Pilot Watch: 'Outsourced'
by Joel Keller, posted Jul 6th 2010 11:13AM
From now through the end of July, we're going to be taking a quick look at the fall and mid-season pilots that the networks sent to critics after their upfront presentations.
Keep in mind that in each case, our opinions are based on a pilot that could be completely recast and reworked between now and the fall.
Timeslot: Thursdays, 9:30PM ET
The lowdown: Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport) has just gone through training to manage the call center at Mid-American Novelties in Kansas City. When he comes back to the office raring to go, he learns that the company has been "rightsizing" while he was gone and has outsourced the entire call center to India. He can either move there to manage it or lose his job. Not having many other options, he goes overseas to find a staff who is completely unprepared, a local manager (Rizwan Manji) who wants his job, and a cultural gap a mile wide. He not only needs to figure out Indian culture, but also needs to figure out how to teach his crew why Americans would want to buy fake vomit and singing deer heads.
What we're saying: This show has potential, if only because it tries to examine the wide cultural gulf between American and Indian societies without going for the cheap "they're so different than us!" jokes. Well, most of the time; there are a few lines in the pilot that take me back to the days before India became a technological powerhouse and companies had any notion to outsource work there.
But, even in the pilot, the call center characters are well-drawn; we have Manmeet (Sacha Dhawan), who loves American culture; Asha (Rebecca Hazlewood), the beauty who's likely to spark a love interest in Todd, if his Aussie coutnerpart Tonya (Jessica Gower) doesn't get to him first; Madhuri (Anisha Nagarajan), who's of a lower caste and is so shy she can't be heard; and Gupta (Parvesh Cheena), a well-meaning but chatty guy who everyone avoids. There were some laugh out loud moments in the pilot, especially when jingoistic fellow call center expatriate, Charlie (Diedrich Bader) tells Todd what will happen to him if he eats the "yellow stuff" from the cafeteria.
As long as the show can examine the cultural divide, show how all offices are the same no matter where they are, and stay away from the easy jokes, NBC could have another Thursday comedy hit.
Here's a preview:
Let us know what you think. Is this show going to fit in well in NBC's Thursday comedy lineup?