Still, the very competitive American system does mean that every year we get a slew of new shows hitting the airwaves, thus offering TV fans a huge sugar rush of drama/comedy, and it can be entertaining just to see what grabs people and what gets canned within weeks. For every breakout success there are a dozen miserable failures, so what will be a hit and what will be shit in 2012/13? (I should patent that phrase.)
Well, it's too early to tell, of course, but based on the details released for a number of in-production pilots, you can form an early opinion based on concept, cast, crew, network, and a show's pedigree. It may be a very premature opinion that doesn't really amount to much (because good ideas can be executed badly and apparently bad ideas can prove to be enormous fun), but it's still fun to speculate...
Below are 28 US network pilots that caught my eye this season. I'm not saying all of these will be great TV shows, or even good, but they each have something that should be worth tuning in for. (If only to witness creative carnage.) It's not even certain that everything below will get picked up for a series by their respective networks, so some of these pilots will be lucky to get leaked online. But some will become lynchpins of the 2012/13 season in the US, and a few may even be fantastic pieces of art in their own right. You never know... so let's take a look:
666 PARK AVENUE (ABC, Warner Bros.)
Adapter: David Wilcox (Fringe)
Director: Alex Graves (Terra Nova)
Outline: Supernatural drama based on the books by Gabriella Pierce, about a young couple who move into a plush New York residence and encounter supernatural events.
Cast: Terry O'Quinn (Lost), Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives), Robert Buckley (One Tree Hill) Mercedes Masohn (The Finder), Rachael Taylor (Grey's Anatomy) & Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters)
Gut Feeling: TV book adaptions tend to have a good first season because they can follow a pre-existing storyline—while punching up the good stuff and burying weaker aspects (see True Blood, Dexter, et al)—so I hope this show follows that tendency. We could get a few good seasons out of this, right? 666 Park Ave has also been described as Rosemary's Baby-meets-The Devil Wears Prada, and that sounds fun to me.
BEAUTY & THE BEAST (ABC Studios)
Creator: Jonathan Steinberg (Jericho)
Director: Yves Simoneau (V)
Cast: Ruth Bradley (Primeval), Darius Campbell, Chris Egan (Kings), F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus) & Wendy Crewson (24).
Outline: The first of two Beauty & The Beast-inspired pilots this year (there are always two projects with near-identical concepts, it's the law), this sounds like the more imaginative interpretation. It's set in a mythical world where a tough princess (Ruth Bradley) discovers an "unlikely connection with a mysterious beast" (ex-Pop Idol contestant Darius Campbell) Who's also married to Natasha Henstridge, the lucky blighter.
Gut Feeling: I guess it's good ABC's B&B is trying something new, but the talent involved set alarm bells ringing—especially the cheapness of UK talent like Bradley and Campbell. The 2011/12 season found some success with fairy tale properties (Grimm, Once Upon A Time), so it looks like ABC are hoping the bubble hasn't burst yet.
ARROW (The CW, Berlanti Prods, Warner Bros.)
Showrunners: Marc Guggenheim (FlashForward), Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg.
Director: David Nutter (The X Files)
Cast: Stephen Amell (Hung), Susanna Thompson (Once & Again), Katie Cassidy (Gossip Girl), Willa Holland (The OC), Susanna Thompson (Dragonfly), Jamey Sheridan (Law and Order: Criminal Intent), Colin Donnell (Pan Am), Colin Salmon (Todd Margaret) & Paul Blackthorne (The River)
Outline: Update of the DC Comics vigilante superhero Green Arrow, aka billionaire playboy Oliver Queen.
Gut Feeling: This year's The Cape? I sure hope not. Another long-running Smallville? Well,that's what The CW have their fingers crossed for. I suspect this won't be anything special, but the presence of Harper's Island hottie Katie Cassidy will lure me in. TV pilot specialist David Nutter usually delivers entertaining openers, too.
GOTHAM (ABC, 20th Century TV)
Creator: Michael Green (The River)
Director: Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend)
Cast: Megan Ketch, Lennie James (Jericho), Brian Cox & Barry Sloane.
