While Seth MacFarlane's freshman Fox series The Orville isn't wholly a sci-fi comedy, there are more than enough goofy gags peppered throughout the space-faring adventures to draw laughs from its millions-strong fanbase. Now that CBS has embraced its space drama side once more with the streaming exclusive Star Trek: Discovery, the network is looking to add genre balance by developing a new space-based comedy. Luckily for comedy fans, it's being developed by Bill Lawrence, who was behind such comedy hits as_Scrubs_ and Cougar Town.
With the title of Spaced Out, which we may or may not hope is just a placeholder, CBS' potential new comedy series will utilize a multi-camera set-up, and the basic logline is that it'll be a workplace ensemble focused on the commercial space travel industry. These are the early days, so no other information exists just yet. Because this show would be filmed in front of an audience, though, it probably won't look anything like The Orville. I'd like to blindly think of Spaced Out as a modernized version of Wings, with Nantucket's Sandpiper Air replaced by a similar company that books consumer-ready trips into space. That's the hope, anyway.
According to Variety, Spaced Out will be written by Bill Lawrence, who will also executive-produce alongside Jeff Ingold, his Doozer Productions partner. It's being set up through their overall deal with Warner Bros. Television, and CBS is actually the second network to begin work on it. Initially, NBC had gone to the pilot stage with a single-camera version of Spaced Out, which was then written by Undateable creator Adam Sztykiel. NBC decided not to move forward with it, and apparently there was a retooling done with the story, with Lawrence taking over.
Even though Bill Lawrence isn't widely known for sci-fi comedy, he has developed a reputation for putting together long-lasting, audience-pleasing comedies. His big break came in the mid-1990s with the quasi-political comedy Spin City, and Lawrence created Scrubs before Spin City's six-season run was even complete. Similarly, he co-created Cougar Town before Scrubs' terrible ninth season had aired, and he co-created Ground Floor amidst Cougar Town's six-season run. (However, the less said about his TV remake of Rush Hour, the better.) If Lawrence can draw the kind of talented ensembles that he regularly brings together, as well as the kind of casts that CBS shows can boast, Spaced Out could be another big winner for the network.
For what it's worth, Bill Lawrence isn't completely foreign to sci-fi-leaning comedy. Along with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, he was the co-creator of the amazing MTV animated series Clone High, which centered on a high school populated by the teenage clones of history's most notable figures. It wasn't spacey, but it was hilarious and tonally spot-on.
The Orville's first season is now complete, so here's hoping CBS gets behind Bill Lawrence's Spaced Out so that we'll have even more cosmos-centered hilarity in 2018. To see what other shows are definitely on the way, head to our midseason premiere schedule.