Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

what's up next

From In-Laws to Ancient Rome to Snoop Dogg: The TV Comedies in Development for 2012

Yesterday Vulture caught you up on all the amazing, incredible, and ridiculous ideas networks are mulling as they search for new dramas to populate their 2012–13 lineups. Now it's comedy's turn in our development spotlight. The sitcom is very much back on track: Following the continued success of Modern Family and the encouraging start for a slew of half-hours this fall, our industry spies say broadcasters are purchasing perhaps 20 to 30 percent more comedy pitches this year versus 2010. It's too soon to say whether this will result in more comedies getting on the air. The ideas below are just that, and won't become reality until execs decide to first produce a pilot and then order a handful to series next spring. Check out our early intel and decide whether you'll be laughing with these wannabe shows ... or simply laughing at them.

Yes We Can ... Exploit the Recession
Hard times=good times for sitcom writers, who this year are hoping to turn the sour economy into sweet, sweet laughter with shows about everyday folks dealing with financial crisis. Fox's El Jefe is about an upper-class dude who moves in with his maid's family when his parents give up on him. ABC has a Marlon Wayans half-hour about a man who moves in with his cop brother after falling on tough times. Peter Tolan also has an ABC comedy project about a teacher who gets laid off, becomes a waiter, and then decides to start his own high school ... in his garage. One Great Life at Fox revolves around four buddies in their thirties who decide to pool their assets in order to live a better life. (Sounds like Big Love minus the sex.) And finally, CBS has Malled, a comedy about a laid-off journalist who takes a job in the mall. Hopefully, it's the nice mall and not the rundown one on the bad side of town.

Meet the Parents ... Again
ABC is big on comedies about parents and adult children reconnecting. Stuck in Reverse is about a dad whose near-death experience causes him to reconnect with his estranged offspring, while Mother Teresa has a hippie mom reuniting with her working daughter to care for the latter's new baby. Take away the hippie part and that's also the description for How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life. Under Construction finds a young woman moving back in with her dad while he renovates her money pit of a new house. Friends (and Joey) alum Shana Goldberg-Meehan has a half-hour about a woman who moves in with her in-laws, while ABC also has a Jim Breuer vehicle about a man who lives with his wife, daughters, and dad. And then there's the half-hour from British comic Laura Solon, which revolves around three adult siblings whose lives are upended when their nagging mom moves to the same city where they all live. Not to be outdone, CBS is mulling Another Round, in which a man moves back in with the 'rents and takes a job at the neighborhood bar. (It's a very sad Cheers.) Also at the Eye, Donick Cary (The Simpsons) is developing a sitcom about a man whose in-laws move into his guest house. And South Park alum Pam Brady is working on a CBS half-hour about a retired couple who move to a college town in order to be closer to their daughter, who's a freshman. Over at NBC, 33 1/3 is about a would-be female rock star/single mom who moves back in with her mom and gay slacker brother after her last romantic relationship crashes. And Fox has a comedy about a man who hires his unemployed dad, only to discover he's kind of a loser. Inspirational!

Starting Over
Who doesn't sometimes yearn for a second chance, an opportunity to chuck it all and reboot your life? Networks are all about wish fulfillment, which is why comedy writers love exploring the idea of the Fresh Start (see Frasier or, if you must, Hot in Cleveland). At NBC, former Daily Show producer Josh Lieb is developing a project for actor-writer Nick Thune, who's set to play a city hipster who moves to Oregon after a breakup (it's New Guy!). The network also has Gorilla Time, about mid-thirties pals trying to reinvent themselves by eating, drinking, and fornicating whatever they want. At CBS, woman-of-the-moment Melissa McCarthy is developing a show about a divorced mom starting over after her daughter goes to college. And ABC has Virtual Virgin (woman gets back into the dating world, electronically) and the intriguing Younger (woman in her forties reinvents herself as a 29-year-old city girl after being dumped by her husband).

