Television shows come and go, and now a fresh crop of potential fall shows are upon us. We’ve got some promising new series, a backdoor pilot hitching off the end of a popular show, and of course a few along the lines of “what if [insert science fiction thing] had more cops?” Here are the ones that stood out to us the most this year, whether we liked them or not.
This isn’t exactly a banner year for sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book pilots. Last time we looked at TV pilots, it seemed like every network was trying to make their Westworld or Black Mirror, but this time around they’re all too busy looking to tearjerkers like This Is Us to attempt speculative fiction. However, there are some gems (and duds) that have still managed to peek through.
We chose to focus on shows in the io9-friendly department, with one exception for a show that’s so ridiculous it might as well as be self-insert fan fiction for a very, very specific group of people. Be sure to let us know in the comments which ones you’re most psyched about.
Finally, the CW is addressing one of the biggest problems facing superheroes today: new parenthood. Not all those times adult versions of future children come back to the past to help save their future (that keeps happening for some reason), but actual little ones. In Superman & Lois, Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch return to their CW roles of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, tackling life as working parents—with one of them just happening to be the most powerful hero alive. Following in the footsteps of Black Lightning, it’s a fun idea and one that I think will help mature the DC CW-verse, especially for older fans who might have kids of their own. The CW has ordered this one to series, so we can be expecting it this year.
You may never know what twists and turns to expect from a Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa show, but there’s always one thing you can count on: It won’t be boring. The Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina showrunner may be heading to ABC with The Brides, a modern retelling of the Dracula story from the point-of-view of the bloodsucker’s three vampiric companions. Aguirre-Sacasa has been trying to make this show for years with no success, but—given how Dracula is a hot-ticket item right now, most recently headlining a limited series on BBC and Netflix—the timing could finally be right. This series promises to be a “family drama” focusing on this very nontraditional family, which sounds like the perfect recipe for deliciously evil storytelling.
Fox is leaning into its strengths with a new adult animated series, this one coming from a largely female-led team, including Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) and Clea DuVall (American Horror Story). Previously known as Therapy Dog, Housebroken is about a group of neighborhood animals who are navigating everyday life with their neurotic, anxiety-fueled human owners. Featuring a dynamic cast that includes Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jason Mantzoukas, Tony Hale, and others, it could be something special. Given how Fox gave this show a series order, seems the network is confident too.
Star Trek executive producer Alex Kurtzman is taking on Silence of the Lambs with Clarice (which has also been ordered to series). Taking place a year after the iconic horror film, the series will take a deep dive into Clarice Starling as she navigates crime and politics in Washington D.C.—all while confronting her own experiences with Hannibal Lector. There are plenty of theories about how her time with Hannibal impacted her, including one that insists she was being mind-controlled to become a government assassin, so now will be the time we see whether those come to fruition.
On the surface, Debris sounds like a poor attempt to clone The X-Files mixed with Manifest, NBC’s other successful sci-fi show. It’s about two agents from different parts of the world coming together to investigate an alien wreckage that has “mysterious effects on humankind.” However, what really raised our eyebrows is that it comes from J.H. Wyman, the creator of Almost Human, better known as that show starring Karl Urban about robot cops that was pretty good except when it was awful. This could end up being something interesting, or it could turn into procedural hot garbage.
On January 21, the CW aired the penultimate episode of Arrow, which also served as a backdoor pilot for a potential Green Arrow and the Canaries spinoff show. Taking place in 2040, it’s about Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara) teaming up with the time-displaced Canaries to keep the future Star City safe. We’re always down for female-led superhero shows—especially because Birds of Prey is making us hangry for more femme team-ups—but this one could fly south. Having the show take place in 2040 Star City, which has seen two decades of no crime, makes a lot of the stakes from the other CW shows feel meaningless. Plus, we’ve yet to see McNamara prove herself as a capable lead. This show could change that, but her performance on Arrow so far gives us pause.
David Appelbaum, who worked on The Mentalist and that weird pro-surveillance show Wisdom of the Crowd, is working on a series that basically sounds like Land of the Lost except it’s not. A sinkhole opens up in Los Angeles, swallowing half of a four-person family and stranding them in an “unexplainable primeval world” alongside a group of strangers. They have to work together to figure out where they are, how they can survive, and then how to find their way home. Networks have been trying to make a modern TV version of Land of the Lost for years, so will this be the ticket? Given what happened with Terra Nova, we have doubts.
Hey, remember how last year NBC tried to combine Black Mirror with CSI: Science Fiction in that weird Reveries show? Looks like the network is back in action, this time heading into the not-at-all-tricky field of time travel. Echo combines the premises of Minority Report and Quantum Leap and adds the one required ingredient for any network television show: police procedural. It’s about a team of investigators who solve high-profile crimes by sending people back in time, into the body of the victim, to solve their own murder before it happens. How does it work? Who knows. What are the consequences of taking over strangers’ lives? Who cares. It’s crime prevention, baby, anything’s legal.
This prequel, which is also launching as a backdoor pilot on The 100 (which is also ending this season), takes place right after the nuclear apocalypse and is about the first group of survivors. I guess this means the whole series will take place in underground shelters. Otherwise they’d, you know, die. All we have to say to this is please stop trying to make The 100 happen, CW. It stopped happening three seasons ago.
Much like last year’s The Unicorn (which is magically still on the air), American Auto continues the trend of network television turning reality into fantasy for the benefit of folks who probably wouldn’t deserve it otherwise. It’s a Detroit-based workplace comedy from The Office writer Justin Spitzer that focuses on a group of poor, disenfranchised...auto industry executives. Yes, those are the people who truly matter the most after Detroit’s auto industry crisis of 2008. Specifically, it’s about the executives of a major auto company trying to “rediscover the company identity amidst a rapidly changing industry.” Detroiters, an actually interesting Comedy Central series about Detroit’s recovery after years of greed, gets cancelled... and instead we’re stuck with this?
Correction: A previous version of this article said Terra Nova was on ABC when it was on Fox. This has been fixed and we apologize for the error.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.