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One of the greatest pieces of fiction in the history of the world is Paul Feig’s short-lived comedic drama Freaks and Geeks, which spawned the careers of superstars such as James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Martin Starr. Feig has since gone on to major Hollywood success, and hasn’t written for television since a failed 2003 pilot called Sick in the Head. But that all changes with the sci-fi sitcom Other Space, which Feig is creating for Yahoo’s growing lineup of original programming that will also include the offbeat sports comedy Sin City Saints, developed by Smallville executive producer Mike Tollin and Curb Your Enthusiasm director Bryan Gordon. If there’s anything that’ll get me back to Yahoo for something other than movie trailers, it’s Paul Feig and perhaps basketball comedy.
Yahoo is in the middle of a full upgrade, breaking out a bigger travel section, better ad formatting, Katie Couric infotainment shows and a new live music channel that will air one live concert a day, every day of the year. Cool business, right? It all sounds like garbage in the shadow of Feig and Tollin’s new projects, at least as far as our website’s interests are concerned, so let’s focus on breaking the projects down a little.
According to the press release, Other Space will spend eight episodes in the early 22nd century, after humanity’s understanding of our galactic surroundings has been greatly advanced. But even though most of the known universe is mapped, there still hasn’t been any communication with alien life, so excitement for discovery has dulled down, and no one is expecting a routine collection mission to uncover the most life-changing find ever: an alternate universe. The spaceship’s crew just needs to survive and make it back to Earth, which might be easier if it wasn’t comprised of an obsolete robot or two, fighting siblings, clueless rookies and past-their-prime veterans.
I’m a proponent of all things sci-fi, and Feig’s frank sense of humor will undoubtedly add just the right twist to the genre. It’ll be interesting to see if he also directs, as he catapulted to feature stardom with 2011’s Bridesmaids and last year’s The Heat. Those films strengthen my hope/speculation that Feig’s involvement means Other Space will have really strong female characters. As evidenced by multiple episodes of Nurse Jackie, Arrested Development and The Office (among others), his TV work gears towards projects with large, memorable casts with perfect gender balance. Not something sci-fi TV nails on a consistent basis. Plus, this scene.
Sin City Saints, which is also getting an eight-episode season, is centered on a fictional professional basketball expansion team in Las Vegas, and its Silicon Valley-enhanced owner, Jake Tullus. Jake soon realizes his sports owner dreams aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and the series will follow the struggling franchise, with a team that sounds as if it’ll be compiled by scraping the bottom of the pro barrel. This kind of series offers up a lot of potentially distinct characters, though it’s not quite clear where on the comedy spectrum it will be double dribbling.
There’s Gordon started his career writing for the short-lived late night sketch show Fridays with Curb’s Larry David before moving on to direct episodes of Party Down, The Office and – look at that! – Freaks and Geeks. Tollin, meanwhile, has been a producer on the baseball documentary series The Franchise, as well as ESPN’s 30 for 30 and One Tree Hill, where he worked with Gordon on a couple of episodes. (That last one at least started out dedicated to basketball.) Tollin was also a co-creator of the teen sketch show All That, so who knows how realistically this story will be presented. Either way, I’m game. Pun intended.
Expect both Other Space and Sin City Saints to hit the Yahoo Screen airwaves next year. At this point, Yahoo is saying they’ll all be released at once, so have your binge clothes ready. Which of the two are you guys more interested in?