Tag: toast

ABC 2016/2017 Comedy Pilots ranked



ABC has a lot to do in the drama department to improve from this terrible year, but comedy-wise they are more than okay. Modern Family is not the hit it once was, but its performances are still pretty solid. The Goldbergs is strong enough now to anchor the 8pm slot on wednesdays. Blackish is doing okay, but could/should do better. And The Middle is aging –on the demo– but aging well. It should live at least two more years. Fresh Off The Boat is doing okay-ish on tuesdays and on a dead night for ABC helps keeping the lights on. The Real O’Neals has a good retention behind Fresh Off The Boat and is worth a renewal based on the quality of the first episodes. Plus, it’s produced in-house. They should give it a chance to grow. Last Man Standing is fine on fridays while Dr Ken is, as expected, a perfect match and should continue. The Muppets is DEAD. There’s no way this once promising show gets renewed. And Uncle Buck is still waiting for an airdate… About Galavant, it’s pretty much dead. And it’s a pity. But ABC has been patient with this one. It will never become something, let’s be real.

If ABC renews Modern Family, The Middle, The Goldbergs, Blackish, Fresh Off The Boat, The Real O’Neals, Last Man Standing & Dr Ken, there’s litteraly no slot for any new comedy next year. Which is unaceptable. They need fresh blood. And they won’t wait for midseason to launch something new. It means there’s only three solutions: 1/ The Real O’Neals is cancelled after all. One slot will be available then. 2/ They bench one of those shows for a midseason premiere. But none of them deserve such a treatment. 3/ They open a new hour of comedy, either on Tuesdays or somewhere else on the schedule. And this last solution is my favorite honestly. I’d like something like this:

TUESDAY – The Middle / NEW / Fresh Off The Boat / The Real O’Neals

WEDNESDAY – The Goldbergs / NEW / Modern Family / Blackish

Let’s see what they have in store! And contrary to last pilot season, they have a handful of solid projects… The choice will be hard to make!



  1. DREAM TEAM (Warner Bros. Television)

rate rate rate rate  Marty Schumacher coached his last Club soccer team for ten years, ultimately taking them to the National Championships. While his longtime girlfriend just dumped him, he now has to start from scratch with a new diverse group of eight-year-olds and their disparate parents, who are not all happy to be there every damn weekend… With Justin Long, Wanda Sykes, Wynn Everett, Michael Mosley…

Dream Team has success written all over its pilot script. It could score BIG. ABC couldn’t pass on the opportunity to finally have what looks like the next Modern Family (sports edition).

Read the full preview


2. SPEECHLESS (20th Century FOX Television & ABC Studios)

rate rate rate rate  The story of the DiMeo family, a gang who’s pretty good at dealing with the challenges it faces, and absolutely fantastic at creating new ones. At the heart of the action are Maya, a mom on a mission who will do anything for her family, and JJ, her whip-smart teen son with special needs… With Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, Mason Cook…

GREAT comedy pilot script! It’s exactly in ABC’s wheelhouse. It’s a mix between Malcolm & TheMiddle, where the adult and the children characters are treated the exact same way. Very funny. Tender. And talking about handicapped persons feels important. It’s about time. I really really want ABC to give it a chance.



rate rate rate rate Until recently, opinionated, confident, unapologetic, plump Katie Otto has been the third fattest housewife in Westport, Connecticut. This is exactly where she wants to be. So when her chubbier neighbor moves away and she becomes the second fattest housewife, Katie becomes determined to regain her title. On a mission, she tries to orchestrate a suitable buyer for her neighbor’s house. But things don’t go according to her plans... With Katy Mixon, Diedrich Bader, Carly Hughes, Ali Wong…

A lot of people are already furious with the title of this show. Not because it’s too long –but it’s too long– because they find it offensive. Which I can understand. BUT the show is not offensive. It’s irreverent, yes. And we need that. It’s kinda cool too. Not saying that I loved it but I kinda did. There’s a little girl with PTSD in there and it’s a beautiful, moving, adorable character.


4. PEARL (ABC Studios)

rate rate rate rate  After she finds out she has cancer, Pearl Foxton, a larger-than-life family matriarch becomes intent on controlling and orchestrating every aspect of her family’s life before she dies. After all, she knows what’s best for them way better than they know themselves, and good luck convincing her otherwise… With Candice Bergen, Zachary Knighton, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Richard Mazur…

WANT. Anything with Episodes‘ Kathleen Rose Perkins is a winner for me. But still. Candice Bergen will kill in this. Zachary Knighton too. It’s a really funny pilot script with heart. If they can manage to take the Mom route, it’ll be perfect. But is ABC ready to bet on a family comedy with a 70 year-old heroine –who’s not very nice– and mostly adult characters, with cancer involved? I’m not sure, and that makes me sad a little bit.


