ABC’s The Neighbors concerns a family that moves into a community…full of human-looking aliens…who communicate via something called a Pupar…and cry green goo from their ears. Yep, you’re thinking: Did TV time-travel back to 1996, when “wacky” sitcoms (see: 3rd Rock From the Sun) were all the rage?
How’d the season’s oddest new comedy come to be? Looking for answers, we grilled everyone who helped bring The Neighbors (which debuts tonight at 9:30 p.m., before moving to 8:30 p.m. starting Oct. 3) to life to discover how this wild concept — Pupar and all — landed on Earth.
Inspired by his mother’s condo development, Cars screenwriter Dan Fogelman — alongside producer Chris Koch — shopped the alien-human idea My Fellow Zabrovians (as it was then titled) to the networks, and Fox bought it. But after the writers’ strike hit in November 2007, the show’s development languished — and died — before a pilot was produced.
DAN FOGELMAN: It was fun going around town pitching people and seeing who we could stun out of the room and who would take it. My pitch for the show was, “We’re going to do the first season of The Cosby Show.”
CHRIS KOCH: Sometimes it’s just the genre — aliens — that makes us a target.
FOGELMAN: Alien comedy is a genre of storytelling that’s only been done four times [successfully] on television in 50 years: ALF, Mork & Mindy, 3rd Rock From the Sun, and My Favorite Martian. To those who are quick to dismiss [The Neighbors], the only thing I say to them is, There are 15 alien movies that come out every summer. So what’s the problem?