Following up with my spring post listing the 75+ TV pilots (or projects that went straight to series) with black actors in starring/lead/series regular roles ordered for the upcoming TV season and beyond (as what was apparently a diversity push adopted by TV networks), it’s time to revisit that March list, with the fall TV season just around the corner, and see which of those projects eventually made it to series, and are set to premiere this fall.
In brief, as you’d expect, the vast majority didn’t make the cut. Typically, once a pilot is shot and edited, the network has to make some decisions after watching each one, specifically, which to run with, which to shelve for possible later use, and which to dump altogether. The percentage of shows that get ordered to series and eventually make it to a TV network’s schedule, varies from station to station. For example, a broadcast network that buys 25 comedy scripts will shoot 12 of them as pilots, and, eventually, only 2 of the 12 make it to series (just over 1%). Cable TV networks are less active, developing far fewer pilots, most of which do eventually make it to series. So the percentage a pilot gets picked up to series are higher with cable TV networks, if only because they develop a lot less than their broadcast network counterparts.
Note that the below list is specifically for the FALL TV season, which is definite at this point, as networks have locked in their schedules for the next 3+ months (although, as we’ve seen in recent seasons, new shows that don’t immediately perform may get canceled after just a few episodes). There are a handful of pilots that were ordered to series (or straight-to-series orders), but won’t actually be on schedule until 2016, typically as mid-season replacements. In the coming months, we’ll find out where each of them will be slotted.
Also some new series debuted over the summer (like “Mr Robinson” and “The Carmichael Show” on NBC, “Zoo” on CBS, AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” and Amazon’s “Hand of God”), and we’ve discussed them throughout, so they aren’t mentioned on this list.
Without further ado, here’s most of what’s left of the list of 75+ initially ordered NEW (not returning) TV projects featuring black actors in starring/lead/series regular roles, along with their premiere dates:
– Aunjanue Ellis co-stars in ABC’s FBI drama-thriller “Quantico” which follows a group of new recruits – one of which could go on to be responsible for a terrorist attack. Premieres: Sunday, Sep. 27 at 10 PM.
– Mehcad Brooks and David Harewood play key supporting roles in the new ‘Supergirl’ series. Premieres: Monday, Oct. 26 at 8:30 PM.
– Jill Marie Jones plays a female lead in Starz original series based on the “Evil Dead” film franchise. Premieres: Saturday, Oct. 31 at 9 PM.
– Jimmy Jean-Louis, will return for NBC’s “Heroes” reboot, titled “Heroes Reborn,” joined by newcomer Judith Shekoni. Premieres: Thursday, Sep. 24 at 8 PM.
– Wesley Snipes is heading to TV for NBC’s “The Player,” which is set in the high stakes world of Las Vegas, where a former sniper turned security expert is drawn into a mysterious conspiracy that forces him to complete a series of heroic challenges in order to save innocent lives. Premieres: Thursday, Sep. 24 at 10 PM.
– S. Epatha Merkerson and Yaya DaCosta are part of an ensembles cast in NBC’s medical drama “Chicago Med,” a spinoff in the mold of the network’s successful “Chicago Fire” series. Premieres: Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 10 PM.
– Tone Bell and Bresha Webb are half of a quad cast in producer Will Packer’s comedy “Truth Be Told,” which examines sex, race and everything else your parents told you never to talk about. Premieres: Friday, Oct. 16 at 8:30 PM.
– Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Ukweli Roach play supporting roles in “Blindspot,” a crime drama which follows what happens when a beautiful woman, with no memories of her past, is found naked in Times Square with her body fully covered in intricate tattoos – a discovery that sets off a vast and complex mystery that immediately ignites the attention of the FBI who begin to follow the road map on her body to reveal a larger conspiracy of crime, while bringing her closer to discovering the truth about her identity. Premieres: Monday, Sep. 21 at 10 PM.
– Before Marvel’s Netflix Luke Cage series premieres next year, the character will make his debut (played by Mike Colter) on the “Jessica Jones” Netflix/Marvel series, which is now officially dated for a Nov 20 release on Netflix.
– Meagan Good stars in Fox’s serial adaptation of ‘Minority Report,” based on the Steven Spielberg movie, which was based on the Philip K. Dick short story. Premieres: Monday, Sep. 21 at 9 PM.
– Morris Chestnut stars in a crime procedural pilot, “Rosewood,” which centers on Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, Jr., a gifted, charismatic private pathologist who can read living and dead bodies like a book. Premieres: Wednesday, Sep. 23 at 8 PM.
– Keke Palmer, Lucien Laviscount, and Niecy Nash are part of an ensemble cast in “Scream Queens,” a 15-episode straight-to-series order for the fall, revolving around a college campus that’s rocked by a series of murders. Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 22 at 8 PM.
– “The Bastard Executioner” cast includes Danny Sapani. Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 15 at 10 PM
– Dominique Tipper & Chad Coleman are part of an ensemble cast in Syfy’s new space opera “The Expanse,” which centers on the crew of a space ship, who discover a derelict vessel which holds a secret that may be devastating to human existence (Tipper is a co-star and series regular, but Coleman only appears in 5 episodes). December 14 at 10 PM is its debut date.
– Osy Ikhile is part of an ensemble cast, playing a lead role in Syfy’s 6-hour miniseries adaptation of author Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End,” which follows a peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule, at the cost of human identity and culture. December 14 will be a big night for Syfy, because this also premieres that evening at 8PM.
Again, this list is for the fall TV season ONLY; of the 75+ pilots ordered in the spring (or projects that went straight to series), in addition to the above 15 that made final cut, there are another small handful that will be mid-season replacements in early 2016. In total, I’d say that there are another 10 or so to look forward to mid-season. But we won’t know with certainty until the home network for each show actually puts dates on them. So, in all, we could approximate that of the 75+ projects initially announced, 25 of them (or about a third) made it through to the end of the assembly line. Not bad, right?
Of course, as I said previously, given how necessary it seems to have become for new shows to perform well early, there’s a chance that some of these won’t make it through their entire first seasons. And those that do, may not return for 2nd seasons.
So let the games begin!