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Donald Sutherland seen at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood. (Reuters)

Donald Sutherland seen at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood.


John Doyle: Television

It's pilot season. Why do they think some of these will fly? Add to ...

Right, then. Pay attention here. Important question coming.

Would you consider watching a show tentatively titled Super Fun Night? Not enough info for you? Fair enough. Here’s a summary: “Revolves around three nerdy female friends on their “funcomfortable” quest to have “super fun” every Friday night.” It stars Rebel Wilson from the movie Bridesmaids, and one of the producers is Conan O'Brien, if that helps.

Think about it. Somebody is already thinking deeply about Super Fun Night. It’s a pilot in development in Los Angeles. Warner Bros. Studios is all over it.

Yes, friends, it’s pilot season. It's when networks and cable channels spend money to bring a script idea to life in a pilot episode. Some will never been seen by anyone except network execs groaning in unison around a glass table in an L.A. meeting room. Some have no cast members attached yet, but well-known actors are being wooed. Others have a starring actor and nobody else.

Themes emerge. We’ll come to that in a minute. First, take note of the Canadian content. Le Monde de Charlotte, a comedy from the French service of the CBC, Radio-Canada, is being developed as a sitcom for NBC, with the working title Isabel. Canadian comic Jon Dore has been cast in the ABC comedy pilot How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life, with Canadian Sarah Chalke in the lead role. She plays a recently divorced single mom who moves in with her eccentric parents, and Dore will play her “Big Lebowski-esque” ex-husband. Perhaps it will see the light of day. Meanwhile, here’s an eccentric look at the main pilot themes.

Brit Remakes

The ancient BritCom Only Fools and Horses undergoes an Americanization, but it’s still about “the misadventures of two streetwise brothers and their aging grandfather as they concoct outrageous, morally questionable get-rich-quick schemes in their quest to become millionaires.” John Leguizamo has been cast.

White Van Man is based on the droll BBC comedy of the same title, about a chap forced to give up his dream of opening a restaurant in order to take over his dad’s handyman business.

Friday Night Dinner is a straight lift from another BBC show of the same title. It’s about the Goodmans, a traditional Jewish family “as they observe Shabbat dinners in which twentysomething brothers Adam and Jonny visit their parents.” The U.S. pilot has attracted a strong cast, including Tony Shalhoub and Allison Janney.

Codgers Are Back

The 76-year-old Donald Sutherland has been cast in Living Loaded, a potential Fox show from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia creators Rob McElhenney and Rob Rosell. Sutherland plays “the refined manager of a local radio station” who must accommodate a wayward son – a blogger who needs a real job.

The 81-year-old Doris Roberts has been cast in ABC’s comedy Counter Culture. Roberts, best remembered for Everybody Loves Raymond, plays one of three “aging sisters in West Texas who run a diner together.”

The 72-year-old Lily Tomlin has been cast to play mom to Reba McEntire in Malibu Country. It’s some contrivance about a divorced mom of three (McEntire) who moves from Nashville to Malibu after her varmint of an ex, a country star, spends all the money. Or something, Yee-haw!

Brilliant, Spunky Women

Mira Sorvino has been cast as “a common-sense mother” who becomes a New York state trooper in Trooper. Portia de Rossi plays “a brilliant and successful woman” who goes to work for her dumb but popular sister who, somehow, has became mayor of a city. The show is helpfully titled The Smart One. Devious Maids has not one but four spunky ladies, “maids with ambition and dreams of their own while they work for the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.” And the CBS pilot Baby Big Shot is said to be about “a working-class woman who uses her street smarts to compete with her more polished colleagues at a top New York law firm.” Janet Montgomery, who was Jennie on Entourage, plays the lead role.

While many of these shows – some 55 pilots are being shot – will never merit much attention, one is already notorious. CBS is developing Elementary, “a modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes, with the famed detective now living in New York City.” Jonny Lee Miller plays Holmes, which is fine, but some people are in a twist about Watson being a female sidekick, played by Lucy Liu.

Of course, like you, I look forward to all these shows. Totally. Even Super Fun Night, with its nerdy female friends on their “funcomfortable” quest. Obviously, it has to be seen to be believed.

All times ET. Check local listings.

Follow on Twitter: @MisterJohnDoyle

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