The Runway – Your 2017 Pilot Survival Guide: FOX Comedies

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Logline: A group of consultants is hand-picked to do the dirty work most professionals can’t handle: layoffs, downsizing, generally delivering horrible news. To everyone else, they’re the enemy – to one another, they’re family.
Cast: Eva Longoria, Ken Marino, Kyle Bornheimer, Steve Harris, Andy Richter, Dulce Sloan
Creators: Lesley Wake-Webster (W / EP), Jason Winer (D / EP)
Studios: 20th Century Fox TV, Small Dog Picture Company

We saw with Showtime’s House of Lies that consulting can actually be a pretty interesting occupation to build a show around, but they had the advantage of shorter seasons, and the ability to say things that would make a sailor blush. Moral depravity doesn’t play quite as well on network tv, but if there was a network where it would, it’s Fox.

We meet our consulting team firing a guy from his family business. Ouch. Then they’re back at the office, trading verbal barbs like it’s a sport. They seem like a well-oiled machine, led by go-getter Axler. (Side note: almost no females this pilot season have traditional female names. Is this just a thing that’s going to continue into the future forever? What is wrong with female names?)

Things get interesting at the act break with a new hire: an attorney named Garland who Axler has history with. Things predictably get botched on their first gig together. We see through flashback this was all part of Axler’s plan. But this being a comedy pilot, by the end of the episode Garland and Axler will have to work together to lead our misfit group of consultants.

First off, this is like a love child of House of Lies and Better Off Ted. I’m hoping the creator of House of Lies at least gets a few royalties from this. As opposed to Thin Ice, this is much less of a premise pilot than an example of what every future episode will be like: the consultants trading witty lines with each other, with only a peripheral interest in the client .

If you look at the cast list, this pilot should be a slam dunk. It had some issues though: the title page gives character descriptions, all of which have a shorthand to remember them by (“the shark”, “the conscience”, “the genius”). The characters live up to their descriptions, but they lose some of the nuance of the characters of say The Office or even Parks & Recreation. There are also a lot of witty asides, but it’s hard to live on witty asides without great plotting. That being said, I could see this paired easily with Brooklyn Nine-Nine in an office comedy block.

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