It’s the beginning of May, and in a pre-COVID-19 world, that means the broadcast network upfronts should have unfolded. Set annually in New York City, it’s where the major five networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and The CW) present their fall schedules to advertisers with a lot of razzle-dazzle. Usually those slates are a mix of returning series and brand-new pilots that were produced from February to April, and then whittled down to the winners.
But COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball in late February and stopped down all pilot production by mid-March. In fact, only one broadcast pilot (a comedy) completed its production. Several series were ordered straight to series, but the vast majority of those intended pilots were going to be the final arbiters of whether they were ordered to series.
While television as a whole doesn’t revolve around upfronts and broadcast schedules as much as it did even a decade ago, there’s still a fall season that traditionally starts in September for broadcast, basic cable, and premium cable. With film and television production on hold until the industry and its workers figure out how to allow at least 100 people to commingle in close proximity safely, a standard fall 2020 TV season is not looking likely. Instead, network programming departments are scrambling, trying to figure out if many completed shows that were supposed to debut in the summer, but will now be held back so there are at least some new shows to program into the fall.
Looking on the bright side, if production is able to get back into gear safely by July, the fall TV season, including a fresh slate of new genre shows, could rise from the pandemic’s ashes. That's a big "if" at the moment, but hey, all we can do is hope. Based on the shows ordered to pilot in early 2020, here are the broadcast shows that were in the mix, or still being pondered.
The shows, by network, that are still in contention for pickup as of May 2020:
The Brides (Drama)
An import from England, this adaptation for American audiences stars Rose McIver (iZombie) and Brandon Scott Jones (The Good Place) as a young couple who inherit a country home that’s falling apart, and filled with the spirits of those who’ve lived there before.
The latest Alex Kurtzman series, executive-produced along with Jenny Lumet (Star Trek: Discovery), Clarice is a direct sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. Set in 1993, the series focuses on the personal and professional life of FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds, The Originals) as she investigates new cases involving other memorable criminals. (Series-production commitment)
UPDATE: Fox announced its fall and midseason season on May 11. Premiere dates are contingent on production getting started again.
While the series was already picked up and even promoted at the 2020 Winter TCAs, neXt's production fell victim to the industry shutdown when Chicago stopped down all work. The series is focused on the perils of a deadly, rogue artificial intelligence that is menacing humans. Created by former 24 EP Manny Coto, the series stars John Slattery. (Season 1 almost complete)
Potentially the latest entry into Fox’s Animation Domination, this animated comedy uses anthropomorphic animals in a suburban neighborhood to explore human dysfunction and neurosis. It’s like BoJack Horseman, with less salty language. Voice actors include: Lisa Kudrow, Clea DuVall, Will Forte, Tony Hale, Jason Mantzoukas, and more. (Series ordered)
UPDATE: NBC has picked up many of its existing series, and has ordered several comedies to go into production when it's safe for Hollywood to go back to work. No new genre shows have been picked up.
For fans of Fringe and Almost Human, EP J.H. Wyman is back with this new series about two investigators across the globe who must come together to investigate how a destroyed alien spacecraft is impacting mankind around the world. The cast includes Jonathan Tucker (Kingdom), Riann Steele, and Norbert Leo Butz. (No further pickup announcement)
If you like your Datelines mixed with some time travel, then this is the show for you. It poses the idea that investigators can go back in time, assuming the identity of a victim, so they can prevent the crime from ever happening. Reid Scott (Veep) and Janina Gavankar would star. (No further pickup announcement)
La Brea (Drama)
Mixing disaster dramas with sci-fi, a massive sinkhole opens up in Los Angeles that separates families when some members fall into a primeval world they must escape from with the help of other strangers. (No further pickup announcement)
UPDATE: The network announced its fall 2020 and midseason 2021 intentions on May 14. And those plans are that nothing new from their scripted orders will be hitting The CW until January 2021. However, to program the fall schedule, they will be repurposing series, like DC Universe's Swamp Thing, and hopefully air the last episodes of the final season of Supernatural.
If production is able to return by this summer or early fall, audiences can expect new seasons of Black Lightning, The Flash, Riverdale, Nancy Drew, Legacies, Batwoman, Charmed, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Roswell, New Mexico, and Supergirl in 2021.
The Lost Boys (Drama)
The classic 1987 vampire movie gets the small-screen treatment, along with a contemporary setting. A single mom and her two Gen Z sons relocate to a new town where the local cool kids aren’t quite right. Starring: Rochelle Aytes (Mistresses), Branden Cook, Lincoln Younes (Grand Hotel), and Ruby Cruz. (No further pickup announcement)
Superman & Lois (Drama)
Picked up on the strength of their characters’ arc in the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, Tyler Hoechlin returns as the Man of Steel along with Bitsie Tulloch as Lois Lane. The married duo with kids have to figure out how to be professional superheroes and keep their family safe from the villains out to get them. (Series ordered)
As The 100 ends this summer, this prequel would take its place exploring the world leading up to the nuclear apocalypse that sent humans out into the Ark in space. (No further pickup announcement)
Green Arrow & The Canaries (Drama)
Another Arrowverse spinoff this time featuring the women of Arrow: Katherine McNamara's Mia Smoak/Green Arrow and the Canaries, Katie Cassidy's Laurel Lance and Juliana Harkavy's Dinah Drake. The series premise was presented as a backdoor pilot in the penultimate episode of Arrow's final season, and got strong ratings. (No further pickup announcement)
And what about the existing, or already ordered-to-series genre TV shows that we can’t wait to see? Sadly, many of them also didn’t finish production on their full season orders. Because of that, there are some hopeful (but uncertain) estimates on when audiences will get to see any episodes. Here’s the full list:
Batwoman (The CW) - 2021
Charmed (the CW) - 2021
Evil (CBS) - 2021
The Flash (The CW) - 2021
Legacies (The CW) - 2021
Nancy Drew (the CW) - 2021
neXt (Fox) - 2021
Riverdale (The CW) - 2021
Supergirl (The CW) - 2021
Supernatural (The CW) - Fall 2020
Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
Motherland: Fort Salem (Freeform) - Picked up for Season 2
Snowpiercer (TNT) - Almost finished production on S2 so 2021
The Walking Dead (TNT, delayed)
Streaming and premium
Carnival Row (Amazon Prime)
Doom Patrol (HBO Max) - Season 2 Premiere on June 25, 2020
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
The Handmaid’s tale (Hulu)
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (Apple TV+) - airing alternately produced episodes now
The Orville (Hulu)
Russian Doll (Netflix)
See (Apple TV+)
Servant (Apple TV+)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
The Wheel of Time (Amazon)
The Witcher (Netflix)