Robots, Aliens and Pilot Season, Oh My!

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It’s pilot season, that time of the year when first episodes are filmed and TV network executives make crucial decisions as they place bets on which new series are likely to attract large audiences. Of course, the number of new shows that make it past the pilot stage is extremely small. Only a select few will receive a network order for additional episodes. Nevertheless, it’s fun to read about new ideas and see who’s been cast to play lovable, smarmy, smart, dumb — or just plain evil – on the small screen.

Every year the Exchange takes a look at the Complete Guide to TV Pilots on a quest to discover which of these potential new shows may incorporate science (or maybe even math) in their story-telling.  

Last year, pilot season featured a couple – not many, but at least one or two, characters who were clearly identified as scientists. Unfortunately, those shows weren’t picked up. This year, we had a harder time finding a pilot with a strong science lead. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any – only that it’s not clear from the pilot that any of these potential new shows will have strong, science-themed storylines. 

As the title of this piece suggests, we did find a few robots and aliens. And, it’s likely that these shows will delve into scientific themes – and may even require a science consultant – if they get picked up.

Here’s a list of the dozen pilots we spotted as quite possibly having something to do with science:  Gothica,  Influence, S.H.I.E.L.D., Super Clyde, Anatomy of Violence, Intelligence, Second Sight, The Surgeon General, The Hundred, Oxygen and The Tomorrow People. All of these seem to be one-hour projects. What happened to the sitcoms? Did we miss any? Let us know what you think.  We’ll let you know if any of our choices get picked up and land in our living room this fall.

The statements and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the event participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for this event or of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.