August 29, 2013



Read All Our Fall Pilot Reports here and Midseason Pilot Reports here.

US & THEM:  Midseason TBD on FOX – Potential DVR Alert


Disclaimer: Network pilots now in circulation aren’t necessarily in their final form. It’s not unusual for pilots to be reedited and re-scored, and in some cases even recast or reshot, before hitting the air. Consider these reports to be guides to the general style and content of the new shows coming your way.

FOX’S midseason rom-com US & THEM features two of TV’s most huggable stars in Jason Ritter (recently of Parenthood–let’s all try to forget The Event) and Alexis Bledel (once and forever Rory Gilmore), and it lets us bask in their combined likability.  The show is based on the hit British sitcom Gavin & Stacey, and based on the pilot, David Rosen’s script provides an uncommonly well-modulated adjustment of British comic sensibilities to the US, retaining the basic plot and characters while toning down some of the original show’s native excesses.

The basic premise is the same:  Gavin (Ritter) and Stacey (Bledel) work at companies that do business together, and although they’ve never met (he’s based in NY, while she’s in her small Pennsylvania hometown), they’ve talked on the phone and e-mailed enough over the past few months to know there’s an attraction.  The first episode takes us on their first and inevitably disastrous date.  Some of the tumult is their own fault (Gavin gets them into a too-trendy club and Stacey tries raw oysters for the first time), while much is attributable to the “Them” of the title, their respective networks of friends and family.  Each decides to take their best friend along on the date:  for him, it’s dim-witted slacker roommate Archie (Dustin Ybarra) and for Stacey it’s force of nature Nessa (Ashlie Atkinson).  (Factoid:  the British Gwen & Stacey was created by James Corden and Ruth Wilson, the performers who played the best friends.)  Meanwhile, Gavin still lives in the basement of his parents’ house (Jane Kaczmarek and Kurt Fuller), while Stacey has her widowed mom (Kerri Kenney) and her overprotective Uncle Brian (Michael Ian Black), whose idea of helping her to prepare for the date is to gift her with a rape alarm.  (In series, an additional regular will be Nessa’s ex, to be played by Aasif Mandvi.)

In the British show, Gavin and Stacey are sweet enough, but the show really belongs to the “supporting” cast, who get most of the laughs and attention.  Rosen’s script (his only previous show was the short-lived MTV comedy I Just Want My Pants Back) keeps the eccentricities, but does a nice job of focusing the action on the stars, and the direction by Michael Patrick Jann resists the temptation to skew things toward the broader characters.  Ritter and Bledel are as adorable together as one would imagine, Ybarra and Atkinson in particular land their howitzer-like laughs, and the result is a pleasing mix of charm and bigger gags.

FOX hasn’t announced where Us & Them will land on the midseason schedule, but it would be an easy fit in either of what may quickly become the network’s two problem half-hour slots, replacing Dads on Tuesdays or Enlisted on Fridays–its mix of tones could work with the rom-com of New Girl and Mindy Project or the warm wackiness of Raising Hope.  A fun pilot is a long way from a successful series, of course, especially because the plotlines of Us & Them will probably diverge quickly from the pattern of its British forebear (by US standards, Gavin & Stacey moved its plot forward with incredible speed, major events occurring by the end of the initial 6-episode run)Still, Us & Them feels like it has its pieces smartly in place.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."