It’s pilot season, and Vulture has posted a rundown of the 20 shows they’re most excited for (plus five more they’re morbidly curious about). Although their list only represents about a third of what’s out there, it gives a good sense of what’s trending in America’s writer’s rooms. We’ve broken down the patterns we’re seeing in new, 2011 programming after the jump.
A new spate of blatantly Mad Men-inspired shows seeks to fill the gap that series will leave until (sigh) 2012. ABC’s Pan Am stars Christina Ricci as a ’60s stewardess (yes, folks, that’s what they called them back then), and on NBC’s mega-hyped Playboy, Amber Heard is a bunny at the Chicago branch of the club, ca. 1963.
’90s teen-star comebacks
There’s the aforementioned Ricci, who we haven’t seen much lately, making a welcome return in Pan Am. ABC’s also snapped up the internet’s favorite self-mocking celeb, James van der Beek, for (at least) the pilot of Apartment 23. Plus, Buffy’s back! Sarah Michelle Gellar will play twins on CBS’s Ringer, a rich girl-prostitute identity switcheroo.
Ginnifer Goodwin, who we could honestly use a break from post-Big Love, is Snow White in ABC’s Once Upon a Time, about a world where fairy-tale characters walk among us. In an untitled CBS pilot directed by Jonathan Demme, meanwhile, Patrick Wilson is a doctor haunted by the ghost of his wife. And NBC’s 17th Precinct is a supernatural police procedural.
More Sex and the City rehashing
SATC creator Darren Star is back as the producer of ABC’s Good Christian Bitches, about a former high-school queen bee who returns to her mean-girl antics after a divorce. And so is its increasingly indefensible writer/director, Michael Patrick King, who’s co-written the pilot for CBS’s Two Broke Girls, a potential exercise in hipstersploitation that features Kat Dennings as part of the titular pair of Brooklyn diner waitresses. And that’s not all we’ll hear from the man who inflicted Carrie Bradshaw on Saudi Arabia. There is, in fact, an exponentially more horrifying-looking King project, which has Don Johnson (yes, really) playing a straight hairdresser (lolz!) in a show titled A Mann’s World (groan). Also on the high-powered, 30-something glamor-job tip, Shonda Rimes stars in ABC’s Damage Control, about a DC publicist. Sounds like Samantha Jones meets The West Wing to us — which means it’s equally likely to be wonderful and terrible.
Cops and CIA agents
Richard Price(!) scripts CBS’s Rookies, which follows six new NYPD officers. Also on CBS, Jim Caviezel (aka Jesus) and Michael Emerson (aka Lost‘s Ben, aka Satan, kinda) are a CIA agent who’s supposed to be dead and the millionaire who’s hired him to investigate violent crimes. Yes, J.J. Abrams is involved. On REM, a detective gets into a car crash and his reality splits into two equally nightmarish outcomes (hey again, Lost fans). Then there’s ABC’s Poe, in which the father of science fiction is a detective in 1840s Boston…
In addition to the Williamsburg-set Two Broke Girls, Fox is trying out The New Girl. We’ll let Vulture spell out the hipster bait for you: “Screenwriter Liz Meriwether (No Strings Attached) teams up with manic pixie dream girl extraordinaire Zooey Deschanel on an inevitably quirky, pop-culture-teeming script. Kanye, Rachel Zoe, Pretty Woman, Tori Amos, and many more get shout-outs in the pilot alone.”
Possibly homophobic/sexist gender role play
Hi again, Don Johnson! And then there’s Eric Roberts who, God help us all, is will stars a “sexually prolific dad and choreographer” on ABC’s Grace. Christina Applegate will star as the career-gal mom to Will Arnett’s (hooray!) house husband on an untitled project for NBC that we’re really hoping will avoid the obvious jokes. Then, there’s ABC’s Work It, a show about men who dress as women to get jobs, which absolutely has to be awful.
Along with Shonda Rimes’s powerful publicist and Christina Applegate’s head of household, Adrianne Palicki will revive Wonder Woman in another NBC pilot. And we can’t imagine Sarah Michelle Gellar won’t do some fan-pleasing ass-kicking on Ringer.