Fall 2013 New Shows: Comedy — A preview of the new comedy TV series coming in the fall 2013 season.
(All times Eastern/Pacific)
The Michael J. Fox Show
Premieres: Sept. 26 at 9pm
Airs: Thursdays at 9:30pm
Who’s In It? Michael J. Fox, Wendell Pierce, Katie Finneran, Jack Gore, Betsy Brandt
What’s It All About? Michael J. Fox returns to television, and to NBC, with back-to-back episodes tonight of his new comedy somewhat modeled on his own life. Fox plays a father and husband returning to work as a news reporter in New York after a brief leave of absence to get his Parkinson’s disease under control. Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt costars as Fox’s wife and a host of guest stars geared to Mike Henry’s work as a newsman are scheduled to appear throughout the season.
Premieres: Sept. 17
Airs: Tuesdays at 8:30pm
Who’s In It? Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Joe Lo Truglio
What’s It All About? Detective Jake Peralta (Samberg) loves solving crimes. The only puzzle he can’t figure out is how to grow up. Jake is motivated by a bet with his partner, Amy Santiago (Fumero), on who can solve the most cases this year. When stern incoming captain Ray Holt (Braugher) wants to shape up the precinct and make it the best in Brooklyn, his style clashes with Jake’s. Throw in several oddball officers — including a timid sergeant (Crews, playing against type) — and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a fun, arresting take on the workplace comedy.
Premieres: Sept. 29
Airs: Sundays at 10:30pm
Who’s In It? Stephen Merchant, Christine Woods, Nate Torrence, Kevin Weisman
What’s It All About? Merchant, one of the minds behind the original U.K. version of The Office, brings a similarly hilarious take to this somewhat-based-on-real-life comedy about Stuart (Merchant), a gawky, very tall web designer in Los Angeles. Recently transplanted from England, Stuart is obsessed with infiltrating the glamorous world of beautiful people, who won’t let him in. “This [show] originally was born out of my standup act,” says Merchant, who also executive produces and directs the series. “There were lots of sort of anecdotes and stories about my various kinds of failings in the dating world. … I’ve said over the years, when people ask me, ‘Do things change when you become well-known or you go on TV?’, my feeling is just I’m getting rejected by a better class of women.”
Sean Saves the World
Premieres: Oct. 3
Airs: Thursdays at 9pm
Who’s In It? Sean Hayes, Linda Lavin, Samantha Isler, Thomas Lennon, Echo Kellum
What’s It All About? Hayes says his groundbreaking former series Will & Grace helped pave the way for this family sitcom in which he stars as a gay single dad trying to balance his work life, home life and love life when his teen daughter from a short-lived heterosexual marriage moves in full time. “Thankfully [being gay] is an afterthought like any minority now,” Hayes says. “It’s normal to everybody — which is how it should be.” The onscreen Sean has help in the struggle from his opinionated mom (Lavin) and longtime bestie (Hayes’ recent Smash costar Megan Hilty) — and yes, he’ll be looking for a romantic partner, too. Lavin, who seems to have aged little since her Alice days, says she relishes the chance to play a thoroughly modern mom and grandma, too. “I’m playing a character, a mother, who is not the butt of the joke, who is not a simpleton or a joke herself, who has something to say, who is hopefully going to be attractive and smart and challenging and has this relationship.”
Super Fun Night
Premieres: Oct. 2
Airs: Wednesdays at 9:30pm
Who’s In It? Rebel Wilson, Liza Lapira, Lauren Ash, Kevin Bishop
What’s It All About? Lawyer Kimmie (Wilson) and her geeky besties Helen-Alice (Lapira) and Marika (Ash) have been eschewing real social lives and getting together every Friday night for the past 13 years. But their tradition is about to change — for better or worse — when Kimmie gets a promotion and meets a charming British coworker. HBO’s Girls proved there’s an audience for femme-FAIL comedies and Wilson’s star is on the rise, but the humor in Super Fun Night feels mean-spirited too often.
