American TV networks gave series orders to four of the eight pilots filmed this March in Vancouver, starting with The CW’s Arrow, Cult and Emily Owens M.D. (formerly First Cut) and then ABC’s Red Widow (formerly Penoza) in a flurry of announcements this afternoon ahead of next week’s New York upfronts — where networks unveil their fall schedules to advertisers.
If anything can be called a sure thing, The CW pilot Arrow was it. Based on DC Comics The Green Arrow, it stars Stephen Amell in a more Jason Bourne-like and less Smallville-ish production. Like The Dark Knight trilogy’s re-imagined Batman, Arrow’s vigilante superhero fights crime with martial arts and technology plus the special skill of archery. TV sites have been counting down to the Arrow’s expected pickup to series.
Also getting solid buzz but not quite a sure thing was The CW’s meta-pilot Cult starring Matt Davis of The Vampire Diaries as a blogger named Jeff investigating the rabid fans of a cult horror TV show, who have taken the series too literally. It will be a shorter, 13-episode series, leaving room for Davis to return to Mystic Falls if they can figure out how to resurrect him – again.
With The CW pilot Emily Owens M.D. (formerly First Cut), the buzz has been mostly for star Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter), with some who’ve seen it comparing her favourably to Calista Flockhart in her breakout role, Ally McBeal. Gummer’s social nerd and new doctor Emily apparently finds life at Denver Memorial Hospital a lot like high school, where the popular students are people like real-life former model Justin Hartley (the Green Arrow on Smallville) as a surgical intern.
There was some talk that The CW would pick up The-Hunger-Games-meets-The-Bachelor pilot The Selection and the singing in pilot Joey Dakota had some admirers too but the network passed on both (see UPDATE below re The Selection).
Then while people were still scrambling to write about the CW pickups and cancellations (goodbye to Vancouver-shot The Secret Circle), ABC announced some of its owns series orders, including the Vancouver-filmed Russian mob drama Red Widow. Inspired by a popular Dutch TV series, Red Widow is about a mobster’s widow, played by Australian Radha Mitchell, forced to replace her husband as head of a Russian crime syndicate to protect her family. Luke Goss (Hellboy II) plays bodyguard to her mob father Andrei Lazarev, a bodyguard who is then assigned to look after her and the kids. Lee Tergensen (Oz) plays a foot soldier in the crime syndicate.
ABC has not announced a series order for its other Vancouver-shot TV pilot Beauty and the Beast and is not expected to. And earlier today, NBC passed on the Squamish-filmed mystery pilot Midnight Sun, starring Julia Stiles. So four out of eight.
UPDATE: At the New York Upfronts, ABC presented Vancouver-shot Red Widow (formerly Penoza) and provided an official cast photo but I’m not sure where this apparently short eight-episode series is going to land on the ABC schedule yet.
Then in a surprise move, The CW announced the teamup of two of its Vancouver-filmed series on Wednesday nights: the new Arrow at 8 p.m. and a relocated Supernatural at 9 p.m. (moving from Fridays to the more high profile Wednesdays in its eighth season!). Arrow star Stephen Amell and Supernatural star Jensen Ackles posed with their twin hiatus beards at the afterparty to celebrate the pairing of their two kick-ass umbrellas-are-for-sissies shows.
Earlier Amell and co-star Katie Cassidy took to the New York Center stage following a stunning teaser featuring east Vancouver’s Terminal City Ironworks Complex as derelict Queen Industrial Inc. and a ripped Amell learning how to be a super hero. A photo still shows grey t-shirted Amell with his bow and arrow.
Later it was Mamie Gummer and Justin Hartley’s turn to introduce their new series, the renamed Emily Owens, M.D. (formerly First Cut), following a teaser of the show. The network released a cast photo too of the hospital drama scheduled to air Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
Next, a bright-red-pants-wearing Matt Davis and co-star Jessica Lucas introduced their mid-season series Cult after a teaser which has not been released publicly yet. I haven’t seen a proper cast photo either but there is a poster of some kind.
The CW president had a few more surprises for the media and advertisers. The Vancouver-shot but passed-over pilot The Selection isn’t dead. Not at all. It’s being redeveloped for a possible mid-season launch. Star Aimee Teegarden stays but a new script is needed that veers away from the source material of the books. So maybe 5 out of 8, up from 4 out of 8.