There are certain entertainment staples that allow for repeated exploration and Fox Ghosted, which debuts on Sunday, merges two of them, combining a buddy comedy and a dive into the paranormal. Whether the show will succeed with fans of those staples has yet to be determined, of course, but its two leads (Adam Scott and Craig Robinson) have great chemistry and the show is ambitious, embracing the grand scope that its genre affords it.
We spoke with Scott via email to discuss the challenges that come with operating in the same space as Ghostbusters, X-Files, and Men In Black, his rapport with Robinson, whether the time has come and gone for more Party Down, and how his love of Simon & Simon informed his choice of a career and maybe speaks to why Ghosted appealed to him.
When you got the script for the pilot, did you look at the prospect of establishing a genre show that may inspire people to compare it to X-Files, Ghostbusters, Men In Black — these major franchises — as an interesting challenge or as something to be wary of?
We never set out to be compared to any of those franchises, but I guess it’s inevitable. Ghostbusters is an obvious touchstone since they were able to so perfectly meld comedy and the paranormal without lifting too far off the ground. Aside from the guys and Rick Moranis, everyone else in that movie is in a drama, so the danger felt real — the stakes legitimately sky-high.
How does the show carve out that unique space for itself in the supernatural/paranormal/sci-fi genre in these first few episodes? Is there a villain of the week kinda thing or is it going to be focused on this central mystery in the early going?
There’s an overall mythology we’ll weave in to the villain/monster of the week episodes early on. But the breadcrumbs are there. Max’s wife, Leroy’s former partner and exactly why and how these two were chosen will come into play.
Can you talk a little bit about your past experiences working with Craig Robinson and how that helped impact your on-screen chemistry?
Working with Craig is dreamy — he’s so much fun. We have an easy chemistry in real life that carries over onto the show. We couldn’t be more different, but in real life, we’re able to immediately see why that’s valuable. Max and Leroy, not so much. But watching them figure that out and become friends will hopefully be fun.
Ghosted hits the ground running while covering the broad strokes of Max’s life. It works but I’m curious if the idea is to backfill a little more. Are flashbacks a possibility?
Flashbacks are definitely a possibility. My favorite West Wing episode is early in season 2 where we see the origin stories of the main characters and how they became involved in Bartlett’s campaign. Look for us ripping this idea off. Not too early, though. Wouldn’t want to be presumptuous and give people back stories they don’t want yet.
There’s a really great slap war between you and Craig in the first episode. Curious how many takes you went through getting slapped and slapping him and if it was equitably distributed or if you got the short end there.
I slapped the shit out of Craig. We must’ve done it 20 times. But by the time we shot him slapping me, the angle we were shooting called for him to fake it, so he didn’t touch me. So, in a way, he still owes me.
Jumping to Veep, how did the chance to pop up as the Tonight Show host come about and were you channeling a specific host there?
[Executive producer] Morgan Sackett is a dear friend from Parks and he asked if I’d like to come be the host of the fictional Tonight Show, so I, of course, jumped at the chance. I didn’t set out to channel anyone but there seems to be a bit of a Letterman vibe to the scene, which makes sense because apparently, that’s who they originally wrote it for.
I don’t think there’s ever been a definitive “No” attached to the possibility of a Party Down continuation, but is there interest on your end and would it be from a place where you feel like there’s unfinished business or a place where you just want to go back to that character and that world?
I love Party Down and miss making it and getting to spend so much time with all of those people. Can’t even watch it, makes me sad. I would love to make more episodes or something, maybe it’s too late though? We had a chance a few years ago, but I don’t think the network was particularly enthusiastic. Feels like the cultural moment to put out more episodes passed? Maybe not, who knows.
How does the Simon & Simon theme win out over others for the first Greatest Event In TV History? Were you a big fan of the original series or was it just obscure enough to strike the right note?
Simon & Simon just happened to be the one we landed on one night when [Jon] Hamm and I were emailing YouTube links back and forth of different credit sequences. It’s the one that we agreed was the best, time to stop this email chain, can’t get any better than this. For me personally, Simon & Simon was the show I’d wait all Thursday night for as a kid –the action, the comedy, the central odd couple relationship — wow, this is starting to sound an awful lot like Ghosted. When I re-watched the opening credits after 25 yrs or so I had a profound realization how much this show and TV from the ’80s, in general, informed me wanting to do this with my life. So it wasn’t me making fun of these shows as much as it was wish-fulfillment, literally getting to step into the shoes of characters on these shows that I loved.
Ghosted premieres on Sunday, October 1 at 8:30 PM on FOX.