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NBC is looking to Parenthood boss Jason Katims to bring a fresh perspective to its comedic take on About a Boy, Nick Hornby‘s novel that was previously adapted into a 2002 feature film starring Hugh Grant.
The series follows the relationship between bachelor man-child Will (Bent‘s David Walton) and a young boy, Marcus (1600 Penn‘s Benjamin Stockham), who moves in next door with his crazy single mother, Fiona (Minnie Driver).
For Katims, the series marks the Friday Night Lights alum’s second show on NBC’s lineup, joining Thursday family ensemble drama Parenthood. Here are six things to know about NBC’s midseason comedy.
1. Moving beyond the book/film. The first episode encapsulates the plot of the book and movie and ends with the famed talent show where Will comes to Marcus’ rescue. Katims told reporters Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour that he wanted to get that story out of the way. “I thought we were going to do the pilot and be done with it,” Katims joked. “We wanted to take what was so beautiful in the book and the movie — something I really loved — and honor that and then that would give us room to move forward and tell new stories but make it our own.”
2. There will be crossovers. While Walton recently guest-starred on Parenthood, Dax Shepard‘s Crosby Braverman will make his way to the first-year comedy. “Because both shows are set in San Francisco and the Bay Area, it made sense that there would be [crossovers],” Katims said, noting both Will and Crosby are in the music business.
3. It’s different from Parenthood and FNL. While all three shows have Katims’ trademark emotional pull, the prolific showrunner noted he always wanted to do a comedy in which he could zero in on one central story. “What’s exciting about the form is you have to tell these stories in such a streamlined way. After doing Parenthood and Friday Night Lights — both of which were huge ensembles — this is a very small ensemble and you get to focus on telling one story or maybe one story and an interrelated B story in an episode, and that’s very different than what I’ve been doing.”
4. Expanding worlds. Leslie Bibb guest-stars in the pilot as a potential love interest for Will and will be back — as a friend for Fiona. Katims said it’s part of expanding everyone’s worlds, and subsequent episodes will also feature Marcus’ (eventual) friends at school as well as Will’s world. The series will also introduce the wife to Al Madrigal‘s Andy (Will’s best friend), played by Bridesmaids’ Annie Mumolo.
5. Don’t expect romance for Will and Fiona. Katims said the focus of the series is Will and Fiona realizing that they need one another to help raise the best version of Marcus — but that doesn’t mean falling in love. “I look at it as a story about a family that will never admit they’re a family,” Katims said. “Will and Fiona will never admit that they need each other to help raise this boy. I don’t see this becoming a romantic relationship between Will and Fiona anytime soon.”
6. Every episode will be closed-ended. Katims said that he wanted every episode of the first season of the series to be closed-ended with a satisfying story while still growing his characters. “I want this show to be stories and characters that evolve over the season,” he said.
Check out a new clip from the series below. About a Boy premieres in February.
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