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Unsold Pilots, 2011 Edition

Some big projects didn't make it onto the networks' 2011-2012 schedule


James Callis

James Callis filming a scene for 17th Precinct in Vancouver.

Updated May 23, 2011

Is it coincidence that some of the most-discussed projects didn't make it onto the air this season? The sci-fi/fantasy pilots that didn't make the leap onto the network schedule this year include some shows that were highly anticipated, and others that had people shaking their heads from the get-go -- but, in these three cases, all from highly respected producers.

17th Precinct

This one looked like a lock, thanks to its A-list talent on both sides of the camera and a very workable premise (a gritty cop drama set in the world of magic). Created by Ron Moore, with Stockard Channing, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Kristin Kreuk, and Tricia Helfer all signed on, 17th Precinct seemed like the smarter brother to both the low-octane Haven and the fairy-tale-driven new series Grimm. The pilot was, by all accounts, clever and well-executed, offering a real opportunity to reinvent the television fantasy drama.

But NBC, which had a bunch of supernatural cop dramas in front of it (including Grimm and Awake), confirmed that it won't have room for 17th, which, because the expense involved makes it difficult to port to a smaller network (like Moore's old home at Syfy, which has its hands full with a raft of original series), probably kills it off. I hope I'm wrong and that it finds a home somewhere, because otherwise the demise of 17th before it began is a tremendous a waste of talent and potential.

This makes the second big nonstarter in the category of "Ron Moore's Next Big Sci-Fi Project," after the highly-underrated Virtuality movie/pilot went unsold at Fox.

Wonder Woman

The moment seems right for a new live-action Wonder Woman -- just not, perhaps, this one. For it to work, David E. Kelley would have needed to not just disinter Lynda Carter's heroine and redress her as a corporate executive; the whole concept would need to be reinvented.

Think about it: at root you have a woman who comes to our society from a carefully sheltered cultural preserve: she's strong, but also an outsider. There are massive possibilities there for a Superman-like story, and with Smallville gone the timing was perfect. But Kelley's script seems to have not gone the extra step of injecting original perspective into its revamp, and test audiences gave it and star Adrianne Palicki a big thumbs down -- making it yet another among the reanimated corpses of thirty-year-old genre shows littering the television landscape.


Heavenly was supposed to be a younger, hipper Touched By an Angel, with a legal aid lawyer partnering with an "ex-angel" to help people in need, but I guess that idea didn't really appeal to anyone at the CW, which didn't find a place on the schedule for the series despite the presence of sexy British actor Ben Aldridge and Vampire Diaries veteran Lauren Cohan.

The series is from Richard Hatem (The Gates, The Mothman Prophecies), who gave the word officially on his Facebook page: "Hey Guys -- just doing my duty to check in and report the sad news that CW is not picking up Heavenly. I'll write more later, but I just wanted to thank all of you who sent good wishes and thoughts our way. It meant a lot." It's too bad: Hatem is a genuine talent who seems to have a lot of trouble getting traction on his projects.

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  6. Unsold Pilots - 2011 Edition - What Went Wrong? The Skinny on '17th Precinct', 'Wonder Woman,' and 'Heavenly'

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