Outline: This pilot concerns a female cope (Megan Ketch) who discovers a magical world existing parallel to everyday New York City, shortly after investigating an unsolvable case, finding herself recruited into a magical division of the NYPD...
Gut Feeling: This could again tap into Once Upon A Time and Grimm vibe, which likewise deal with hidden worlds co-existing with our own. This also has very strong similarities to the failed pilot 17th Precinct from Ronald D. Moore about a world where magic is more dominant than science, which wasn't picked up last season by NBC. Do you think Michael Green simply noted a great idea and gave it a shot himself?
THE SELECTION (The CW, Warner Bros.)
Creators: Elisabeth Craft & Sarah Frain (The Secret Circle)
Director: Mark Piznarski
Cast: Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), Leonor Varela (Blade II), Martin Donovan (Boss), Ethan Peck (10 Things I Hate About You) & Sean Patrick Thomas (Ringer)
Outline: Sci-fi romantic drama about a woman living 300 years in the future who's chosen to potentially become the new queen of a warring nation after winning a lottery, which gives her the chance to date a prince alongside 34 other women.
Gut Feeling: Bizarre-sounding premise, but one that piques your interest. Is it The Hunger Games-meets-The Bachelorette? It comes from Secret Circle writers and airs on The CW, so my hopes aren't very high, but this could do surprisingly well for the network. If only because it shares similarities with the aforementioned Hunger Games.
LAST RESORT (ABC, Sony Pictures TV)
Creator: Shawn Ryan (The Shield)
Director: Martin Campbell (Casino Royale)
Cast: Daniel Lissing, Andre Braugher (Homicide), Autumn Reeser (No Ordinary Family), Daisy Betts (Harry's Law), Scott Speedman (Felicity), Camille de Pazzis, Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse), Bruce Davison (Covert Affairs), Jessy Schram (Once Upon A Time) & Max Adler (Glee)
Outline: Near-future thriller about nuclear submarine the USS Nevada, whose crew become fugitives after disobeying a command to launch their nukes on the island of Sainte Marina. The crew dock on an island containing a NATO listening station and declare themselves a sovereign state with nuclear capability.
Gut Feeling: Fascinating high-concept idea, like a Tom Clancy version of Gilligan's Island! Shawn Ryan hasn't had much luck on TV after five seasons of The Shield, with Terriers and The Chicago Code prematurely axed, so is this third time lucky?
ONLY FOOLS & HORSES (ABC Studios)
Cast: John Leguizamo (Romeo & Juliet), Dustin Ybarra (Hop), Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future) & Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911!)
Outline: The dreaded US remake of the classic UK sitcom, about two streetwise brothers and their attempts to become millionaires by selling dodgy goods.
Gut Feeling: Who knows if Only Fools will work for Americans, seeing as the original was so utterly British in nature and execution. I'm certain UK audiences will find it laughable and uncomfortable viewing because the original's become part of our modern culture. The casting of John Leguizamo suggests a very different approach and tone, so maybe this will more resemble the recent Shameless remake? Doc Brown in the Lennard Pearce role as Grandad? Crazy.
PENOZA (ABC, Endemol Studios)
Showrunner: Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter) & Howard Klein (Parks & Recreation)
Cast: Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill), Lee Tergesen (Oz), Luke Goss (Blade II), Erin Moriarty & Lee Tergesen.
Outline: Remake of a Danish TV series, Penoza concerns a widow called Marta Walraven (Radha Mitchell), whose criminal husband is murdered, prompting her to take over his crime syndicate in order to keep her family safe.
Gut Feeling: This sounds like a good premise on paper and I love Mitchell, but who knows if ABC will have equivalent success to AMC in adapting a Danish drama.
ZERO HOUR (ABC Studios)
Showrunner: Paul Scheuring (Prison Break)
Cast: Anthony Edwards (ER), Scott Michael Foster (Greek), Carmen Ejogo (Kidnapped), Michael Nyqvist (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Jacinda Barrett & Carmen Ejogo.
Outline: Thriller about a journalist called Hank Foley (Anthony Edwards), writing for 'Modern Skeptics' magazine, who finds himself embroiled in a huge conspiracy after his wife is kidnapped and he discovers a treasure map hidden in her antique clock.
