Nets Seek New Pilots for 2nd Chance at More LaughsTargeting star vehicles, male leads to jump-start flagging comedy blocks 2/04/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern
The recent cancellations of
Fox’s Ben and Kate and ABC’s Don’t
Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 dashed
the hopes of those respective networks for
new comedy blocks, a priority for all four
broadcasters this season.
Those series join CBS’ Partners and NBC’s
Animal Practice as casualties in a season where
no new comedy has broken out. ABC’s The
Neighbors and Malibu Country, NBC’s Guys
With Kids and The New Normal and Fox’s The
Mindy Project have been tepid performers,
while NBC’s Go On, which thrived out of The
Voice this fall, has fallen precipitously without
its strong lead-in.
With pilot season in full swing, here are
some of the ways each network will attempt
to fill their comedy void next fall.
Fox: Bring in the Males
After female-led comedies New Girl and The
Mindy Project didn’t post the stellar sophomore
and freshman seasons, respectively, that
Fox was hoping for, entertainment chairman
Kevin Reilly has said he wants to add more
male-appealing shows to the comedy block.
“I think that’s part of our challenge on Tuesday
night, we’re not getting enough men,”
Reilly told a group of reporters at the Television
Critics Association press tour in January.
“We could get a little broader appeal show in
that [block]. And I want to be a little louder.”
In the loud column, Fox has already given
a straight-to-series commitment to Dads, from
executive producer Seth MacFarlane and his
Ted cowriters Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild.
In addition to the six episodes of the multi-cam
about two guys in their 30s whose dads unexpectedly
move in with them, Fox has picked up
three other pilots with male lead characters: Enlisted,
which follows three very different brothers
working at a small Army base in Florida; an untitled
project about a diverse group of detectives
at a New York precinct starring Andy Samberg
and Terry Crews; and another untitled project
from Justin Halpern ($#*! My Dad Says) based
on his book, I Suck at Girls.
NBC: Banking on Star Power
The Peacock had high hopes that 1600 Penn
would be its answer to Modern Family, but its
1.4 average rating with adults 18-49 is not the
breakout needed to rebuild its Thursday night.
Despite Animal Practice’s failure, NBC has not
given up on going broad in its comedy strategy.
“We’re just constantly striving to figure out
what are those shows that can grow the audience,”
NBC Entertainment chairman Bob
Greenblatt said at TCA.
NBC hopes it has that with a new Michael
J. Fox series, which it gave a 22-episode commitment
to last August to lure the Spin City
star back to TV. NBC is also banking on several
other star vehicles, with pilots starring
Jessica Simpson in a comedy loosely based on
her life, The Office’s Craig Robinson as a musician
adjusting to life as a middle school music
teacher and Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as a
father figuring out how to parent his 14-yearold
daughter and juggle a temperamental boss.
ABC: Another Round
of Funny Femmes
Despite the cancellation of Apartment 23 and
with Happy Endings clinging to the bubble,
ABC is giving dysfunctional female friendships
and the relationship struggles of young singles
another go-round in its development.
The network has ordered pilots for Mixology,
following singles’ search for love at a Manhattan
bar over the course of one night; Pulling,
about three dysfunctional women in their 30s
living life on their own terms; and Super Fun
Night, starring Bridesmaids breakout Rebel Wilson
as one of three nerdy female friends on a
quest to have “super fun” every Friday night.
CBS: Searching for
a Single-Cam Hit
With CBS and Warner Bros.’ desire to return
Two and a Half Men, perennial bubble show
Rules of Engagement is probably the only CBS
comedy in possible danger of not returning
next season, leaving few holes to fill.
Notably, the network known for its multicam
sitcoms has picked up five single-camera
comedy pilots, increasing the chances that one
might make it to the schedule (which has not
happened since the 2008-09 season).
Those pilots are a TV adaptation of the film
Bad Teacher; Ex Men, about a group of guys living
in a short-term rental complex; The McCarleys,
about a loud, sports-crazed Boston family; Super
Clyde, from Raising Hope’s Greg Garcia, which
concerns an unassuming fast-food worker who
decides to become a superhero; and an semiautobiographical
Jim Gaffigan project starring
the comedian as a married father of five.
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