Reel TV: A Guide to the New Fall TV Shows Made by Big-Screen Directors

Reel TV: A Guide to the New Fall TV Shows Made by Big-Screen Directors

May 15, 2013

Reel TV is a column at that takes an ongoing look at the growing intersection of movies and television. If there's a big-screen talent making the move to small screen, even temporarily, we want to tell you about it. 

Last year's fall TV season saw new shows either produced or directed by the likes of David Slade, James Mangold, Martin Campbell and Jon Favreau. Somehow 2013's crop of fall shows managed to top it, however. The major networks have all announced their new series, and between the bunch we're getting TV with some level of involvement from Alfonso Cuaron, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Sam Raimi, Jon Favreau, Phillip Noyce, Joss Whedon, and Joe Carnahan. Most of these shows won't last more than a season (that's just the nature of the game, unfortunately), but the names attached just go to show that the TV world really is attracting bigger and bigger fish these days.

We've gathered together the info and any available trailers for all of the new network shows with significant ties to big-screen talent. Keep in mind these aren't the only shows premiering this fall, these are just ones that film fans may want to keep an eye out for.



Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Created by: Mike Schur, Dan Goor, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, David Miner, Andy Samberg
Pilot Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump StreetCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)
Starring: Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti

You had us at Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Doesn't really matter what the show is about, we're watching because they're directing and producing. It also doesn't hurt that the cast is awesome and the plot involves a bunch of detectives who work cases on the fringe of the New York City limits, which sounds kind of like Reno 911 meets 21 Jump Street. We're okay with that.


Gang Related

Created by: Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious 4-6), Scott Rosenbaum, Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind), Francie Calfo
Pilot Directed by: Allen Hughes (The Book of EliFrom Hell)
Plot: A gang member is sent in to infiltrate the San Francisco Police Department and rises through its ranks but must balance his obligations to his crime family with an increasing sense of loyalty to his new “family” — the SFPD’s Gang Task Force.
Starring: Ramon Rodriguez, Terry O’Quinn, Sung Kang, Inbar Lavi, Jay Hernandez, RZA, Cliff Curtis, Shantel VanSanten

Chris Morgan has made a career out of turning the Fast & Furious franchise into this goofy but highly entertaining world where family loyalty is the greatest of bonds, even among criminals. He's bringing that code to the small screen with Gang Related, which is about a gang member who joins the police department in order to infiltrate them only to start to feel a family bond with them as well. Sounds kind of like Fast & Furious meets The Departed, which could certainly pay off, especially with The Shield's Scott Rosenbaum running the show.


Created by: Peter Duncan (Unfinished Sky), Peter Tolan (Bedazzled), Sam Raimi
Pilot Directed by: Sam Raimi (Oz the Great and Powerful, The Evil Dead)
Starring: Greg Kinnear, John Ortiz, Miranda Otto, Bojana Novakovic, Necar Zadegan, David Harbour, Tara Summers

A remake of an Australian drama about a very charismatic criminal defense lawyer whose life is barely in control. Everyone seems to forgive his eccentric personal problems (gambling, affairs, and the like) because he's such a brilliant lawyer, though, which makes this sound like House, only with lawyers instead of doctors.

Sleepy Hollow

Created by: Alex Kurtzman (Transformers), Roberto Orci (Transformers), Phillip Iscove, Heather Kadin
Pilot Directed by: Len Wiseman (UnderworldTotal Recall)
Plot: Described as a modern–day supernatural thriller based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, it follows Ichabod Crane as he partners with Sleepy Hollow’s local female sheriff to solve the mysteries of a town ravaged by the battle between good and evil.
Starring: Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter, John Chu

After chopping off someone's head on the battlefield, Ichabod Crane is transported 200+ years into the future where he teams up with Sleepy Hollow's sassy female sheriff to hunt down George Washington's bible, which contains the secrets they need to gain the upper hand in an ongoing battle between good and evil. No, we didn't make that up. The brilliant minds behind Transformers and Live Free or Die Hard did. Let's just say we'll be very, very surprised if this show sticks around beyond a few episodes.

