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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.
With that in mind, it's even more important to remember 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. Plus: as an added bonus, we've got a backlog of passed over pilots - some from this season, some from last season - we'll be tackling as well. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
THE PILOTS THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE CUT: ALL-NIGHTERS (CBS, 2007)
(written by Scott Silveri; directed by Andy Ackerman; TRT: 21:31)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out: In addition to "All-Nighters" (the name given in the title card) the project has also been referenced to as "Up All Night" and "Open All Night."
The plot in a nutshell: Neurotic Bostonian Ben (Phillip C. Vaden) explains to us that he thought only two types of people were up at 4:00 am - babies and vampires. That is of course until he decided to visit a nearby all-night diner at that very hour following a sleepless night of what else - worrying about everything. There he meets a host of oddball characters - Matthew (J.D. Walsh), a dim bulb maintenance worker who's convinced everyone is planning a bank heist; Andy (John Cho), a business wunderkind whose financial work forces him to stay up all night and sleep all day; Farrelly (Josh Meyers), the Ben Affleck circa "Good Will Hunting" wannabe (complete with calling everyone "Harvard" and "wicked smart"); Erika (Leslie Grossman), a doctor who has just as much trouble keeping her patients alive as her relationships; and Kris (Sarah Wright), the diner's waitress/aspiring singer. Our gang then is more than willing to offer their advise about Ben's most pressing predicament - whether to ask his live-in girlfriend (Gillian Jacobs) to marry him - not to mention sing the praises of their late-night lifestyle. Despite the abundance of craziness, Ben strikes a bond with Andy, who himself has been living with his own predicament. It seems he left his previous girlfriend at the altar and has been hiding from the world ever since. As luck would have it though, that girl turns out to be, wait for it... Ben's current girlfriend. That plus more diner shenanigans (they bet on TiVoed Pats games, make fun of each other, bet on how the diner's patrons are connected, make fun of each other, etc.) and you pretty much have the gist.
What works: Not surprisingly based on the above...
What doesn't: ..."All-Nighters" turns out to be a trainwreck of cosmic proportions. From its only-in-sitcoms premise to its only-in-sitcoms characters to its only-in-sitcoms relationships, everything just reeks of '90s era FOX-ness and not even in a kitschy, "can you believe we used to watch shows like this?" sort of way. As usual though none of this would matter if it was remotely funny, or cute, or charming or... I'm out of adjectives here. And as much as I'd like to go over its flaws like the Zapruder film...
The bottom line: ...there's only so much awfulness a guy can take.