5.  CHUNK & BEAN (ABC Studios)

rate rate rate rate  The unlikely friendship of two misfits, Chunk and Bean, who benefit from having two very different sets of parents living next door to each other. Connie, Chunk’s controlling mother, and Jim, Bean’s single father, instantly butt heads over their conflicting styles of parenting. While Connie believes in structure and discipline, Jim believes in high fives and cake for breakfast. With Simon Belz, Adam Rodriguez, Anna Gunn, Andy Daly…

And it’s another comedy script winner for ABC! Smart, funny & cute. Solid cast. Kids are very important in it, the way Eddie is in Fresh Off The Boat. I’m curious to see Anna Gunn in a comedy and I’d be happy to watch Adam Rodriguez with no shirt-on once again. Make it happen, ABC!


6. DOWNWARD DOG (Legendary Television & ABC Studios)

rate rate rate rate Suddenly Martin, Nan’s loyal mutt has begun acting out -and she’s confused, frazzled and angry. So Nan hauls herself off to a canine academy, initially hoping for a quick fix, but finding out, eventually, that training a dog might be work but the payoff is priceless, proving once again that a dog is a woman’s bestfriend… With Allison Tolman, Lucas Neff, Samm Hodges…

A TV show with a talking dog… in 2015? My initial reaction to Downward Dog‘s pitch was “What the fuck are they thinking?“. But this is a brilliant piece of writing, actually. I totally get why there was a bidding war among multiples networks to acquire the project. It’s bold and different. But it’s not an easy sell and the talking dog could quickly has nothing interesting to say.

Read the full preview


7. IMAGINARY MARY (Sony Pictures Television & ABC Studios)

rate rate rate  A fortysomething bachelorette’s life is turned upside-down when she finally meets the love of her life — a divorced dad with three kids. This triggers even more upheaval when the slightly unhinged imaginary friend she created as an only child suddenly reappears in her life to help her navigate the transition from single lady to family woman… With Jenna ElfmanStephen Schneider, Erica Tremblay, Nicholas Coombe…

Really funny & original script, sweet & sour. Jenna Elfman can thrive in this. Not sure about the longtime perspective though, or even making 22-24 episodes a year. It’s something worth trying at midseason, like a Galavant, but it’s probably too risky and adult to slot on wednesday nights.



rate rate rate Meet the Desais, a family who sees the world from a unique point of view. While others look to comic book superheroes to save the world, the Desais know who the real superheroes are: engineers. From creating Pyramids to iPads, they’ll tell you the world would be nothing without them. Coincidentally, all the Desais are engineers, so they have some pretty big brains… which they may occasionally remind you of… With Adhir Kalyan, Katie Walder, Noureen DeWulf, Bernard White…

It’s like The Big Bang Theory as a family comedy. It got on my nerves more than it should have and gave me a headache at some point. But honestly, it’s fine. ABC misses an Indian comedy –and it would be the first one ever.


9. TOAST (ABC Studios)

rate rate rate Over their wedding rehearsal dinner, engaged couple Max and Paige have their eclectic family and friends give toasts recalling anecdotes about the couple — but flashbacks reveal that the toasts don’t always get it right, as we watch the true story of their complicated, funny and relatable road to marriage… With Jerrika Hinton, Jono Kenyon, Tessa Ferrer, Punam Patel…

Toast is not the funniest thing I’ve read this year (…) But if ABC wants something different than the regular family comedies they’re renown for on their schedule next year, maybe it’s the right way to go. The concept looks stronger than expected and branding it as “the first Shondaland comedy” –which it is– already makes half the work for the marketing department.

Read the full preview



rate rate rate   Hilda, an unapologetic lesbian and Randall, her best friend, a neurotic straight male, navigate their enviable, yet dysfunctional, co-dependent friendship, growing up and the world of dating. With Andy Ridings, Tattiawna Jones, Julie Goldman, Christine Horn

This title has to change. Badly. But well, as cool as this pilot script is, it’s totally off-brand for ABC. No family in there. And we remember what happened with Selfie, Manhattan Love Story, Mixology… But it’s modern and fresh. It speaks the truth. Or a truth. Both heroes are different from what we are used to see. It’s something I probably would have watched and loved. So long, Randall & Hilda. So long.


