Thursday, March 11, 2010

Most Interesting Pilots: Comedies

All across America hopeful young actors and actresses are gearing up for their first tastes of pilot season. In any given season dozens and dozens of drama and comedy pilots are greenlit by the networks before the big guys ultimately decide whose dreams of becoming a TV star come true and whose fizzle out until next March and April.

This season there are decidedly fewer pilots in production and even fewer interesting pilots in production. I guess even the major networks are feeling the heat of the current recession. But I've gone through the descriptions of the pilots currently greenlit, and here are ones I think have promise.

COMEDIES

1. Shit My Dad Says (CBS)

If you've read the Twitter feed of the same title, you know why this show will be funny. The only hesitation I have is that it seems a little raunchy for network television, where the language will need to be toned down considerably and therefore so will a lot of the humor. But I have faith in William Shatner as the straightforward father, so we'll see.

2. Open Books (CBS)

Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti, both Tony winners for the 2008 Broadway revival of Gypsy, are teamed once again as mother and daughter. The pairing proved fortuitous once, and I can't imagine it not working again. Plus it has a decent couple from the Will & Grace team behind it (director James Burrows and writer/producer Gail Lerner); so if this show about a book editor and her friends is anywhere near as funny as that one then we're in for a huge treat.

3. Wright vs. Wrong (ABC)

Debra Messing back in a half-hour sitcom. As a Republican pundit. With an assistant named Crystal Ball. Count me in.

4. It Takes a Village (ABC)

ABC seems to be looking for a companion to its new monster hit Modern Family with this pilot order. With Cougar Town disappointing lately (ratings-wise) off of its Modern Family lead-in, it seems like this new sitcom would be a perfect fit for its slot. It's about a former couple trying to raise their 15 year-old son. Both the mother and father have moved on: she to a new sports fanatic husband, he to another man (the incredibly hot Cheyenne Jackson). It's high-time that we have more gay characters on television, and pairing one gay-friendly sitcom with another makes sense.

5. Nevermind Nirvana (FOX)

For once, Fox's comedy pilots seem far more interesting than their drama pilots; they are also far more numerous than their drama pilots. Nevermind Nirvana takes the "fish out of water" concept and applies it to the Middle East, where we are given the story of two Indian brothers: one who angers his family by dating a white woman and the other who enters an arranged marriage. It doesn't particularly sound like fodder for a sitcom, but if this is a half-hour each week of Koothrapali-esque comedy then I'll be watching for sure.

6. Security (FOX)

The world of computer hacking, normally only found in spy thrillers and action films, is given a comedic twist here. It sounds like Fox's response to the wildly popular CBS show The Big Bang Theory, but with genius hackers instead of genius scientists. It's created and produced by Adam F. Goldberg, writer of the hilarious and geektastic film Fanboys, and it stars Reaper's wonderful leading man Bret Harrison. It definitely has potential to go places.

7. Wilde Kingdom (FOX)

Will Arnett is too funny to not be on television anymore, and playing a rich Beverly Hills jackass is right up his alley. Casting Keri Russell as his outlandish character's foil (a charitable tree-hugger) is just too good to pass up.

8. Beach Lane (NBC)

Matthew Broderick stars in this pilot about a celebrity author living in the Hamptons who is approached by his irresponsible millionaire neighbor to run the town's struggling newspaper. It doesn't sound like a laugh-riot, but Matthew Broderick has never starred in his own TV show and has only had a handful of guest appearances in his entire career. I'm intrigued as to why he picked this particular pilot as his starting point. So I have faith that he chose wisely and that there's something there that just isn't evident in the initial synopsis.

9. Nathan vs. Nurture (NBC)

The star of ABC's criminally underwatched gem Better Off Ted, Jay Harrington, stars alongside Bill Pullman as a heart surgeon who decides to find his biological parents 35 years after being adopted.... only to find they had 3 other kids and kept them. There is some opportunity for extremely funny and extremely awkward situations here, and I can't wait to see Jay Harrington back in action playing those scenes.

10. The Pink House (NBC)

I can't decide if I think this is a really good or a really bad idea. Two friends take the next step and move to Los Angeles to begin their post-college lives. It's a pretty vague premise, and I'm assuming most of the show's humor will come from the fact they will (presumably) be living in a pink house and therefore be thought to be lovers. It could either be really funny or really offensive.

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