THE RUNWAY – YOUR 2017 PILOT SURVIVAL GUIDE: CBS COMEDIES

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living biblically

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Living Biblically

Logline: A modern-day man at a crossroads in his life decides to a live according to the Bible. Based on A.J. Jacobs’ bestseller The Year of Living Biblically.
Cast: Jay R. Ferguson, Lindsey Kraft, Ian Gomez
Creators: Patrick Walsh (W / EP), Johnny Galecki (EP), Spencer Medof (EP), Andy Ackerman (D)
Studios: Warner Bros TV

I’ve always thought the writer of this pilot was underappreciated — from his podcast appearances to seeing him do stand-up in New York. However, he’s been toiling away for years at 2 Broke Girls, which might not be the best place for his comic sensibilities, despite the nice paycheck. Living Biblically, the highest of high concepts presents a challenge. Let’s see if he’s up for it.

Our lead Chip starts off in a church confessional, listing his many shortcomings. Then Chip drops the bomb: he’s planning to live his life according to the Bible. The genesis of the change is the death of his friend Ray, and Ray’s mother saying that not going to church post-high school has condemned her son to a life hell.

Next, we find Vince in the break room at his workplace, the New York Post. Apparently, everyone’s getting fired from there lately. And to ratchet up Chip’s stress level, his lovely wife Leslie tells him she’s pregnant. To get his life back on track, Chip starts doing the unthinkable: reading the Bible. Then he ups that by deciding to live by the teachings of the Bible for nine whole months. The premise pilot then pivots into a demonstration pilot, as complications ensue when Chip starts living the Bible life.

As expected, the jokes in this pilot are first-rate. I also liked the structural approach taken by Walsh, with the confession to the priest providing a nice framing device for establishing the premise. If there’s a downside, it’s that Chip is on the page for a lot of the time. This actually hasn’t been a problem at CBS before — see Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc from last pilot season — but is that a formula they want to go with going forward? And while I like the cast members, they’re a little less well-known than on some of the other pilots. And the final wild card is will potential viewers be turned off by a plot that may, at times, be making fun of the Bible? There’s a lot of variables at play here.

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