Networks' comedy pilots reflect recessionary times

Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:43am EST
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A group of friends gets fired on the same day. Troubled cops check into a halfway home. A Wall Street executive loses his job and has to reconnect with his small-town family.

Laughing yet?

Those are a few log lines for next fall's TV pilots -- the comedy pilots.

Networks are looking at recession-friendly ideas for their new half-hours, with many projects embracing characters in crisis and avoiding office settings.

CBS' "Waiting to Die" is, according to its description, a "buddy comedy about two simple guys who are happy with their life, no matter how bad it might look from the outside." Fox's "Two Dollar Beer" is about a blue-collar couple in Detroit who "deal with the reality of their long-standing roots in this community slowly becoming less relevant as the rest of the world passes them by."

Groups of single, perky young people seem to be waning. No more friends with benefits -- they're now friends with unemployment benefits.

The creative upside is that networks that have rushed back to relatively conventional police and medical procedurals for their fall drama pilots seem to have ordered some refreshingly untraditional comedies.

Story lines suggest grown-up themes: single parents, a couple with an age difference, unexpected pregnancies. Yet the police-show resurgence is getting some play on the sitcom side, too, with four comedies in development that center on police officers or security guards.   Continued...

<p>The Fox logo is pictured on signage at the Fox TV network summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 14, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>