Familiar Names in Front of the Camera ...
Even though Tim Allen's Last Man Standing has been a modest success at best, networks can't resist bringing back former stars. And plenty are readying TV returns for next season, including Roseanne Barr, who's set to slip her blue collar back on in NBC's Downwardly Mobile, about a family living in a trailer park. Also at the Peacock, Kal Penn is producing and is attached to star in a workplace comedy set at the United Nations. (Insert your own diplomatic immunity joke here.) And Portia de Rossi is set to star in an NBC comedy about warring sisters; wife Ellen is producing. Meanwhile, Dane Cook has a deal to star in a comedy for NBC, as does Sarah Silverman. And yes, so does Snoop Dogg. Make of that what you will.

Over at ABC, Jim Belushi might stretch his thespian muscles and play a dad in an ABC sitcom from Diane English. Much more exciting: Martin Starr could return to TV in a show called I'm With Stupid. Reba McEntire is set to star in Malibu Country, in which the Nashville crooner plays a newly divorced Southern-fried mom who ends up relocating her family to the Cali coast. ABC is also fast-tracking The Manzanis, a multi-camera comedy starring Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman. The pilot will shoot in mid-December, so if ABC likes it, there's a small chance the show could debut this spring (assuming Alley isn't doing a Broadway show, which has been rumored). And singer-actress Mandy Moore is also attached to the Alphabet's Us and Them, a family comedy about a newlywed couple. At CBS, Martin Lawrence has a deal to develop a comedy, while Fred Durst (yes, the dude from Limp Bizkit) is working on a half-hour comedy about a rock-star dad. Finally, Demetri Martin will try to make it to network TV once more with an animated workplace comedy set up at Fox.

Meanwhile, not even Shit My Dad Says can convince Fox to give up on turning the blog Texts From Last Night into a series. The network's developed two different versions since 2009, and now Silvio Horta (Ugly Betty) is overseeing the third attempt. And apparently Ira Glass doesn't just make sex tapes: He's also consulting on The Man Upstairs, a multi-camera comedy at Fox about a woman who buys a house that comes complete with an elderly man living there. It's either based on a segment on "This American Life" or Hot in Cleveland.

Keep It Gay, 2012
It's been a while since Will & Grace, but the networks are still looking to find a new gay-themed half-hour. And the creators of W&G are among those taking a stab at it: They're working on Foursome, a possible CBS comedy about a gay-straight friendship. One of the stars of W&G is also in the hunt: Sean Hayes is behind an untitled comedy about a gay couple raising a 12-year-old that Rescue Me's Peter Tolan is writing and producing. The show's been developed several times since 2006. Elsewhere at NBC, My Best Friend Is a Lesbo is being shepherded by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage; it's about female roomies, one of whom is a lesbian. And Ryan Murphy refuses to focus: He's producing a Peacock project about a gay couple and their surrogate.

Whoops! Sitcoms Be Crazy!
High-concept ideas have been out of favor on the networks in recent years, but a few always get developed this time of year. Whether they'll actually make it on the air is another story. Among the crazier ideas out there this time around: Fox's Dave's Dead, a single-cam comedy at Fox that's Shaun of the Dead blended with My Name Is Earl. The network also has a half-hour about a jerk of a doctor who dies, but is kept out of heaven until he balances the karmic scales by helping out someone he bullied while on Earth. It's also working with scribe Daniel Sweren-Becker on this idea: A guy in 2016 thinks his life is great, until a freak lightning storm causes him to travel back in time five years, where he realizes things weren't as awesome as they seemed. Want more crazy? Fox is also developing a half-hour about an angel thrown out from Heaven and banished to New York City.

At NBC, where 3rd Rock from the Sun flourished once, the network has a would-be half-hour called Save Me, in which a female accident victim begins to think the Lord is speaking through her. Oh, God. Built in a Day is on ABC, but it sounds like a Fox comedy from the nineties: It's all about a speechwriter turned publicist ... in ancient Rome. The Alphabet also has a would-be sitcom about three scientists who discover the world is ending and decide to party accordingly, as well as Angry Angel, about a bitter woman sent back to Earth to perform miracles in order to earn her way upstairs. CBS is working on Homeland Insecurity, set in the TSA division of an airport. And the CW is doing a half-hour called Acting Out; it's Camp, the sitcom.

