For every TV series that a network commissions, countless more pilots and proposals are rejected. In the average year, 500 shows are pitched to each major TV network, with fewer than 20 of these receiving orders for a pilot. Even then, there’s no guarantee that the pilot episode – which is often a multimillion dollar production in itself – will be picked up for a full series. With such a low success rate for producers, it’s inevitable that a few gems may have slipped through the cracks over the years; some failed pilots even paved the way for some of the best TV shows of all time. Today, we’re taking a look at three recent comedy pilots that look unlikely to see a full series despite being seemingly brimming with potential.
The first comedy from Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder creators Shondaland looked nailed on to be picked up by ABC last year, especially considering the involvement of Grey’s cast members Jerrika Hinton and Tessa Ferrer. Wedding themed comedy Toast had an intriguing concept, focusing on the anecdotes told by the friends of lead couple Max (Jono Kenyon) and Page (Hinton) in their wedding toasts, interspersed with humorous flashbacks showing that the stories told weren’t always entirely accurate. Despite commissioning the show for a pilot episode, ABC ultimately passed on the series, leaving Toast networkless and extremely unlikely to be picked up elsewhere. Shonda Rhimes wasted no time in moving on following the news last year, however, with her studio’s period drama Still Star-Crossed and comedy series I’m Judging You both being picked up by the network.
Ryan Firpo’s Luckboxes is a comedy series set in 2009 that tells the coming-of-age story of two brothers, Ariel and Sean, who join an online pro poker stable founded by a mysterious user known as “durp”. Firpo credits the time he spent directing online poker documentary Bet Raise Fold as the primary inspiration for the show and its quirky band of characters – the latter upon which much of Luckboxes’ comedy is based. As stated by top5pokersites, the prevalence of numerous online operators and especially the fact that the WSOP champion of 2003 had qualified through an online tournament has led poker to quickly evolve into one of the world’s most popular card games, creating an industry in itself for such poker news sites. It’s surprising, therefore, that the show’s pilot was ultimately not picked up despite being shopped around last year. Even the added authenticity through the involvement of pro poker player Jason Somerville wasn’t enough to see it receive the green light.
Although the buddy cop genre has been prevalent in American films and TV shows over the past century, a gap certainly exists in the market for a female-led buddy comedy. Starring Getting On and Dancing with the Stars veteran “Niecy” Nash and Flashforward’s Christine Woods, The Enforcers focused on the exploits of its two lead characters as they attempted to make it as police officers, despite coming from two wildly different backgrounds. The show was written by the creators of I Hate My Teenage Daughter, with a pilot picked up by Fox in 2016, but has, thus far, failed to be commissioned as a full series. According to Deadline, Nash’s character MJ is “outspoken and fun” and following the trials and tribulations of the two leads, as they juggled their work life with being single mothers, could have proven to be both humorous and thought-provoking.
With such a low pilot-to-series success rate, it’s likely that 2017 will see even more promising comedy projects fail to see the light of day. Hopefully, their respective creators will continue to persevere, however, and perhaps create something even funnier in the process.