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The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again?) of Weird Desk

By December 17, 2012

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Writer-producer Carl Binder

Writer-producer Carl Binder

© Joseph Mallozzi

There have been times in the past when the launchings of new sci-fi series were few and far between, and the cause for much excitement and comment. But lately it seems like the broadcast and cable networks are popping out new genre series (and new reboots of old shows) left and right with startling prolixity. So much so that they're not only flaring up suddenly like lens flares, but vanishing just as quickly.

My favorite of the most recent batch, if only because of the name, was ABC's new paranormal drama Weird Desk--which, like Under the Dome at CBS, the network was reported as ordering straight-to-series. The idea involved a clandestine organization that handles mysterious paranormal cases, from Carl Binder (who wrote for and produced on all three Stargate series--he wrote the first Replicator-Atlantis story, for example) and David Titcher (who wrote those Librarian movies with Noah Wyle). The summary has it that, working above the levels of top secret and above the office of the President, the unit is the destination for mysterious intelligence rerouted from the CIA and NSA. Tasked with investigating and solving occurrences of the paranormal, supernatural and sometimes extra-terrestrial, "Weird Desk" is led by Morgan, an obstinate, socially inept and brilliant man who would now be dead if it weren't for his special forces trained partner, Rosetta.

Two weeks ago ABC ordered 13 episodes from ABC Studios and Canada's Shaftesbury Films, slated to premiere in summer 2013. Does that sound fast to you? Apparently it is. Last week new reports surfaced that ABC had shelved the project, because it would be too difficult to produce it so quickly and still keep it cheap. Deadline also says there was a perceived--if not actual--concept clash with S.H.I.E.L.D., also at ABC and, as a Marvel tie-in developed by Joss Whedon, rather more important. So--they both handle strange phenomena? I guess that's... sort of similar... (As we all know, the networks can only tolerate one show out of any two that seem to be even remotely similar that happen to appear on the conference table at the same time.)

So ABC has, in Deadline's words, "put a pin" in the project. But a pilot concept solid enough to get a straight-to-series order, produced by veteran hands, is bound to resurface soon enough.
Tags: Weird Desk, S.H.I.E.L.D., Carl Binder, David Titcher
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