Preexisting Properties
Books, movies, old TV, even radio shows: All serve as the impetus for a slew of ideas taking shape this season. Among the big reboots is Seth MacFarlane's new take on The Flintstones, which Fox announced in May, saying it was for next season. Early 2013 is most likely. Staying in the sixties, CBS is working on a new Bewitched. Our predicted tagline if it gets on the air: Life's a Twitch. And from the big screen, there's Zombieland, based on the movie of the same name.

From the book world, Fox's Just Enough to Get Laid is based on the advice manual about dudes and sex, while Carlos Kotkin is developing a TV take on his book Please God Let It Be Herpes for the network. The clever Go the Fuck to Sleep is being turned into a family comedy for CBS. That's the good news. The bad? Jerry O'Connell is attached to star in it, and the Eye will no doubt come up with a too-cute title, like Go the ^&%# to Sleep. Over at ABC, the network is adapting Moneyball author Michael Lewis's Home Game as a family comedy about the challenges of fatherhood. And Jennifer Close's Girls in White Dresses is also in the hopper at the Alphabet: It's about young female friends in New York surviving an endless parade of weddings and showers. At NBC, Stupid and Contagious is a relationship comedy based on the Caprice Crane novel of the same name.

Meanwhile, not even Shit My Dad Says can convince Fox to give up on turning the blog Texts From Last Night into a series. The network's developed two different versions since 2009, and now Silvio Horta (Ugly Betty) is overseeing the third attempt. And apparently Ira Glass doesn't just make sex tapes: He's also consulting on The Man Upstairs, a multi-camera comedy at Fox about a woman who buys a house that comes complete with an elderly man living there. It's either based on a segment on "This American Life" or Hot in Cleveland.

Laughter Is Universal
As with drama, networks now regular travel the globe looking for ideas to steal. NBC is working with Greg Daniels to remake the U.K.'s Family Dinner, about a Jewish family and their Sabbath dinners. Also in the Peacock potential project file: An adaptation of the Australian comedy format Laid, about a woman whose sex partners all seem to end up dead. (Sounds like the Parents Television Council is trying to teach the kids about the dangers of illicit hookups.) Fox is reworking the French series The Invincibles as a possible half-hour from Family Guy vet Chris Sheridan. It's about a group of twentysomethings who all decide to dump their significant others and start over. CBS headed all the way to Israel to find Life Isn't Everything, about a couple equally bad at being divorced as they were at marriage. And ABC is developing a U.S. version of White Van Man, about a guy who gives up his dream to take over the family business. It's also working on I Hate This Place, an adaptation of a Spanish format about a father and son serving as landlord for an apartment filled with loco residents.

But Wait, There's More!
There are a few other projects we thought merited mention, but didn't fit into a separate category. Cougar Town producer Bill Lawrence has multiple projects in the works: He's writing a father-son comedy for Fox and a workplace comedy at CBS (with Friends alum Greg Malins). He's also helping create a comedy for ABC about a small-town firefighter. All this, and Penny Can pickup games on weekends. How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas are also at it again, developing The Goodwin Games, a possible Fox sitcom about three siblings reconnecting after their dad passes away. HIMYM writer Joe Kelly, meanwhile, is competing with his bosses at Fox with a half-hour concept that was called Uncle A-Hole but is now technically untitled. Boo! Another title you'll never hear in a network promo: ABC's Band of Bitches, which focuses on a nineties girl group trying to reunite even though they all hate each other.

ABC's got a food fetish this development season. Angela's Bachelors imagines a famous female New York chef flaming out and moving to Boston, where she becomes a firehouse cook. Peter Tolan is producing. The network also has a half-hour from Courteney Cox and David Arquette about a once-fat girl who's now skinny and the owner of a comfort -ood diner, as well as Help, about a young chef who lands a gig as a personal cook for the owners of a fashion empire. Finally, imagine if The Office were set at an elementary school and you've got the idea behind The Yard, which, if it's green-lit, will use a mockumentary style. Easy A director Will Gluck is producing for NBC.