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S.H.I.E.L.D., Michael J Fox and Robin Williams top tips for US imports in Autumn 2013

US TV has unveiled the shows pitched to replace the holes left in our TV schedules by this Spring’s crop of cancelled shows.

The US TV networks are pinning their hopes on upmarket HBO-style dramas to win viewers back from the cable channels and online services like Netflix.

In the tricky world of comedy that can please a nation, the return of Michael J Fox and Robin Williams to the sitcom canvas are getting headlines.

But what pleased the international buyers who will compete to put new shows on Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, E4, Watch, Alibi, Comedy Central and Fox? Jump down for our tips from the LA Screenings reports.

S.H.I.E.L.D., Michael J Fox and Robin Williams top tips for US imports in Autumn 2013
MIchael J Fox is a hero, but is he a comedy god?

Comedy: who will buy a laugh?

Creating the next Friends or Modern Family is like putting lightning in a bottle, but star power and reliable writers will give UK buyers confidence. Then again, who remembers Joey?

  1. Mixology: A high-concept, star-free comedy from Disney ABC. The entire season follows a group of youngsters trying to get laid over the course of a single night. E4 is written all over this one.
  2. The Michael J Fox Show: With a full 22-episode run pre-ordered by NBC, the world will want to see how the star of Back To The Future and Family Ties fares after his very public battle with Parkinson’s disease, and it’s a good bet for Sky 1.
  3. Mom: Scary Movie’s Anna Faris stars as a single mom dealing with a teen daughter and cougar mother, played by The West Wing’s Allison Janney. Creator Chuck Lorre also made The Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men. A punt for Channel 4?
  4. Dads: Robot Chicken creator Seth Green stars in a slacker comedy written by Seth MacFarlane, of Ted and Family Guy fame. Yep, it’s about two slackers whose fathers move in with them, and will fit snugly onto Comedy Central or Fox.
  5. The Crazy Ones: Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar star in a father-daughter workplace comedy penned by David E Kelly, the writer of Mad Men. Williams hasn’t done funny in a while and Gellar never has, but Watch could gamble on this.
S.H.I.E.L.D., Michael J Fox and Robin Williams top tips for US imports in Autumn 2013
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a sure-fire hit in Marvel’s new golden age

Drama: making more out of less

The bruising cost of TV drama failure has US networks shying away from 22-episode pre-orders for shorter runs which attract A-list talent and deliver high production values.

  1. Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Joss Wheedon, creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and writer of The Avengers, can hardly fail with the first live-action TV show for Marvel under Disney’s wing. If it’s not on Sky 1 this autumn, we’ll eat our hat.
  2. 24: Live Another Day: It won’t air until 2014, but Jack Bauer is back for, er, 12 episodes of 24. Desperation from Fox, or just a sign of Kiefer Sutherland’s star power? See it on Sky 1, for sure.
  3. Reign: The youth-friendly CW (home to Arrow and Vampire Diaries) has won fans with its take on the story of teenage monarch Mary, Queen of Scots. E4 and Sky Living will probably battle for supremacy.
  4. Hostages: British channels are keen on this political thriller because it’s based on an Israeli format, which proved successful for Homeland. Surgeon Toni Collette is blackmailed to kill the US President when her family is kidnapped, and Channel 4 will find this a comfy fit.
  5. The Blacklist: The FBI’s most-wanted criminal turns himself in to fight crime. James Spader leads another crime drama which will fit well onto Sky Living, Sky Atlantic or Alibi.
  6. Intelligence: Has it been too long for Lost’s Josh Holloway to carry his own TV show? He’s a hunky secret agent with a chip in his head, and either Sky 1, Fox or Watch will take a punt on this.
  7. JJ Abrams: Not a biopic of the Lost and Alias creator who’s riding high with Star Trek and Star Wars remakes, but he has got two shows on the slate this year. Believe is about a young girl with psychic powers who goes on the run. Almost Human is a futuristic police buddy drama with a twist – one of them’s a robot. We’ll see both over here, but where?
  8. Remakes: Some remakes are bold, some cowardly, some just downright bizarre. British thesp Jonathan Rhys Myers is the original vampire in Dracula, wheelchair cop drama Ironside gets remade, pre-Sherlock detective Ichabod Crane goes back to the future in bizarre supernatural drama Sleepy Hollow, and 70s British children’s sci-fi series The Tomorrow People gets an LA makeover.

Bubbling under: Christian Slater stars as a psychological detective in Mind Games, children of America’s elite families are kidnapped in Crisis, Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals, and tough teens must survive a post-apocalyptic Earth in The 100.

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