As Upfronts week approaches and the networks start to set their schedules, shows are starting to get picked up, with news coming out from NBC and Fox yesterday evening and more expected in the coming days. Fox is trying to change the typical approach to pilot season and instead quickly order projects directly to series, while NBC is going to have many schedule holes to fill after another largely unsuccessful season (which had some bright spots, including the Monday night hit The Blacklist).
If you miss Happy Endings and maybe think its sensibility had more in common with NBC’s comedy lineup to begin with, you’ll be happy to hear that the network has picked up creator David Caspe’s new show Marry Me, starring Happy Endings’ Casey Wilson and Ken Marino. It’s about a couple, he’s trying to propose, some silliness gets in the way, but this will hopefully turn into the same low-concept fun Happy Endings did so well. Rounding out the cast is the underrated and very funny Sarah Wright (The Loop), John Gemberling (Bevers from Broad City) and Tim Meadows.
The network also picked up three dramas yesterday. Odyssey stars Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) and Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie), and it sounds ambitious to say the least, charting the intersecting lives of a female soldier, an attorney, and a political activist, all involved in a global conspiracy. So it’s Traffic meets The Event?
Allegiance goes the Homeland route of adapting a hit Israeli series—Hope Davis and Scott Frank (Max Medina!) are deep-cover Russian spies whose son is a CIA analyst. George Nolfi, writer/director of The Adjustment Bureau, is shepherding this remake of The Gordin Cell.
Finally, after a few years watching her Hollywood star dwindle, Katherine Heigl is returning to TV in State of Affairs. It’s Homeland meets Scandal—she’s a CIA analyst who delivers daily reports to the President (Alfre Woodard), to whose son she used to be engaged, before he got blown up in a terrorist attack. Also, Heigl’s character is called Charleston Tucker. How did that make it through re-write?
Network president Kevin Reilly declared the death of pilot season, and he’s working hard to follow through on that, not going the typical route of sifting through a ton of pilot episodes to fill in his schedule. So he already has Batman prequel Gotham and Will Forte comedy Last Man on Earth set, and he poached Mulaney from NBC last year with a six-episode order.
Mulaney, which hopes to save the multi-camera sitcom since no one else is trying to these days, got an additional ten episodes yesterday on top of the six Fox had already committed to. Apparently the autobiographical sitcom, starring genius stand-up John Mulaney and directed by Seinfeld’s Andy Ackerman, did well at test screenings. Its starry cast includes Nasim Pedrad, Martin Short, and Elliott Gould.
Fox also picked up Tyler Perry and Danny Strong’s Empire, starring Terrence Howard as a hip-hop mogul and Taraji P. Henson as his ex-wife and business partner. It’s a Hustle and Flow reunion! It promises to be ridiculous and heavy-handed, but maybe in a good way? Timbaland is helping develop original music, and Malik Yoba and Gabourey Sidibe are among the ensemble.
There’s also Red Band Society, which sounds like a weepy but triumphant young adult novel set to the small screen. Octavia Spencer and Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters) are the adult cast, but this will focus on a group of teenagers in a pediatric wing of a hospital. I think the red bands are their hospital tags. Are we sure this isn’t going to be the most sentimental thing in the world? What’s that? Steven Spielberg produced it? Well, okay.