SANTA MONICA, Calif. - It’s not a bad name for a sitcom, but “Boldly Going Nowhere” probably wouldn’t be the best description of the producers and stars of FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” who are getting ready to board the Fox mothership in a move that could take their careers to a whole new level.
Fox has ordered a pilot for “Boldly,” a comedy the network’s entertainment president, Kevin Reilly calls “one of the funniest scripts I’ve read in a long time,” describing it as ” ‘The Office’ in space.”
Rob McElhenney, 31, who created “Sunny” and writes and stars in it with Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton, said the idea for the show actually came from Adam Stein, who was working as a writers’ assistant on “Sunny.”
“He said, ‘Hey, I have this idea for a show.’ He brought it to us, we thought it was great ...,” McElhenney said Monday night at a Fox party on the Santa Monica pier.
“Boldly Going Forth,” he said, is “an office-type comedy in outer space. They’re on a spaceship, and it’s just sort of what happens in between the adventures: the logistical issues of running a starship. So it’s not necessarily like ‘Star Trek,’ where it’s about the adventures. It’s more about what happens in between.”
For instance, “there might be a whole episode about who does the laundry on the ship. You know, we want to talk about like the mundaneness of everyday life,” said McElhenney, who apparently wasn’t a big sci-fi fan growing up. “Because every time we’ve seen any type of science fiction, it all seems to be like really, really exciting and we’re wondering about the reality of that - what is it really like in the future? It’s not all that much different than it is now. You still have to deal with everyday life.”
Though they hope “to make science fiction funny ... we don’t want it to be for the science-fiction crowd. Of course, we want to include them. But it’s more for everybody. Anybody can watch this show and relate to it.”
Reilly, who’d talked about the show with reporters earlier that day at the Television Critics Association’s summer meetings, said the show is “very smart. It is provocative in tone, but it just literally deals with like bureaucracy, ineptitude, you know, frustration with your job, petty jealousies in the workplace, all set on a spaceship, where things are life-threatening. It’s futuristic. But it’s not a spoof - it’s not Spock’s ears falling off.”
McElhenney, Day and Howerton carry one of the heavier loads in television as writers and stars of “Sunny” and it’s not expected to get any lighter.
“We’re going to finish out (Season 4 of) ‘Sunny,’ and we’ve got a pilot episode plus (an order for) five episodes’ scripts” for “Boldly Going Nowhere,” he said.
“So we’re working on finalizing ‘Sunny,’ and then we’re going to shoot the pilot sometime before Christmas and, hopefully, go to series in the winter. And then be on board as executive producers for the entire run of the show, but we’ll just be overseeing everything,” he added.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” meanwhile, returns for a 13-episode season on Sept. 18.
“It’s our funniest season yet, I think,” said McElhenney, who’d only part with one plotline, though that one’s probably enough to set the tone: “We get addicted to eating human meat.”
And where do they get human meat? (She asked nervously.)
“We got a guy,” said McElhenney. “We got a guy.”
More to the point, “Frank’s got a guy in Chinatown. Helps him out.”
Frank, for the uninitiated, is played by Danny DeVito, who joined the show in Season 2, playing the father of Dennis (Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson). And, yes, at this point it’s not unbelievable that he’d know a supplier of human meat.
But those who want to set their TiVos now will just have to wait, because McElhenney’s not sure yet when the episode will air.
“We cut them all like around the same time and we air them based on ... whatever we think is funniest or whatever cuts together easiest,” he said.
When it was suggested that airing episodes in no particular order probably helps keep the characters from demonstrating any growth, he said firmly: “Well, we’ll never grow. We never want to grow. Never.”