Adding to its collection of outside-the-box series, ABC has granted a put pilot commitment to a paranormal cop comedy.
Based on a new Australian series, Strange Calls will focus on Toby Banks, a good-hearted yet bumbling police officer from Boston who is relegated to night duty on Nantucket Island, where bizarre and mysterious supernatural events are commonplace for nine months out of the year.
Setting up shop in an aging lighthouse on the outskirts of town, Toby is teamed with the oddball lighthouse keeper, a local paranormal expert named Gregor. As they deal with the strange calls they receive every night at the station, Toby and Gregor combine to form an unlikely crimefighting duo.
Premiering next Tuesday on Australia's ABC2, the Aussie original series was conceived as a multiplatform project. Making smart use of social media, Strange Calls invites the audience to interact with the characters and report their own peculiar sightings through Twitter and the show's website.
Executive produced by director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and producer Aaron Kaplan (The Neighbors), the American translation will be written by Donick Cary, a Nantucketer himself who joined FOX's New Girl as a co-executive producer after the pilot was filmed.
Beginning his career on David Letterman's NBC and CBS shows, Cary was named head writer at the age of 25 and went on to share in an Emmy Award for Best Animated Series while working on The Simpsons. He also created the Comedy Central animated series Lil' Bush, which became the first mobile/web show to get its own television show, and was second-in-command to Jonathan Ames on HBO's Bored To Death.
Using the audience participation angle via the internet, Strange Calls has a strong hook and could find its niche with the popularity of shows like Ghost Hunters. The trailer for the Australian version tickled my funnybone, so if ABC's adaptation can hit a similar deadpan tone, I would definitely be interested. What do you think?