As I’ve mentioned before, my approach to the TV pilots screened at SDCC is “Yes, please.” So while this blog is going to focus on book reviews, I’m tossing in some small screen “Upcoming Attractions” as the opportunity presents itself. At SDCC this year, I found myself in four different screenings. I’ll be breaking them down for you over the next couple of weeks, just for the sake of conversation.
In my experience, there are three categories of pilot.
The first is middling, but with a very enthusiastic cast/crew and clear network support for creativity. These are usually worth a second glance, somewhere around 3-5 episodes into the first season – by that point, the writing and characterization will either have shaken out or not. Star-Crossed, for example, had the behind-the-scenes for a fascinating show, but never quite made good on its potential.
The second type is the pleasant surprise, where the teaser/trailers released by the network are iffy and the pilot turns out to be well executed and interesting. Fox’s Sleepy Hollow and CW’s The Flash reboot fit this bill.
And then sometimes, a pilot is just plain terrible. Wooden acting, or too thin of a premise and not enough oomph to carry it off without an internally consistent plot – bad enough to be bad, and not bad enough to be cult-following good (oh, The Sentinel, how many of the old school fandom girls miss you so).
This year’s crop filled out the classic spectrum, though I’ll admit that I missed two of the more interesting offerings due to panel conflicts. I saw pilot screenings for Lucifer, Limitless, The Player, and Supergirl. I missed Blindspot (amnesiac Lady Sif wakes up covered in tattoos and fights crime!) and The Colony (source of the snazzy red berets being sported around the Gaslamp District ten days ago, and set to feature Josh Holloway from Lost – LA faces occupation by an outside force (origin unspecified). Interpersonal drama and heroic shenanigans ensue).
Who do you want to hear about first?
Edit: I forgot to include Minority Report in the pilots that I didn’t catch (lifted from the 2002 Tom Cruise film of the same title, though with some adjustments to the cast to make it both a little more diverse and to attempt to give it traction as a serial). Didn’t hear awesome things, but have no personal knowledge either way.