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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: CEDRIC (ABC, 2007)
(written by Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Soccio & Rock Reuben; directed by Ken Whittingham; TRT: 22:35)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out: While it was tagged as the "Untitled Cedric the Entertainer Project," the show's title card and credits suggest they we learning towards just "Cedric."
The plot in a nutshell: Thanks to her best-selling book "Show Me What You Got! A Guide to Living Well on a Budget," Darlene Stokes (Regina Hall) has become America's newest domestic diva. Now if only her husband Preston (Cedric the Entertainer) could be happy for her. After all, since moving from Englewood to Beverly Hills, he doesn't seem to be getting any respect - his kids Richard (Steven Wash, Jr.) and Vanessa (Jasmine McNeal) never ask him permission for anything, preferring to defer straight to the money's source - mom; his co-worker Thomas "The Wiz" Osgood (Charles Malik Whitfield) points out his "bitch-like" qualities; and even their gardener, Eduardo (Lombardo Boyar), won't take his word for anything since he's not the man of the house. The straw that breaks the camel's back though is when Darlene puts the kibosh on Preston's plans to watch the fight with Wiz on Saturday in favor of dinner with their uppity neighbors - Marci (Melissa Peterman), a plastic surgery aficionado; and Grant (Peter Mackenzie), who's overly excited about the chance to make his first black friend. Left with no other card to play (and thanks to some poor advice from The Wiz), Preston puts Darlene on a sexual embargo. From here things pan out as expected - the more Preston's ego wins, the more Preston's libido loses. Eventually things reach their breaking point, forcing Preston to fess up to his emasculated feelings after which she puts them to rest.
What works: Cedric the Entertainer is his usual "entertaining" self - it's too bad then that he's...
What doesn't: ...stuck in a one-joke show. In case you haven't noticed, this show is about a guy who's frustrated that his wife wears the pants in the family. You didn't? You see he's been the breadwinner for the past 15 years and now his wife is taking the lead. Nope, still don't get it? Okay, let's beat that dead horse another 20 times in the course of 22 minutes. It's a plot so old that last year's pilot to "Carpoolers" relegated it to subplot status (Fred Goss is worried wife Faith Ford makes more money - hilarious!). You can literally count on one hand the number of jokes not tied to this premise - Grant mentions that he played golf with Danny Glover once but nothing came of it; and um, Eduardo's gardening business is treated like the local mafia. That's it.
The bottom line: Seriously, that's it.