NBC Upfront: high concept comedies are back

Is Bill Pullman the next Leslie Nielsen? Pullman has landed another gig playing the president of the United States in 1600 Penn, one of the new Friday night comedies that has just landed on NBC’s fall schedule.
Monday morning at the annual NBC “upfront” presentations to advertisers, NBC announced seven new comedies will join its 2012-13 schedule. Imitation is the sincerest form of television, so move over New Girl. Step aside, Modern Family. Here come a whole bunch of shows sorta like that, only broader:
1600 Penn, which is not yet scheduled and may be mid-season, seems to signal a swing back toward high concept comedies. NBC is calling it Modern Family meets The West Wing, but the clips look more Animal House meets Police Squad.

The stars of Animal Practice, Crystal and Justin Kirk. Charles Sykes/NBC

Another new NBC comedy, Animal Practice, co-stars a monkey. Brampton’s Tyler Labine makes his umpteenth U.S. series appearance on this Wednesday night entry, which is directed by the Russo brothers. See a clip for it here.
Another occasional Canadian, Matthew Perry, surfaces again on the aptly titled Go On. Perry plays a sportcaster who just lost his wife in a car accident and now is part of a therapy group. “Grief can be good” sez NBC. Wonder if somebody down there was watching Michael Tuesdays & Thursdays? The series launches Tuesdays in the fall. Jump to the trailer here.

Go On stars Matthew Perry and Laura
Benanti with NBC Chair Robert Greenblatt

Can you get more high concept than a show called Guys With Kids? This one’s about guys with kids. Anthony Anderson and Tempest Bledsoe (The Cosby Show) are among the cast. Jimmy Fallon is an executive producer. Coming to NBC’s Wednesday schedule this fall. Check it out here.
Next Caller rescues Jeffery Tambor from Bent. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it stars Dane Cook as a foul mouthed, Howard Stern-like satellite radio shock jock. He’s  paired with an NPR feminist (Collette Wolfe). Before you can say, “sounds like a four-minute SNL sketch,” hilarity ensues. Air date TBA. See the really bad teaser here.
Save Me stars Anne Heche as an angel. Sort of. She’s still alive, but she nearly died choking on a hero sandwich, so now she has a hot line to God. That’s right, Anne Heche. And it’s called Save Me. TBA. The preview clip is here.
The New Normal is a really obvious Modern Family ripoff. Ellen Barkin gets work in it, Ryan Murphy produces. Tuesdays on NBC. See the trailer here.
These new comedies don’t seem very Robert Greenblatt-y, but lets try not to judge all these colouring books by their covers. NBC also unveiled five new dramas and four new reality shows. Find more on today’s NBC upfront in New York here and all the new show information here.

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