SFF Pilot Watch August 3

This is a heads up on the sff pilots after Comic Con and before fall season start.

Latest update of the show is stated if it’s different from this post’s.

Updated August 30 with an order to series for Touch
Updated August 28 with Touch development deal with BBC
Updated August 26 with Three Inches casting news
Updated August 25 with Three Inches casting news and a ‘Locke & Key’ development deal. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency pilot development on BBC4.
Updated August 12 with Alphas casting news
Updated August 10 with NBC Zombies vs. Vampires script
Updated August 9 with Syfy Development slate (Syfy)
Updated August 6 with Three Inches casting news (Deadline)
Updated August 3 with new pilot order U.S.S. Alabama (FX)

Ordered to Pilots

These have been ordered to pilots but not all pilots are shown to the public.

  • Alabama (FX) – comedy pilot set in space from the makers of Reno 911. The show is part-scripted and part-improvised, just like Reno 911. (THR) The pilot is set a thousand years in the future, aboard the United Nations peacekeeping spaceship: The USS Alabama. It follows the crew, who are in the sixth year of the their seven-year mission to maintain peace and enforce treaties between planets in their jurisdiction: (Deadline) Sector 187-G. The show will follow the heart- pounding action as our crew visits hostile planets, meets alien life-forms, and tries to have sex with each other in their tiny, metal bunk beds. The pilot will be shot in the Los Angeles area in September.(FX) Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon are in the cast (tfc)
  • Alphas (Syfy) – Superhero drama.
  • Changelings (CW) – Probably dead. Also known as Betwixt. Supernatural drama.
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC4) It has been confirmed that BBC Four is to pilot an adaptation of Douglas Adams’s novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The book is to be adapted for TV by Howard Overman, the creator of Channel 4 comedy drama Misfits, and will be made for BBC Four by ITV Studios in 2011.The science-fiction comedy is about a private detective who believes in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. As a result, Gently’s “Holistic Detective Agency” solves the whole crime and finds the whole person, but because business is so low on the ground his main business tends to involve finding missing cats. It was a fun read not on level with Hitchhikers’ but good enough. The writers spill that they used the basics from the book to write a new story.

Non Genre Pilots

  • Charlie’s Angeles (ABC) drama pilot expected summer 2010.

Ordered to script

These shows have been in development the last year.

