THE RUNWAY – YOUR 2017 PILOT SURVIVAL GUIDE: CBS COMEDIES

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brothered up

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Brothered Up

Logline: An emotionally guarded African-American cop gets partnered with an emotionally available Pakistani cop and they are forced to find a way to connect as they patrol a Detroit neighborhood.
Cast: D.L. Hughley, Adhir Kalyan, Nishi Munshi, Glynn Turman, Merrin Dungey, John C. McGuinley
Creators: Mark Gross (W / EP), James Burrows (D / EP)
Studios: CBS TV Studios

Odd couple pairings are nothing new to multi-cam sitcoms. And mismatched cop pairings are nothing new to comedy either (see last season’s Lethal Weapon). But this is the first time we’ll see an African-American cop paired with a Pakistani cop. So this premise already has at least something going for it.

We start off in the Dearborn, Michigan police precinct where we meet Calvin and Farooq, our two main characters. They’re taking a mugshot of a guy who was drunk & disorderly at his ex’s wedding. Before the Cold Open ends, the more experienced Calvin will be paired up on a beat with the typically desk-bound Farooq.

We spend a bit of time with Calvin’s family – he lives with calming wife Desri, daughter Effie, and his cigar & donut-for-breakfast father, Frank. Then we meet Farooq’s family – wife Nosheen, 10-year-old son Izzyan, and parents Usman and Bisma. Through their first call together, the guys relay to each other about their lives. They then resolve a case for an older woman who is hallucinating because she didn’t take her meds. (it’s actually pretty sweet). Our first act ends with a partner party being thrown for the two guys, but a cloud hanging over it because it turns out Calvin will only be training Farooq temporarily, before returning to his beat alone. I think you know what happens at the end of act two, otherwise we don’t have a series.

First off, you have to applaud CBS for putting slightly more energy into diversity this season. They’ve basically sucked at it in the past, and as ratings on Superior Donuts and a whole bunch of other shows have proven, diversity is good for the bottom line if the show is done well. That being said, there are a couple issues with this pilot.

Police shows, in general, can only handle so much inside material before they have to go outside. Multi-cams are not built well for outside material. I mean, there’s a reason so much of Barney Miller took place inside the precinct. My other issue is the premise feels a little bit limiting. The Odd Couple, which got a miraculous renewal a while back, already showed the difficulty of not building out a strong ensemble. The families of these two guys are actually pretty nice and agreeable, but they don’t pop on the page the way multi-cams, unfortunately, thrive on. (see 2 Broke Girls, where the side characters are ridiculous and often stereotypical caricatures, but still helped attract viewers) The relationship between these guys is fairly strong, so it’s a little hard to picture the confrontations that will get this type of show to syndication.

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