The Runway – Your 2017 Pilot Survival Guide: FOX Comedies

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linda from hr

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Linda from HR

Logline: All it takes is one bad decision to throw Linda from HR’s monotonous, unfulfilled life into an exciting but dangerous tailspin of balancing work life, home life and a secret that could unravel everything.
Cast: Lauren Graham, Michael Landes, Zachary Knighton, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Ellis Rubin, Kylie Rogers
Creators: Geoff Barbanell (W / EP), Itai Grunfeld (W / EP), Aaron Kaplan (EP), Tracy Katsky (EP), Dana Honor (EP), Mark Buckland (D)
Studios: 20th Century Fox TV, Kat Co., Kapital Entertainment

Netflix doesn’t release viewing data, but I can guarantee the new Gilmore Girls revival was a huge hit. So I’m happy to see Lauren Graham will be leading a pilot this development season, but has she picked a project worthy of her talents?

Linda Pugh has seen better days. We see her average morning — snoring husband, space heater in bathroom, a stray grey hair, bickering kids. Her work life isn’t much better — someone parked in her spot, she has to share a cubicle, there’s a huge stack of employee grievances she has to review, and she has to “right size” 500 employees soon. Then Alan, an auditor from Ernst & Young, enters her life, having to work at the company for two weeks.

I can’t get into what happens next, as it would be a spoiler. You don’t normally say that for network pilots, but we kinda go into Mr. Robot/90’s thriller movie territory. Lies are explained, misunderstandings become understood, and Linda’s life is changed forever. All in 30 pages.

This is a tough one to talk about. First off, the writing is really, really good. Linda is very well-written, fully fleshed out character. For instance, we see her switch from Kirkland shampoo to a mini bottle of nice shampoo when she wants to impress a guy. The action is extremely grounded and believable. I found myself leaning in to find out what would happen next, as this veered into thriller territory. And I cared!

It’s weird this is a “comedy” pilot and at a major network. It plays like something you might see stretched out to an hour, and airing on FX or USA. Or even an indie dramedy/thriller premiering at a film festival. On the bright side, it’s produced by 20th Century Fox. But which show would they pair it with and are people going to buy into the presumed serialization? This is one of those pilots you can’t help but root for.

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