2013-2014 ABC Drama Pilots in Contention

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abcNext week, the broadcast networks will begin revealing their schedules for the 2013-2014 television season. While a lot of attention has been put on what bubble shows will eek out another season, the focus will soon shift to the latest offerings that will try to find a foothold in an increasingly crowded television landscape. Over the rest of the week, we’ll be providing you with a list of pilots in contention from each of the networks, posted in the order in which they’ll be announcing their schedules. Included will be titles, cast lists, and a brief, officially released summation of the show’s content.

ABC will be the third network to unveil its schedule, as their upfronts are to take place Tuesday, May 14th. Being that they’re the only network that provided lengthy descriptions for nearly every pilot, they have two posts to every other network’s one.  On the drama side this season, ABC found a hit in Scandal, which grew to stratospheric heights during its second season, while Once Upon a Time and Revenge both experienced sophomore slumps and Nashville acquired every other positive trait a new show can have – except live ratings. Can they find the drama hit they’re looking for in this batch of pilots?

Which pilots do you think sound the best? What type of shows should ABC pick up? How will their fall schedule look this year?

Previous features: NBC, FOX

EDIT: The network has picked up Betrayal, Lucky 7, Killer Women, Agents of SHIELDInfluence (retitled Mind Games), Forever (retitled Resurrection), and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Every other drama is said to be dead.

Who’s in it: James Cromwell, Stuart Townsend, Hannah Ware, Henry Thomas, and Chris Johnson
What’s it about: It started with a chance meeting at an art gallery. Photographer Sara Hayward and Attorney Jack McCutchen both felt it, a sudden spark and with it, an undeniable feeling of instant attraction. Both are married, albeit, unhappily to other people; she, to successful prosecutor Drew Hayward, a political climber out for himself. Outsiders think they have the perfect marriage but Sara knows full well the distance and coldness that has crept into their marriage. Jack, too, has felt the loss of intimacy in his own marriage to Elaine, the daughter of Jack’s boss Terrence Karsten. Karsten is a powerful mogul in a business that creates a lot of enemies. Despite themselves, Sara and Jack find themselves ever drawn to each other after a series of chance encounters. They are two souls wounded by life’s vagaries who form a powerful connection and before long, a torrid affair begins. When Karsten’s brother-in-law Lou is murdered, all evidence points to Karsten’s son TJ. (Henry Thomas) Jack, as the company’s lead council, will have to defend him. For Sara’s prosecutor husband Drew, this is the kind of high-profile murder case that can secure his political future. Before Sara and Jack’s affair has barely started, the lovers will find themselves in an impossible situation-on opposite sides of a murder investigation. The relationship and the case begin a spiraling series of betrayals with cataclysmic results for everyone.

Big Thunder
Who’s in it: Spencer Locke, Pierce Gagnon, Alex Meraz, Ruth Bradley, and Zahn McClarnon
What’s it about: There’s gold in the hills of Big Thunder Mountain, deep in the Wyoming Territory of 1890, enough gold to make King Midas jealous. There’s something else at Big Thunder too, something otherworldly. Local legend holds that the mountain has been cursed by the Apache since a notorious mining accident at this western outpost some 30 years ago. About as far from the splendor of the wild west as one can get, widower Dr. Grant Carson lives with his 17 year old daughter Nora and young son Jack (Pierce Gagnon) on the crowded lower east side of Manhattan. Son Jack suffers from a frightening respiratory illness for which Grant Carson strives to find a cure. The family’s life will suddenly change when Grant gets an offer to move to the mining town of Big Thunder because they need a doctor and are willing to pay any price. Lured by the promise of a better life, the Carsons, accompanied by Grant’s dead wife’s sister, Lizzie, set out on a frontier adventure and meet the mysterious benefactor who brought them there: Abel White. But there is something about this Eden on the edge of civilization and something about Abel White-supernatural forces are at work and their son seems to be a conduit. Together the family will uncover the mysteries, dangers and unspoken secrets of the haunted mountain: Big Thunder.

