Every year around this time the networks pin all of their monetary aspirations on several pilots that they hope will eventually be the next Friends. The 2013 pilots have been released and several trends have floated to the top.
1. Single-camera Comedies With the critical success of comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation, multi-camera comedies look trite and Cosby-esque. The single-camera show is cleaner looking, gives more opportunity for actor reaction and looks less robotic. While multi-camera comedies are still plentiful, of the new shows being released most of them are hopping on the single-camera bus.
2. 30-something All Over Again It's not surprising that with the 20-something market tapped out someone might have the grand idea that another cohort needed some TV love. The influx of new middle age (oh lord) focused shows remind us that 30-year olds are just as lost and mixed up as those a decade younger. Twenty-somethings shouldn't have all the unprotected sex, should they?
3. Old Standbys We've got new shows from trusted producer/creators Shane Brennan (NCIS), Lorne Michaels (SNL), Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men), Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, other things awesome), Mike Schur and Dan Goor (Parks and Recreation), J.J. Abrams (Lost) and Jason Katims (Parenthood), among others. There are also quite a few famous names that the networks are banking on - Rebecca Romijn, Andy Samberg, Ken Marino (yes!) Allison Janney and many other household names.
So what's coming out to look forward to and what is going to sink really quickly? Here's my predications - and note that I was totally wrong about Revolution, which I still say is a terrible show.
I give you the 2013 comedies
How the Hell Am I Normal? (previously How the F Am I Normal) Logline: A dysfunctional Wonder Years set in the simpler times of the 1980s, inspired by Adam F. Goldberg's childhood. Cast: Wendi McLendon-Covey Team: W/EP Adam F. Goldberg (Breaking In); EP Doug Robinson, EP/D Seth Gordon Studio: Sony Pictures Television, Happy Madison Format: Single-camera Location: Los Angeles Thumbs Up! I don't know why, but this sounds like it could be OK.
Mixology Logline: A high-concept single-camera comedy from the writers behind The Hangover set in the world of a sexy Manhattan bar chronicling the exploits of singles in search of love -- all over the course of one night. Cast: Team: W/EP Jon Lucas, Scott Moore (The Hangover) Studio: ABC Studios Format: Single-camera Location: Thumbs way, way down. This will be canceled immediately.
Pulling Logline: The story of three dysfunctional women in their 30s living their lives the way they want, even if society tells them they should have it all figured out by this point. Cast: Team: W/EP Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky (Bad Teacher); EP Aaron Kaplan, Sharon Horgan, Dennis Kelly Studio: ABC Studios, Kaplan Entertainment Format: Single-camera Location: Sorry ladies, unless you get Lizzy Caplan to star I ain't watching.
Spy Logline: Based on the British series of the same name, a well-intentioned father of a highly intelligent and verbal son, who also happens to be his complete opposite, inadvertently takes a job at the secret service in order to prove himself a worthy father. Cast: Team: W/EP Simeon Goulden; EP Jimmy Mulville, Helen Williams Studio: ABC Studios, Hat Trick Productions Format: Single-camera Location: Thumbs down. This sounds like a bad conglomeration between Spy Kids and True Lies.
Super Fun Night (rolled from CBS last year) Logline: Revolves around three nerdy female friends, including Pitch Perfect's Rebel Wilson, on a "funcomfortable" quest to have "super fun" every Friday night. Cast: Rebel Wilson, Kelen Coleman, Kevin Bishop, Lauren Ash, Liza Lapira Team: W/Co-EP Rebel Wilson; EP Conan O'Brien, David Kissinger, Jeff Ross, EP/D John Riggi Studio: Warner Bros. Television, Conaco Productions Format: Single-camera Location: Los Angeles Yes! Anything Rebel Wilson does is brilliant.
Trophy Wife Logline: A reformed party girl finds herself with an instant family when she falls in love with a man who has three manipulative children and two judgmental ex-wives. Cast: Bradley Whitford, Malin Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden, Michaela Watkins, Natalie Morales, Ryan Lee Team: W/EP Emily Halpern (Private Practice), Sarah Haskins; EP Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg; D Jason Moore Studio: ABC Studios Format: Single-camera Location: Los Angeles No way, thumbs way down. Wait, is that Natalie Morales of the Today Show? The untitled Cullens project Logline: When Terry Gannon, a recently divorced, single mother, temporarily moves in with her estranged father (James Caan), a beer swilling former baseball player, she reluctantly starts coaching her son's underdog little league team and is drawn back into the world of sports she vowed to leave behind. Cast: James Caan Team: W/EP Mark Cullen, Robb Cullen (Las Vegas); EP Aaron Kaplan Studio: 20th Television, Kaplan Entertainment Format: Single-camera Location: James Caan as a divorced drunk? I'll take it!
