Know your 2009 pilots: FOX edition -- with guest star Earl Hickey
FOX has one of the more stable drama slates on TV, with a certified hit in "House," solid veterans like "24" and "Bones" and a pair of first-year shows, "Fringe" and "Lie to Me," that have performed pretty well. Throw in "American Idol" and the various output of Gordon Ramsay and you've got the makings of a pretty decent network lineup.
What it doesn't have on the air at the moment is a live-action comedy. The Sunday animation lineup still chugs along, but after the failure of "Do Not Disturb" in the fall, FOX has disappeared "'Til Death" from its schedule (although it has also somewhat inexplicably renewed the show). That leaves a total of zero half-hour comedies on the network.
So for the third installment of these Know Your Pilots posts (and don't forget the gallery of pilot season's familiar faces), I'm going to focus mostly on what the network is trying to do with its comedy development.
FOX Entertainment president Kevin Reilly has said he doesn't want to put comedies on the schedule just to have them there; instead he's looking for "a show that can either fire up a time period and we can spend a lot of money marketing it or ... a show that will be compatible behind 'Idol'" or that works with the animation block.
One intriguing possibility not from the pilot roster is "My Name Is Earl." Deadline Hollywood Daily reported Wednesday that FOX might be interested in the show, which is produced by FOX sibling 20th Century Fox TV has seen its ratings on NBC stumble, if the Peacock decides not to bring it back for a fifth season.
Whether "Earl" has enough juice left in it to help reverse FOX's comedy fortunes is an open question. Same goes for the projects below (one note: the space-set show "Boldly Going Nowhere" isn't on the the list because it's been put back into the development grinder. If it comes back around, it probably wouldn't be until at least early 2010).
What it is: A remake of the classic Britcom "Absolutely Fabulous"
Why we're interested: Stars Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Johnston are intriguing choices to play Eddie and Patsy, but will this one succeed where several other remake attempts have failed?
What it is: The story of an ex-pro football player (ex-pro football player Michael Strahan) who reconnects with his wheelchair-bound brother (Darryl "Chill" Mitchell).
Why we're interested: Strahan did an amusing guest spot on "Chuck" this season, but could he carry a show?
What it is: Ensemble show about a group of troubled police officers who live in a halfway house before being allowed back on the job.
Why we're interested: Mostly for the cast, which includes Tony Hale, Rachael Harris, Scott Caan and Nora Zehetner.
What it is: The story of the CIA office in a small South American nation and its efforts to install a new dictator.
Why we're interested: Ben Stiller is directing it, and it's the kind of weird premise that could be either brilliant or a train wreck.
"Sons of Tucson"
What it is: Three rich kids hire a dude to pose as their father while their real dad is in prison.
Why we're interested: The dude in question is "Reaper's" Tyler Labine, and "Malcolm in the Middle"/"Wonderfalls" veteran Todd Holland is directing it.
"Two Dollar Beer"
What it is: A recession-themed comedy about young people living in Detroit.
Why we're interested: Because we're curious to see whether material like this can be funny.
So those are all the comedies. Here are a couple of dramas that sound like fun:
What it is: Based on the DC/Vertigo comic book about a security expert who takes on the identities of his clients to draw out potential threats.
Why we're interested: Because of the cast: Mark Valley in the title role, supported by Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley.
What it is: A globe-hopping thriller about the search for stolen works of art.
Why we're interested: "Prison Break" creator Paul Scheuring is writing it, and it's something we haven't seen too much of on the small screen.