Finding ways to capture and keep viewers’ attention with all the choices they have in our multimedia landscape is a
daunting task these days. So when NBC decided to renew its multi-camera sitcom "Undateable" for the 2015-2016
season, they chose to put an attention-getting twist on the series by having the cast perform the episodes live.
Ahead of the third season premiere on Friday, October 9th, I talked to cast members at a September, 2015 Paleyfest
event at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills and during a set visit earlier this week in Burbank to find out what
their fans can expect.
The "Undateable" acting ensemble includes unlikely roommates "Danny" and "Justin," played by Chris D'Elia and Brent Morin, and their quirky friends "Shelly" and "Burski" portrayed by Ron Funches and Rick Glassman, who gather each week at "Justin's" struggling bar in Detroit to connect over a few beers and sort through their work and love lives. They are joined by David Fynn as bartender "Brett," Bianca Kajlich as "Danny's" sister "Leslie," and young waitress "Candace," played by Bridgit Mendler.
I wanted to know what are the advantages of performing "Undateable" live versus on tape. Chris D'Elia answered "I just think the whole show's better because it feels like it's higher stakes because we don't want to mess up but we kind of do 'cause then it's fun. It just has a more electric vibe."
Ron Funches responded "The best part of our shows for the past two seasons has been the live tapings. It's a very unique
atmosphere. We've had people who'd come to every taping, which I think is a very rare thing. And some of those things didn't really translate well to the taped shows." David Fynn added "Yeah, sometimes, something got lost in the edit, that kind of spontaneity... that kind of anything can happen feeling. And I think with the live show, you can't escape it now."
Does the chemistry they’ve developed over the first two seasons give the cast confidence they can walk the live tightrope each week? Brent Morin said “I’ve been friends with Chris since I was 18, so we already had that chemistry right away. Rick and I live in the same building, and that was before the show, so we already had that kind of rapport. And then the rest of them, Bianca, David, Ron, Bridgit, nobody cannot love Ron and Bridgit. We literally have the two cutest stuffed animals on our show and everybody just fits in perfectly." Funches added "We know each other. We know each other's timing. We can kind of look at each other. It's like any sport I think. The more you play with each other, the more you know what other people are gonna do and you develop that chemistry." Rick Glassman told me "Now, we're worried about not necessarily knowing the script or getting it on time or what it may be, that's out of our control. One of the things I don't worry about is how the synergy within our troupe is and I trust everyone in this cast." Bianca Kajlich credited executive producer Bill Lawrence with assembling the right performers to produce a winning effort. "I think Bill Lawrence just gets it. In a room, his ability to take people from auditions or meetings and put them together and trust and know that these people are gonna jell and vibe is uncanny."
Realizing there will be mistakes in any live production, the cast was unanimous in their choice of Brent Morin as the actor who will “break” character most often. D'Elia responded "Everyone says Brent because it's him. He laughs and messes up and it's funny." Morin chimed in “It is me. I break a lot. Me and Bianca break the most, but when we break, it's different. When I break or Bianca breaks, it's hard for us to get back. She has a mini-panic attack every time she breaks and has the best laugh I've ever heard. And me, I can't stop smiling. I'm like Jerry Seinfeld in the first six seasons of "Seinfeld."
The pleasures and pitfalls of modern romance are often a part of “Undateable’s” storylines and that could mean some kissing scenes, especially between "Justin" and "Candace." How might locking lips live play out?
Morin replied "We better not miss. I don't want to chip her tooth or break my nose. I mean, there's a lot of things we could do wrong." Bridget Mendler agreed, "Yes, that would spice things up." Morin continued "That would be very graphic. I don't know if our show, at eight o'clock, if they can do that."
He should know by now, anything can happen on live TV. Check out the new season of "Undateable" when it premieres Friday, October 9th at 8PM (ET/PT) on NBC.