Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Joel McHale heads for The Great Indoors

Joel McHale (Center) and the cast of The Great Indoors
Mike Gibbons got the idea for the new sitcom The Great Indoors while working as the head writer for The Late Late Show with James Corden.  Working “with a bunch of millennials,” the fortysomething Gibbons soon discovered that in their eyes, “40 is the new 80.”  At one point, as he attempted to reimburse the show’s writers’ assistant for the group’s lunch order, “I reached for my wallet, and he recoiled,” Gibbons remembers.  “It’s not like I was going to write him a check – I had cash.  And still, he made a face.  Cash – legal tender -- was now inconvenient?  And by the way, just by the fact that I carry a wallet at all, he assumes I keep pictures of my grandkids in there.”

As his proxy on The Great Indoors, Gibbons recruited former Community star Joel McHale, who responded to the pilot script’s generational warfare.  “I’m a big fan of workplace sitcoms, and always wanted to do one with a live audience,” McHale avows.  “When this great cast came together, I knew this would work.”  McHale plays grizzled adventure reporter Jack Gordon, called in from the field and now stuck at a desk amid Outdoor Limits magazine’s decidedly indoorsy staff of tech-addicted twentysomethings: deadpan social media expert Emma (Christine Ko), hipster-lumberjack Mason (Shaun Brown) and sensitive nerd Clark (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). And if that weren’t enough to provide Jack constant conflict, he now finds himself reporting to a new boss – and his old flame – Brooke (Susannah Fielding) and Brooke’s dad, the publication’s larger-than-life founder Roland, played by the venerable British actor/comedian Stephen Fry.

As Chris Williams, whose character Eddie is both Jack’s favorite bartender and his sole peer and confidant, notes, the show is about “bridging the gap between older and younger, and finding a way to understand each other.  As my character and Joel’s are finding out, our age is old school now – although I like being old school.”  His young co-star Brown agrees, calling The Great Indoors “very relevant, tapping into the sense of guilt [the younger set has] about missing connections with people, and being so buried in our phones and social media that we miss what’s happening around us.”

As Gibbons is quick to point out, The Great Indoors “is not just picking on millennials – who won’t mind anyway, because according to them, they don’t watch TV.”  Besides, he adds, with technology uniting us all, both he and Jack are actually “much closer to the millennials than we care to admit.  I’m addicted to my phone.  I’m constantly binge-watching shows digitally.  Quite honestly, too often I’m thinking I’m the center of the universe.  All of that, we all share.  I think the audience overall will relate, because in the end we all have those ‘millennial’ qualities.”

Thursdays at 8:30 PM

Begins October 27

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