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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2012-2013 season, now in its seventh year! Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
REBOUNDING (BUSTED FOX PILOT)
(written by Joe Port & Joe Wiseman; directed by Jason Winer; TRT: 21:53)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out? Aly Michalka was originally cast as Teller's girlfriend Taryn, a role that was reconceived as Julia and ultimately went to Amanda Walsh. Plus, USA is reportedly considering picking up the show.
The plot in a nutshell: Advertising executive Danny (an unexpectedly straight-laced Will Forte) hasn't quite recovered from the death of his fiance Jenny (a briefly glimpsed Amy Acker). Months have passed and he's still clinging to his bathrobe, only leaving the house to walk Rooney - the purse-sized dog he reluctantly got with her - while his sister Amanda (Andrea Savage), a divorced single mother, takes care of him. His best friends - fastidious co-worker Russell (Malcolm Barrett), who's just been dumped; odd duck bass player Eli (Matt L. Jones), who got dropped by his on-the-cusp band because he didn't fit their look; and the slightly dim Teller (Hayes MacArthur), who's paranoid his exceedingly smart girlfriend Julia (Amanda Walsh) thinks he's dumb - however have a solution: come out with them for a night out.
And despite his protests, he actually has a good time, that is until Teller pressures him to talk to an attractive blonde (Fiona Gubelmann). ("Look, I'm out, I'm wearing pants, I feel like this is already a pretty big victory," he warns.) A disastrous attempt at a hook up later and what little progress Danny's made in recovery disappears, causing him to lash out at everyone as a result. Teller however doesn't give up, ultimately reminding Danny that he's the guy they usually to turn to for inspiration. After all, between Jenny's death, Russell's ex and Eli's band, life's been kicking their asses lately. The latter in particular becomes a rallying point for our heroes, as Danny and company try to get Eli his job back. This of course proves to be a disaster, but one they take solace in as a long overdue wake-up call.
What works: Brace yourself kids, it's a single-camera comedy with actual jokes! I know that sounds glib but - as you'll see in the coming weeks - so many single-camera comedies as of late forget the latter part of the equation. And the fact that Port, Wiseman and Winer found them amongst such a grey subject matter is even more impressive. Whether it's a bevy of amusing cameos (Rob Riggle as a douchey litterbug, Will Sasso as Amanda's ex, Tamera Mowry-Housley as Russell's moved-on ex), a silly runner involving the guys' pick-up basketball game with a group of 12-year-olds, Teller's attempts to use words he doesn't understand to sound smart or Russell's endless well of metrosexuality, there's always something brewing on the humor front.
It's just as refreshing to see Will Forte be the straight man to all of the aforementioned foibles. Usually tasked with silly voices or broad character turns, the fact that he gives such a restrained performance makes Danny feel all the more crestfallen, not to mention gives the show's more fatuous moments a distinct flair as a result. Barrett, Jones and MacArthur likewise are a lot of fun, albeit playing variations of things we've seen them do before. There's also just the right amount of sentiment to the proceedings, not so much that it borders on saccharine and not too little that it betrays the premise of the show.
What doesn't: Is this a game changing show that changes what we can expect from the genre? No. Is it a more than welcome comedy oasis from the dearth of what are essentially half-hour dramas this year? Hell yes.
The bottom line: How this is not airing somewhere this season is beyond me.