Fall TV Pilot Preview: Fox's 'The Mindy Project'

Tons of cameos, a love of romantic comedies and three more things to know about Mindy Kaling's new comedy.
Autumn De Wilde/FOX
"The Mindy Project"

Mindy Kaling is going from a Dunder-Mifflin paper pusher on NBC to a successful doctor on Fox's The Mindy Project, a half-hour single-camera comedy from The Office producer Universal Television.

The series finds Kaling as a young, new doctor who's learning to navigate her personal and professional life and the challenges that come between her quest to find Mr. Right -- or Mr. Right Now.

The Hollywood Reporter screened the pilot of the series, which Kaling wrote and executive produced, and has five things to know about the upcoming Fox effort.

1. The Mindy Project is loaded with cameos. Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader appears in the pilot as Mindy's ex-boyfriend whose wedding prompts her to take inventory of her life. The Office's Ed Helms pops in as Dennis, a seemingly perfect guy who experiences Mindy in all her awkwardness on a blind date her college friend (Anna Camp) sets her up with. The West Wing's Richard Schiff also pops in as Mindy's boss, who's tasked with juggling the dueling versions of Mindy's OB/GYN. Behind the scenes, The Office's BJ Novak exec produced the pilot and will continue on with the series in a nonregular capacity though we wouldn't be surprised to see him pop in on-screen. Plus look for Newsroom co-star Chris Messina is a series regular.

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2. The title was -- and might still be -- an issue. Heading into upfronts in May, the untitled project that once went simply by Mindy was initially ordered to series as It's Messy. After a near-instantaneous backlash from critics, the title was quickly changed to The Mindy Project a safe yet vague title that doesn't offer much at first glance. Whether or not Kaling is enough of a household name after eight seasons on NBC's The Office.  

3. Mindy realizes her life isn't a romantic comedy. The idealistic character has a love affair of classic rom-coms with a few classics seen in the pilot like When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail and Notting Hill, among others. When she's not trying to make her life mimic a Meg Ryan movie, Mindy is actually a pretty great doctor.

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4. It used to be at NBC. Kaling was developed as part of NBC studio Universal Television's diversity writing program and had a multiyear deal there under which she developed Mindy Project as a starring vehicle. NBC at the time had given the bulk of its pilot orders to female-fronted half-hours (Save Me starring Anne Heche was ultimately ordered to series) with Mindy missing the cut and NBC Entertainment topper Bob Greenblatt releasing the project to Fox, which ordered it to pilot as a potential companion for its adorakable New Girl.

5. Mindy has her hands full at work --and in her personal life. At work, Danny (Chris Messina) is a hotshot over-confident doc who, despite his massive ego, deep down really seems to be interested in seeing Mindy succeed. Personally, Mindy's co-worker Jeremy (Ed Weeks), meanwhile, is the standard attention-seeking lothario who's the perfect example of the kind of guys she goes for -- and the classic Mr. Wrong at the right time personally.

The Mindy Project premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9:30 p.m. Watch a trailer below and hit the comments with your thoughts. Will you watch?

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit