E A small group of incoming students touring the Occidental College campus comes to a quick stop, turn and, as if practiced ahead of time, shout out in unison, “Booger!”
They’re reacting to seeing “Revenge of the Nerds” stars Curtis Armstrong and Robert Carradine in one of the common areas at the private college. The school — just down the road from Pasadena — serves as the backdrop for the upcoming season of the TBS series hosted by the pair, “King of the Nerds.”
Both Carradine and Armstrong have been closely associated with the nerd world since they starred in the 1984 feature film where Armstrong played Dudley Dawson, who was better known by his nickname, Booger.
Carradine wishes he had known three decades ago that the film was going to have such an enduring appeal.
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A lot of the nerds from the film franchise have stayed close and worked together. The idea of doing this show came out of a dinner conversation between Carradine and Armstrong eight years ago. It took them a long time to get the idea into a TV series form.
For the show, rooms and areas across the campus have been taken over and transformed into what’s being called Nerdvana, including a massive throne room, a wardrobe department and a separate building where the nerds can work.
The competition show pits 12 of the brainiest (and less brawny) in battles of wit and wisdom. One competitor will be named the quintessential master of all things nerdy and win the $100,000 prize.
With that much money, a nerd can hire someone else to kick sand in a bully’s face.
Among the 12 contestants for the third season is Colby Burnette, a “Jeopardy!” champion who took home $375,000 with two tournament wins. Special guests include Danica McKellar, Michael McMillian, Yaya Han, Billy Boyd, Moby, Lisa Loeb, Travie McCoy, Penn Jillette and Rachelle Lefevre.
Former “Nerd” contestants also will be back, including fan favorite Genevieve Pearson, who is now a member of the TV series crew.
Armstrong describes this year’s competitors as “colorful and very eccentric.” Neither of the hosts can look at a nerd herd and tell which one will be the eventual winner.
“You wind up getting hoisted on your own petard when you start thinking about how each season is going to work or who’s going to win,” Armstrong says. “You never know.”
One big change from the first season is that the method for eliminating contestants has shifted from a voting process to a “nerd off” where the player with the most brains will continue to nerd another day.
Armstrong is certain he would have lost every “nerd off” because he considers himself “totally incompetent.” To be fair, while he’s known for playing a nerd and thought of himself as nerdish in high school, Armstrong is an actor who has non-nerd credits such as the animated series “Dan vs.” and the drama TV series “Moonlighting.”
“It’s embarrassing because Robert and I represent an aspect of nerd culture. I am still a nerd but tend to be a book nerd, classic movie nerd,” Armstrong says. “Those kind of things don’t require a doctorate to indulge in. I look at what our nerds do in awe.”
Carradine loved remote control cars and airplanes when growing up, but he stresses that when it comes to his nerdiness in the “Nerds” movies, “I was acting.”
Carradine pauses and then adds, “Maybe it wasn’t all acting.”
His other credits reflect a less nerdy side, from the TV show “NYPD Blue” to the feature film “The Long Riders.”
“King of the Nerds” premiered in 2013 and in the second season averaged 4 million viewers. The winners of the first two seasons of “King of the Nerds” were both women.