The fine people at FOX must’ve been feeling really romantic recently, because the network’s new comedies capture the essence of everyone’s favorite rom-coms. Judging by the trailers of Mindy Kaling‘s new series and the other two 2012-13 comedies shown at FOX’s upfront presentation in New York City on May 14, the shows lean toward the rom more than the com.
Could the sentimental tone of Kaling’s “The Mindy Project” and its fellow fall comedy “Ben and Cate” turn off male viewers? The trailers were full of swelling music and sweet moments, and not nearly as many gut-busting laughs as we’re used to from FOX’s sitcoms. Here are a few first impressions of the new comedies, two of which premiere in the fall and the last of which will debut at midseason:
“Ben and Kate”
Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m.
“There’s a few things I look for” when choosing what pilots to order, says FOX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly. “Writing, writing and writing.” He says “Ben and Kate” is the perfect example of said quality. The comedy comes from Dana Fox, whom Reilly dubs a member of the “fempire” (because she’s a funny lady who writes things?). It stars Oscar winner Nat Faxon (for co-writing “The Descendants”) — you better believe they’ll tout that in every commercail — and newcomer Dakota Johnson (the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith), whom Reilly calls a “big talent poised for a breakout.” They play an adrift brother and sister who come closer together when big bro moves in to help take care of little sis’ daughter. It seems incredibly sweet — definitely chuckle-worthy — but the trailer harped on the rom-com elements more than the straight-up sitcom fare we’re used to. Yes, the little girl is adorable. Color us intrigued, but not completely sold just yet.
“The Mindy Project”
Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m.
Anyone who’s read Kaling’s book of essays, “Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?,” knows the soon-to-be-former “Office” star has a soft spot for rom-coms. If not…well, you do now, because that love is touted heavily in the first look at the new series. Kaling plays an OB-GYN (loosely based on her mother) with a messy love life. There weren’t many LOL moments in the trailer, despite the fact that the show is being touted as the new “New Girl” (a show that makes us double over in laughter at even the dumbest throwaway jokes). Still, Kaling is undeniably charming and if you already like her, the show could be right up your alley. If not, well, we’re going to allow for the fact that a trailer can’t fully show us what we’ll get in a nice 22-minute package come fall
“The Goodwin Games”
Three siblings, played by Scott Foley, Becki Newton and Jake Lacy, have to compete with each other to win their eccentric dead father’s $20 million-plus fortune. The leads have great chemistry together — their pitch-perfect sibling bickering really sells it — and the show comes from the creators of “How I Met Your Mother,” which we’ve always enjoyed. Our only worry is that the concept could grow old after a while. Then again, shows like “My Name Is Earl” and many sitcoms before it have found a way around that pesky problem. We’re optimistic that this could turn out to be a quirky (but, along with “Ben and Kate” and “The Mindy Project,” still incredibly sweet) family comedy.