Pilot season, and the development process that precedes it, is a long and arduous journey. Writers, producers, directors, and actors pour their heart and soul into projects that may never see the light of day, based on the whims of focus groups and network executives. Now that the talk is over and the smoke has cleared, the networks will begin announcing the pilots they have picked up for next season.
FOX is the first to reveal its full slate of pickups, taking four dramas and five comedies to series, including the previously announced order for Seth MacFarlane's live-action Dads. All of the new comedies have received 13-episode orders. In contrast with the current struggling female-skewing comedy lineup, the pickups cater to a strongly male demographic with shows about cops and dads and army brothers, starring names like Christopher Meloni, Andy Samberg, and Seth Green. The network has also renewed comedies New Girl, Raising Hope, and The Mindy Project.
Let's take a look at the newest additions to the FOX comedy roster:
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This is the previously untitled single-camera ensemble comedy from Parks and Recreation writers/producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur, starring Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, and Terry Crews as a diverse group of New York City police detectives who must adjust when a new "by-the-book" boss takes over. The pilot was directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo behind 21 Jump Street and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. The cast also features Melissa Fumero, Stephanie Beatriz, Chelsea Peretti, and Joe Lo Truglio.
- Dads. From Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild — the "creatively outrageous" trio responsible for FOX's Family Guy and last summer's hit comedy Ted — comes this multi-camera sitcom about two successful best friends (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) whose lives are upended when their fathers (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert) move in with them. At least it's a twist on the current favorite comedy concept of adult children moving back home with their parents. Originally granted a six-episode order, that request has been bumped up to 13. Tommy Dewey, Brenda Song, Tonita Castro, and Vanessa Lachey also appear.
- Enlisted. An "irreverent and heartfelt" single-camera military family comedy from Cougar Town co-creator Kevin Biegel, Enlisted revolves around three very different brothers (Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, and Parker Young) and the group of misfits surrounding them on a small Army base in Florida. Keith David and Angelique Cabral round out the cast.
- Surviving Jack. Based on $#*! My Dad Says author Justin Halpern's semi-autobiographical followup I Suck At Girls, Surviving Jack is set in 1990s Southern California and tells the story of a man becoming a father while his son becomes a man at a time when "coming of age" wasn't something you could Google. In his first regular role since leaving NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Christopher Meloni anchors the show as titular father Jack and scored stellar testing results from focus groups, leading to the pickup. Initially reticent to join the project, Meloni had to be talked into accepting the offer to star and that effort has proven fruitful for the producers. The cast also includes Alex Kapp Horner, Connor Buckley, Claudia Lee, Kevin Hernandez, and Tyler Foden.
- Us & Them. Adapted from the British series Gavin and Stacey, Us & Them follows a young couple in a long-distance relationship, played by Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel, whose path to happiness together is complicated by the "screwed-up circus of people" closest to them. Those people include veteran stars Jane Kaczmarek and Kurt Fuller, as well as Kerri Kenney, Dustin Ybarra, and Ashlie Atkinson.
Out of this lineup, I am most looking forward to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Surviving Jack, and Dads. The casting and creative teams on these new series show a lot of potential.
What do you think of FOX's new comedies?