Bad Teacher Logline: Based on the film, a sexy, foul-mouthed divorcee becomes a teacher to find her next husband. Cast: Team: W/EP Hilary Winston (Community); EP Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupinsky (the original Bad Teacher screenwriters), Sam Hansen, Jimmy Miller Studio: Sony Pictures Television, Mosiac Format: Single-camera Location: Bad Teacher was a bad movie. Now Bad Santa, I'll watch that every week.
Ex-Men Logline: A young guy (Chris Smith) who finds camaraderie living among the more experienced guys he meets in a short-term rental complex. Cast: Chris Smith, Kal Penn, Jerry O'Connell, Tony Shalhoub, Rebecca Brooks Team: W/EP/D Rob Greenberg (How I Met Your Mother); EP Eric and Kim Tannenbaum Studio: CBS Television, Tannenbaum Co. Format: Single-camera Location: Los Angeles Pass.
Friends With Better Lives Logline: A group of thirtysomething friends who each think the other has it better. Cast: Team: W/EP Dana Klein (Friends); EP Aaron Kaplan Studio: 20th Television, Kapital Entertainment Format: Multicamera Location: And what do you suppose these thirtysomethings will find out? Hmm... I wonder. Thumbs down!
Mom Logline: Revolves around a newly sober single mom (Scary Movie's Anna Faris) who tries to pull her life together in Napa Valley. Cast: Anna Faris, Allison Janney Team: W/EP Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky, Gemma Baker (Two and a Half Men) Studio: Warner Bros. Television, Chuck Lorre Productions Format: Multicamera Location: Los Angeles Anna Faris can walk around and moo like a cow for 30 minutes and I will watch that.
The McCarthys Logline: A family comedy about a loud, sports-crazed Boston clan. Cast: Team: W/co-EP Brian Gallivan (Are You There, Chelsea?); EP Will Gluck Studio: Sony Pictures Television, Olive Bridge Format: Single-camera Location: Los Angeles NO! Super Clyde Logline: Centers on a meek, unassuming fast food worker decides to become a super hero. Cast: Team: W/EP Greg Garcia (Raising Hope) Studio: CBS Television Studios Format: Single-camera Location: Los Angeles If this is like The Greatest American Hero then I'm in.
Unauthorized Greg Garcia project Logline: A recently divorced man's life is complicated when his parents decide to move in with him. Team: W/EP Greg Garcia (Raising Hope) Studio: CBS Television Studios Format: Multicamera Location: Los Angeles Isn't this a show? Or isn't this like the opposite of Get a Life? Let's just remake that show.
Untitled Jim Gaffigan comedy Logline: The semi-autobiographical comedy revolves around Gaffigan as a happily married and harried New York City father of five -- as he is in real life. Cast: Jim Gaffigan Team: W Jim Gaffigan, Peter Tolan (Rescue Me); EP Michael Wimer, Alex Murray Studio: Sony Pictures Television, Fedora Entertainment Format: Single-camera Location: New York Sold.
2 Wrongs Logline: Two star-crossed lovers, Nick and Jenny, must contend with Nick's family's strong dislike of Jenny, which is not helped by the fact that Jenny left Nick at the altar seven years ago. Cast: Team: W/EP Michelle Morgan (Girl Most Likely); EP Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, Aaron Kaplan, Sean Perrone Studio: 20th Television, Chernin Co. Format: Single-camera Location: I'm already confused.
Dads (six-episode straight to series order) Logline: Centers on two successful guys in their 30s who have their lives turned upside down when their nightmare dads unexpectedly move in with them. Cast: Team: W/EP Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild (Ted); EP Seth MacFarlane Studio: 20th Television Format: Multicamera Location: Wait, two successful guys both have their dads move in with them? The unbelievable coincidence alone is enough to make me barf.
Enlisted Logline: Based on Kevin Biegel's relationship with his siblings, the comedy follows three very different brothers working together in the Army at a small base in Florida. Cast: Team: W/EP Kevin Biegel (Cougar Town); EP Mike Royce (Men of a Certain Age) Studio: 20th Television Format: Single-camera Location: Kevin Biegel is pretty funny, so I'll give this one a fighting chance.
Friends & Family Logline: Based on the BBC series Gavin & Stacey, friends and family are the best support and the worst nightmare when two very different lovers meet and try to make a long distance relationship work. Cast: Team: W/EP David Rosen (I Just Want My Pants Back); EP Steve Coogan, Jane Tranter, Julie Gardner, James Corden, Ruth Jones, Henry Normal Studio: Sony Pictures Television, BBC Worldwide Productions, Baby Cow Productions Format: Single-camera Location: If Steve Coogan is involved then yes.