Premieres: Sept. 17
Airs: Tuesdays at 8pm
Who’s In It? Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Martin Mull, Peter Riegert, Vanessa Lachey
What’s It All About? Eli (Green) and Warner (Ribisi) are childhood friends who run a successful videogame company together. Warner has a wife and kids, and Eli is still living carefree. While their lives are vastly different, they share the same problem: Their fathers live with them and constantly interfere in their lives. The talented cast is saddled with a leaden, unoriginal script, making Dads a big dud.
Premieres: Sept. 23
Airs: Mondays at 9:30pm
Who’s In It? Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Nate Corddry, French Stewart, Justin Long, Octavia Spencer
What’s It All About? Faris stars as Christy, a tightly wound, newly sober Napa Valley waitress dealing with the scars of a rough childhood with her neglectful mom Bonnie (Janney) while trying to prevent her own teen daughter Violet from following in their dysfunctional footsteps. Christy’s frailties are further complicated by her wine-centric locale, a fling with her married boss (Corddry) and Bonnie’s reappearance in her life via a new bond with Violet. Faris is a guaranteed laugh-getter and the show is written and produced by comedy king Chuck Lorre, whose credits include Roseanne, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, but Mom’s humor can be so sneering that it’s sometimes hard to figure out what we’re supposed to find funny.
Premieres: Oct. 3
Airs: Thursdays at 8:30pm
Who’s In It? Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale, Nelson Franklin, J.B. Smoove
What’s It All About? News reporter Nathan (Arnett) is on the rebound after a divorce, but finds his newly single life disrupted by his parents’ marital strife. Chaos erupts when Nathan’s mother (Martindale) moves in with him, and his father (Bridges) moves in with Nathan’s sister and her family. Creator Greg Garcia (Raising Hope, My Name Is Earl) knows a thing or two about spinning comedy from family dynamics. “I kind of looked at my own life and the characters in my life and kind of fictionalized the situation that they are in,” Garcia says. “Primarily my mother and my father, who are happily married, actually. But if you spend any time with them, at first you think that my mother is a horrible human being and how could she treat this poor, innocent man the way she treats this man. And then you spend a little time with just my dad, and within five minutes, you turn into my mother, yelling at him.”
Premieres: Sept. 24
Airs: Tuesdays at 9pm
Who’s In It? Sean Giambrone, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jeff Garlin, Hayley Orrantia, George Segal
What’s It All About? The 1980s are relived through the eyes and video camera lens of young Adam Goldberg (Giambrone). Adam’s parents are, like, totally embarrassing and just don’t understand that REO Speedwagon cassette tapes and wearing your sister’s hand-me-down jeans are grody to the max. At least grandpa “Pops” (Segal) can relate to the kids, since he’s like the biggest teenager of them all. A comedy with the heart of The Wonder Years and the soul of Malcolm in the Middle, there’s a lot to enjoy for ’80s kids who are now parents themselves.
The Crazy Ones
Premieres: Sept. 26
Airs: Thursdays at 9pm
Who’s In It? Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Wolk, Hamish Linklater, Amanda Setton
What’s It All About? Ad agency chief Simon Roberts (Williams) shoots from the hip in working with some of the world’s biggest brand names. He’s earned a reputation as a mad genius who doesn’t just think outside the box, he sets the box on fire. His daughter and business partner Sydney (Gellar) — who is focused, determined and by the book — often has to rein him in. What develops from the polar opposites is a show that is both a workplace comedy and an emotional exploration of a father and daughter who are reconnecting. It’s also a chance for Williams to do on series TV what he does best. “I knew I’d be a fool to try and lasso him inside of my script,” says creator David E. Kelley of Williams’ comic improv abilities. “It was daunting because it feels like I’d been handed the keys to a car that I was ill‑equipped to drive.” “The bottom line is [Kelley] writes great stuff,” Williams says. “It’s a great base, and I’ve got great people to play off of.”