Almost Human

Created by: J.H. Wyman (Dead Man Down), J.J. Abrams (Star Trek), Bryan Burk (Star Trek), Kathy Lingg
Pilot Directed by: Brad Anderson (Session 9The Call)
Starring: Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Lili Taylor, Minka Kelly, Mackenzie Crook, Michael Irby, Mekia Cox

Did you like I, Robot? The creators of Almost Human sure did. One would think so, at least, since it takes place in the future and is about a rogue cop, with a cybernetic leg and a distrust of robots, who is partnered up with a one-of-a-kind robot cop to solve crimes. The promo reel actually looks pretty cool, and we'd love for a sci-fi show of this scale to stay on network TV for more than a season, but we can't help but feel deja vu. It'd be nice if this were a Karl Urban in a Dredd TV show, but we'll take this instead.



About a Boy
Created by: Jason Katims (The Pallbearer, The Vow), Michelle Lee
Pilot Directed by: Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf)
Starring: David Walton, Minnie Driver, Anjelah N. Johnson, Benjamin Stockham, Al Madrigal

A TV version of Nick Hornby's novel (turned into the Hugh Grant-starring movie of the same name) about an immature bachelor who befriends the son of his new neighbor, who happens to be a single mom.  


The Michael J. Fox Show

Created by: Sam Laybourne, Alex Reid, Will Gluck, Richard Schwartz
Pilot Directed by: Will Gluck (Easy A)
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt, Wendell Pierce, Katie Finneran, Conor Romero, Jack Gore, Ana Nogueira

A sitcom where Michael J. Fox basically plays himself: a celebrity, who left the limelight due to having Parkinson's Disease, returns to TV to restart his career. If you caught Fox' hysterical appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm, you'll know he's got a great sense of humor about himself, and judging from the clip above, that's carried over here. This could be a bold, memorable new show, and it looks like NBC realizes that because the network has already ordered 22 episodes of it before the public has even seen the pilot. 


Night Shift
Created by: Gabe Sachs (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Jeff Judah (Diary of a Wimpy Kid)
Pilot Directed by: Pierre Morel (TakenFrom Paris with Love)
Starring: Eoin Macken, Jill Flint, Freddy Rodriguez, Ken Leung, Jeananne Goossen, Robert Bailey Jr., Brigid Brannagh

A show about Army doctors who return from war and end up working the same night shift in a hospital in San Antonio. Unfortunately Pierre Morel doesn't have a great track record with TV shows so far (he directed the pilot for Zero Hour, which was canceled after a few episodes earlier this year), but the producers have worked on Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, and the new 90210, so it has got some good talent backing it.


Created by: Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men), Mark Friedman (Home of the Brave), J.J. Abrams (Star Trek), Bryan Burk (Star Trek)
Pilot Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Starring: Jake McLaughlin, Johnny Sequoyah, Delroy Lindo, Sienna Guillory, Jamie Chung, Arian Moayed

You had us at Alfonso Cuaron. Believe is his first American TV show, which would lead one to, uh, believe that something truly special attracted him to the project, which is about a man who escapes from prison to protect a young girl with "gifts" who is being hunted by those who want her power. Sounds like a cheesy premise, but Cuaron's name on it leaves us thinking there's got to be more to it.


The Blacklist

Created by: Jon Bokenkamp (Taking Lives), John Eisendrath, John Davis (Predator, Chronicle), John Fox
Pilot Directed by: Joe Carnahan (The A-TeamThe Grey)
Starring: James Spader, Megan Boone, Ryan Eggold, Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix, Ilfenesh Hadera

The Blacklist is about a criminal mastermind who turns himself into the authorities under the condition that he'll help them catch all his old conspirators only if he works with a rookie FBI agent. There's something deliciously old-school TV about that premise, and James Spader is always a welcome presence, so we've got high hopes for this one. NBC does, too. Its test scores with audiences were apparently the best the network has had in over a decade.


