A race-car driver and a monster-mashing agent raise their family in a videogame universe? Alicia Silverstone as a divorce lawyer-cum-matchmaker? Yes, today’s dreams can become tomorrow’s reality during the frenetic spring ritual known as pilot season, when networks try to find the next ”CSI” or ”Friends” (and avoid the next ”girls club” or ”In-Laws”). Before the fall schedule announcements in mid-May, we scoured the development bins and uncovered these quirky trends.
– To locate tonight’s programs, please refer to your atlas. Prepare to ditch the usual environs: ABC sets its drama ”Naked Hotel” at a Bahamas resort, and The WB’s comedy ”Are We There Yet?” follows a dad and kids on a European vacation. There’s also Fox comedy ”Senor White,” about a guy and his girlfriend who move to Mexico and open a pottery factory. ABC crime drama ”The Circle” journeys to Alaska, Fox drama ”The Break” says aloha to Hawaii, and NBC sitcom ”Alligator Point” surfaces in rural Florida. New Hampshire gets double exposure with CBS’ drama ”The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.” and with ”The Mayor,” The WB’s comedy about a 19-year-old who holds that office. And a pair of Fox sitcoms, including the Green Bay Packer fan-tweaking ”Titletown,” claim Wisconsin as home.
– As the calendar pages turn… There’s no time like the post-present: Fox’s ”NYPD 2069” awakens a cop from a 66-year cryo-nap; NBC’s ”Future Tense” sets its police action in 2023; and CBS’ ”Century City” is a legal drama circa 2053. Meanwhile, UPN’s ”Newton” showcases a family living in a community that tests futuristic products (like tomato-soup truth serum). For truly timeless comedy, though, consider NBC’s ”The Ripples,” about a couple who’ve been married for 4,000 years and have a 3,985-year-old son who looks 15.
– Say, brother, can you spare some class? While three series (including one starring Jenny McCarthy) depict the formerly rich eating humble pie, two others are headed right into the gutter: The WB is prepping ”Trash,” a sitcom described as ”Romeo and Juliet in a trailer park,” while UPN sitcom ”The Mullet Boys” features two beer-thirsty dudes sporting the shorty-longback ‘do. Should UPN pick up this show (God, we ask for so little), here’s a warning to all rivals: You cannot stop the mullet – you can only hope to contain it.