By Brian Byrd | Lists | April 1, 2014 |
By Brian Byrd | Lists | April 1, 2014 |
One of my favorite pieces to write for Pajiba is the Most Promising Television Dramas for the upcoming season. The predictions are fun, but it’s the discovery process that’s the real reward. With video game platforms and streaming services jumping into the original programming game alongside networks and cable, there is just so much fantastic television on the horizon. Narrowing the list down to 10 becomes more difficult each year.
Even with all the greatness that makes it to air, there are still dozens of fascinating script orders that, for whatever reason, never advanced past the concept stage. Here, I’ve collected my 10 favorites from the last five or so years. There’s almost no chance these ideas will ever grace our television sets, but we’re all dreamers and it’s cool to imagine what might have been.
Remember, intriguing concepts don’t necessarily guarantee compelling television. Here’s a logline from a few years back that caused an erection lasting longer than four hours: “An ordinary family undertakes an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as part of a daring experiment to save the human race.” Sounds dope, right? That brilliance became “Terra Nova,” a series so incompetently executed FOX should have named it Oklahoma Death Row Inmate.
These 10 probably would have been splendiferous, though.
Suburban Shootout (HBO) - When Obama’s army of poorz finally tears the wealthy limb from limb and redistributes their treasure across the land, I plan to use my share to bring this failed 2009 pilot to series. “Suburban Shootout” stars Judy Greer as a woman who moves to an idyllic picket-fences-and-minivans community to escape her father’s mob ties, only to discover her housewife neighbors (Kelly Preston, Rachael Harris, Kerri Kenney) are actually drug-dealing, gun-running gangs at war with each other. HBO passed on the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed pilot in 2009. The property then migrated to ABC where it died yet again. Something called WEtv picked up the rights in December 2013 and has plans to develop a complete season. Admirable, but this show has a premium cable feel. Hurry up poorz! We’re on a clock now!
Hurt People (Cinemax) - Hysterical woman with daddy issues embarks on a murderous vendetta because she can’t get over something that happened decades ago. That version was for all you GamerGate supporters still lurking in the sewers. Eat a pterodactyl dick. Anyway, “Hurt People” was supposed to star William Petersen as a mob hitman charged with hunting down his revenge-obsessed daughter, who for some reason took issue with her father being employed by the same crime family that killed her mother/his wife. Cinemax rescinded the pilot order in 2012, freeing Peterson to continue headlining some interchangeable CBS procedural that inexplicably draws 600 million viewers.
Alligator Boots (Comedy Central) - Parts of the following synopsis are true, others are fabrications. Read, then guess which is which: in 2008, rapper/producer Rhymefest approached Kanye West about creating an adult variety show. Yeezus - a huge “Crank Yankers” fan - tapped the team behind that series to create “Alligator Boots,” a “hip-hop muppet show” that might be one of the most insane concepts ever filmed. Comedy Central actually shot a pilot. In that episode, Kanye tells a puppet named Beary White that he wants future compass aficionado Kim Kardashian to guest star because “her ass is just so perfect!” Later, Beary White serenades Kim with classic lyrics like “Let me lay you down on my silky sheets and then come in close behind ya. Then I’ll show you my desire and put my penis in your vagina.” Shockingly, Comedy Central cancelled the show before the pilot ever aired and threw the footage into the sun. Did you spot the lie? It was the part where I claimed parts of this were made up. Here’s a behind the scenes video.
The Terror (AMC) - A Royal Navy expedition sets out to find the Northwest Passage in 1847. Something else finds them first. Despite being based on the popular novel by Dan Simmons and reportedly boasting a spectacular script, AMC didn’t order it to series for 2015. Must need room for their Rubicon spinoff.
Death Pact (FX) - There are two types of people in this world: those who love Tracy Morgan, and racists. I’m mostly in the former group, so it saddened me to learn FX passed on Morgan’s single-camera comedy about a former weed dealer and assistant high school coach who returns home a decorated war hero. His character reconnects with three old, down-on-their-luck friends, and because reasons, convinces them to an extreme new self-help philosophy that involves ridiculous penalties for failure. Fortunately, FX didn’t completely sever ties with Morgan: the network announced in April that he’ll star in a new untitled series from the “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” crew.
Hobgoblin (HBO) - A group of conmen and magicians fight Nazis during World War II. Written by Michael Chabon. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Someone at HBO read this treatment, saw who was involved, and thought the correct response was: “Thanks, we’ll pass.” Instead of labeling this person stupid, I like to think he has some type of genetic defect that causes him to make incomprehensibly poor decisions. “Sir, Ms. Upton would like you to come to her hotel room at 2 am.” “Thanks, I’ll pass.”
The Money (HBO) - A David Milch (“John from Cincinnati” and some other insignificant shows) drama about a media mogul (Brendan Gleeson) who uses power and wealth to expand his empire and control his family. Or basically “Rupert Murdoch: The Series.” HBO ordered a pilot but passed in March. Shame. Rich, powerful Caucasian septuagenarians are woefully underrepresented on television.
Ballistic City (AMC) - From Joe Kosinski (Oblivion), this followed a detective tasked with investigating a murder on a generational spaceship that’s headed to the Who The Fuck Knows nebula. AMC only picked up two pilots for 2015 - “Ganymede” and “Knifeman” - leaving “Ballistic City” adrift in space. Script Shadow has a detailed breakdown of the pilot if you’re interested. The tent in your pants tell me you are.
Pinkerton (Starz) - Want to watch a miniseries about America’s most famous detective? Me too! But I can’t, because Starz passed on this back in 2010. Dicks. Seriously, is there any figure more deserving of a well-made bio-series than Allan Pinkerton? This motherfucker invented police work. After saving Abraham Lincoln from an assassination attempt in Baltimore (probably the only time in history a police officer was able to prevent a murder in that town), he became a Union spymaster, during which time he invented a few law enforcement techniques that may sound familiar: surveillance, profiling and undercover infiltration.
40 (HBO) - If Doug Ellin has one strength, it’s range. Where “Entourage” followed four lifelong friends as they navigated life in their 20s, his proposed 2012 follow-up, “40,” revolved around four lifelong friends - Ed Burns, Michael Rappaport, Michael Imperioli, and Adrian Pasdar - as they navigated life in the 40s. WHAT PARADIGM-SHATTERING IDEA WILL THIS GUY THINK OF NEXT?!?! For all of “Entourage’s” faults the show did frequently entertain, and Ellin does have an eye for capturing male interaction. It would have been interesting to see what he could do with a talented cast and more grounded themes.
Brian Byrd thinks the most amazing failed concept is love. Follow him on Twitter.