Created by: Rand Ravich (The Astronaut's Wife), Far Shariat (I Love You, Phillip Morris)
Pilot Directed by: Phillip Noyce (Salt)
Plot: Emotionally charged action thriller set in and around the world of Washington DC. It follows an idealistic Secret Service agent who finds himself at the epicenter of an international crisis on his first day on the job. He will need to cross moral and legal lines as he navigates the highest levels of power and corruption on his search for the truth.
Starring: Lance Gross, Dermot Mulroney, Max Martini, Halston Sage, Gillian Anderson, Rachael Taylor

A political thriller about a new Secret Service agent who must weave his way through corrupt officials to uncover the truth at the heart of an international crisis that occurred his very first day on the job. That's a decent premise for a movie, though one wonders how that stays intriguing week in and week out without getting repetitive. Phillip Noyce did a surprisingly great job with his last government agent thriller (Salt), so at the very least it should have an awesome pilot.



The Goldbergs

Created by: Adam F. Goldberg (Fanboys), Doug Robinson
Pilot Directed by: Seth Gordon (Identity Thief)
Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jeff Garlin, George Segal, Darien Provost, Troy Gentile

Identity Thief is not a very funny movie. Neither is Fanboys. So the director of the former and the writer of the latter teaming up for a show together doesn't bode well, but this "didn't growing up suck" family comedy does look to have a nice Wonder Years vibe to it and should appeal directly to anyone who grew up in the '80s.


Created by: Kyle Killen (The Beaver, Scenic Route)
Pilot Directed by: Miguel Sapochnik (Repo Men)
Starring: Christian Slater, Steve Zahn, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Cedric Sanders, Gregory Marcel, Wynn Everett

A drama about a pair of very different brothers (an ex-con and a bipolar genius) who run an agency and specialize in manipulating people to get their clients what they want. It sounds kind of like the opposite of Lie to Me, the Tim Roth-led show about a body language expert who uses his expertise to get answers for clients. It's not a bad premise, but unfortunately the same can be said for all of Kyle Killen's shows (Awake and Lone Star), neither of which has lasted more than a season.



Created by: Joss Whedon (The Avengers). Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jeffrey Bell, Jeph Loeb
Pilot Directed by: Joss Whedon
Plot: Based on a peacekeeping group found in both the Marvel comic book and feature film universes, including the 2012 movie The Avengers
Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge, Ian De Caestecker, Chloe Bennet

Marvel's much-buzzed TV show about the agents of the heroic government agency S.H.I.E.L.D. is a sort of Avengers spin-off, though don't expect it to be integral to the Marvel movie-verse. Whedon's no stranger to ensemble TV shows, and he's got a good track record in that regard, but we're still cautiously optimistic about this whole enterprise. The promo reel looks fun enough, but we do worry that this might be the first sign that Disney is going a little too gung-ho with its Marvel rights. Hopefully the Mouse House doesn't oversaturate us with Marvel stuff.




Crazy Ones

Created by: David E. Kelley, Jason Winer,, Bill D’Elia, Dean Lorey, John Montgomery, Mark Teitelbaum
Pilot Directed by: Jason Winer (Arthur)
Starring: Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Wolk, Hamish Linklater, Amanda Setton

Crazy Ones is created by a group with considerably more TV credits than film credits, but it's noteworthy because it marks the TV series return of Robin Williams, who hasn't been a TV regular since Mork & Mindy. He stars as an ad exec who begins working alongside his daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Nothing inherently inspired there, but we'll see how it pans out.



Created by: Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky, Gemma Baker, Pam Fryman
Pilot Directed by: Pam Fryman
Starring: Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Nate Corddry, Blake Garrett Rosenthal, Matt Jones, Spencer Daniels, Sadie Calvano, French Stewart

As with Crazy Ones above, Mom has a ton of TV-exclusive talent involved with it, but we're including it here because it's the first TV show anchored by Anna Faris. She plays a single mom who leads a hectic life -- there's not a lot more to the description than that, but Faris is always great on the big screen, so hopefully that carries over to the small screen.