Who’s in it: Carla Gugino, Greg Grunberg, Steve Coogan, Mercedes Ruehl, and Rockmond Dunbar
What’s it about: “Everything’s going to be okay”, that is the mantra defense attorney Vince Calzonetti invokes to his clients, co-workers, and friends when things are at their worst. And with Vince, it seems things are always at their worst. A former cop turned low-rent lawyer, Vince uses his street smarts to work the system for his clients and his methods in and out of the courtroom are notoriously unconventional. And Vince finds himself in court a lot; depending on the day, he’s either the attorney or the defendant. He’s a complicated soul always bending the law in order to keep the doors of his struggling, new practice open for all who depend on him, including his legal associates Mr. and Mrs. Syd Newman and his mentally and physically challenged brother Mark. He does it all while battling his own inner demons and trying to manage a complicated love/hate relationship with his ex-wife Linda, a DA. Vince doesn’t have one cynical bone in his body, they’re the only kinds of bones he has. He’s not interested in truth, justice or the American way for that matter, all Vince is looking for is doubt…reasonable doubt…enough to get his clients off and get himself paid. His young paralegal Monica sees through that, though, and believes deep down Vince cares about the clients, the law and above all, the truth and maybe she’s right. Either way, when Vince Calzonetti lays down the law, you’ll want him on your side.

Who’s in it: Kurtwood Smith, Frances Fisher, Nicholas Gonzalez, Omar Epps, and Samaire Armstrong
What’s it about: What happens when the people you have mourned and buried suddenly appear on your doorstep as if not a day’s gone by? Would it be a miracle, madness and is it even real? The people of Arcadia are forever changed when their deceased loved ones suddenly start to return. An 8-year-old American boy wakes up alone in a rice paddy in a rural Chinese province with no identification and no idea how he got there. Details start to emerge when the boy, who calls himself Jacob, recalls that his hometown is Arcadia, Missouri and an immigration agent, Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), takes him there. The home he claims as his own is occupied by an elderly couple, Harold and Lucille Garland, who lost their son Jacob more than 30 years ago in a drowning accident. While they look different, young Jacob will recognize them as his own parents. But how can this be? The boy that stands before them looks like their son and knows details about their lives that no one else can know, but this must be an elaborate hoax. Lucille wants to believe but Harold Garland can not accept it. Those closest to the family try to unravel this impossible mystery, including Sheriff Fred Garland (Matt Craven), whose wife Barbara also drowned 30 years ago trying to save Jacob. But this boy who claims to be the deceased Jacob knows secrets about the events of his own death that no one else knows-secrets that Fred’s daughter Gail will begin to investigate and discover to be true. The child’s return will have everyone questioning faith, miracles and the supernatural. When other mysterious strangers start to arrive in Arcadia, we come to know that Jacob is not the only one Forever.

Who’s in it: Janet Montgomery, Melissa George, Raza Jaffrey, Seth Gabel, and Tracie Thoms
What’s it about: Frankenstein. Jekyll and Hyde. Dorian Gray. Dracula. Gothic literature’s most iconic characters step out of the shadows of the past and into a sexy modern soap. Welcome to Gothica, a modern city where an ancient struggle between good and evil is being fought. Grace Van Helsing (Janet Montgomery) has come home to Gothica one last time to visit her brother Chris, editor of their family’s Guardian Newspaper and crusader against the soul-less power brokers that control this city. When her brother is killed on the eve of implicating enigmatic recluse Clayton Drax in the murder of their parents some 10 years earlier, Grace embarks on a dark and dangerous investigation of the truth that exposes the sinister underbelly of Gothica’s founding families. The Van Helsing family has made a lot of enemies who all have a motive for murder. Included are Victor Frankenstein (Tom Ellis), Grace’s former love, a brilliant scientist on the verge of macabre discovery; Dorian Gray (Chris Egan), a hedonistic playboy with a shrouded past; Henry Jekyll, a once prominent and now broken man whose career was destroyed by a Guardian expose; and of course, the most powerful man in Gothica: Clayton Drax who may be controlling all of them through his emissary, the seductive Fiona Hunter. Step over to the sexy dark side of Gothica where evil, obsession and revenge won’t stay buried for long.