Premieres: Sept. 24
Airs: Tuesdays at 9:30pm
Who’s In It? Malin Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden, Bradley Whitford, Michaela Watkins, Natalie Morales
What’s It All About? When party girl Kate (Akerman) falls for lawyer Pete (Whitford), little does she know he has a complex web of ex-wives and kids. Ex-wife No. 1, Diane (Harden) is a demanding doctor and mother of teenage twins Hillary and Warren. Ex-wife No. 2, Jackie (Watkins) is a flaky neurotic and mother to adopted son Bert. Outside of Pete, no one takes Kate’s presence in the family seriously. “You can stop trying so hard,” Hillary tells her. “Nobody expects you to be a mom. Just think of yourself more as my dad’s third wife.” Don’t expect much from Trophy Wife. Just think of it more as another middling mimic of Modern Family.
We Are Men
Premieres: Sept. 30
Airs: Mondays at 8:30pm
Who’s In It? Chris Smith, Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O’Connell, Kal Penn, Rebecca Breeds
What’s It All About? Relative newcomer Smith stars as Carter, a youthful wannabe basketball coach who moves into a trendy short-term apartment complex after his dream girl leaves him at the altar. There, he’s welcomed into a fraternity of fellow single gents — repentant cheater Gil (Penn), who hopes to win his family back; Speedo-lovin’, twice-divorced doctor Stuart (O’Connell), whose first ex-wife is representing his second ex-wife in their split; and middle-aged lothario Frank (Shalhoub), whose fetching daughter catches Carter’s eye. The pilot mostly features the guys establishing their roles in this bromance — but the something-for-everyone cast and potential storylines could make this single-cam social commentary a winner across generations and genders. “These guys are inherently, extremely vulnerable at the end of the day,” says Penn. “Every episode that we’ve done so far ends with a sort of sweetness.” “Their anger [is] at themselves and that gets misdirected to the women in their lives,” adds Shalhoub. “It’s coming to grips to where the real problems are.”
Welcome to the Family
Premieres: Oct. 3
Airs: Thursdays at 8:30pm
Who’s In It? Mike O’Malley, Mary McCormack, Ella Rae Peck, Joseph Haro, Ricardo Chavira
What’s It All About? O’Malley (Glee) and Chavira (Desperate Housewives) star as Dan Yoder and Miguel Hernandez, two dads who meet not-so-cute when Miguel rejects Dan’s attempt to join his gym — and then meet again when Miguel’s overachieving teen son Junior and Dan’s ditzy daughter Molly announce they’re in love and having a kid of their own, altering everyone’s plans for the future. “[It’s] about how the families look at family and closeness,” O’Malley says. “[The Hernandez clan] is a family over here that loves and dotes on their children and wants to do everything together. [The Yoders] over here — we’re happy our daughter is leaving for college. … We want her gone so we can get back to having the life we had before she was born. I think there’s a lot of people that can relate to that.”
Back in the Game
Premieres: Sept. 25
Airs: Wednesdays at 8:30pm
Who’s In It? Maggie Lawson, James Caan, Lenora Crichlow, Griffin Gluck, Ben Koldyke
What’s It All About? Terry Gannon Jr. (Lawson) was a star softball player until having a child with a loser of a husband ruined her game. Terry and her son Danny are living with her emotionally crippling dad, “The Cannon” (Caan), a grizzled, hard-drinking former ballplayer who washed out on the field and as a father. When Danny and the other athletically challenged kids form their own baseball team, Terry agrees to be their coach. Aside from The Bad News Bears-style baseball high jinks, the series is an often touching story of a mother trying to break the Gannon cycle of bad parenting.
The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco
Premieres: Sept. 2 at 10pm
Who’s In It? James Franco, Roastmaster Seth Rogen
What’s It All About? He bombed as cohost of the Oscars. He sawed off his arm in 127 Hours. And he had nothing better to do so he guest-starred on General Hospital. “If only James Franco was a more successful, multi-hyphenated, incessant creative risk taker in different media, he’d be the perfect person to roast. Oh well … I suppose we’ll just have to make do,” jokes Comedy Central’s Content Development & Original Programming chief Kent Alterman. “I’ve dreamed about this roast for as long as I can remember,” Franco says. We’ll see how long it takes him to forget it. Viewers can join in the fun on Twitter using the hashtag #FrancoRoast.