Gut Feeling: Sounds like a network trying to do a more commercially viable Rubicon. I don't know how much tolerance I have for conspiracy thrillers these days, as they're so very overexposed and demand long-term commitment you're wary of giving US network shows (which can be cancelled at the drop of a hat). I'll watch because Paul Scheuring proved he can made compelling TV out of utterly tosh with Prison Break, but I'm braced for a one-season wonder at the most.
BEAUTY & THE BEAST (The CW)
Adapters: Jennifer Levin (Without A Trace) & Sherri Cooper (Brothers & Sisters)
Director: Gary Fleder
Cast: Kristin Kreuk (Smallville), Austin Basis (Life Unexpected) & Jay Ryan (Terra Nova)
Outline: Our second Beauty & The Beast-inspired pilot of the 2012/13 season, but this one is a direct update of the successful 1980s TV series that starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. I wonder if some cameo's are planned for those actors...
Gut Feeling: It's our second B&B adaptation of the season, but at least this one has the 1980s TV series as a spiritual guide. In fact, the creator/producers of that old show are involved with this remake. That doesn't mean this will be a worthy and successful update, of course. Just ask the folks behind the V remake.
THE CARRIE DIARIES (The CW, Fake Empire/Warner Bros.)
Showrunner: Amy B. Harris (Sex & The City)
Director: Miguel Arteta (Six Feet Under)
Cast: AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge To Terabithia), Matt Letscher (Eli Stone), Austin Butler (Life Unexpected) & Chloe Bridges (90210)
Outline: Prequel to HBO's Sex & the City, set in the 1980s, which is a coming-of-age story for Manhattan high school student Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb).
Gut Feeling: I actually have more interest in this than I ever did SATC. I'm a fan of Robb and get a kick out of 1980s nostalgia, so maybe this will be an unexpected treat. I just doubt it helps being a prequel, because a CW show starring teenage characters won't be featuring HBO levels of nudity and profanity. Given this comes from Gossip Girl's Amy Harris, I predict this will probably feel more like an '80s version of that show. It's based on a favourably-reviewed book by Candace Bushnell, as was SATC, so there's probably a good chance The Carrie Diaries can deliver a half-decent first season at least.
CULT (The CW)
Showrunners: Rockne S. O'Bannon (Farscape)
Director: Jason Ensler (Franklin & Bash)
Cast: Jessica Lucas (Melrose Place), Alona Tal (Supernatural), Robert Knepper (Prison Break) & Matt Davis (The Vampire Diaries)
Outline: This pilot, originally developed back in 2005 for The WB, revolves around a "rash of disappearances and a likely murder" that are apparently being committed by fans copying crimes on a TV show called Cult. It's up to Cult's production assistant Chloe to investigate with the help of her blogger/journalist friend Jeff.
Gut Feeling: Oh God, who knows what this will be like. It sounds like total madness, but may be fun.
JOEY DAKOTA (The CW)
Adapter: Bert Royal (Easy A)
Cast: Craig Horner (Legend Of The Seeker), Amber Stevens (Greek), Scott Wolf (V), Brooklyn Sundano & Leah Renee
Outline: Based on an Israeli TV show, Joey Dakota concerns a filmmaker who travels back in time to the 1990s and falls in love with the rock star she's making a documentary about. After returning to the present, she has to find a way to reunite with her past lover to prevent his untimely death.
Gut Feeling: I'm not sure how this is going to work based on that odd setup, but time-travel's one of my favourite sub-genre's so I'll be checking this out. It also helps that the US has a great track record with adapting Israeli shows, on the heels of In Treatment and Homeland.
'UNTITLED KEVIN WILLIAMSON DRAMA' (Fox, Warner Bros., Outerbanks Entertainment)
Showrunner: Kevin Williamson (Scream, The Vampire Diaries)
Director: Marcos Siega (The Vampire Diaries)
Cast: James Purefoy (Rome), Kevin Bacon (Footloose), Shawn Ashmore (X-Men), Valorie Curry, Adam Canto, Natalie Zea (Justified), Jeananne Goossen (Alcatraz) & Maggie Grace (Lost)
Outline: Thriller about an escaped serial killer (James Purefoy) who uses modern technology to create a murderous cult, with an FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) embroiled in the investigation.
