TV Surf Report: Original Concepts Still Get Made

GRACE & FRANKIE.               GREENLEAF

Santa Monica, CA — Original Concepts still make it through the system somehow even though it seems all the broadcasters, cable networks and streaming services are betting on Super Hero shows, True Crime dramas, Adaptations of well-regarded Books, and Re-Boots of old favorites.

Take the premise of Grace & Frankie as an example: It’s a spin on the Female Buddy Comedy, a well-worn theme (Lucy & Ethel, Laverne & Shirley, Two Broke Girls). The latest twist in Netflix’s version (now in its 2nd season) is the gals are in their 70s and their husbands leave them for each other.  Great twist on a very familiar theme.

Chins up, Scribes.  Take heart, there will always (always!) be room for a great idea that will make it through the TV Matrix that is Development/Pilot Season. You are Neo, so follow your inner-White Rabbit and tell your story.

Here are some of this season’s best:

  • One Mississippi at Amazon.  Hold the phone!  A personal story from Tig Notaro (Inside Amy Schumer) who stars in this dark comedy about a prodigal daughter returning to her hometown.  Louis C.K. and Diablo Cody exec produce.
  • The Collection at Amazon.  A co-production with BBC-1, this post-WWII Fashion House drama stars Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons).  Eight episodes have been ordered. Oliver Goldstick exec produces.
  • Greenleaf on OWN.  Craig Wright (Six Feet Under) uses the backdrop of a Southern mega-church to tell a soap opera about wealth, sex and how power corrupts. Premieres in June.
  • Brain Dead on CBS is from Robert & Michelle King (The Good Wife) is a political thriller set in DC but with a big twist: Aliens control the legislators. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Mercy Street) and Aaron Tveit (Grease: Live) star.
  • In Time on Fox is an ensemble comedy about three friends who balance their mundane lives with adventures in time travel.  Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Last Man on Earth) exec produce.
  • Pitch on Fox is a drama about the first woman in professional baseball.  Dan Fogelman exec produces.

HARDY

  • Taboo on FX is an original story by actor Tom Hardy and his father set in 1813 London that deals with the relationship between the UK and India over colonial expansion.  Dark intrigue follows.  Ridley Scott exec produces.
  • Shut Eye on Hulu is a dark comedy about storefront psychics in LA that stars Jeffrey Donovan and Isabella Rossellini.
  • Untitled Dramedy at NBC is another win for Dan Fogelman who writes this ensemble dramedy about a unique group of people all of whom are born on the same day.  Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy  Moore, and Chris Sullivan star.
  • Frontier at Netflix is a co-production with Discovery Canada that stars Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman) in this action adventure drama set in the 18th century fur trade.
  • Incorporated at SyFy is a futuristic espionage thriller from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck that stars Julia Ormond. The growing influence of big corporations and the private interests of Washington are explored.
  • The Group at TBS is an ensemble comedy about a support group of alien abductees from Greg Daniels (The Office).  Conan O’Brien exec produces.

Several commonalities exist among these original ideas that made it through The System:

 

 

Up Next: Notes from the Nashville Writers Conference

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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 TransMedia from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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