House Rules Logline: Revolves around an introverted, neurotic Wisconsin family that lives in a community of over-sharers. Cast: Team: W/EP Justin Hurwitz (FX's The League), Andrew Gurland (The Last Exorcism Part II); EP David Dobkin, Paul Young, Peter Principato Studio: 20th Television, Principato-Young Format: Single-camera Location: Like Newhart? Then I'll take it.
To My Assistant Logline: Based on the blog and upcoming book To My Assistant, by Lydia Whitlock, the comedy revolves around assistants at a big New York law firm who band together as a family to help each other cope with the obnoxious overbearing bosses who challenge their sanity on a daily basis. Cast: Team: W/EP Sherry Bilsing-Graham, Ellen Kreamer (Friends); EP Dan Lin, Jennifer Gwartz Studio: Warner Bros. Television, Lin Pictures Format: Single-camera Location: You had me at... based on the blog... and then you had me roll my eyes and say no thanks.
Untitled Dan Goor/Mike Schur comedy Logline: Revolves around a diverse group of detectives at a New York precinct. Cast: Andy Samberg, Terry Crews Team: W/EP Dan Goor, Mike Schur (Parks and Recreation); EP David Miner; P Andy Samberg; D Phil Lord, Chris Miller (21 Jump Street) Studio: Universal Television, 3 Arts Format: Single-camera Location: Los Angeles Parks and Rec in a police precinct starring Andy Samberg. How could this be bad?
Untitled Justin Halpern/Patrick Schumacker comedy Logline: Based on Justin Halpern's book I Suck at Girls, it's a story about a boy becoming a man, and a man becoming a father, in a time before coming of age was something you could Google. Cast: Team: W/EP Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker (S#*! My Dad Says); EP Bill Lawrence, Jeff Ingold Studio: Warner Bros. Television, Doozer Productions Format: Single-camera Location: A show that takes place before Google that is not the Carrie Diaries? I dunno. This is a tough call. NBC
About a Boy Logline: An adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel and the 2002 Hugh Grant feature film, it follows the relationship between a bachelor man-child and the young boy who moves in next door with his crazy, single mother. Cast: Team: W/EP Jason Katims (Parenthood), EP Michelle Lee Studio: Universal Television, True Jack Productions, Working Title Productions, Tribeca Productions Format: Single-camera Location: This barely worked as a movie (fight me now if you so desire). We don't need this as a weekly television show.
Assistance Logline: Based on Leslye Headland's play of the same name, the female-fronted comedy revolves around Nora, an idealistic assistant who attempts to find balance in her life while juggling the demands of a larger-than-life boss. The project is described as a fast-moving comedy centered on an idealistic "working girl" assistant who is pulled between her colleague ("work husband") and her real life fiancé while trying to manage a demanding (translation: crazy) boss. Cast: Team: W/EP Leslye Headland (Bachelorette); EP Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy, Owen Burke Studio: Universal Television, Gary Sanchez Productions Format: Single-camera Location: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are involved so I have to give it a thumbs up.
Donor Party Logline: The ensemble comedy, in "new normal fashion," is focused on an irresponsible man forced to grow up when he discovers he has children resulting from his days as a sperm donor. A new family unit develops when a single mom contacts him and he begins to have a relationship with her and the son he never knew he had. Cast: Team: W/EP Alex Schemmer (Community); EP Geyer Kosinski (Magic City) Studio: Universal Television, Lionsgate, Media Talent Group Format: Single-camera Location: I liked The Kids Are Alright too. I just wouldn't have thought it would make a good sitcom. But I have been proven wrong before.
The Gates Logline: Based on the British comedy of the same name, Gates revolves around the parents and staff who navigate the twice-daily social landmine that exists at the school drop-off gates of an elementary school. Cast: Ken Marino, Aasif Mandvi, Diana Maria Riva, John Grisetti, Justin Chon, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Christina Kirk, Kylie Rogers Team: W/EP Cathy Yuspa, Josh Goldsmith ('Til Death, The King of Queens); EPs Aaron Kaplan Studio: 20th Television, Kapital Entertainment, Feelgood Fiction Format: Single-camera Location: I want to watch this now.
Girlfriend in a Coma Logline: After almost two decades, a 34-year-old woman wakes up from a coma to find out she has a 17-year-old daughter from a pregnancy she was unaware of when her life was put on hold. (Single) Cast: Team: EP/W: Liz Brixius (Nurse Jackie); EP Dick Wolf, Danielle Gelber Studio: Universal Television, Wolf Films Format: Single-camera Location: So like Encino Man but with Facebook and cell phone jokes. Next.
Holding Patterns Logline: Ensemble comedy about a group of friends whose lives completely change after they survive a plane crash. Cast: Team: EP/W: Justin Spitzer (The Office); EP Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan Studio: Universal Television, TBD Productions Format: Multicamera Location: Lost but a sitcom. I'll bite.