Gut Feeling: Kevin Williamson can run hot (Scream) and cold (Cursed), although The Vampire Diaries suggests he's happier with TV as a medium. The premise sounds utterly bonkers, but that could make for a brilliant TV show. Or a train wreck.
WORKING CLASS HERO (20th Century Fox)
Showrunner: Mike Barker (American Dad!)
Outline: Animated comedy about a world where superheroes exist, but their heroics are used for low-paid government jobs. In particular we meet a patriarch (Patton Oswalt) whose own powers are far inferior to his co-workers and family.
Gut Feeling: Did someone get bored waiting for that No Heroics remake? This sounds like that one-series UK sitcom meets The Incredibles. Could be good, because I think traditional cape-and-mask superheroes work better in animation than live-action, but it mostly depends on what style of humour is employed. It comes from American Dad's Mike Barker, which could be an indicator of Seth Macfarlane-style nuttiness.
BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (NBC)
Showrunner: Michael McDonald
Director: Stephen Hopkins (24)
Cast: Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), James Murray (Primeval), Cody Christian, Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), David Conrad, Tovah Feldshuh, Patrick Heusinger, Andrea Parker, Jud Tylor, Megalyn Echikunwoke & Madisen Beaty
Outline: Sci-fi drama set in a near-future where robotic families serve humanity, until some of them become self-aware. In particular, this series concerns a young woman falling in love with one of the "Mechanicals" (Cody Christian) invented by her father.
Gut Feeling: I love the sound of this show, even if it's hardly fresh and original material. If done well, this could be a compelling robot uprising movie that gets the jump on upcoming movies like Robopocalypse. I just hope this isn't another Caprica, where things move so slowly the audience abandon it.
FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER (NBC, Howard Klein/Big Talk Television)
Cast: Allison Janney (The West Wing), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Kevin Bigley, David Koechner, Gary Anthony Williams (Boston Legal), Gil Ozeri & Aya Cash.
Outline: US remake of the UK sitcom about two thirtysomething brothers who traditionally visit their Jewish parents every Friday for dinner.
Gut Feeling: I like the UK show, but was worried about its obvious limitations over a mere six-episode run. God knows how will the concept will cope with the demands of the US network system! Greg Daniels managed to adapt The Office for US audiences to great success, so I assume he's thought of a way. I can already imagine Allison Janney and Tony Shalhoub being much funnier than their British counterparts, have to admit.
REVOLUTION (NBC, Warner Bros., Bad Robot)
Creators: JJ Abrams (Lost, Fringe) & Eric Kripke (Supernatural)
Director: Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Cast: Stars Tim Guinee (The Good Wife), Billy Burke (24), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Andrea Roth (Rescue Me), JD Pardo (Drive), Tracy Spiradakos (Being Human) & Zak Orth (Nurse Jackie)
Outline: Post-apocalyptic drama about people who find themselves in a world where all forms of power suddenly ceased to exist.
Gut Feeling: It's the annual post-apocalyptic drama! Rejoice. This latest ones comes from the JJ Abrams factory with Jon Favreau behind the pilot and Supernatural's Erik Kriple involved as a producer, so there's more hope than most. I also love the casting of Giancarlo Esposito. This genre lives or dies on the strength of its characters, so I hope attention has been focused there.
ELEMENTARY (CBS, Timberman/Beverly Productions)
Showrunner: Rob Doherty (Medium)
Director: Michael Cuesta (Dexter, Homeland)
Cast: Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone), Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels) & Aidan Quinn.
Outline: Modern update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's world-famous Victorian detective, where a post-rehab Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) has moved to New York City and meets ex-surgeon Watson (Lucy Liu).
