This last summer, while the world held it’s breath about the American election, fans of “Archer” got a bit of satisfaction as the show was renewed for another three seasons. And so it was that, for the second year in a row, I met with almost all of the regulars of the humorously brutal animated spy/private eye sitcom, as well as the show’s creator, Adam Reed, who also provides the voice of fun-loving voice of sanity Ray Gillette. Like my last “Archer” chat held at San Diego Comic-Con, the interviews were done two at a time in super-fast five-minute stints. Alas, this meant that acting legend Jessica Walter deferred almost entirely to Reed. Similarly, ace farceur Chris Parnell lent brilliant but “you had to be there” comic support to Lucky Yates’s thoughts on voicing the lovably sinister Dr. Algernon Krieger. Happily, stars H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer and Amber Nash were more easily transcribed.
As for the new season, with selfish superspy turned self-involved private eye Sterling Archer last seen floating fully clothed and wrong side down in a Hollywood pool, “Dreamland” will take us into a season-long fantasia set in the film noir heyday of 1947. Presumably emanating from the not-quite-dead Archer’s brain and very definitely from the show’s new network home of FXX, the show premieres Wednesday, April 5th at 10PM.
We are promised a great many noir references, the return of former guest star Jeffrey Tambor and no doubt phrasing and anachronistic references to Kenny Loggins. We can also reportedly expect a touching tribute to the long-suffering character of Woodhouse, formerly played by veteran actor George Coe, who passed away at 86 in July 2015, a few days after my first meeting with the “Archer” cast.
As the new TV season rolls out, let’s take a look back at a few series that never actually made it on the air. Not that there aren’t plenty such series every single year, but sometimes you look back and wonder, “How could a show with all of these talented people not get on the schedule?” Not that we have an answer to that question, you understand, but at least we can all be mystified and annoyed together.
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Fred Armisen, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn, Nick Swardson What you missed out on: After Bob Odenkirk and David Cross decided to put a bullet in their HBO sketch comedy series, “Mr. Show” (that’s right, it was their decision, not the network’s), the guys attempted to go their separate ways, with Odenkirk setting up shop at Fox with a pilot for a new sketch comedy series. If you think the above names are impressive, consider that several other “Mr. Show” alumni were in tow as well, including Jerry Minor, Jay Johnston, and Jill Talley, with Patton Oswalt also participating in some capacity or other. And, yes, if you’re wondering, Cross made an appearance in the pilot, too. So what happened? Apparently, Fox basically flipped a coin to decide which new sketch comedy series they’d add to their lineup, and “Cedric the Entertainer Presents” won the toss. Oh, what might’ve been…
North Hollywood (2001)
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Poehler, Kevin Hart, and Judge Reinhold as himself What you missed out on: Judd Apatow has never been ashamed to admit that the only reason that this pilot ever came into existence is that Fox refused to let him cast Jason Segel as his lead in the short-lived but highly-regarded “Undeclared,” but you can’t say he didn’t do his best to surround Segel with top-notch talent. Segel, Amy Poehler, and Kevin Hart played roommates, with Segel a struggling actor, Hart a struggling actor/comedian, and Poehler serving as Judge Reinhold’s personal assistant. There’s a more detailed look at the pilot here, but the long and the short of it is that, although Apatow admits that he really didn’t know if there was a decent series to be had in “North Hollywood,” he thinks the pilot’s pretty decent, but its tone didn’t match the sitcoms filling ABC’s lineup at the time, so they took a pass on it.
Saddle Rash (2002)
Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Sarah Silverman, Todd Barry, Mitch Hedberg What you missed out on: Created by Loren Bouchard, best known to animation fans as one of the creative forces behind “Home Movies,” “Saddle Rash” seemed to have all the elements necessary for a successful Adult Swim series, so why didn’t it make it beyond the pilot stage? Was it that westerns weren’t exactly in vogue at the time? Was there some sort of stigma attached to the project because they brought in country artists to continued voice work (including Waylon Jennings as a very special guest in the pilot)? Whatever the case, the pilot got aired – no doubt mostly because Adult Swim has a tendency to air just about every pilot it orders, whether it actually ends up going to series or not – but that was the end of the trail for the series.
Said Hurwitz, while addressing the audience at the New Yorker Festival on Sunday:
“I have been working on the screenplay for a long time and found that as time went by there was so much more to the story. In fact, where everyone’s been for five years became a big part of the story. So, in working on the screenplay I found that even if I just gave five minutes per character to that backstory, we were halfway through the movie before the characters got together. And that kinda gave birth to this thing we’ve not been pursuing for a while and we’re kinda going public with a little bit. We’re trying to do kind of limited run series into the movie.”
Too good to be true? Hurwitz doesn’t seem to think so, judging by his candor and optimism on the subject. Jason Bateman, who plays Michael Bluth on the beloved show, further stirred the pot when he tweeted, “It’s true. We will do 10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early ’13. VERY excited!”
“Arrested Development” fans have been waiting five years for good news, and while it’s wise and natural to remain somewhat skeptical until production on the movie and/or episodes has actually started, there’s enough smoke here to at least suggest the existence of a real fire.