Not every show gets seven seasons and a satisfying feel-good send-off that ties up nearly every loose end. Parks and Recreation (which was the subject of another of our oral history projects) is unique, but it was also lucky that Michael Schur’s and Greg Daniels’ story about small-scale bureaucracy and small town characters had the chance to evolve and find an audience.
There’s no way of knowing if Conan O’Brien’s and Jonathan Groff’s Andy Barker, P.I. would have climbed as high as Parks and Recreation, had it not been cancelled after just six episodes, but it would have been nice if it got the chance.
Launched eight years ago next week, Andy Barker, P.I. told the story of a good-guy accountant (Andy Richter) who gets in over his head when he’s mistaken for a private eye. The show was smart, yet accessible, had ample heart, thanks to Richter’s every-man charm, an interesting cast of supporting characters (led by Tony Hale and the departed Harve Presnell), and a seemingly endless supply of hard-boiled detective story tropes to play with. What went wrong for the critically-lauded, but under-watched comedy? We spoke to Andy Richter, Tony Hale, Jonathan Groff, and some of the writers and producers to find out about the birth and death of a show that had everything going for it, save for timing and luck.