Next week, the TV networks are set to unveil their new fall lineups, officially announcing which shows are coming back and which new shows will get to see the light of day. Networks always develop a ton of pilots, only choosing a few to go to series, and Deadline reports that execs at all the networks are “very happy” with their comedy pilots this time around. With shows from Rebel Wilson, Andy Samberg, and John Mulaney in the mix, there are a lot of high-profile comedy pilots this season, and we whittled them down to nine shows that we hope make it through the pilot season gauntlet. And just because these are the most promising shows doesn’t mean they’ll make it to air. Last year, the network passed on comedies from Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, and the Always Sunny guys, opting for 1600 Penn, Guys with Kids, and Partners instead.
9. Gaffigan (CBS)
A starring vehicle for Jim Gaffigan that the comedian co-created with Peter Tolan (Rescue Me, Larry Sanders), Gaffigan is loosely based on the star’s life as a father of five residing in a two-bedroom with his giant family in New York. Oscar winner Mira Sorvino plays his wife. Jim Gaffigan hasn’t had a starring role in a network sitcom since the short-lived CBS series Welcome to New York in 2000, but he definitely deserves another one.
8. The Unauthorized Greg Garcia Project (CBS)
With Will Arnett’s NBC show Up All Night on the outs, he’s looking to dive right back into primetime with a multi-camera pilot under the temporary name of The Unauthorized Greg Garcia Project. From My Name Is Earl creator Greg Garcia, the pilot stars Arnett as a divorced guy whose parents move in with him. It’s one of five divorce-centric sitcoms in development for the fall and one of two “parents move back in with their adult kids” sitcoms, but this looks to be the best of those seven shows, especially with Arnett, Garcia, and supporting cast members Beau Bridges, JB Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm), and Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Always Sunny) in tow.
7. The McCarthys (CBS)
From Happy Endings writer Brian Gallivan, The McCarthys is one of several single-camera pilots CBS is developing this season, indicating that the network is looking to branch out from the Chuck Lorre and Chuck Lorre-esque multicam shows that have been its bread and butter for the last decade. An autobiographical show about the gay son of a loud, sports-crazed Boston family, The McCarthys stars Jake Lacy (The Office), Jack McGee (The Fighter), Jessica Chaffin (Ronna & Beverly), and Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook).
6. Super Fun Night (ABC)
CBS passed on this pilot last year, but it shifted to ABC and rolled over to the current development season – an unusual move in TV. Produced by Conan O’Brien and created by Rebel Wilson, Super Fun Night stars Wilson as the leader of a group of three women who have held their own fun Friday nights since high school without ever going out. After she gets a promotion at work, Wilson’s character coaxes her two friends into going out on a Friday night for the first time. 30 Rock’s John Riggi is onboard to serve as showrunner if the pilot gets picked up. With Rebel Wilson’s career blowing up in the wake of Pitch Perfect’s box office success and her well-received stint as host of the MTV Movie Awards, it seems like ABC would want to lock her down – unless ABC passes on it like CBS did and another network picks the show up next year.
5. Sean Saves the World (NBC)
Every few years, a broadcast network is smart enough to let Victor Fresco create a show. Fresco previously created Andy Richter Controls the Universe and Better Off Ted, two series that were both met with critical acclaimed but canceled after two short seasons due to dismal ratings. Fresco is back with Sean Saves the World, a new comedy with the potential to marry his unconventional style to a more conventional format: a multi-camera sitcom. Starring Sean Hayes as a single dad dealing with a bad boss and a teenage daughter who just moved in with him, the show features a strong supporting cast that includes Tom Lennon (Reno 911!), Echo Kellum (Ben and Kate), and Linda Lavin (Alice).
4. Mr. Robinson (NBC)
With The Office shutting its doors after nine seasons later this month, Mr. Robinson looks to be a worthy successor. Created by Office writer/producer Owen Ellickson and executive produced by Office showrunner Greg Daniels, the pilot stars Office actor Craig Robinson as a failed musician starting a new job as a middle school music teacher. The rest of the cast includes ringers like Jean Smart, Steve Agee (Sarah Silverman Program), Kumail Nanjiani (Portlandia), and Steve Little (Eastbound & Down), amongst others, making this a show that’s brimming with talent on both sides of the camera. Hopefully, it ends up looking more like early Office than late period Office.
3. Pulling (ABC)
A US adaptation of the BBC series of the same name, Pulling is a comedy about three single female friends in their 30s. The project gained a lot of hype when a super talented trio of actresses were cast as the leads: Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show), June Diane Raphael (Burning Love), and Jenny Slate (Saturday Night Live). US adaptations of British shows can go either way, but with three performers like that as the stars, Pulling is brimming with potential to land closer to The Office than Coupling.
2. Mulaney (NBC)
Lorne Michaels already produces SNL, Portlandia, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. With The Tonight Show coming his way in February, Michaels is still looking to add another comedy to his roster: this pilot created by and starring SNL writer/stand-up John Mulaney. It’s a semi-autobiographical show about a young comedian living in New York with two roommates (SNL’s Nasim Pedrad, stand-up Griffin Newman) and dealing with his gay neighbor (Elliott Gould) and game show host boss (Martin Short). Mulaney has 30 Rock vets Robert Carlock and David Miner working on the show in addition SNL’s Marika Sawyer, making the talent behind the camera as impressive as the show’s ensemble cast. I attended a taping of the Mulaney pilot last month, and it’s really funny – something that even some of the best shows ever struggle with in their first episodes.
1. Brooklyn 99 (Fox)
Parks and Recreation has been arguably the best network sitcom going for the past four seasons, and the show’s co-creator and longtime showrunner Mike Schur co-wrote Brooklyn 99 this year, the second sitcom he’s ever created. Starring Andy Samberg as the lead detective at a police precinct on the edge of New York City, Brooklyn 99 could do the same thing for cops that Parks and Rec did for local government workers. Schur co-created the potential series with Parks writer Dan Goor, and the ensemble cast also includes Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age), Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris), Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad), and stand-up Chelsea Peretti. Brooklyn 99 is said to have a strong shot for a pickup at Fox, and given the talent involved, it’s not hard to see why.