The Best Unaired Pilot of 2011

[Editor's Note: Welcome to our newest dreamgirl, L! She'll be posting every Thursday, so be sure to come back and visit her!]

Missed 17th Precinct when the pilot leaked? Want to know why it was the best unaired pilot of 2011? Then you should keep reading.

I saw the unaired pilot of 17th Precinct for the glorious window of time Nerve had it linked after the it leaked until the video was pulled. I’d been following 17th Precinct since it was a blink-and-miss-it mention in entertainment blogs.

Crime procedural? Check.

Magic? Check.

Social discord between magic and science? Check!

 The Setup

In the world of 17th Precinct, the City by the Bay has been recast in this universe as Excelsior. The modern world as we know it never evolved. Magic did. This is a world that runs on fire and plant life, and a trail of ivy is what acts as the air conditioning in your apartment building. The pilot opens with the murder of the Executive Prophet of Excelsior shortly before the Equinox. The Prophet shares the future of the city on the Equinox every year, and he’s brutally murdered on the street behind a charm of silence before he delivers the Equinox prophecy. I don’t use the term brutally lightly; the man is hamstrung and viciously stabbed over and over. It’s scary, violent stuff. His crime scene is handled by a duo of magic wielding detectives, forensic experts who use wands, and the Necromancer.

Not coroner. Necromancer. She summons the spirit of the Prophet, pleading with him to tell her the details of his death.

“Injustice will follow you.”

“This is not about justice. This was about vengeance.”

He vanishes, leaving the coroner alone at her casting table in a dirty Excelsior alley.


The conflict of the pilot exists between a group of extremists, the Stoics, and the world at large. Few people know the Stoics even exist, and two of them are an Intuitive Homicide Detective, and his former partner. Prone to intuitions and flashes of insight, he convinces her to return to Homicide from Robbery when his intuition tells him that the Stoics have returned.

In this world of magic, no one is prepared for the utter havoc of things we take for granted in the real world.

Like a gun.

 The Story Stands Alone

I love crime procedurals. I love urban fantasy settings. But more than an intriguing setup, I love good world building. That’s why I’m keenly disappointed 17th Precinct didn’t get a real chance. This is the first time in years that I felt that an urban fantasy on television attracted me with a seamless setting. For added geek quotient here, I edit a lot of short stories. I read a lot of anthologies. It sucks that 17th Precinct didn’t get a chance, but the pilot was incredibly self-contained. It had all the room and world to grow a series off of, but the ominous ending is still a beat it to end on without making you feel a lack of resolution. That’s about as common in this world as a bullet is in Excelsior.

Got a favorite leaked pilot or DOA show? Know of a great example of world building in a television show? Feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me a tweet.

About l

L is a freelancer currently working as a writer, editor, journalist and game designer. She hauls a suitcase decorated in stickers as she blogs, travels, and tours. She makes her home in Washington, California, and wherever the tour stopped last night. You can follow L on twitter (@lilyorit )

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