It looks like TV history is repeating itself with Bianca Kajlich.
Her previous series, the CBS comedy “Rules of Engagement,” went through season after season of being on the schedule, off the schedule, on a new night, being a mid-season replacement, starting a season. It endured for seven seasons, despite viewers needing a GPS tracking device to find it.
Now, Kajlich’s “Undateable” has started a similar pattern. It was on last summer for a short run. Now, it’s back as a mid-season replacement with new episodes beginning at 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 17.
The series features mismatched roommates Danny Burton (Chris D’Elia) and Justin Kearney (Brent Morin) and their group of oddball friends who hang out at Justin’s unsuccessful bar. Those buddies include Danny’s sister, Leslie (Kajlich), Shelly (Ron Funches), Burski (Rick Glassman), Brett (David Fynn) and new waitress Candace (Bridgit Mendler).
Kajlich says that despite early signs, she sees this show as being treated differently.
“I feel like what happened with ‘Rules’ was that we came on the air and then lost our momentum because of the writers strike,” Kajlich says. “Then the network never put us back where we should have been. With this, I think NBC tried to do something a little different by putting us out in the summer, which gave us a bigger chance of succeeding. With ‘Rules,’ it just felt like we were forgotten.”
A summer launch does mean the show doesn’t have to go against the large herd of new programs that often overwhelm viewers in the fall.
The fact “Undateable” is getting the time slot after “The Voice,” is a sign to the Seattle-born actress that the network is rewarding the show for how well it did during its summer run.
Series creator Bill Lawrence, agrees that “Undateable” has a much better shot at survival with “The Voice” as the lead-in and because of the summer launch.
“It is such a more low-pressure tryout now that we live in the world of when you come on and two weeks in a row don’t pull a number, you have to read things about how the show is doomed,” Lawrence says. “When I started in comedy, you had a season to get your legs and to figure the show out, and now you’re getting calls on episode three.
“In the summer, when nothing is expected of you, you can bring an audience in. You’re suddenly in a place that, if you can keep them engaged and come back to when you have your next chance it’s a great trial.”
It’s a trial that Kajlich is hoping will keep “Undateable” on the air. She never felt like her role on “Rules of Engagement” grew beyond supporting player. The potential is a lot greater here, mainly because she’s the main female in the cast.
She calls “Undateable” the next logical step in her career.
Kajlich first landed a small role in the 1999 feature film “10 Things I Hate about You.” Since then she’s had roles on the TV series “Boston Public,” “Dawson’s Creek” and “Vanished.” She was also in the feature film “Halloween: Resurrection.”
This step is testing her because she’s surrounded by comedians who are quick to improvise. That’s pushing her to rely more on her own comedy skills.
“It’s making me grow a lot as an actor,” Kajlich says. “It’s terrifying. But, they are so energetic and hungry for the funny that it’s re-invigorated the love of my art.”
She doesn’t know if this series will find the audience it needs to land a full-time spot on the schedule.
“If I plan to have longevity and be here for the long haul, I have to have patience,” Kajlich says. “I am ready for that. I just had a little girl and that has helped me to realize that priorities change.
“I would rather be challenged as an actor and slowly find my way than to have something put on me that I wasn’t ready for.”