The Runway – Your 2016 Pilot Survival Guide: NBC Comedies


hubbard pic
Untitled Matt Hubbard Comedy

Logline: Loosely based on Hubbard’s life, it revolves around Andrew and Josie, a happily married interracial couple whose lives take a turn when they move close to Josie’s family in Missouri.
Cast: Chris Smith, , ,
Creators: Matt Hubbard (Writer / EP), (EP), (EP)
Studios: Universal , 3 Arts, Little Stranger

This year, we’ve seen slightly fewer tv inspired by the writer’s real life. That used to be a tactic by writers to get some buzz on a project. And it didn’t matter how tenuous the “inspired by” part would be. I could write a sitcom about a guy mauled to death by a bear, and say it was loosely inspired by my own life because one-time my brother gave me a bear hug. I think execs wised up to the fact that Nielsen families just want a good story. That being said, Matt Hubbard’s project at least resembles his life in a meaningful way.

We meet Andrew Denton, an everyman with a great first name, visiting his girlfriend’s father’s martial arts academy in Missouri. After a meal “at the usual table” at the finest restaurant in town (Red Lobster), Andrew asks Jae for his daughter’s hand in marriage, ending with Andrew standing on the table and it collapsing. But he gets a yes!

Time jump a few years in the future. Andrew, wife Josie, and kids Nathan and Maggie, are moving from to Missouri to be closer to her family (and to raise kids outside of LA, of course). Andrew’s mom, Barbara, star of 400 deodorant shows, also shows up and insults the state. Many ultimate frisbee jokes ensue. And Frozen jokes. Family bickering and reconciling ensues.

The writing here is pretty solid. The pilot has a grounded, natural feel to the jokes. Unlike some other NBC pilots, there’s some decent emotion on display.

My problem is we’re treading very familiar territory. Sooo many pilots about contrasting sides of families. Sooo many pilots with returning home from . Sooo many pilots with a theatrical mom. Sooo many pilots where in-laws must co-exist.

Every showrunner, at some point, must write the story of their life. And if they’ve been successful previously, the network will often pick up the pilot script to filming. And every once in a while, that pilot will get picked up to series (e.g. How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life). But very rarely do these shows get a second season. The story engine is often weak. Every once in a while you have a major breakthrough though, like with Everybody Loves Raymond. But Andrew Denton is no Raymond.

This would make good counter-programming to some of the other super high concept shows they’ll likely pick up. But it’ll be challenging to greenlight this. If it does get picked up, let me be the first to say the Jack McBrayer’s character will at least in one review be compared to the Dwight Schrute character in The Office, because it’s impossible not to think of the Gary character as part Schrute.

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1 Comment

  1. Is there a reason why Andrew Woodberry seems to have written all the Runway articles except NBC Dramas, which seems to be from a different contributor?

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