Who’s in it: Christian Slater, Steve Zahn, Wynn Everett, Megalyn Echikunwoke, and Cedric Sanders
What’s it about: Need help getting a job? How about convincing your daughter not to marry her loser boyfriend? Whatever it is you want, Clark (Steve Zahn) and Ross Edwards can help you get it. They’re not magicians, nor wishful thinkers. Clark and Ross are brothers and partners in a unique agency committed to solving clients’ problems using the hard science of psychological manipulation. Clark is a former professor and a world-renowned expert in the field of human behavior. He has a checkered history due to a bipolar disorder, which sometimes results in quirky, manic episodes. His older brother Ross has a story just as dramatic: a slick con man who spent some time in prison. Needless to say, each in their own way knows what makes people tick. Drawing from the most cutting edge research in psychology, they can tailor a plan to influence any situation. It’s a little bit science, a little bit con artistry plus a smattering of Jedi mind tricks. The brothers, along with their team of master manipulators are offering clients an alternative to fate and they’re changing lives along the way.

Killer Women
Who’s in it: Marc Blucas, Tricia Helfer, Michael Trucco, Alex Fernandez, and Marta Milans
What’s it about: Of all the notorious lawmen who ever patrolled the violent Texas frontier, none are more storied than the Texas Rangers. And none could be more macho. While the once all-male bastion now allows “lady rangers”, no one can say they are welcomed. Being the only female ranger in this elite squad isn’t going to stop Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer), she’s ballsy and badass enough to get the job done despite a good-ole network filled with harassment and discrimination. In another profession, being a stunning former beauty queen might open doors but for Molly… that distinction only makes it harder. Molly is committed to finding the truth and seeing justice served; a trait no doubt inherited from her father, a former Texas sheriff. She’s even willing to break some rules to get it done. While she’s surrounded by law enforcement colleagues who want to see her fail, including Police Lieutenant Guillermo Salazar, there are those within the Rangers who have her back like her boss, Company Commander Leroy Barrow. Molly also has the support of her loving family including her brother Billy, his wife Nessa and their two precocious daughters, Ada and Hailee, who revere their role-model aunt. On the verge of getting divorced from her smarmy husband Jake, Molly relishes her new found freedom even as she begins an affair with a sexy, dangerously handsome DEA agent, Dan Winston (Marc Blucas). She could be the one woman that captures this bad boy’s heart but neither is ready to pull the trigger…yet.

Lucky 7
Who’s in it: Matt Long, Anastasia Phillips, Christine Evangelista, Lorraine Bruce, and Luis Antonio Ramos
What’s it about: Every day, across the country, Americans imagine what it would be like to strike it rich. They dream of new houses, new cars, new everything. It’s just a pipe dream. It could never happen to them……but what if it did? In Astoria, Queens, NY, a group of 7 gas station employees have been chipping into a lottery pool for months, hoping, but never thinking they’d actually win. Money could solve problems for each of them. Matt could pay to get his girlfriend and 2 kids out of his mother’s house. Matt’s brother Nicky, an ex-con, could pay off the gangsters he’s indebted to. Samira, a second-generation Pakistani immigrant, could afford to go to Juilliard. Denise, a plucky cashier, could focus on rebuilding her crumbling marriage. Leanne, a young mother, could help her daughter realize her dreams. Bob, the store’s manager, could finally retire and Antonio could give his wife and kids a whole new life. Two of the employees hatch a plan to make some quick cash, but the plan goes south. If only they’d waited, they’d find they were about to hit the jackpot – a $45 million one to be exact. From David Zabel and Jason Richman comes a rich and compelling drama about what happens to a group of people when they win the lottery. While some dreams will be within reach, other problems will come to the surface and relationships will be tested in Lucky 7.

Agents of Shield
Who’s in it: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, and Elizabeth Henstridge
What’s it about: From executive producers Joss Whedon who also co-writes and directs the pilot, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen, Jeffrey Bell, and Jeph Loeb comes Marvel’s first TV series. Witness the astonishing return of Agent Phil Coulson as he puts together a small, highly select, team to investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown secrets of our world as Agents of Shield.

