The Runway – Your 2017 Pilot Survival Guide: NBC Comedies

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what about barb

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What About Barb?

Logline: A psychotherapist tries to cut ties with her most overbearing patient but is unsuccessful and gains an annoying family member in the process. Female-led reboot of 1991 movie.
Cast: Leah Remini, Jessica Gunning, Ben Lawson, Eddie Shun
Creators: Joe Port (W / EP), Joe Wiseman (W / EP)
Studios: ABC Studios

A gender-swapped tv version of What About Bob? seems, on its surface, like a decent idea. And we’ve seen a few movie-to-tv adaptations get pick-ups in recent years, including Uncle Buck, Lethal Weapon, and Training Day, but a primarily two-hander high concept like this faces a few speed bumps that will need to be overcome.

We meet Barb (“bull in China shop”) barging into the office of her therapist, Suzanne (uptight). Suzanne tries to end their relationship, but Barb doesn’t take “no” easily, perhaps one of the reasons she’s in therapy. We then get to meet Suzanne’s family — a soon-to-be husband, stressed son, progressive daughter, and slacker brother. They’re pretty standard fare for network comedy. Act One ends with Barb intruding on their home.

If you’ve seen What About Bob?, you know what happens next. Barb intrudes repeatedly on Suzanne’s life, but occasionally does good (like helping teach Suzanne’s daughter to relax while driving, and dating Suzanne’s brother). There’s an end of Act Two falling out, and an end of Act three semi-reconciliation, and the groundwork is laid for all future episodes.

Normally, something like this that is so high concept I’m a bit down from the jump. I kinda liked the pilot for Uncle Buck, for instance, but then every episode after is ‘Buck screws up before ultimately redeeming himself’. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this pilot — some of the jokes land and the family seems nice enough and real. I’m sure it would cut a pretty good upfronts trailer too, but the longevity of the series is in question with such a simplified premise. Uncle Buck couldn’t make it past episode 8, and you have to wonder if patient Barb could survive a back nine.

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