11. HAIL MARY (ABC Studios)

rate rate rate   a young small-town mayor named Mary Wolf has dysfunctional siblings, a dying father, disgruntled citizens, a nearly bankrupt town and the mafia breathing down her neck. Only a miracle can help her. So … she fakes one… With Casey Wilson, Sarah Baker, Retta, Gareth Reynolds…

This is a disappointment. It’s not bad at all, the script is pretty good overall but it’s a bit too hysterical for my taste and it misses something. FOX already tried to remake the Austrian series Braunschlag last year but it was not ordered. I have a feeling it’s not on-brand enough for ABC. It’s a pass for me. But if they pick it up, I’ll definitely check it out, just in case.



rate rate Gabe, a touring standup comic, a stepfather and boss to his family and friends navigates his home life during the few days he spends off the road each week… With Gabriel Iglesias, Richard Gant, Gloria Garayua, Tommy Savas…

This is the only multicamera comedy pilot ABC ordered this yes, maybe just in case Dr Ken suddenly collapsed, so they have a solution to replace it next year. But Dr Ken is fine and The Fuffly Shop really is not! It’s just funny. It’s not appealing. It’s a definitive “No”.



Toast (ABC) pilot preview: The first Shondaland comedy brought to you by Scott Foley


Pilot “Arden” written and executive procuded by Scott Foley. Based on an idea by Scott Foley & Greg Grunberg. Directed by Gail Mancuso (Modern Family, 30 Rock, Scrubs, Roseanne, Dharma & Greg, The Nanny). Also executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder), Greg Mettler (Cougar Town, That’ 70s Show) & Greg Grunberg. For ABC, ABC Studios & Shondaland Productions. 56 pages.

Description: Over their wedding rehearsal dinner, engaged couple Max and Paige have their eclectic family and friends give toasts recalling anecdotes about the couple — but flashbacks reveal that the toasts don’t always get it right, as we watch the true story of their complicated, funny and relatable road to marriage…

With Jerrika Hinton (Grey’s Anatomy), Jono Kenyon (Step Dave, Go Girls), Tessa Ferrer (Grey’s Anatomy, You’re The Worst, Extant), Punam Patel (Kevin From Work), Brooks Wheelan (Saturday Night Live)…

rate rate rate

It’s been a few years now since Shonda Rhimes tries to produce a comedy in order to expand her empire and explore a new territory. No surprise here: she’s deeply in love with shows like The Mindy Project (where she guest-starred) or Cougar Town. She developed several projects for ABC but Toast, which was already in contention last pilot season, only got an order this time around and will be her first real attempt. The idea was brought to her by fellow actor Scott Foley, a series regular in Scandal, and his longtime friend Greg Grunberg –they met way way back on Felicity– with Foley writing the script. None of them will act in it. Toast is not really in ABC’s wheelhouse since it’s not what we can call a family comedy, though there’s a family component, and romantic comedies didn’t really work them (Selfie, Manhattan Love Story, Mixology…). But who knows, maybe this is the one? Maybe it’s their How I Met Your Mother? At least, there’s a concept.

The idea that every episode will feature a toast from one of the guest could get old very fast. That’s my main concern. But of course, every episode will be different since the personnality of the guest in question totally change the dynamics. In the pilot episode, they chose to focus on Arden, one of the bride’s best friend, who’s batshit crazy, very flirtatious, probably an alcoholic and totally self-absorbed. She got on my nerves at some point, but you get used to her. She’ll probably be much more bearable when she won’t be at the center of the stage in subsequent episodes. Maybe they thought they needed the most scandalous character -or so it seems for now- to make a splash at the beginning. Arden tells the story of the day they met, in a cafe, Max’s cafe for instance, and how they were this close to never talk to each other despite an almost reciprocal love first at sight. Most of the story works in flashbacks, with the guest voice-over. And sometimes we pause to see the reaction of the couple and the other guests, especially their parents who, of course, didn’t know the real story.

Every episode will tell one stage of their relationship through a toast. But how many toasts can those people give, honestly? You can’t make 8 seasons with this. Well, technically — and I guess they thought about it and looked for a solution– this is “just” the rehearsal dinner. So, in season 2, they can work on the actual wedding diner. And in season 3… I don’t know… the divorce dinner? Maybe it’s too soon… Let’s say the baby shower afternoon toasts? See, you can go on and on… The same guest can do multiple toasts this way. It’s not that bad a concept after all. Or am I just trying to convince myself? One thing’s for sure: this couple is cute. It’s a network comedy so don’t expect them to be original. I didn’t find them too cliché, though. But they need to be as broad as possible so people can identify to them. Just forget You’re The Worst, Catastrophe and other anti-romcom. That’s not what we are offered here. At leas, there’s an effort made in the casting process since they made them an interracial couple. But it was probably not planned at the writing stage so there’s no reference to it. But I hope they will adress it at some point. There’s something to do with it, obviously. Two different set of families and values and traditions. That can fuel the story and make it more relevant. Especially since even cable comedies don’t really tackle the subject. It’s all-white.

