Pilot Pirate: The best of the 2011-12 TV season

 
 

Most Likely to Tank With Critics, Women, World: Wonder Woman (NBC)
On paper, you’d look at the casting and be over the moon: Friday Night Lights alum Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman; Elizabeth Hurley as her nemesis with lesbian undertones Veronica Cale; and Rent’s Tracie Thoms as Wonder Woman’s assistant Etta. You’re in, right? But then you hear it’s Ally McBeal and Boston Legal creator David E. Kelley writing the script and not the more fitting Joss Whedon. Then you read rundowns like this and see the porny costume and realize we’d have liked the script better if this were 1994. Wait, no we wouldn’t.

Best Spin on Glee: Playboy (NBC)
Out actress Amber Heard is set to star as a newbie Playboy bunny in this atmospheric ’60s-set musical dramedy for adults. It’s got the style of Mad Men, the mobster appeal of Boardwalk Empire and … live musical acts both at work inside the Playboy Club and at home in the Playboy Mansion, where the talent will likely party into the night alongside The Hef and company. Throw in an excellent lesbian story line and we might have another singing power couple on our hands.

Amber Heard

Best Use of Time Travel: Once Upon a Time (ABC)
From Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz comes the story of Snow White’s … daughter? In a time-travel story. Jennifer Morrison (How I Met Your Mother) stars as the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin, Big Love) and Prince Charming only she doesn’t know it until she meets a boy who shows up claiming to be her son who drags her back to a quaint town where fairy tales are real and time has stopped — because of the Evil Witch’s curse. The script is truly fairest of them all.

Best Police Drama: Prime Suspect (NBC) 
The Maria Bello starrer may be a remake of the British series starring Helen Mirren, but it’s 100 percent fresh for U.S. audiences. Bello is a woman in a man’s world but doesn’t take it lightly. It’s gritty in all the right ways. Other police pilots: Partners, Poe, Ilene Chaiken’s Hail Mary, Rookies, the untitled Ed Redlich John Bellucci project, Cooper & Stone, Grimm, S.I.L.A. and the confounding 17th Precinct, whose casting is amazing but whose plot has more going on than Game of Thrones and Lost combined.

Best comedy: Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (NBC)
Based on Chelsea Handler’s book of the same name, the adaptation stars That ’70s Show‘s Laura Prepon as a young Chelsea who navigates a circle of friends and family from the Hooters-type bar in which she works. Handler is set to cameo — should the pilot get the series pickup — as Prepon’s pregnant older sister. The script is amazingly funny and will likely test the Standards & Practices Department’s limits with some of its raucous humor and wit. The collection of wierdos is impressive and the dialogue is unlike anything on broadcast TV. Plus Dot Jones playing a lesbian bully in the pilot. Close runner-up: Whitney Cummingscomedy project.

Best drama: Pan Am (ABC)
Grab your vintage Pan Am bag and make sure you buckle up after boarding this impressive ride. The ’60s-set soap is Mad Men with a touch of Alias as the so-called night-time soap follows a group of stewardesses as they navigate workplace drama and their complicated personal lives. Christina Ricci stars in her first TV series as Maggie, a stewardess who turns to air travel to escape her beatnik life and see the world so she can effectively change it. Her fellow flight attendants include a spy, a political activist, a macho pilot and a newbie who followed her sister into air travel. There’s romance, intrigue and politics as well as a fantastic potential to tell women’s stories.

For more Pilot Pirate columns, click here. Which of these pilots sounds best to you?

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