NBC 2017/2018 Comedy Pilots ranked


Will NBC ever get rid off their terrible comedy curse while most of their schedule is in good shape compared to the other networks? There was a glimmer of hope when Superstore did surprisingly good two years ago but it has lost steam since then and it can’t be considered as a tent pole. At the time, we thought they may have found a comedy brand, which would consist of light workplace half-hours led by a female character. In that regard, Powerless seemed to be the perfect companion but after a heavy retooling and a change of showrunner, the first DC Comics comedy went nowhere and was even pull off the schedule, which doesn’t happen a lot these days. It’s not gonna come back.

Last fall, The Good Place starring Kristen Bell & Ted Danson garnered great reviews and offered a somewhat decent pairing for Superstore. It got renewed for a second season which is filming right now and it’s expected to be back next fall. It’s not a hit but at least they can be proud of it. And then there’s Trial & Error, a hard sell but an excellent show that NBC is said to be very fond of. A renewal is not out of reach. It might have been a better player on a streaming platform though, like they did with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sold to Netflix last minute. Finally, NBC launched Tina Fey-produced Great News two weeks ago and the ratings are already very challenging with a huge drop after the pilot. Marlon has yet to premiere this summer.

This pilot season, fewer comedy pilots were ordered (7 against 14 in 2016) as NBC has less and less room to try them and a Will & Grace 12-episode comeback season is eyed for fall. They may only pick-up 3 pilots to series. A tough race. Here’s what they got.


  1. UNTITLED KOURTNEY KANG PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television)

     What it’s like to grow up as the only girl in the only mixed race family in the suburbs of Philadelphia, dealing with real-world issues like race and gender while never losing focus of her life goal… to become a Laker Girl like her idol, Paula Abdul. With Isabelle Russo, Kenneth Choi, Rebecca Creskoff, Paula Abdul, Derek Hough…

Very very similar to Fresh Off The Boat -it’s from the same team- and just as good but with a female teenager POV instead. Edgy at times -the heroine is obsessed with boners and wants to make out with her relatively young teacher- and really funny, it just doesn’t look like an NBC show at all. Even on ABC, it would be a challenge because of the raunchy dialogues. Sounds like the great one that got away…


2. THE SACKETT SISTERS (Universal Television)

      Two estranged sisters perform a Sully Sullenberger-esque act of public heroism, then are forced to navigate their new found notoriety together. With Casey Wilson, Busy Phillips, Bradley Whitford, Rich Sommer…

2 Broke Girls may get cancelled by CBS but The Sackett Sisters are on their way to fill the void. They’re less vulgar but probably crazier. Casey Wilson & Busy Phillips are perfect for the roles and Bradley Whitford as their father is an incredible bonus. Sounds like comedy gold. I laughed a lot. I’m not sure the “internet sensations” thing can sustain for long but the family dynamics here is interesting. It’s a bit messy but it has potential. Due to Casey Wilson’s pregnancy, the show will probably not hit the air before 2018 though.


3. RELATIVELY HAPPY (Warner Bros. Television)

     An adult brother and sister wind up living together for the first time since they were kids, after one of them suffers a big loss. They become each other’s wingmen, shoulder to cry on, best friend and punching bag as they navigate love, loss and work while helping to get each other “un-stuck”. With Genevieve Angelson, Jon Rudnitsky, Mouzam Makkar, Jane Lynch…

The only multicamera comedy NBC has developed this year, partly because they needed something to pair with Will & Grace. It was first set at CBS under the title The Happy Peppers -which I like better- a couple of years ago. There’s definitely a Will & Grace vibe in the mechanics -they share a co-creator- but with siblings. Not as funny yet but cute and even touching. But this cast doesn’t look like a winner and NBC doesn’t seem to be high on it. It seems like it will get passed on and NBC will put a single-cam after Will & Grace



    Around a psychotherapist who tries to cut ties with her most overbearing patient but is unsuccessful and gains an annoying family member in the process. With Leah Remini, Jessica Gunning, Ben Lawson…

I get why ABC passed on it for themselves and offered it to other networks, though it doesn’t seem to be a fit anywhere else than on ABC. I haven’t seen the movie it’s adapted from –What About Bob?– but it’s good mostly, better than I imagined, though I’m a bit concerned about the longevity of such a concept. It’s very family-oriented, there are great dynamics in there and it feels real somehow which may be the most surprising thing about this pilot. The cast looks strong. The fact that it’s not produced in-house may doom it.


5. AP BIOLOGY (Universal Television)

    A hilariously cynical Ivy League professor loses out on his dream job and goes to work as a high school biology teacher where he imposes his unorthodox teaching style and uses the kids to plot out revenge on those who wronged him. With Glenn Howerton, Patton Oswalt, Mary Sohn…

This is the perfect example of a pilot that is both really annoying and irresistible at the same time. I wouldn’t be surprised if NBC goes for it even if it’s not their best script. It’s a high-school workplace comedy that works mostly because the secondary characters surrounding the central one are great, though they’re never given the time and the proper introduction they’re worth. Other than that, it’s a one man show, an irritating one sometimes. Though it resembles Bad Teacher and doesn’t have a ton of potential, it’s decent and very much in the network’s wheelhouse.


6. CHAMPIONS (Universal Television)

    Vince, a charismatic gym owner with no ambition, lives with his younger brother Michael, a gorgeous idiot. Their simple life of women and working out is put on hold when the gay teenage son of Vince is dropped off on their doorstep by Priya, one of his old high school flings. The three of them have to live together now. With Anders Holm, Andy Favreau, J.J Totah, Mindy Kaling…

There’s a very original dynamics in there between three very different men and a half-indian gay teenager is not the type of character we meet a lot on television. It’s enjoyable for the most part thanks to strong dialogues and pop-culture references but it feels very predictable and like The Mindy Project, the writers don’t seem to know where to go next. Plus, it doesn’t belong to NBC for me (FOX?). Won’t work IMHO.


7. SPACED OUT (Warner Bros. Television)

    A working class genius and his struggles to fit in with an established team all made more difficult when their job is building a rocket to Marr. With Matt Shively, Christine Woods, Miranda Cosgrove, Brett Goldstein, Donald Faison…

This one is too nerdy for my taste and it can’t compare to The Big Bang Theory. There’s way too much voice over. It’s funny at times but you can count how many times you laughed, which is not a good sign, and it doesn’t have a ton of potential. The cast looks quite good though, which is the only thing that could save it I guess.



One comment

  1. Lucas Calunga says:

    I’m sure NBC will have at least 2 hours of comedy in this fall.Superstore and The Good Place will definitely be back and Will and Grace will have a new show to pair with.

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