Fall TV Pilot Preview: Fox's 'Ben and Kate'
Formerly "Ned Fox Is My Manny," the new single-camera comedy offers a starring vehicle for recent Oscar winner Nat Faxon.
With Glee headed to Thursdays this fall, Fox is turning Tuesdays into a block of four half-hour comedies. And joining Raising Hope, New Girl and fellow newbie The Mindy Project is Ben and Kate -- a semi-autobiographical effort from rom-com scribe Dana Fox (The Wedding Date, What Happens in Vegas).
The Hollywood Reporter got a chance to see the pilot before the series' official Sept. 25 debut, and we've gleaned five major points to help you familiarize yourself with the show ahead of its premiere.
1. Despite the title and the creator's pedigree, the titular Ben and Kate are actually siblings. Based loosely on Fox's experiences with her own brother, Kate (Dakota Johnson) is a single mom whose free spirit of a sibling, Ben (Nat Faxon), occasionally drops by to share in his latest whims and wreak havoc on her dating life. They're joined by respective best friends Tommy (Echo Kellum) and BJ (Lucy Punch).
2. There's also a kid. As the pilot's original title (Ned Fox Is My Manny) better emphasized, Ben moves in with Kate to take care of her five-year-old daughter, Maddie (Maggie Jones). But potentially weary viewers should know that while Jones does play a "mature" five, she never approaches the adjective often considered the child character kiss of death: "precocious."
3. Fox -- the creator, not the network -- has a voice that seems poised to blend those of the two returning comedies on the Tuesday block. She comes from New Girl writer Liz Meriwether's school of young, funny females, but the tone of Ben and Kate is much more akin to Gregory Thomas Garcia's child-rearing sitcom, Raising Hope. Likely not coincidentally, those are the two series Ben and Kate finds itself sandwiched between this fall.
4. Speaking of writers, Ben and Kate star Nat Faxon just earned the rather notable distinction of winning an Academy Award. The triple-threat wrote the Oscar-worthy screenplay for The Descendants alongside Community actor Jim Rash, whom he also teamed up with for upcoming Steve Carell flick The Way, Way Back. And for those not familiar with his behind-the-scenes work, Faxon has appeared on countless TV series, including Up All Night, Happy Endings, Party Down and Mad Men.
5. It almost didn't happen! Ben and Kate had several bumps along the way before the pickup: most notably with one of the lead parts. Dakota Johnson (The Five-Year Engagement, 21 Jump Street, The Social Network) joined the pilot just shy of filming after Saturday Night Live player Abby Elliott exited the role of Kate.
Ben and Kate makes its Fox debut on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. Check out the promo below and hit the comments with your thoughts.