2013 TV Upfronts: With fall comedies, Fox aims broad


NEW YORK -- At its upfront presentations over the last few years, Fox has unveiled some single-camera comedies with character-driven humor, such as “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project,” that went on to be critical darlings.

At this year’s presentation it showcased half-hours that take a different tack: broad comedies filled with sight gags and raunchy (for broadcast network) humor. You could almost hear the term “the success of the R-rated film comedy” coming from a development meeting.

In the Seth MacFarlane-produced “Dads,” Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi play grown men whose fathers come to live with them, with an ample amount of geezer humor and an occasional belch joke thrown in.


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The typically offbeat Andy Samberg is getting his physical humor on in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” a show that might be described as “Barney Miller” with more schtick. (There was a shot of a cop wearing colorful male briefs, and the teaser closed with an underwear-wedgie joke.)

And in “Enlisted,” starring Geoff Stults, pratfalls were the order of the day as a band of misfits trained for Army duty; it was a kind of “Private Benjamin” for the gross-out age.

The notion, generally speaking, was seek out the males, and perhaps also bigger numbers than some of the women-leaning comedies have landed this season.

There was a more understated humor in the relationship half-hour “Us and Them” and the coming-of-age nostalgia series “Surviving Jack,” which with its 1990-ish setting seemed a little like “The Wonder Years” for a generation that was young when “The Wonder Years” was on the air. (Those two Fox shows, incidentally, are not dated; the previous three are all fall bows.)

The reaction in the room to the broad material was mixed. But Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly said there was a rationale behind it. “This year,” he said, “we had a smart upscale comedy brand. Next year we’ll broaden it out.”


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