Our resident script reader Jean-Maxime Renault has read the scripts for each of the four comedies FOX has ordered to pilot this development season. So which does he think are most likely to get picked up to series? Read on...
2019 marks the end of a long era for FOX as it separates from its parent company 20th Century Fox, most of which was acquired by Disney in a deal that closed last month. What this means for "New FOX" (as it's being referred to) is that Disney now owns its former in-house studio, forcing a change in strategy for a network that had built its brand on original, critically acclaimed programming like The Simpsons and 24.
To backfill, the network has said it will partner with independent studios to commision and acquire new programing, placing greater emphasis on sports, live events and unscripted programming (Thursday Night Football, Major League Baseball, WWE Smackdown, The Masked Singer, Paradise Hotel...) and far fewer scripted shows.They've already renewed 9-1-1 and The Resident, The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob's Burgers, and they've handed out straight-to-series orders for two new animated comedies: Bless the Harts and Duncanville. Likewise, Last Man Standing seems all but sure to be back for an 8th season, as the Tim Allen-starrer attracts the exact audience that new FOX is after: predominently white, male and Middle-American.
All of which is to say there seems to be very little room for new scripted series, especially on the comedy side. From the four comedy pilots picked-up, two are traditional multicamera & two are single-cam. Only one of them may end up on the schedule, especially if FOX renews The Cool Kids, their last current comedy waiting to hear about its fate.
1. GENIUSES (20th Century FOX Television)
Maggie Lawson & Jason Biggs star as a blue-collar couple living in South Jersey trying to get by while raising four kids, three of whom just happen to be certified geniuses.
Geniuses harkens back to one of old FOX’s signature comedy series, Malcolm In the Middle, but in multicam form. It could also be pitched as "Two normal parents raising not one but three young Sheldon Coopers." It's eyed as as a potential companion to Last Man Standing and that would certainly make sense. I quite liked the script, which was penned by the series creator Lon Zimmet, who also has Nana in contention at ABC. It's quick, clever and should appeal to just about everyone. The genius kids could easily have been irritating but somehow they aren't, at least on the page. If it were being developed for CBS or ABC, I'd say it's an instant hit. In fact, if FOX ends up passing, I can totally see ABC saving it. This one has A LOT of potential.
2. PATTY'S AUTO (Warner Bros. Television)
Inspired by a real-life Pennslyvania auto repair shop with all female mechanics, centers on straight-talking Patty (Cara Patterson) and the eclectic women who work for her.
Written byThe Big C's Darlene Hunt, who recently served as co-executive producer on the Roseanne revival on ABC, Patty's Auto is part of positive trend of shows that portray strong women characters with a charming realness. It's a bit like GLOW meets 2 Broke Girls, from the concept to the tone. Our heroine, Patty Stewart, grew up in a broken family on the wrong side of the tracks but is now a respected and intimidating small business owner, and she has made it her mission to empower her female employees. They're all irresistible and appealing in their own rights. I'm not sure new FOX is the right fit, but it would certainly be brave if they ordered it.
3. ADAM & EVE (20th Century FOX Television)
Focuses on one couple (Odette Annable & Ryan Hansen) in three stages of life –young and in love, middle aged and elderly. In each episode, they work through similar struggles in different ways.
On old FOX, Adam & Eve would be a maybe. On new FOX ... well, it's complicated. An adaptation from a French-Canadian show, this one falls in the category of the "high-concept" comedy, always a risky proposition on network television. It's reminiscent of CBS's Me, Myself and I, which was also set in three different timelines, but lasted only one short season, . The difference here is that it's not about one person but instead one couple at different stages of their relationship. It's sweet and occasionally funny, and with the right chemistry it could be great. It's just hard to picture it going on for years, especially if they want to stay positive and light, because often the most interesting struggles a couple can encounter are not the little ones.
4. RICHARD LOVELY (20th Century FOX Television)
Thomas Lennon stars as the disgruntled author of the best-selling children’s book series, Mr. Mouse. He doesn’t hate children, but rather just everything about them. After a publicity fiasco involving an unexpectedly savvy 9-year-old kid, Mr. Mouse (Jason Alexander's voice over) appears in Richard’s real life as he is forced into an unlikely father/son relationship that will change his life forever.
I can only see this project as a companion to Sunday's animated series block, especially since it has that animated element everytime Mr. Mouse appears on screen. FOX tried something similar with Son of Zorn a few seasons ago, while ABC had Imaginary Mary. Both were flops. It's hard to see this one escaping a quick cancellation. There's an About a Boy vibe to it, where the central character starts grumpy and slowly becomes sweeter thanks to a child (who happens to be nastier than expected). Other than this little twist, it's fairly predictable, and not that funny. Pass.
Jean-Maxime Renault is a TV addict based in Paris who writes about television and movies on AlloCiné (aka "the French IMDB"). In 2015 he created Season Zero, a website about television development and pilot season, which is now a part of Primetimer. Follow him on Twitter @SeasonZeroCom