A vampire cop, a serialized biography of Elvis Presley, family life in outer space and a young man who travels back in time by playing a jukebox - you could be seeing all or none of them next season.
The networks are preparing to announce their schedules for the 1989-90 television season, with NBC scheduled to tee off late Monday, and these are among the 100-odd pilots under consideration.It's an expensive gamble. This year a one-hour drama costs from $900,000 to $1.3 million to produce, reports the advertising firm of BBDO. A half-hour comes in at $450,000 to $625,000 and a two-hour show ranges from $2.8 million to $3.5 million.
That's high stakes when you consider that last year the four networks - that includes Fox - had 103 series development properties, of which 16 made the fall schedule and nine more were shown in the spring as limited series.
Some of this year's crop of would-be series involve high-impact names. Richard Chamberlain has a commitment from CBS for a series and Alan Alda will have one for NBC by mid-season.
Other stars who have their egos on the line include Robert Mitchum, Anthony Perkins, Whoopi Goldberg, Ann Jillian, Tim Matheson, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Rodney Dangerfield, Lindsay Wagner and Lee Majors (separately and non-bionically), James Farentino, Patti LuPone, Michael Warren, Ed Marinaro, Jackie Mason, Jackee, Ed Begley Jr., Nell Carter, Gregory Harrison, Howie Mandel and Dweezil and Moon Zappa.
New shows are set in places that are a long way from suburbia - like a family home on Mars, for instance. Other off-beat locales include a white collar jail called Club Fed, England in 1761, a zoo, a beauty parlor and an elevator.
The pilot title-of-the-month award goes to "Curse of the Corn People," which isn't what you think. It's a one-hour CBS pilot about young adults in a Kansas town who are trying to produce a horror film.
There are some far-out projects this year, including a lot "high-concept" shows - television lingo for non-realistic stories. There's no way of knowing which, if any, will make it to air but they are fun to contemplate. All are half-hour unless otherwise indicated.
The ABC crop includes:
"Doogie Howser, M.D.," a teenage sitcom about a 15-year-old medical genius, from Steven Bochco, creator of "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law."
"Elvis: Good Rockin' Tonight," a dramatic recreation of the early life of Elvis Presley, with Priscilla Presley co-producing.
"Free Spirit," as fantasy family sitcom about a divorced lawyer whose housekeeper turns out to be a witch.
On the CBS list:
"Mars: Base One," a sci-fi sitcom about a pioneering Earth family settling on Mars, with Dan Aykroyd co-producing.
"The People Next Door," about a cartoonist who can make his creations appear and interact with real people, to the dismay of his family.
"Shivers," a ghost sitcom about a single father and his kids who move into a house haunted by a Colonial-era rogue, his girlfriend and a rude pig slopper.
"The Bakery," a one-hour police action drama with interwoven stories within each episode that take place in 1965, the present and 2001.
"Nick Knight," an hourlong action show about a homicide detective who also happens to be a vampire.
"Outpost," an hourlong sci-fi police action adventure about a police marshall on an intergalactic trading outpost.
The NBC entries:
"Hound Town," an animated animal sitcom that show how three dog buddies view the human world.
"A Little Bit Strange," starring Michael Warren, about a woman who finds that her new husband is a warlock and his kids really are monsters.
"Blessed," an hourlong drama about a man with psychic powers who searches for the mother who abandoned him at birth.
"Nasty Boys," a one-hour police story about independent undercover agents who form an elite crime fighting unit and wear masks and black ninja-type outfits.
"Ghost Writer," starring Anthony Perkins as a horror novelist and his family who live in a Gothic mansion where strange things happen a lot.
"Hollywood Dog," an animated/live combo in which a hip dog with sunglasses shows an innocent rock `n' roller from Nebraska around Hollywood.
"Alien Nation," an hour-long story set in 1995 about a Los Angeles detective team - a veteran cop and a space alien. Off-duty, the alien and his family have trouble with biased neighbors.
"K-9000," a one-hour police actioner about a Los Angeles detective teamed with a K-9 dog, both of whose brains have been implanted with computer chips, allowing them to communicate.
"Wurlitzer," an hour-long fantasy in which a young man finds that by playing the records on a jukebox, he can travel back in time over the last 25 years.