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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2008-2009 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot - or in this new post-strike/straight-to-series world, reading the pilot script. We'll start with the ones that were actually filmed and move on to the others in the coming weeks.
For our final two weeks, we're going to shift gears a little and look at the scripts for 10 high-concept projects in the works for midseason. All of them have just started or recently completed production so it may be some time before we hear when and if they make the cut.
As always a lot can change from what's on the page right now but we couldn't resist taking a peek.
BOLDLY GOING NOWHERE (FOX)
(written by Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day & Glenn Howerton; 29 pages)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out: Adam Stein, a writers' assistant on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," actually created the concept.
The plot in a nutshell: Ron Teague (all roles have yet to be cast), Captain of the Rock Collector 7, has big dreams. And in between dealing with his crew "abusing" their holo-deck privileges and pretending to be sending the latest moon rock shipment to Alliance Headquarters, he's plotting to arm his ship with "nuclear torpedoes and activate the ship's shields to war-time combat capabilities." After all, he thinks it's their ticket to "action, adventure, glory and riches" - since all the money's in exploration. Unfortunately for him HQ has sent Lt. Zander Centari to give their ship a thorough inspection. Now Ron and his crew - pilot Jane Beck, who's bipolar; head of security Cobalt, who's obsessed with body-building; Lance Brigsby, a limp noodle lieutenant with a cheating wife back home; intelligence officer Robot, whom Ron has reprogrammed to be a complete pussy over fears of a robot uprising; mechanic Pete, who's Manphibian (half-man, half-fish) and frequently accuses Ron of being racist; and comm officer Startemis, a portly, eccentric, female alien - must fool Zander into thinking they're doing a great job. Zander however catches on rather quickly that the inmates are running the asylum so the speak (Zander: "Why is your crew asleep?" Ron: "Well, I don't want any nefarious activity on the bridge while the Captain isn't present. So I encourage them to sleep while I'm gone.") and that he plans to report them. Ron's only remaining option - try and win him over to their lifestyle.
What works: Those hoping this show would be "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" in space should be happy to know it basically is. Nearly all the characters are selfish idiots who keep on finding new ways to make things worse. So imagine what would happen then if you put "Sunny"-esque characters in a "Star Trek" setting and the comedy dominoes all start to fall into place. There's crew members waiting in line wearing nothing but towels to use the holo-deck for "training." There's a security officer who frequently jails people for "being punk ass bitches." There's delusions of grandeur (Zander tries hopelessly to explain to Ron that he's not really a captain in the military - sort of like how captains of airplanes aren't actually captains in the Air Force). There's the use of the phrase "baby dick." There's brow beating innocent people ("I will come to your home and photon the shit out of it!"). And of course there's fantastic "Sunny"-esque banter like - Ron: "Who is it?" Startemis: "Supervisor Thompson." Ron: "Take a message." Startemis: "He says it's urgent." Ron: "I'm sure it is. Take a message." Startemis: "He's threatening to fire me if I don't put him through." Ron: "He's bluffing, don't put him through." Startemis: "I'm putting him through." Ron: "Do not put him through." Startemis: "He's through." Ron: "Son of a-." I literally lost count how many times I laughed out loud reading this script.
What doesn't: I don't see how FOX could actually air a show like this ("baby dick" probably wouldn't fly after "The Simpsons")...
The bottom line: ...but I will be the first in line if they do.