Clues had been coming in for the past couple of weeks. After last fall failed to produce a single breakout new comedy series, the networks stepped up their comedy development efforts. That resulted in a glut of hot comedy pilots that made network executives giddy. It was clear that, with the nets fawning over their comedy development, they would likely bet heavily on new half-hour series. But they went further — an almost complete redo of last season on the comedy side, as if it never happened. Out of 16 new comedies picked up last May, only one, Fox‘s The Mindy Project, has been renewed. Another one, ABC‘s The Neighbors, is expected to join it after a deal is completed. Compare that to 7 freshman half-hour series who made it to Year 2 last May.
So far, 19 new comedy series have been picked up for next season by the broadcast networks. One to two more will likely be added by Monday, with NBC‘s Craig Robinson and CBS‘ Friends with Better Lives among those talked about. (Fox’s To My Assistant and NBC’s Assistance also have a shot down the road after possible retool.) Not surprisingly, NBC leads the pack with 6 half-hour series already ordered. With The Office leaving, NBC pretty much wiped the slate clean, only bringing back Parks & Recreation for a full season and Community for 13. That is the smallest number of returning comedies on any broadcast network.
Format-wise, there are some multi-camera/single-camera shifts at the networks. CBS is back in the single-camera game with Crazy Ones and We Are Men, its first single-camera comedy series in 5 years, since Worst Week in 2008. Meanwhile, Fox is dipping its toe back in the multi-camera comedy business with the Seth MacFarlane-produced new series Dads, the network’s first multi-camera entry since the 2011 I Hate My Teenage Daughter. (I also hear Fox is considering converting To My Assistant from single- to multi-camera). Meanwhile, ABC is signaling a major retreat from the multi-camera form. It did not pick up to series any of its two multi-camera comedy pilots, King John and Divorce, and cancelled one of its existing two sitcoms, Malibu Country, leaving Last Man Standing as the last sitcom man standing on its schedule next season. It is status quo at NBC, which cancelled its two existing multi-cam series, Whitney and Guys With Kids, but picked up two new, Sean Saves The World and Undateable.
Themes-wise, there are a lot of family comedies served up for next season. We have The Millers (CBS), their Jewish counterparts The Goldbergs (ABC), the father-daughter – Back In The Game (ABC) and Sean Saves The World (NBC), mother-daughter – Mom (CBS), fathers-sons – Dads (Fox), step mom – Trophy Wife (ABC), dad with kids – Michael J. Fox (NBC), son with divorced parents – The Family Guide (NBC), surrogate parent (About A Boy) and young couple in love dealing with their respective families – Welcome To The Family (NBC) and Us & Them (Fox). Also big this year are male ensemble comedies with Fox’s Enlisted, Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, CBS’ We Are Men and NBC’s Undateable. The lone new guy ensemble entry last season, NBC’s Guys With Kids, didn’t make it to season 2.
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