California teen named Cassie Blake who moves to her mom's hometown of New Salem, Maine, and discovers that she comes from a family of witches. Created by Andrew Miller (Ball & Chain), with Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries) executive-producing and Liz Friedlander (The Vampire Diaries) directing the pilot.
What we love about Secret Circle: We'd actually be shocked if The CW didn't pick this one up. Considering that The CW's megahit The Vampire Diaries is based on a series of books by L.J. Smith and that Kevin Williamson brought that one to life on the network, Secret Circle has all the elements going for it. Sprinkle in a pretty and talented young cast and you have The CW's next new hit.

Which pilots do you think will fly?