  • Ball and Chain (Syfy) After months of emotional tumult, Edgar and Mallory call their relationship quits. As they say their final goodbyes, the ex-lovers are nearly hit by a meteorite that, it turns out, imbues them with extraordinary powers. Unfortunately, the powers only work when they are in close proximity to each other. Though the last thing they want to do is stay together, they’ll need to try if they hope to overcome the newly arrived other-worldly forces that threaten to destroy them and anyone else who gets in the way. Based on a comic (Turning in to SCiFi TV)
  • The Clinic (Sundance) set in the near future, a medical researcher runs a controversial clinic in a world that is pushing the boundaries of human medical testing.
  • Cyber Crimes (CBS) drama about a newly formed government agency that fights the modern onslaught of internet- and technology-driven offenses
  • Department Zero (ABC) techno-thriller (zombie) pilot expected summer 2010.
  • Fallen (Fox) drama about a group of vigilante “fallen” angels who take down the criminal and the corrupt in New York while falling in love, battling demons and seeking their own personal revenge.
  • Ghostworld (ABC) – Supernatural drama
  • Howl (Fox) drama described as an epic family saga about warring families of werewolves in a small Alaskan town.
  • Humanitas (HBO) medical drama set in a time when major advances in medicine have created dilemmas for doctors and fanned fears that a devastating pandemic is imminent.
  • Human Relations (Syfy) The Office meets Men in Black in this project featuring an office Temp who slowly discovers that his off-kilter and odd-ball bosses at the strange hi-tech “ad agency” where he works are really aliens working on a plan to destroy the Earth.
  • Legendary (Syfy) A 1/2-hour single-camera series in which Kevin Sorbo plays an exaggerated version of himself… a former syndicated television series star. When a fan approaches Sorbo to enlist his skills in combating the underworld mythological creatures that threaten to destroy Los Angeles, an unlikely partnership is formed. Together, they use their intimate knowledge of the myths of Hercules to defeat a myriad of beasts.
  • Locke & Key (Fox) will be written by Friedman who will also serve as showrunner. Based on Joe Hill’s comic, the project centers on Keyhouse, an unlikely New England family estate where brothers Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke uncover fantastic doors that transform all who walk through them and a hate-filled and relentless creature. Friedman, Kurtzman, Orci, Spielberg and DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank are executive producing. For the upcoming development cycle (deadline)
  • Mars (Comedy Central) Eric Slovin and Leo Allen (“Saturday Night Live,” “Important Things with Demetri Martin”) bring their hilarious vision of life on a space station to the airwaves. It’s awkward office politics as usual in Deep Space, with a twist – the whole thing might just be a social experiment funded by an eccentric zillionaire with a love for all things astral.
  • Me and Lee (Syfy) In this 1/2-hour single-camera series, a down-on-his-luck 20-something undergoes back surgery, only to find that the procedure did not go well. Enter Lee Majors, who claims he has the perfect solution. He entices the young man into his ultra high-tech lab and makes him bionic. Now intrinsically bound together, Majors tries helping his new partner get his life back on track.
  • Murmurs (CBS) drama set in a world where time travel is a reality and the agency that detects and corrects alterations in time called murmurs, ensuring that history remains unchanged.
  • Nocturnal Misson (Comedy Central) is an out-of-this-world comedy that stars Chris D’Elia (“Monk”, “Boston Legal”), who has been sent to Earth to save the planet. Without realizing there is a difference between someone’s on-line persona and who they really are, the alien brain trust has identified super-nerd Moshe Kasher (“Chelsea Lately”, “Live at Gotham”), to impregnate as many women as possible.
  • Nola Rising (NBC) drama about a down-on-his-luck private investigator and a charismatic ex-con capable of being inhabited by ghosts who become unlikely partners to help solve the problems of new orleans citizens, living or dead.
  • Orion (syfy) National Treasure meets Firefly in this swashbuckling space opera about an adventurous female relic hunter and her team as they hunt down — and sometimes steal — valuable and powerful objects to sell on the black market, all while staying one step ahead of the bounty hunters hot on their heels
  • Plymouth Rock (CW) drama about young people on a ship traveling to a distant planet in order to colonize and save the human race.
  • Pulp Bromance (Epix) A one-hour action/dramedy from Michael Davis (Shoot Em’ Up), Don Murphy, Susan Montford, and Fox Television Studios based on a book series about a pulp bromance between two assassins who face the good, the bad, and the unknown in the most dangerous city in the world.
  • Sherwood (Syfy) In this “Robin Hood” story for the 23rd century, a young man of privilege teams up with a misfit spaceship crew to right the wrongs of his family.
  • The World Inside (HBO) drama about about a grim vision of the future where overpopulation has run amok, and people live in carefully controlled urban centers where frustration and anger are eliminated, sex is rampant and fertility is the most prized human attribute.
  • Touch (BBC) In Touch the vengeful dead walk on Earth and only uber-geek Paul can save the living from a fiery Armageddon. Paul is an ordinary young man from an ordinary town who discovers an extraordinary ability – he can see the dead. As he comes to terms with a nightmare reality he meets others who share his powers and share a horrifying secret – the spirits are waging war on the living. Mankind will be destroyed. But the most terrifying twist is yet to come – Paul discovers that only he holds the key to the world’s salvation.
    Ben Stephenson says: “Touch started life as one of our drama pilots but quickly showed such imagination and energy that we asked the hugely talented Jack Thorne to write five more episodes and Touch the series was born.” Ordered to series.
    Touch is a 6×60 minute series from BBC Drama Production, commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC Three, and Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning. Casting is still to be confirmed, the series will film next year, the producer is Caroline Skinner and executive producer is Sue Hogg.
  • Zeros (Syfy) In this 1/2-hour single-camera satire, when the zombie population of Marshall City overcomes the 30-foot barrier separating the infected people from the rest of the city, the Zombie Extermination and Removal Operations company (the Zeros) are called in to keep the peace. When they can get out of their own way long enough to focus on a case, they are pretty effective with very unorthodox methods.
  • Zombies vs. Vampires (NBC) is described as a “fun buddy cop procedural.” It is set in a world where zombies are a part of society, controllable with medication. The show’s two leads (one secretly a vampire) are cops assigned to a squad specifically formed to deal with “zombie crime”. Winsberg, McG and Peter Johnson are executive producing. (Deadline)