Gut Feeling: It'll be a struggle to watch this without thinking of Sherlock, which Elementary was almost certainly created to mimic. My guess is that UK and US fans of Sherlock will take against it, more out of loyalty to the BBC series than anything else, while general audiences will find more pleasure. There doesn't appear to be a better way to modernise Sherlock Holmes without copying the BBC show, which Elementary will have to avoid doing outright for legal reasons. I reviewed the pilot's script on this blog recently; it wasn't a heinous smear on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fine work, just an underwhelming take with a seen-it-all-before procedural format like The Mentalist.
SAVE ME (NBC, Sony Pictures TV, Original Films)
Creator: John Scott Sherpherd (The Days)
Cast: Anne Heche, Michael Landes, Alexandra Breckenridge (American Horror Story), Madison Davenport (Shameless), Heather Burns (Bored To Death) & Lamon Rucker.
Outline: Drama about a woman in a broken marriage (Anne Heche) who suspects she's channeling God after an accident leaves her in a more positive mindset and able to perform miracles.
Gut Feeling: Is this the new Eli Stone? It sounds like it. Did we need another Eli Stone? I doubt I'll watch more than the pilot, because this "touched by God" subgenre is so played out. Sexy Alexandra Breckenridge might rescue this if she brings her maid outfit from AHS.
MOCKINGBIRD LANE (NBC)
Adapters: Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) & Bryan Singer (X-Men)
Cast: Eddie Izzard & Charity Wakefield
Outline: A reboot of the classic '60s horror-comedy that promises to be "grounded" and "more realistic". The original show was basically a less subtle Addams Family, following the exploits of a family of monsters living in suburbia (a Frankenstein's Monster-style father, vampire mother and grandad, werewolf son, etc.)
Gut Feeling: There have been many attempts to revive The Munsters over the decades, but none of them really worked as brilliantly as the original. Have the two Bryan's found a way to update this concept for modern audiences? I've read the pilot's script, and I enjoyed it. It reads like a fun update. The core idea remains the same, but all the character's looks and abilities have been enhanced and modernized. (And no, Herman Munster doesn't resemble Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, but there's a funny visual joke about the original Herman's look.) Fuller's script is dark and amusing, rather like Being Human done in the style of Dead Like Me, and makes Grandpa the lead in many ways. Just keep the groovy theme tune, please.
DEVIOUS MAIDS (ABC, Cherry/Wind Productions)
Showrunner: Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives)
Director: Paul McGuigan (Sherlock)
Cast: Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Judy Reyes (Scrubs), Dania Ramirez (Heroes), Roselyn Sanchez (Rush Hour 2) & Brianna Brown (General Hospital)
Outline: This TV drama is based on a Mexican show about four house maids working for the rich and famous of Beverly Hills, who each have ambitions and dreams of their own.
Gut Feeling: The title makes it sound like a lazy spin-off to Marc Cherry's Desperate Housewives (it's even co-produced by that show's Eva Longoria), but it's worth remembering that season 1 of Housewives was fairly good soapy fun. Maybe this will be equally as enjoyable, to begin with, until ABC drive it into the ground as they did Cherry's previous hit.
LA NOIR (TNT)
Showrunner: Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead)
Director: Frank Darabont
Cast: Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes), Neal McDonough (Justified), Jeremy Strong (The Good Wife), Alexa Davalos (Clash Of The Titans) & Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead)
Outline: Based on the 2009 book LA Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America's Most Seductive City, this 1940s cop show concerns the ongoing battle between the LAPD and a group of organized criminals led by a former boxer.
Gut Feeling: It sounds like TNT want their own Boardwalk Empire, doesn't it? Darabont will almost guarantee a good pilot and a slick production, but I'm not convinced he has the chops to work in TV from what we've heard about his days on The Walking Dead. If he partly left AMC's zombie drama because they wanted to cut the budget, how will he get on with a TNT-sized budget? LA Noir could be very good, based on the talent it's attracted, but can it sustain itself?
'UNTITLED RALPH LAMB PILOT' (CBS)
Showrunners: Nicholas Pileggi & Greg Walker
Director: James Mangold (3:10 To Yuma)
Cast: Dennis Quaid (Innerspace), Michael Chiklis (The Shield), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) & Jason O'Mara (Terra Nova)
Outline: 1960s drama based on the real-life cowboy-turned-Las Vegas sheriff Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid), who has to deal with a Chicago mob fixer (Michael Chiklis) with big plans for Sin City.
