“Nerd Herd” (ABC) pilot preview: a smart ass comedy for all kind of viewers


Previously entitled The Brainy Bunch. Written & produced by Wendy & Lizzie Molyneux (Bob’s Burger). Co-produced by Brian Grazer (Empire, 24, Arrested Development) & Francie Calfo (Empire, How to live with your parents…). Directed by Jamie Travis (Faking It, Finding Carter). For FOX,  20th Century FOX Television & Imagine Television. 33 pages.

Description:  Through a combination of genetics and dynamic home schooling, Kip and Mona Lisa Mitchell find themselves raising extraordinarily intelligent kids. When Kip returns home from the military to be a stay-at-home dad, he experiences firsthand the challenges of parenting kids who have genius IQs but limited life and social skills, especially in the Orange County, where looks is the only religion…

With James Roday (Psych), Majandra Delfino (Roswell, Friends With Better Lives), Melanie Griffith (Working Girl, Lolita, Pacific Heights), Raphael Alejandro (Once Upon a Time), Katherine Reis (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Zoe Colletti (Annie, Rubicon), Spencer Tomich, Harrison Holzer (Sex Tape)…

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It’s my third ABC comedy pilot script this year (after multicam Delores & Jermaine and single-cam Chevy) and third more than pleasant surprise: I laughed out loud while reading it, which doesn’t happen very often to me, and makes it automatically the strongest contender of them all, so far. I have some reservations of course -I kinda always do- but I am convinced that it is a no-brainer series order for the network, unless there is no chemistry between the leads then all of those jokes will go to waste. I don’t think it’s even possible honestly when the material is that strong but eh, you never know…

Just picture all of the smart ass kids of TV -like Manny from Modern Family or the adorable Brick from The Middle– and make them brothers and sisters, living in the same house. It could look like a version of hell, yes. But it’s not. The cool thing about those little brats it’s that they are not even conscious of how intelligent they are. They’re still innocent. They just do what they do -inventing things, like an app to match boys and girls at their school, based on the pupils’ Facebook accounts they previously hacked- or doing the psychotherapy of their own parents… Okay, one of them is using his gifts to earn money, but why the hell not? They’re really cute and also very awkward. They lived on an army base for most of their life, they never went to school, they never really met other kids. They’re aliens for their friends, and their friends are aliens for them. In that sense, The Brainy Bunch looks like the excellent and gone too soon The Neighbors or even Suburgatory‘s first season when Tessa arrives in Chatswin and discover the people living there are the weirdest.

Even if the stars of the show are the kids -and therefore, the children playing them- the parents are very important too, plus the grandmother (Melanie Griffith), an ancien beauty pageant obsessed with suntan. She’s hilarious. Love her already. Psych‘s James Roday will probably do great in the stay-at-home dad role. I’m not so sure about Majandra Delfino, it’s still Maria from Roswell to me. I didn’t pay a lot of attention about what she did since, but she was clearly not the breakout in Friends With Better Lives. The jury’s still out for now. Anyway, their characters form a really cute people, who looks healthy, kinky, vigorous… They are as smart and funny as their kids. It’s impossible not to love everyone in the show in fact. Even the school’s principal is great! Last good news: you don’t have to be smart youself to enjoy the show. And if you’re dumb, you might even learn a thing or two!

I totally picture The Brainy Bunch in ABC’s schedule this fall or later in the season. I’m taking the risk to look like an idiot when the upfronts come but I don’t care. I believe in this family comedy because it’s close to home but different at the same time. Even more than Chevy, it’s the perfect companion for The Middle, The Goldbergs and all the others. Hey Paul Lee, don’t be stupid, okay?


  1. Ned says:

    So disappointed to hear there is no buzz for this one, was looking forward to it. Maybe the kid actors that got cast were awful? Oh well, hopefully James Roday will find some comedy for himself next year, I could watch that man read the phone book.

  2. kc says:

    Any news on Nerd Herd? Has it gone to abc yet? Hoping to hear some reviews or buzz with tests groups. Sounds like a funny family sitcom.

    • Lulla says:

      No buzz yet for the show, but it doesn’t really mean anything at this point. We’ll have a better idea in a few days hopefully. It must be testing right now.

  3. tash says:

    Wasn’t sure about this one because smart kids on comedies are not my favourite characters. As you say : “it could be a version of hell” but it feels like it’s not and it’s a good thing.
    You say it’s a strong contender for a spot on the schedule but remember it’s not an abc studios production and I’m afraid it could be a concern if a lot of abc pilots come in good (I think I read an article about Paul Lee wanting more abc sudios comedies like Black-ish which I think is the only current success for an abc studios production).

    • Lulla says:

      You have a point! But I don’t think ABC will be able to order only ABC Studios-produced comedies, though they ordered a lot of them, more than the previous years. Out of 4, maybe two will be from ABC Studios I guess… It gives “Nerd herd” a fair chance.

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