Non genre scripts

  • Fort Bush (Spike TV) Two misfit U.S. Army drill sergeants try to maintain their hard-partying lifestyle despite the arrival of an uptight new captain with a grudge. They must utilize unorthodox methods to turn an endless stream of motley recruits into the greatest fighting force on earth.
  • Greysmith (TNT) Based on the life of cartoonist, writer and part-time private detective Robert Graysmith (author of Zodiac and many other books), this series will follow the renaissance man himself as he uses an unconventional approach and unusual skills to solve crimes.
  • Open Books (CBS) comedy which revolves around a book editor and her circle of friends.

Alphas (Syfy) superhero drama

It is easy to think of this is yet another superhero show but it has some redeeming features, with the connection to CIA, FBI and Pentagon, the quirky members and the different kind of superpowers the heroes have. On the other hand it is just another plain-cloth superhero drama.

Alphas started life as Section 8 which went to ABC after a bidding war in 2007 but there it cooled off during the writers strike and now Syfy has dusted it off and renamed. Production of the 90 minute Pilot is scheduled to begin in Toronto August 2010 and Syfy is reported to look at a 2011 release. Will the writer behind  X-Men: The Last Stand make this a great show? I am skeptical. The pilot will be directed by Jack Bender (Lost).

Alphas follows a team of ordinary citizens who possess extraordinary and unusual mental skills. Using physical feats and uniquely advanced mental abilities, this unlikely team takes the law into their own hands and uncovers what the CIA, FBI and Pentagon have not been able or willing to solve. These gifted individuals must balance their quirky personalities and disparate backgrounds with their not always visible powers as they work to solve crimes, stop the ticking time bomb and catch the enemy


  • David Strathairn as Leigh Rosen the overseer/team leader/prescribing doctor and all around mother hen to the team: an eccentric, absent-minded professor at times, who is also a cunning and manipulative power-player willing to bend the rules in pursuit of his objectives.
  • Ryan Cartwright (Bones) as Gary Bell a member of the team who has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. His Alpha ability allows him to “read” wireless transmissions passing through the ether – e-mails, cell phone communications, television signals, etc.
  • Warren Christie (Happy Town, October Road) as Christian Hicks a new recruit on the team with a history of psychological problems, drug abuse and an anti-authoritarian streak whose Alpha skill is hyperkinesis – near-perfect dexterity and hand/eye coordination.
  • Malik Yoba (Defying Gravity, New York Undercover) as Bill Harken a former FBI agent from working class roots. Harken’s Alpha skill allows him to intentionally activate a “fight-or-flight mechanism” producing a power surge of adrenaline giving him increased strength, speed and immunity from pain.
  • Laura Mennell (Watchmen) as Nina Theroux a complicated team member, seductive, intelligent and confident, Nina’s Alpha ability allows her to influence people into doing whatever she wishes but her power can sometimes spin out of control. Her skill also comes with a personal drawback in that she can never be sure if anyone’s feelings for her are real. Nina was the first team member enlisted by Dr. Rosen to whom she remains extremely loyal.
  • Azita Ghanizada will have a regular role if the show goes forward as a series. She plays Rachel who, from an early age, has been able to “hyper-intensify” her senses, one at a time—vision, hearing, taste, and smell. Her mother and father—who are conservative parents—thought she was cursed and discouraged this unique and amazing ability. Overly sensitive—literally—Rachel has always felt ashamed and rejected. With Dr. Rosen’s help and encouragement, she’s learning to appreciate her skill and grow increasingly confident and adventurous.
  • Callum Keith Rennie plays Don Wilson, a Washington bureaucrat, and Lee Rosen’s superior and contact inside the Pentagon.