Gut Feeling: This just sounds brilliant on paper, thanks to the excellent cast (who doesn't want to see Quaid vs Chiklis?) and its cool setting and era. Hard to imagine this being terrible, although CBS have a reputation for procedurals aimed at older viewers.
THE ASSET (Fox)
Showrunner: Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Director: Neil Burger (Limitless)
Cast: Ali Larter (Heroes), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch) & Hamish Linkalter (Battleship)
Outline: Spy drama about a famous globe-trotting photojournalist called Anna King (Ali Larter) who's actually an undercover CIA Agent.
Gut Feeling: Spy dramas are ten-a-penny, so it's hard for one to break through and be seen as something special. Has there actually been a successful spy show since early-'00s Alias? Undercovers was a notable flop for Fox recently, so will The Asset get the formula right? I certainly love the casting of Larter and Whitford, but it's so tough predicting how these things will pan out.
THE AMERICANS (FX, Fox Television Studios)
Creator: Joe Weisberg (Falling Skies)
Cast: Keri Russell (Felicity), Matthew Rhys & Noah Emmerich.
Outline: 1980s espionage drama about two Russian spies, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys), posing as a suburban all-American family in Washington, D.C with two oblivious children. Their KGB agent's cover is threatened when their fake relationship turns genuine and they develop a fondness for American life.
Gut Feeling: I just love the sound of this on every level, making it one of my hot favourites. I just hope it treats the situation with as much wit and skill as Homeland. The fact it's also an '80s period piece adds extra appeal for me, too. Really excited for this one.
DARK HORSE (ABC Studios)
Showrunners: Mark Gordon & Nick Pepper
Director: Roland Emmerich (Independence Day)
Cast: Max Thierot (Foreverland), Gabrielle Wilde (The Three Musketeers), Yaya DaCosta (The Kids Are All Right), Linus Roache (Batman Begins), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Laila Robins & Monique Curnen
Outline: Conspiracy thriller about an undergraduate (Max Thierot) who's struck by lightning the exact moment his estranged father, a respected neurosurgeon, is killed during an attempt to assassinate a politician likely to have become the next President.
Gut Feeling: Interesting concept, if only because the lightning strike "coincidence" feels like a clue Dark Horse will take us down some stranger-than-expected avenues. Emmerich's involvement gives me pause and doubts, because he's not best-known for movies with well-developed stories. The cast also looks sorely underwhelming on paper. Maybe there's more to this than meets the eye, and it'll be a dark horse in more than just name...?
Showrunner: Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies)
Director: David Slade (Hard Candy, Awake)
Cast: Hugh Dancy
Outline: A TV adaptation of Thomas Harris' famous characters, acting as a prequel to Red Dragon/Manhunter, following the early relationship between FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and his brilliant psychiatrist Dr Hannibal Lecter—who's secretly a serial killing cannibal.
Gut Feeling: None of the Hannibal Lecter movies have been critical hits post-Silence Of The Lambs, and in most people's eyes Anthony Hopkins owns that iconic part. Can a weekly TV series work as a prequel to this movie saga? Well, I've read Bryan Fuller's pilot script and thought it was excellent. It felt like a mini-movie and there were some lovely creative touches (notably whenever Will uses his amazing power of empathy to recreate murderous acts in his mind's eye). It reminded me of Millennium-meets-Dexter--if only because Hannibal's role is likewise in aide of the authorities, yet the audience know he's a killer himself. Only this show will be morally thornier, because Hannibal doesn't limit himself to killing criminals. David Slade directing the pilot is an excellent choice, and I'm glad NBC have agreed to only commission 13 episodes (which will be the order every season, even if this becomes a smash-hit) meaning there's less chance of wheel-spinning. If they find a compelling actor to play Hannibal who doesn't have us imagining Hopkins in the role (which I couldn't help myself doing while reading this), I'll be sold. My only concern is that Hannibal feels like a better fit for an edgy cable network, because I don't know if the concept's grisliness screams "primetime NBC".