It was reported earlier today that the ABC sitcom The Neighbors has secured a full-season order. Not to sound like a dick, but that was not a headline I expected to see after viewing the pilot earlier this year. I also have to admit that I didn't anticipate the success of Revolution, which I had pegged as this year's The Event.
When watching a pilot critically, it's important to be able to tell the difference between a weak pilot that has immense potential for growth and a weak pilot that is so misguided that it would be nearly impossible for a series to recover. This year, it seemed like there were a lot of shows that fell into the latter category. I don't want to name names, but most shows of this type were easily distinguished by the unflinching and often amusingly brutal reviews that the critics posted.
I've only kept up with a few new shows this season, so I have to admit I'm curious if anyone stuck with any of the iffier shows and was rewarded with improvement. Did The Neighbors find a way to make the premise play beyond one joke?
666 Park Avenue was another show where the pilot didn't blow me away, but of the new fall shows, it seemed to have some of the strongest potential for improvement, provided the writing staff that was hired figured out a way to develop genuine tension and build to unexpected payoffs. There were the building blocks of a better show there, but the story presented in the pilot was a little too tepid for my tastes.
I also wrote off Guys With Kids because it too seemed to be built around a one-joke premise that was already well-worn territory years ago. Did they find their creative groove or is it just a case of the show being placed in the right timeslot?
So let me know what shows have gotten better since their pilot, and if possible, explain why you think the changes they made facilitated this.