Bill Cosby: Far From Finished
Premieres: Nov. 24
Who’s In It? Bill Cosby
What’s It All About? It’s been 30 years since Bill Cosby did a televised standup comedy concert in the landmark Bill Cosby Himself. Back then, life was simpler, the term “Cosby sweater” was not yet born and there was no Twitter to greatly exaggerate reports of his death. The Cos makes a comeback to TV standup in Far From Finished, directed by Robert Townsend and compiled from performances Cosby did in Cerritos, Calif., over the summer.
Nick at Nite
Who’s In It? Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Michael Boatman, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Sydney Park, Tylen Williams
What’s It All About? Young socialite Stephanie (Mowry-Hardrict) marries the older Charlie (Boatman) and becomes stepmom to his three kids. What was she thinking? Three kids are a big responsibility! It’s lighthearted fun for moms who’ve forgotten to turn off the TV after Dora the Explorer.
Premieres: Nov. 14
Who’s In It? Skylar Astin, Briga Heelan, John C. McGinley
What’s It All About? Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) and Greg Malins (2 Broke Girls) created this workplace comedy about young banker Brody (Astin), who has a one-night stand with Jennifer (Heelan) and then discovers that she works in maintenance for his office building. Awkward! Will their budding romance endure through a tough boss (McGinley) and annoyed coworkers?
Rick and Morty
Who’s In It? Voices of Sarah Chalke, Spencer Grammer, Chris Parnell, Dan Harmon, Brandon Johnson
What’s It All About? Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland are behind this animated series about a mad (and often drunk) scientist who drags his dimwitted grandson for incredibly dangerous adventures throughout the universe. Full of wacky “high-concept sci-fi rigmarole,” Adult Swim’s audience and mourning Futurama fans will dig this.
Premieres: Dec. 4
Airs: Wednesdays at 10pm
Who’s In It? Kirstie Alley, Eric Petersen, Rhea Perlman, Michael Richards
What’s It All About? Alley plays Madison “Maddie” Banks, a Broadway star whose life takes a twist when Arlo (Petersen), the son she gave up for adoption, looks to connect with her. Maddie still isn’t the motherly type, and the fact that Arlo has grown into a geek doesn’t help. A show reuniting stars from classic TV series is right in TV Land’s wheelhouse. If the Alley-Perlman Cheers reunion excites you, just wait for the Look Who’s Talking reunion when John Travolta guest-stars in an episode later in the season.
Friends With Better Lives, CBS
Six friends are envious of each other’s life situations. Will they be able to appreciate what they’ve got, or will the grass always be greener? Stars Brooklyn Decker, James Van Der Beek and Kevin Connolly.
Murder Police, FOX
In this animated comedy, a nerdy cop’s efforts to solve crimes are thwarted by the crookedness, laziness and frightening incompetence of his colleagues.
Surviving Jack, FOX
Based on Sh*t My Dad Says author Justin Halpern’s autobiographical book I Suck at Girls, this comedy follows an awkward teenage boy and his relationship with his abrasive, opinionated father. It’s what CBS’ canceled $#*! My Dad Says should have been, and well worth the midseason wait.
Us & Them, FOX
Hit British comedy Gavin & Stacey gets an American adaptation, with Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel playing a couple managing a long-distance relationship with the help (and hindrance) of their friends and family. Us & Them maintains the wit and charm of the original, while Jane Kaczmarek, Kurt Fuller and Michael Ian Black shine throughout in the supporting cast.
Premieres: Jan. 10
Three brothers in the Army are assigned to the same Rear Detachment unit in Florida, where they wash tanks and mow lawns. Their family bond is tested when Pete (Stults) is put in charge of his brothers’ misfit platoon. Enlisted isn’t a bad 21st-century update to the military comedy subgenre. The challenge is finding something that Stripes, M*A*S*H or (gulp) Hogan’s Heroes haven’t already done.
Michael J. Fox Show: © 2013 NBCUniversal Media, LLC Credit: Mark Seliger
Hello Ladies: Credit: Jaimie Trueblood/HBO
Super Fun Night: © 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Credit: Colleen Hayes
Crazy Ones: ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The Goldbergs: © 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Credit: Craig Sjodin
Back in the Game: © 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Credit: Kevin Foley