Murder in Manhattan
Who’s in it: Annie Potts, Bridget Regan, Brendan Hines, Enver Gjokaj, and Shirley Rumierk
What’s it about: Park Avenue widow Blythe Sutton (Annie Potts) is a woman of money, influence and ….an impeccable taste for solving murders. When a friend and fellow blueblood is found dead of an apparent suicide, Blythe knows in every fiber of her being that it was foul play and she’s determined to get to the truth. Enlisting the help of her daughter Lex (Bridget Regan) isn’t going to be easy. According to Lex, just because she and her mother uncovered the truth about the murder of another friend, doesn’t mean they can solve every suspicious death in Manhattan. Blythe doesn’t believe it was just a fluke and she knows that, despite the protestations, Lex loved working with her to solve the crime and is certain they can do it again. The two Sutton women share a strong bond and an active imagination. They will spin, Rashoman-style, their own theories about how the dead woman met her end. Each brings to their sleuthing partnership their own investigative abilities: Lex works in the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit and has a knack for puzzle-solving. It also doesn’t hurt that she is romantically involved with her former childhood friend Jack, a NYC detective, from whom she’ll extract what information she can while also trying to keep her budding relationship a secret from Blythe. And Blythe, well, Blythe can talk to anyone about anything and will do so to uncover the truth. Her dashingly handsome son Bart vows to stay above the family fray: two strong-willed women with a flair for the dramatic are not going to drag him into this. And through it all, when mother and daughter work this closely together to solve a case, they may ultimately realize the biggest puzzle might just be each other. All the clues point to intrigue, humor and fun when this mother and daughter amateur gumshoe team take on Murder in Manhattan while also solving the complexities of their own relationship.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Who’s in it: Emma Rigby, Michael Socha, Sophie Lowe, and Peter Gadiot
What’s it about: Potential spin-off of the drama told through the point of view of Alice, of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” fame

Who’s in it: Ashton Holmes, Bess Armstrong, Eloise Mumford, Ernie Hudson, and Naveen Andrews
What’s it about: When a military coup overthrows an unstable south east Asian government, Sarah Harrison (Eloise Mumford), a doctor working in a humanitarian clinic in country is unjustly imprisoned by the brutal dictator now in charge. Her husband David and her family, back in the U.S., are desperate to secure her release. Her high-powered, political-insider father Tom is confident that his diplomatic connections will be the answer to getting his daughter back. But The CIA and State Department are unable to make headway and the volatile situation in Asia deteriorates. An American captive is tried and executed as a spy, diplomatic channels are closed and David realizes time is running out for his wife. Forced to resort to a desperate, last ditch option to extricate his wife, David steps off the deep end into a dangerous alliance with a notorious mercenary known as Roland Shaw… From here there is no turning back. Financing this highly illegal, rogue operation will require more money than David has access to and so he begins a reckless cycle of betraying, endangering and lying to everyone he knows and loves in order to bring his wife back alive. The clock is ticking and the stakes have never been higher.

Who’s in it: Jennifer Beals, Dean Winters, Brooklyn Sudano, Odette Annabale, and Bruce Greenwood
What’s it about: A forbidden and dangerous romance emerges between 2 lovers of rival families causing an all-out war in a modern day telling of Romeo and Juliet. Welcome to Venice-California’s most seductive city, mecca of surfing, skating and a laid back beach lifestyle coveted the world over. It’s also the headquarters of surf and apparel brand Swell, founded 25 years ago by two best friends, Jay Carver and Gordy Nance (Bruce Greenwood). But with big success came greed, betrayal and excesses causing a bitter schism between the partners. When Jay Carver died of a drug overdose, his wife Lisa (Jennifer Beals) was pushed out of the business, left with next to nothing, and forced to raise her children Chris, Shealy and Nico alone while the billion-dollar Swell empire was left in the hands of Gordy Nance. Years later, son Chris Carver has just returned home from a 6 year prison stint for a crime he took the fall for only to find that the hatred that divided these 2 families runs as deep as ever. Unbeknownst to anyone, Swell is in rocky financial shape due in part to Gordy’s nefarious association with an organized crime ring. Gordy is determined to take the last asset the Carvers own: their original flagship store. Chris’ uncle Robbie is resolved to bring retribution upon the Nance family and becomes involved in dangerous activities that can lead to murder. It’s more than Chris can deal with and he vows to start his life over far away from Venice until he reconnects with Gordy’s now grown-up daughter, the stunning Sophie (Odette Annable). The two begin a secret relationship that will further tear their families apart. When his uncle is brought to the brink of death at the hands of Nance’s henchmen, Chris realizes his place is in Venice and he vows to rebuild his family’s business and revive his father’s legendary name and legacy.