Making a Successful Pilot is Very, Very Hard

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Modern Family and Work It were both trying to be good when they were being conceived. And you can have a good show about two guys dressing up as women, there was that show Tit Pals. Actually wait – I think they ended up going with Bosom Buddies. The thing is there are just so many random factors you have no control over in the pilot process. Like what hit shows they’re trying to replicate, the whims of the execs, the politics and leverage between the studios and networks. And of course the biggest factor: casting. Like if instead of Ty Burrell Modern Family had cast one of the Menendez Brothers, there’s a possibility it might not have been such a big hit. And if instead of those two guys they had, Work It had cast both the Menendez Brothers, it might have been huge. Check that – it would have been huge.And then there’s the all-important ‘testing’. It seems the testing results are more important than what the network, producing the show, thinks. The network could love a pilot but if it tests poorly, it’s dead.  And I know of (the) pilots network execs didn’t even like and they get on (the air) because ‘they tested O.K.’ So if you write a pilot, know your fate is in the hands of a bunch of dial-turning humps in Burbank and Vegas. But hey, at least there is a proven, solid, direct correlation between good testing and success on the air… wait, hold on, what’s that? OK, I’m just getting word that there’s no connection whatsoever between good testing and success on the air.