Two comedy series – NBC’s “Undateable” and Amazon’s “Red Oaks” – deal with time in very different ways.
“Undateable” going live
The cast of the NBC comedy “Undateable” performed one episode live during its first season. That worked so well that every episode of the comedy about a group of friends who hang out in a local bar will be done live for the new season.
Chris D’Elia, Brent Morin, Bridgit Mendler, Bianca Kajlich, Ron Funches, David Fynn and Rick Glassman star.
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Actually, they will do each week’s show live – twice. The first will be for the East Coast and the second for the West Coast. The trick will be to keep up the energy in the second show.
“Last year we did the first show and we really had this high energy,” Kajlich says. “Then we had two hours to kill between shows and we all kind of died.”
Fynn interrupts Kajlich, saying she’s not speaking for everyone. He found the two shows quite energizing, especially because of his extensive theater background. He looked at the two performances as being no different than doing a matinee and evening performance of a play.
Kajlich argues that it’s tough because she has the same nerves for both shows. Dealing with that twice within a three-hour window is draining for the actress, who is no stranger to television comedies, having starred on “Rules of Engagement” for seven seasons.
One big change for the actors is in the writing. When a show is taped, actors often are given scripts at the last minute. That can’t happen this season since they need more time to memorize the entire show.
The cast didn’t have to deal with a lot of changes in the script between the two shows. The only adjustments made were by the actors as they tried to improve on a line.
That’s the main reason the series is going live. The entire cast has a lot of experience in doing improvisational comedy, which comes in handy should something go wrong.
If anything, going live will rein the cast in a little. When a show is taped in front of an audience, scenes can be done again if a line is missed or there are technical problems. Without that safety net, the cast has to be far more aware of where they should be in a scene so cameras won’t miss their performance.
“It becomes more technical for us,” Kajlich says. “But, everyone is so good at what they do, it will go fine.”
But, things will go wrong. The one thing both actors agree on is that Morin will be the first to flub his lines.
Amazon launching ’80s series
The new comedy “Red Oaks” from the online streaming service Amazon follows 20-year-old David Meyers (Craig Roberts), who in 1985 takes a job as a tennis pro at Red Oaks Country Club in suburban New Jersey. He’s also dealing with his parents, girlfriend and co-workers who are pushing him toward a future he’s increasingly unsure he wants.
Among the cast members are a few actors who can remember life in the ’80s, including Jennifer Grey, Richard Kind and Paul Reiser.
“You know what was interesting to me? For friends of mine who have seen this who are a few years younger than me, it resonated in a deeper way,” Reiser says. “I think in my childhood it would have been earlier. It would have been the ’70s or ’60s, so I was tickled to see how deeply it resonated with people who went through that period of his life.”
Kind was fascinated by the old cars that were used and became very sentimental as different models would remind him of people in his life.
Grey describes the series as if “Caddyshack” and “Dirty Dancing” had a baby, and then it was raised by John Cassavetes. She compares Roberts to Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” or Matthew Broderick in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Roberts is a little too young to remember the ’80s, but what he’s seen through doing the series makes the period appeal to him.
“It’s a cool time. I mean, it feels good to walk around and not use my mobile phone during a scene,” Roberts says. “I think it’s a much better way of telling a story. It’s very easy to do it now with the mobile phones. That was kind of cool. I’m slightly hip in the way that I like retro stuff, so the ’80s felt cool to do that. And I like ’80s movies. It’s pretty cool.”
It reminded me of ‘Sixteen Candles’ and stuff like that.
- 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, KSEE24
- 12:01 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9, Amazon Prime