Created by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Traitor), Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Carribean)
Pilot Directed by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Traitor)
Starring: Toni Collette, Tate Donovan, Dylan McDermott, Quinn Shephard, Sandrine Holt, Mateus Ward, Billy Brown, Rhys Coiro, James Naughton

Here's another show with a seemingly event-specific plot that makes us wonder how it'll sustain interest over the course of a season, yet along multiple seasons: Toni Collette stars as a surgeon whose family is kidnapped as part of a conspiracy when she's tasked with operating on the president of the United States. That seems a bit limited, but Bruckheimer is no stranger to the TV world, so he may have another inexplicable hit on his hands (like the 800 CSI shows he produced).


The CW

Created by: Meredith Averill, Josh Appelbaum (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), Andre Nemec (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), Scott Rosenberg (Con Air), Richard Shepard (The Matador), Bryan Furst, Sean Furst, Daniel Gutman
Pilot Directed by: Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury, Impostor)
Starring: Aimee Teegarden, Matt Lanter, Malese Jow, Titus Makin Jr., Grey Damon, Natalie Hall, Chelsea Gilligan, Greg Finley, Maggie Elizabeth Jones

There's a strange batch of filmmakers behind this project, which is fitting because it's got a strange premise: a human girl falls in love with an alien boy who attends her high school after he spent 10 years living in an interment camp after hundreds of his species landed on Earth. Their relationship somehow threatens the balance of peace between the humans and the rest of the aliens. Sounds like a CW show, alright, which isn't inherently a bad thing-- the CW does cheesy supernatural and sci-fi shows better than anyone other network.

The Tomorrow People
Created by: Phil Klemmer (Veronica Mars), Julie Plec (Scream 2 and 3), Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern), Danny Cannon (d, ep), Melissa Kellner Berman (co-ep)
Pilot Directed by: Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer)
Starring: Robbie Amell, Madeleine Mantock, Peyton List, Luke Mitchell, Mark Pellegrino, Aaron Yoo

An American remake of an early '90s U.K. show about an X-Men-esque group of young people who start to develop special powers as the next stage in human evolution. They team up to defeat those who would use those powers for evil. Hardly original -- one might think it was a remake of NBC's Heroes -- but intriguing nonetheless.



Those Who Kill (A&E)
Created by: Glen Morgan (Final Destination), Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind), Francie Calfo, Peter Bose (Max Manus: Man of War), Jonas Allen (Max Manus: Man of War)
Pilot Directed by: Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, The Grey)
Starring: Chloe Sevigny, James D’Arcy, James Morrison, Kerry O’Malley, Bahar Soomekh, Omid Abtahi

A remake of a Danish show about a cop and a forensic profiler who hunt serial killers. Sounds an awful lot like NBC's Hannibal, but there's a great cast involved and Carnahan directing should make it worth a shot.


Low Winter Sun (AMC)

Created by: Chris Mundy
Pilot Directed by: Ernest Dickerson (Surviving the Game, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Night)
Plot: A story of murder, deception, revenge and corruption that starts with the murder of a cop by fellow Detroit detective Frank Agnew. Seemingly the perfect crime, in reality the murder activates forces that will forever alter that detective’s life and pull him into the heart of the city’s underworld. Based on 2006 U.K. miniseries.
Starring: Mark Strong, Lennie James, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Athena Karkanis, Sprague Grayden, David Costabile, James Ransone, Erika Alexander

At this point Ernest Dickerson has spent as much time directing TV shows as he has movies, and the series' creator has no feature-film credits, but the cast certainly makes up for that lack. Mark Strong stars as a detective who murders a fellow cop, setting him down a path into the Detroit underworld. If that sounds familiar it's because Strong played the same role in the U.K. version of it back in 2006.


True Detective (HBO)
Created by: Nic Pizzolatto, Richard Brown (44 Inch Chest), Steve Golin (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), Carol Cuddy (Remember Me)
Pilot Directed by: Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre)
Plot: The lives of two detectives collide and entwine during a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. The investigation of a bizarre murder in 1995 is framed and interlaced with testimony from the detectives in 2012, when the case is reopened.
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin Dunn, Alexandra Daddario, Elizabeth Reaser, Tory Kittles

Whoa, what a cast! Combine that with a story that involves a 17-year-long hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana (the show takes place in both 1995 when the original murders took place and 2012, when the case is reopened) and we're betting HBO has a real winner on its hands.



Categories: Features, Reel TV
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