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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.]
SUPER FUN NIGHT (BUSTED CBS PILOT)
(written by Rebel Wilson; directed by Mark Cendrowski; TRT: 21:14)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out? ABC is reportedly on track to order a single-camera version of this project to pilot.
The plot in a nutshell: It's a typical Friday night for lawyer Kimmie (Australian Rebel Wilson, sans accent) and her fellow socially awkward best friends: actuary/devout virgin Helen-Alice (Jenny Slate) and stereotypically butch tennis coach Marika (Edi Patterson): pajamas, Fanta and "Murna Princess Warrior." Or as they call it: "Friday Night Fun Night," complete with the catchphrase, "Always together! Always inside!" And for the past 600 weeks - Helen-Alice has been keeping a running tally - it's been a welcome sanctuary for Kimmie. That is until she gets the news that her ex is getting married, followed shortly by word her younger, party girl sister Jazmine (Deborah Baker Jr.) has likewise gotten engaged to her unabashedly douchey boyfriend (Alan Ritchson).
Rather than continue to let life pass her by, Kimmie decides to use a new promotion at work as an excuse to reinvent herself and be more like her idol Felicity Vanderstone (Anna Camp). This of course goes as horribly as expected (an effort to show she's going to literally kick ass is followed by a ripped skirt), but she does make a connection with Richard (Kevin Bishop), a new transfer from the London office. He invites her for celebratory drinks and Kimmie, despite their protests (Marika: "Dude, if I go out on the town guys are just gonna be all up in my junk!"), drags along Helen-Alice and Marika for support.
This likewise comes with its own hurdles of embarrassment, but not without reward: it seems Richard and Kimmie could very well hit it off. Or as Helen-Alice puts it: "The chemistry between you two is undeniable, I can feel it in my snaggle tooth!" In the end, the gals realize they might need to amend their Friday night catchphrase to "Always together! Sometimes inside!"
What works: It's very much in the vein of "The Big Bang Theory" as our heroines are pushed out of their comfort zones in the hopes of expanding their social horizons. The problem is...
What doesn't: ...you never get the sense that these are actual people. Kimmie, Helen-Alice and Marika don't seem particularly tethered to the real world at all. "I'm just not very good at first impressions," Kimmie explains to Felicity. "The only impression I'm really good at is Mickey Mouse (does terrible Mickey Mouse impression)." Even worse, all their various quirks are done with a wink and a smile, making it feel like they're all in the name of getting a laugh rather than inherently part of their characters. (Kimmie: "None of us are riding the horse of life." Helen-Alice: "Kimmie, you know that I won't ride things that will break my hymen.")
The show also disappointingly clings to the obvious cliches: you don't need to be Nostradamus to predict at some point you'd see said trio to awkwardly walk in slow motion to the tune of the latest club anthem (in this case "Bad Girls" by M.I.A.) while strained declarations (Kimmie: "Tonight I am so getting laid... on this body pillow." or Helen-Alice: "You have the world at your feet, so use it as your ottoman.") fall flat. Everything else just plays as bizarre for the sake of bizarre as nary a scene passes without someone breaking into a silly voice (outer space, walkie talkie, the list goes on) or clinging onto some kind of embarrassment.
Ultimately, the show's endless string of random idiosyncrasies rob the show of any emotional throughline, making what should be an inherently easy sell (three socially-challenged girls dipping their toes into the real world) turn into...
The bottom line: ...a half-hour contest about who can spiral off into their own affectations the fastest.