When it comes to comedy, does the Shondaland recipe can be adapted? Of course, it can! The rythm of this pilot, the back and forth between past and present, the dramedy feel of the whole thing is very Shonda Rhimes. Scott Foley knows who he works for. Or Shonda made a ton of notes. He only wrote a movie before Toast, but it does look like a “real” professional script. Would Shonda have been interested in the project if it was not from him but some unknown person? Probably not. Would ABC have picked-up it to pilot if it was not produced by Shondaland? I’m conflicted on this one. I don’t have the answer. Anyway, it’s not off-brand for them. Just not their strong suit. It’s a very good idea to give the bride role to Jerrika Hinton. She thrives on Grey’s Anatomy and she feels more at ease with comedy than drama (not that she’s not good in drama!). Plus, they can recreate the magic she had with Tessa Ferrer, as her best friend Jules here, who played the annoying but moving Leah Murphy in the medical soap.

Toast is not the funniest thing I’ve read this year and the fact that it’s produced by Shonda Rhimes doesn’t make it an automatic yes, and shouldn’t for what it’s worth. But if ABC wants something different than the regular family comedies they’re renown for on their schedule next year, maybe it’s the right way to go. The concept looks stronger than expected and branding it as “the first Shondaland comedy” –which it is– already makes half the work for the marketing department.

PILOT WHISPERER: FOX prepping pilot order for megachurch project



While pilot season started earlier than last year with orders for comedies at ABC & NBC, most of the heavy-lifting has yet to come in the next few weeks. Our PILOT WHISPERER column is here to give you some inside scoops for what’s to expect…



Atlanta-set soap Buckhead, produced by Will Packer (Uncle Buck, Truth Be Told, Roots) for Universal Television, is seen by the network as what could become the next Empire and should be offically picked-up to pilot at any moment. The drama written by David McMillan is about ambition, sex, and revenge in the extravagant, high-stakes world of Atlanta politics, entertainment, churches and strip clubs.

Legal drama Miranda’s Rights is heating up. It’s about 28-year-old Miranda Coale, who six years after a sex scandal upended her life, gets a shot at redemption when she’s hired by a group of millennials living and lawyering together in a start-up law firm…(Update: PICKED-UP)

Among hot properties with a pilot production commitment, NBC could give greenlights to Amy Poehler-produced comedy Dumb Prince (Update: PICKED-UP), spoof of crime documentaries The Trail (Update: PICKED-UP) & Greg Berlanti-produced dark family soap Brides.



Iconic Nancy Drew could be back on the air with a contemporary take from longtime Grey’s Anatomy producers Joan Rater & Tony Phelan, produced by Oscar-winning producer Dan Jinks (American Beauty) for CBS Television where the writers have an overall deal (they also wrote legal drama Doubt, whose second pilot with Katherine Heigl is awaiting a series order). The show, about a Nancy Drew in her thirties who is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, could be the right companion series for Supergirl, if the superheroin gets a second season. (Update: PICKED-UP)

Bunker Hill from Jason Katim’s True Jack Productions is close to an order. Written by Sarah Watson, the medical drama is set at a high-tech Silicon Valley hospital with a cutting-edge approach to medicine. (Update: PICKED-UP)

Also hot at CBS with pilot production commitment are Training Day reboot from Jerry Bruckheimer & Antoine Fuqua (Update: PICKED-UP); and another project from Jerry Bruckheimer: multicamera comedy Talk Nerdy To Me about four smart, ambitious, twenty-something women living together.



The Alphabet network has already picked-up The Jury to pilot; and among the next orders is expected Monstropolis from ABC Studios, in which drama in which monsters are real, living amongst the humans in the city of New Manhattan; legal drama Please don’t go produced by Reese Witherspoon about a ruthless divorce attorney in Texas (Update: PICKED-UP); Kevin Williamson’s travel drama Time after Time (Update: PICKED-UP); and comedy Damage Control about the overworked, underpaid, clean up crew of the Marvel Universe specializing in dealing with the aftermath of the unique fallout from superhero conflicts.

Shonda Rhimes should get her first comedy pilot order for Toast, written by Scandal‘s Scott Foley and based on an idea by Foley & Greg Grunberg. It tells the story of an engaged couple who, over their wedding rehearsal dinner, have their eclectic family and friends give toasts recalling anecdotes about them (Update: PICKED-UP). Another very likely pick-up is for Hail Mary, based on Austrian comedy Braunschlag about a young small-town mayor named Emma Wolf and her dysfunctional siblings (Update: PICKED-UP).



On the heels of Lethal Weapon reboot order (announced right here), FOX is high on Dan Fogelman/Rick Singer’s Pitch pilot about a young female pitcher who defies the odds to become the first woman to compete in professional baseball (Update: PICKED-UP); an Untitled Megachurch family soap project from Julian Breece; and The Greatest American Hero comedy reboot from Chris Miller & Phil Lord. Other comedies soon to be ordered to pilot are I Like You from actress/writer Alex Bornstein & multicamera The Enforcers from ex-Friends writers Sherry Bilsing-Graham & Ellen Kreamer (Update: PICKED-UP).