TV Surf Report: Original Ideas Eke Through Season of Re-Boots, Re-Makes & Adaptations


Santa Monica, CA — Original Ideas can still work their way through Hollywood’s obstacle course of making of Television:

Nuns! Caesar! A Young Pope! Indian Rappers! Alien Congressmen! Heroic Gamers! Kung Fu! Alien Abductees! Historical Fantasy! Dark Comedy! Period Comedy! Mega Churches!

Take heart, Scribes.

This season, the networks and digital platforms are heavily favoring Re-boots of Old Chestnuts, Adaptations, and Pre-Sold Titles, however, there are several promising original concepts getting script orders (or more!).

Here’s the best of what’s been bought and/or being made, thus far (excluding the clunkers! which I’ll list separately!):

  • Berlin Station at EPIX has a 10-episode order for this contemporary spy series that follows a CIA agent’s quest to uncover a leak at the agency’s German outpost.  Richard Armitage (Thorin in LOTR) leads a fantastic cast that includes Richard Jenkins, Michelle Forbes, Rhys Ifans and Tamlyn Tomita.  Excited for this one as it echoes Three Days of the Condor, one of my favorite films.
  • Greenleaf at OWN is a drama set in a Memphis mega-church from writer Craig Wright (Six Feet Under).  Thirteen episodes have been ordered.  Lynn Whitfield stars. Terrific backdrop for storytelling.  Concept has legs.
  • Untitled Bronx Convent Project at ABC features an ensemble of Catholic Nuns at a convent rocked by the arrival of three young novices.  Shonda Rhimes produces.
  • Caesar at ABC is a contemporary re-telling of Shakespeare’s play now set in Los Angeles where the Latino Mayor is murdered.  Okay, it’s an adaptation.
  • The Hustle at ABC finds a small-town girl assisting a street-wise billionaire. Sean Combs produces.
  • House of Moore at ABC has Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) attached to star as the head of a Fashion House family in this darkly comedic one-hour.
  • Dick Ernest at CBS is a 1950s comedy that follows a family patriarch whose life is upended by the arrival of his beatnik nephew.
  • How to Speak American at CBS finds a coddled millennial teaching ESL to immigrants.
  • Brain Dead at CBS is a Washington DC political thriller with aliens controlling legislators (as opposed to lobbyists!).
  • In Time at Fox centers on three friends who attempt to balance adventures in time travel with their mundane lives.
  • Untitled Adult Underdogs at Fox is a comedy about a town overrun by a teenage street gang and the adults who fight back.
  • Eat Pray Thug at Fox has Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect) attached to star as a rapper who lives with his Indian parents in Queens.
  • The Young Pope at HBO is an historical fantasy about the early beginnings of Pope Pius XIII starring Jude Law, Diane Keaton and James Cromwell.
  • Future Man at Hulu is a comedy about a janitor by day who is a gamer by night that saves Humanity.
  • Musical Funeral Home Project at NBC takes place in South Central LA at a mother/daughter-run mortuary where they break into Song!
  • Middle Kingdom at NBC is a supernatural Kung Fu story set in San Francisco where contemporary folks clash with ancient demons.
  • Florent at Showtime has Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) attached to star as an NYC restaurateur in the mid-1980s backdrop of the AIDS crisis.
  • The Group at TBS centers on a support group of alien abductees in this comedy produced by Greg Daniels (The Office).


Up NextThe Clunkers! Original Ideas Bought/Order To Script But Sound Terrible.


About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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