This is an exciting time of year for those of us who follow the behind-the-scenes machinations of network television. The networks sift through the myriad pilots they have ordered and choose which of them to take to series. In addition to canceling struggling comedies Whitney, 1600 Penn, and Guys With Kids, NBC passed on several comedy pilots including Brenda Forever, Holding Patterns, The Gates, Joe, Joe & Jane, and the untitled Robert Padnick project.
Here now, straight from the horse's mouth, are the comedy pilots that NBC has picked up:
- About A Boy. Based on the best-selling Nick Hornby novel, written/produced by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) and directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Revolution) comes a different kind of coming-of-age story. Will Freeman (David Walton) lives a charmed existence as the ultimate man-child. After writing a hit song, he was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes. He's single, unemployed and loving it. So imagine his surprise when Fiona (Minnie Driver), a needy, single mom and her oddly charming 11-year-old son Marcus (Benjamin Stockham of 1600 Penn) move in next door and disrupt his perfect world. When Marcus begins dropping by his home unannounced, Will's not so sure about being a kid's new best friend, until, of course, Will discovers that women find single dads irresistible. That changes everything and a deal is struck: Marcus will pretend to be Will's son and, in return, Marcus is allowed to chill at Will's house, play ping-pong and gorge on steaks, something his very vegan mom would never allow. Before he realizes it, Will starts to enjoy the visits and even finds himself looking out for the kid. In fact, this newfound friendship may very well teach him a thing or two that he never imagined possible — about himself and caring for others. Also starring are Al Madrigal (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) and Anjelah N. Johnson-Reyes (Our Family Wedding).
- The Family Guide. It's not every family that's brought closer together by divorce, but then again, the Fishers aren't exactly typical. Take Mel Fisher (J.K. Simmons), for example. Whether it's chopping down trees, showing his daughter how to drive or playing football with his son, he's never let the fact that he's blind slow him down. Then there's Joyce Fisher (Parker Posey), possibly the only mom in Pasadena to smoke a pipe. For her, divorce is like a second coming of age, a chance to be the teen she never was. Just ask '80s-obsessed teenage daughter Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley), whose clothes Joyce is always borrowing (that is, when she's not tagging along with Katie to the mall). At the center of all this is Henry (Eli Baker), the Fisher's 11-year old son. Having always been his dad's eyes, ears and wingman, Henry's less than thrilled when Mel shows up with Elvis, a guide dog… which is also how Henry learns about the pending divorce. Awkward. While reluctant to the changes this "big ball of fur" would bring, it's through the adult Henry's voice-over (Jason Bateman) that we find out his parent's split would "allow all of us to finally discover…who we needed to be." The half-hour comedy is executive produced by DJ Nash (Up All Night, Guys with Kids), Bateman and Jim Garavente. The pilot episode is directed by David Schwimmer (Little Britain, Run Fat Boy Run).
- Sean Saves The World. Sean (Sean Hayes) is a divorced gay dad who juggles a lot — his successful but demanding career, offbeat employees, pushy mom Lorna (Linda Lavin), and weekends with his teenage daughter, Ellie (Sami Isler). So when his 14-year-old bundle of joy moves in full-time, it's a whole new world. Never one to do anything halfway, Sean's intent on being the best dad ever, so he loads up on parenting how-to books and plans Pinterest-worthy family dinners. But it seems his company's new owner has decided Sean and his team should work longer hours, putting a damper on his homemaking plans and throwing a kink in Sean's perfectly constructed work/life balance. Ellie, a normal girl who wants to hang with her friends and eat on the run, sees this development as a plus. She loves her dad, but he's clearly going overboard. From keeping his boss happy, his employees motivated and enduring his mother's tactless "advice" to raising a smart, grounded and healthy kid, it's going to be a growing experience, to say the least. But if anyone can handle it all, it's Sean. Thomas Lennon (Reno 911), Lindsay Sloane (Weeds) and Echo Kellum (Ben and Kate) also star.
- Undateable. When confident slacker Danny Beeman (Chris D'Elia) takes Justin (comedian Brent Morin) on as a roommate, Danny unwittingly inherits Justin's group of romantically challenged friends. Seeing himself as the ultimate player, Danny decides to teach the crew (who he dubs "The Undateables") everything he knows about "the game of love." For their first lesson, Danny takes the guys to an event hosted by his sister, Leslie (Bianca Kajlich), who is a single mom with dating difficulties of her own. At first, Danny's advice seems to pay off big-time: The shy guy talks to a girl, the no-filter dude learns it's never OK to ask a woman when she's due, and his nebbish roommate, Justin, goes home with a mystery woman. It's not until the next day that they figure out it was Leslie! Talk about a bunch who just can't get lucky! From the executive producers of "Cougar Town" comes a hilarious new comedy about the "do's," "don'ts" and "duhs" of dating. From Emmy-nominated executive producer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town).
Sean Saves The World wins next season's award for Most Pretentious Show Title and I will predict its swift cancellation right now. Do any of these new comedies do anything for you?