The Light from the TV Shows: Jack McBrayer gives thanks for ‘The Middle’ and other post-”30 Rock” roles

It’s been a few years since Bullz-Eye last chatted with Jack McBrayer…and by a few years, we mean more than half a decade: the previous occasion was when both the second season of “30 Rock” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” – both of which featured McBrayer, in case you’ve forgotten – were making their DVD debut. Since then, “30 Rock” has taken its final bow, leaving McBrayer without a full-time TV gig, but lord knows the man hasn’t been lounging around doing nothing. In addition to a very high-profile role in last year’s “Wreck-It Ralph,” either his voice or his actual physical being have turned up on Adult Swim’s “Childrens Hospital” and “NTSF:SD:SUV,” Comedy Central’s “Drunk History,” and, to bring this intro in for a landing, ABC’s “The Middle,” where, as part of his recurring role as the dentist for whom Frankie Heck works, he’ll be turning up for the annual Thanksgiving-themed episode, airing on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

JMcB-Dentist

Bullz-Eye: Well, I was able to watch the Thanksgiving episode of “The Middle” this morning, thanks to the kind folks at Warner Brothers, and I’m happy to say that it lives up to the high standards the series has set for its holiday episodes.

Jack McBrayer: Oh, good! I haven’t even seen it! [Laughs.]

BE: So how did you find your way onto “The Middle” in the first place, coming off of “30 Rock” as you were?

JMcB: Well, I had been a fan of the show from way back. I’m friends with Neil Flynn, who plays Mike Heck. I’ve been a friend of his from way, way back. From Chicago days. He was in Second City. We were at Second City at the same time: he was performing, I was in classes. And, of course, Patricia Heaton we’ve all known for years and years. And the show in general just kind of struck a chord with me, growing up in Georgia, in a small town, with parents who were overextended and always tired, and, you know, we’d eat cereal for dinner and…it all hit home to me! And, also, I happen to know a couple of the writers. Robin Shorr is a writer over there. So I think when they knew “30 Rock” was over and that some of the cast members would be available, they were, like, “Oh! What can we do?” [Laughs.] So I was happy to say, “Yes!”

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Entourage 8.2 – Out with a Bang

After focusing pretty heavily on Vince’s return from rehab this week, the actor was stuck in the background for most of tonight’s episode, leading me to wonder whether he’ll even get the chance to mount another comeback before the end of the season. Sure, there was a tiny subplot involving him writing the script to that Romanian miner movie he wants Drama to star in, but apart from getting Billy to read the outline and agree to help flesh it out, Vince was surprisingly MIA this week.

He mostly just followed the rest of the gang around like he was part of Drama’s entourage – a scary thought, I know, but things are once again looking up for Vince’s older brother. Despite my personal feelings about “Johnny’s Bananas,” the guys seem to think it has the potential to become a runaway hit, even if Andrew Dice Clay has reservations about it performing well with the public. So when Phil drops by the recording studio to inform Drama and Dice that the show is being screened for a test audience, Dice practically begs him to tag along.

Unfortunately, that may not have been the best decision, because as soon as the Dice Man hears that “Johnny’s Bananas” tested through the roof, he immediately starts planning a mutiny to walk from the show. That’s pretty amateur behavior on his part, no matter how much he thinks they’re being underpaid. After all, the cartoon isn’t even on the air yet, and as Jerry Seinfeld (whose own show famously scored terribly with test audiences) can probably attest to, those scores mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Drama would be wise to keep his cool and not let Dice get into his head, because if he screws this opportunity up, it could very well be his last.

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