Joe, Joe and Jane Logline: The semi-autobiographical project centers on a conflict-avoidant children's book author caught in an ongoing tug of war between two needy, flawed people: his wife (Army Wives' Sally Pressman) and his co-author/best friend; it's not about a couple, it's about a "trouple." Cast: Sally Pressman (Army Wives) Team: W/EP Joe Port, Joe Wiseman (New Girl) Studio: 20th Television Format: Multicamera Location: It's not about a couple, it's about "trouple?" Who allows these things to happen?
Undateable Logline: A young ensemble centering on a group of friends dubbed the "Undateables" whose lives are altered when a more confident character enters their world. Cast: Team: W/EP Adam Sztykiel (Due Date); EP Bill Lawrence, Jeff Ingold Studio: Warner Bros. Television, Doozer Productions Format: Multicamera Location: Oh you poor "undateables," not only does no one want to take you out to Chilli's on a Friday night but also your show will be canceled in three episodes.
Untitled DJ Nash Logline: A son who idolizes his blind father and is bemused by his mother's newfound adolescence watches his family come closer together post-divorce. Cast: Team: EP/W: DJ Nash (Up All Night); EP Jason Bateman, Jim Garavente Studio: Universal Television, Aggregate Films Format: Single-camera Location: This sounds so unfunny that it might just be crazy enough to work!
Untitled Greg Daniels/Robert Padnick comedy Logline: Revolves around the trials and tribulations of dating in your 20s as told through a group of friends. Cast: Team: W/EP Robert Padnick (The Office); EP Greg Daniels, Tracy Katsky, Howard Klein Studio: Universal Television, Deedle Dee Productions, 3 Arts Entertainment Format: Single-camera Location: Isn't this show called How I Met Your Mother?
Untitled Jessica Simpson comedy -- (pilot presentation) Logline: A comedy loosely based on Simpson's life. Cast: Jessica Simpson Team: W/EP Robin Bakay, Nick Bakay (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, 'Till Death); EP Ben Silverman, Joe Simpson, co-EP Jimmy Fox Studio: Universal Television, Electus Format: Single-camera Location: No. No. No. No. No.
Untitled John Mulaney/Lorne Michaels comedy Logline: An ensemble comedy that is created, written by and starring stand-up comedian John Mulaney based loosely on his life. Cast: John Mulaney Team: W/EP John Mulaney; EP Lorne Michaels; Andrew Singer; Dave Becky; David Miner Studio: Universal Television, Broadway Video, 3 Arts Format: Multicamera Location: This will be bad I'm sure, but you have to give it a chance because it's Lorne Michaels.
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Untitled Michael J. Fox comedy -- ordered straight to series Logline: Inspired by the former Family Ties actor's life, Fox stars as a husband and father of three from New York City dealing with family, career and challenges -- including Parkinson's disease -- as he goes back to work as a news anchor. Cast: Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), Katie Finneran (Wonderfalls), Wendell Pierce (Treme), Ana Nogueira, Conor Romero, Juliette Goglia, Jack Gore Team: W/EP Sam Laybourne, EP Richard Schwartz, EP/D Will Gluck Studio: Sony Pictures Television, Olive Bridge Format: Single-camera Location: New York I want so much for this to be good for Michael J. Fox. It just sounds depressing as all hell. But he has proven us all wrong before. Teen Wolf also sounded really disturbing when it first came out.
Untitled Owen Ellickson & Craig Robinson comedy Logline: Centers on a talented musician (The Office's Craig Robinson) who adjusts to his new life as a middle school music teacher, where he maneuvers precocious kids, teacher politics and the temptations of single moms. Cast: Craig Robinson Team: W/EP Owen Ellickson (The Office); EP Greg Daniels, Tracy Katsky, Howard Klein, Mark Schulman, P Craig Robinson Studio: Universal Television, Deedle-Dee Productions, 3 Arts Format: Single-camera Location: I love Craig Robinson from The Office. He is probably the funniest current cast member. I will give this one a shot.
Untitled Sean Hayes Logline: Centers on Sean (Hayes), a guy who must figure out how to parent his 14-year-old daughter -- who just moved in -- while juggling a temperamental new boss at work. Cast: Sean Hayes Team: W/EP Victor Fresco (Better Off Ted); EP Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner Studio: Universal Television, Hazy Mills Format: Multicamera Location: Sean Hayes can only play one character on television, sorry bro.
Welcome to the Family Logline: Cultures collide when a white family and a Latino family are bonded together by their children who fall in love followed quickly by an unplanned pregnancy. (Single camera) Cast: Team: W/EP Mike Sikowitz (Rules of Engagement) Studio: Sony Pictures Television Format: Single-camera Location: This doesn't sound funny at all. It sounds like a commercial for Planned Parenthood.