God, I love pilot season. So much hope! So many ideas! So much creativity (or at least unnecessarily redoing what was once other people’s creativity)! So much potential to really and truly fill every primetime spot on my DVR! (Though I am getting seriously close these days.) Sure, most of them won’t get picked up, and sure, most pilots are absolutely terrible (House‘s may be one of the worse I’ve ever seen, and I’ve loyally watched it through every season of its existence), but just knowing what may be out there, what diamonds in the rough might exist, what potential surprises there might be… it’s all glorious enough to get me through the end of the cold, bitter winter. (Figuratively speaking–this winter’s a total joke, obvi.) This year, though, I find I’m not terribly excited by the premises of the shows themselves. What does thrill me is the lineup of actors slated to star in them.

There are a few things that’ll make an actor a “must-watch” in my book:

1) He or she starred on a show to which I am obsessively loyal, whether or not it is deserved. As such, I’ll watch just about anything starring someone from Veronica Mars (which means I’ll be checking out both Ryan Hansen and Alona Tal’s new shows, El Jefe and Cult, respectively), Degrassi (which is how I ended up watching my beloved The Vampire Diaries and which is also why I’ll check out Cassie Steele’s new show, The L.A. Complex, which will be premiering on the CW come spring), and Arrested Development. (Although I think this is besides the fact, because with the exception of Running Wilde, which was awful, they’re always shows I’d watch anyway. I must, however, cop to the fact that I completely missed out on Better Off Ted, but I will absolutely be watching Portia de Rossi’s new show, The Smart One, even though the idea that Portia de Rossi’s is playing a character who’s less attractive than someone makes my eyes roll so hard I can see Japan from here. Ditto Judy Greer’s American Judy, despite having the worst title since Cougar Town.)

2) I loved him or her so much in a previous role that I simply must follow them to the next one. Becki Newton and Michael Urie will always be safely on this list, and Newton absolutely held up to my love in the sadly short-lived Love Bites this past summer. As far as I’m concerned, the former Amanda and Marc of Ugly Betty fame can do no wrong, and so I’ll be following them to The Goodwin Games (which now also stars Scott Foley, who I think I like but am never sure) and Partners, respectively. (Although by the rules of this category, Sophia Bush would’ve gotten me to watch Partners anyway. Now it’s just guaranteed that I’ll try more than one episode, assuming it gets picked up.) And, speaking of Ugly Betty, I’m still trying to decide whether my love for Ana Ortiz is enough to overcome my dislike for Dania Ramirez in the battle of “Should I watch Devious Maids or not?”

Other contenders for this category include Weeds‘ Justin Kirk, whose Animal Kingdom will have him portraying a “House-like” vet (which I fear may be not only derivative but incredibly cheesy in a half hour comedy format, and yet… yeah, I’ll be watching) and both Willa Holland (The O.C.‘s relevant Caitlin and Gossip Girl‘s bad influence Agnes) and Katie Cassidy (Melrose 2.0‘s Ella, aka the only decent thing about that travesty aside from getting to see the old actors again), whose teaming up for the CW’s Arrow is the only reason I would ever even attempt watching a superhero show. (The teaming up is an actual requirement, since Katie Cassidy has been an utter travesty in everything since her standout role.)

3) He or she is just so cute I find them impossible not to like. Yeah, I’m that shallow. Don’t get me wrong–these people are fine actors. If they weren’t, the cuteness would disappear pretty immediately. It’s really an all-around cuteness that gets me. Put two of them together in one show–as Gregs Berlanti and Malins have done with their still-untitled pilot by casting both JoAnna Garcia of my beloved Privileged and Bryan Greenberg, who was just so dreamy as single dad Jake on One Tree Hill–and I’m pretty much a fangirl for life. And then there’s Michael Rady, whose cuteness factor definitely dipped for me in his dismally boring role on Melrose Place 2.0 but whose nerdy charm, especially on the dearly departed Greek, definitely has potential to win me back with the right show. Since I tend to be a sucker for the CW, maybe First Cut will be it?

Man, I’m getting goose bumps just writing about the possibilities…. Hurry up, upfronts!

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