[go back to genre pilots]

Changelings (CW) supernatural drama

Drama about three teenagers who learn of their true, “changeling” nature and their uncertain, intertwined destinies after attending a secret summer rave in the woods. They have finished filming the Pilot. Changed name from Betwixt in May 2010.

According to the Futon Critics First Look of the pilot doesn’t have much going for it. their bottom line: “If there’s a show in here, I can’t see it“.

  • Allison Miller as Celine Halstead
  • Austin Butler as Cameron Brower
  • Blair Redford as James “Moth” Motherwell
  • Brandon Jay MacLaren as Steiner
  • David Gallagher as Tim Bleeker
  • Jessy Schram as Morgan Brower
  • Josh Henderson as Nix Uyarak
  • Joshua Bowman as Luke McGill
  • Tessa Thompson as Jenny Morello
  • Chelah Horsdal as Vanessa, Celine’s mother
  • Tyler McClendon as Michael, Celine’s father

[go back to genre pilots]

Department Zero (ABC) techno thriller

It is based on the best-selling Joe Ledger novels by Jonathan Maberry (It should be said that those books are Zombie related – My comment). Described as is a high-octane techno-thriller, the project centers on the Department of Military Sciences – a special unit that fights enemies armed with cutting-edge technology.

[go back to genre pilots]

Ghostworld (ABC) ghost thriller

Written by What About Brian creator Dana Stevens, is about a ghost on the other side who helps an ambitious young female homicide detective solve crimes in the hopes of uncovering clues to his own life and death and centers on the mysterious, intense and sometimes infuriating connection the two feel toward each other. [go back to genre pilots]

Ghost/Alien (Comedy Central) comedy

This sounds rather hit or miss. There has been no news in a while on this show so it might be over.

It centers on Trey Hamburger and his loyal best friend, Mike Stevens – a couple of regular reefer-loving guys living the good life in Leonard, Michigan, until everything goes awry. “Ghosts/Aliens” follows Trey and Mike’s quest to expose the truth about the existence of ghosts and aliens.

Robert Hamburger on twitter: @RobertHamburger


  • Allan McLeod as Derek Wood
  • Joey Kern as Trey Hamburger
  • Kaylee DeFer as Dawn Bayard
  • Keir O’Donnell as Mike Stevens
  • Nathan Barnatt as Jeff Trenton
  • Rebecca Wisocky as Deb Hamburger

Our Show (NBC)

Comedy a group of sci-fi fanboys in a small town who shoot their own version of a canceled tv show.


  • Dan Bakkedahl
  • Jonathan Sadowski as Jack
  • Lauren Weedman as Tammy
  • Mahaley Hessam as Maya
  • Maria Thayer as Ella
  • Nate Corddry as Mike
  • P. J. Byrne
  • Tyler James Williams as Brad

Three Inches (Syfy) Superheroes

Syfy has ordered the 90-minute pilot Three Inches from writer Harley Peyton (Twin Peaks) it was announced today by Mark Stern, Executive Vice President of Development for Syfy. The action-adventure/fantasy will be produced by Fox Television Studios and Executive Producer Bob Cooper, whose Landscape Entertainment is producing. J.J. Jamieson heads up television for Landscape Entertainment. Peyton also serves as executive producer. In Three Inches, professional daydreamer and underachiever, Walter, is struck by lightning, and develops a unique “super” power — the ability to move any object using just his mind… but only a distance of three inches. He’s soon recruited by a covert team of superheroes each gifted with their own extraordinarily ordinary abilities. Together, the unlikely band of heroes proves that “super” is simply a state of mind.

  • James Marsters (Buffy the vampire slayer, Caprica, Smallville) has been cast as Troy, the mysterious leader
  • Canadian actor Noah Reid has landed the lead, Walter.
  • Stephanie Jacobsen (Melrose Place) plays a beautiful “super” hero who has the ability to shape the emotions of anyone she meets at close range
  • Naoko Mori (Torchwood) plays a woman who can duplicate and recite any sounds she hears.

[go back to genre pilots]