Fox has given a six-episode order to A Moody Christmas, a half-hour single-camera holiday event series, an adaptation of the Australian series of the same name, to air during the 2019 holiday season. The series hails from CBS TV Studios, which will co-produce with Fox Entertainment.
Written by comedy veterans Bob Fisher, Rob Greenberg and Tad Quill, A Moody Christmas follows Dan Moody as he returns home to spend Christmas with his dysfunctional family. When he arrives, he’s met with the inevitable madness of a family whose members are all hiding things from each other.
Fox is envisioning this as an ongoing event series franchise. “It begins at Christmas but isn’t just limited to Christmas,” Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn told Deadline last month. “We will meet this family, the Moodys, at very important events throughout their lifecycle that a family experiences together.”
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Those could include a family wedding, a family vacation, a funeral, and a graduation.
“Over the course of a year we would visit with this family for two to three six-episode cycles,” Thorn said. “Christmas would be a standing family event (every year) like it is for many families.”
The episodes will be standalone but there also will be an overarching story each season. “It’s truly a serialized comedy event in our mind where it has a beginning middle and end,” Thorn said.
The potential anthology franchise is expected to have a series regular cast consisting of the core Moody family members who would appear in every installment, joined by recurring guest stars for the individual seasons.
Fox originally landed an U.S. adaptation of A Moody Christmas from CBS TV Studios and The Tannenbaum Co. in summer 2013 with a different writer, handing it a put pilot commitment in a very competitive situation. That incarnation did not go forward but Fox executives had remained high on the concept, which was redeveloped with Fisher, Greenberg and Quill.
I hear the project got a further boost after Charlie Collier joined Fox and Entertainment CEO last fall and identified it as a holiday event programming prospect.
“We want to figure out a way to bring urgency to comedy,” Thorn said. “We have high viewership levels right before Christmas, and often times there isn’t original programming during that window even though the HUT levels are high. So our plan is to do a comedy event series where we introduce that special and flawed multi-generational family and try and make an event out of that. After that, we will look at other similar parts of our schedule where we can do the same in a way that continues to drive urgency to the family and do it in six-episode installments.”
While A Moody Christmas had been in development, Netflix earlier this year ordered Merry Happy Whatever, a multi-camera comedy starring Dennis Quaid, which takes place in the days leading to Christmas and revolves around a complicated family where the youngest daughter comes home for the holidays. It also is envisioned as a potential anthology series, with each installment exploring a different holiday.
While Merry Happy Whatever is a traditional multi0-camera comedy, A Moody Christmas is “a very irreverent multi-generational, blue-collar family comedy,” Thorn said, adding that the series would go beyond holidays to tackle any major family life events.
A Moody Christmas represents one of three avenues of comedy programming Fox is pursuing outside of its push in animation.
“We are pursuing multiple tracks in comedy: our 22 episode a year comedies like Last Man Standing, which was a terrific success for us last year; our alternative comedies like our Fred Savage talk show What Just Happened?!, which premieres next Sunday; and these kinds of unique single-camera events like A Moody Family,” Thorn said, noting that the network also will continue to explore single-camera comedies for the regular schedule.
On the alternative front, Fox had been developing on an adaptation of the French pop culture sketch puppet show Les Guignois. It recently brought in Saturday Night Live veteran Robert Smigel for a new take on the premise.
Additionally, Fox also is exploring doing live comedy events.
Fisher, Greenberg and Quill executive produce A Moody Christmas with Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum of The Tannenbaum Co. as well as Trent O’Donnell and Phil Lloyd, creators of the original series, and Jason Burrows — all three from Jungleboys FTV Pty Limited, the production company behind the Australian series. Jason Wang co-executive produces.
The Australian A Moody Christmas debuted on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) in 2012 with six half-hour episodes that follows the Moody family on Christmas Day over six years. A followup series, The Moodys, was released in 2014. It follows the Moody family through a year’s worth of celebrations, including Australia Day, Easter, and a 40th birthday. Here is a trailer for the original installment. The format is repped by Gersh.
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