Logline: Alex Schuman is an inquisitive journalist, husband, and father who dives headfirst into the brave new world of entrepreneurship when he quits his stable job and starts his own business. Based on the podcast.
Cast: Zach Braff, Tiya Sircar, Michael Imperioli, Hillary Anne Mathews, Chris Sacca
Creators: Matt Tarses (W / EP), Zach Braff (D / EP), John Davis (EP), John Fox (EP), Chris Gilbert (EP), Alex Blumberg (EP), Matt Lieber (EP)
Studios: Sony TV
This pilot got mentioned in an article I read this week… in the business section of the news. Uber investor (both literal and figuratively) is retiring from start-up investing, but interestingly enough, still possibly pursuing acting as a guest star on this show. His brother is a full-time actor, so you think he’d know that craft services isn’t up to par with the Google cafes he’s used to from his past life.
Start Up begins as many actual start-ups do: with our lead Alex begging for money for his business idea. Alex had a pretty good job hosting a feel good radio show, but he decided to strike out on his own because management wasn’t really into his ideas. He wants to build a… wait for it… wait for it… wait for it… podcasting company. So yeah, not much of a stretch from his old job. But he gets to be his own boss!
Alex quickly hires his female former co-worker (Deirdre) and his Latino friend (Eddie). One problem persists: still not enough money to run the business. So Alex breaks his promise to his wife and raids his 401K. The team puts together a Serial-like look at a murder, where perhaps the alleged murderer’s brother is at fault. Their biggest investor drops by, and passes out after an allergic reaction to the cat. We then catch up to our cold open with Alex begging for money. And, well, I think you know how that turns out since there wouldn’t a show otherwise.
Starting Up is a not a bad network comedy. In fact, it’s a pretty great fit for Zach Braff, as I can definitely see him playing the main character. Sacco will do OK as well, since he’d basically be playing Chris Sacco. And while it feels a bit toothless and less specific than Silicon Valley, it has a lot more authenticity than say The Great Indoors. Where does a show about a podcast go after the pilot though? I wondered the same about that “Dane Cook as a radio host at Sirius” show from a few years back, but NBC canned that show before airing it, despite shooting six episodes. All of this is to say Starting Up is a good pilot, but not a great pilot. In today’s network world, that might just be enough.