THE RUNWAY – YOUR 2017 PILOT SURVIVAL GUIDE: ABC COMEDIES

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Charlie Foxtrot

Logline: Captain Charlie Taylor is a cautious, lovable dentist stationed at Fort Bragg who promises to look after his brother’s impulsive fiancee and her two misfit teens while the brother is deployed in Iraq.
Cast: Jason Biggs, Anna Ortiz, Swoozie Kurtz, Robert Baker
Creators: Sam Sklaver (W / EP), Aaron Kaplan (EP), Dana Honor (EP), Todd Holland (D / EP)
Studios: ABC Studios TV, Kapital Entertainment

Jason Biggs had a nice resurrection due to his supporting role on Orange is the New Black, but he hasn’t been a lead in a network series since 2011’s generally forgotten Mad Love. The timing seems right, and the logline here has the good family comedy intersectionality that ABC likes (family + military).

We meet Charlie Taylor, a dentist at Fort Bragg who pines for his nurse Asha. At a party, we meet Charlie’s extended family — Joe (his brother, a soldier’s soldier), Angelina (Joe’s fiancee, emotionally and physically strong), and her teenagers Maria (wears a bikini on base) and Hector (rails against Lockheed Martin). Rounding out the cast will be Swoosie Kurtz as Joe and Charlie’s mom, Sue, described as a patriotic ball-buster.

With Joe heading off to the Middle East, Charlie starts to help out with Joe’s family, getting Angelina out of a bit of trouble at work. Heading into act two, Charlie realizes he is in a bit over his head with this surrogate family. His mom, Sue, helps him out of a pickle though. And I’ll stop at this point, as we head into spoiler territory (which I would think they’d have to divulge during the trailer at the upfronts).

The writing here is not too bad. And I liked the last military comedy to make it on air, Enlisted, though it only made it one season. Plus the character of Sue is perfect for Swoosie Kurtz, whose comedy skills I think are generally underappreciated. So everything’s not fubar with this pilot.

However, we’ve got some real problems. First off, Charlie doesn’t really have a strong point of view (which is probably good for a Jason Biggs character, but not great for a comedy show). The kids are very stock, lacking a bit of the nuance you see with kids on The Goldbergs or The Middle, and most importantly, we lack a blueprint for future episodes. The relationship between Charlie and his brother’s family is a bit tenuous, we don’t really have an Uncle Buck situation. We just have a dentist who seems like he’ll try his best (side note: being a dentist in a single-cam comedy isn’t really a foundation for comedy gold). So this pilot looks like it might be AWOL from ABC’s schedule this Fall.

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