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


The broadcast networks (for the most part) have completed casting the key roles in their 80 plus pilots. Production has begun and, for some, already wrapped. Now comes the hard part — waiting to for network executives to screen the contenders, recast, reshoot and decide which of the drama and comedy pilots will land spots on their primetime lineups for the 2011-12 TV season.

Now, after 10 columns covering 20 pilots — plus countless others the Pilot Pirate has read and tossed into the recycling bin — we’ve selected some of the most promising scripts vying for a place on your television come fall. Keep in mind that many of the scripts reviewed were early drafts and could potentially undergo creative changes should they make it to air.

Most Promising Lesbian Character: Iceland (Fox) 

Directed by Easy A helmer Will Gluck, Fox’s comedy pilot starring Zach Gilford (Off the Map, Friday Night Lights) has a coming out story we haven’t really seen before as both Rose (Krysta Rodriguez) and Jenn (as yet uncast) realize that they’re gay — and have a chemistry that’s undeniable — puts the “it’s about the connection” explanation front and center. It’s just one of the many heartwarming and comedic elements in the story of a group of friends who come together to take care of Mackenzie (Kerry Bishe) after her husband-to-be passes away.

Krysta Rodriguez

Worst Use of Lesbians: I Hate That I Love You (NBC)

A straight couple introduces two of its lesbian friends to one another and what results is both instant attraction and a pregnancy. If that sounds cliché, it’s because it is. While it’s fantastic that there’s a pilot that puts lesbians front and center as the main characters, this isn’t the lesbian equivalent of ABC’s Modern Family. There’s cat jokes, Home Depot-type humor and a very Alice Pieszecki-like “all lesbians know each other and have slept with the same people” joke. If it happens to go to series, look for softball humor in Episode 2.

Best of the Scoobys: Ringer (CBS)

Four Buffy the Vampire Slayer alums have pilots in contention: Eliza Dushku (Faith) has her sports comedy; Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn) is in the untitled Peter Knight project about a group of post-college adults entering the workforce for the first time; and Anthony Head (Giles) has Free Agents, the romantic comedy about two co-workers on the rebound. But it’s Buffy herself who, shocker, comes out the winner on the pilot front with Ringer, in which Sarah Michelle Gellar will play twins both of whom are run. The dialogue is sharp perfectly suited for SMG’s dry and sarcastic delivery. As Buffy would say, it’s dark and twisty and just what you’d want for your favorite slayer.

Most Promising Ensemble: Charlie’s Angels (ABC)

Meet your new Charlie’s Angels: Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights), Rachael Taylor (Grey’s Anatomy) and Annie Ilonzeh (Melrose Place). Not only do the new Angels have the chops for this action-packed script, but they also have the right creative team behind them in Smallville masterminds Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, who know how to navigate and bring out the best from the original source material. The script effectively bridges both the ’70s series as well as the Drew Barrymore films. Plus they cast a young Bosley and you’ll meet Charlie face to face. And did we mention the over-the-top stunts?

Rachael Taylor, Annie Ilonzeh and Minka Kelly

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