As our own Danger Guerrero said here, there and just about everywhere else he can find an outlet, Comedy Central’s Review is one of the best half hours on television. Its first season was a smash success with audiences and critics alike, and the cult hit is now back for a second bout of viewer-submitted review topics and poor life decisions on the part of host Forrest MacNeil.
Forrest’s doppelgänger, Andy Daly took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about Review‘s Australian roots, the ins and outs of the writers room, and what the final episode of the series might involve. Here’s a spoilery hint — Forrest dies! Not really. Well, kind of.
Review‘s first season was a big surprise, mainly because the audience wasn’t familiar with the original Australian show, Review with Myles Barlow. Do you feel like the first season’s success gave the team a big boost?
Yeah, definitely. I think in season one, we felt good about what we were doing. We were excited about what we were doing. We were serious about making a show that Comedy Central’s audience would like, but would bring new people to Comedy Central who aren’t already in their audience. We were very optimistic about all of those things, but we were also following our own instincts. There were certainly times when we looked at each other and just said, “Is anybody else going to find this funny outside of this room? Have we gone too far? Is this too crazy?” Having the first season air and get the response that it did was a huge boost to the idea of following our instincts. I think, going into season two, we kind of felt emboldened about our instincts a little bit. We can take this wherever we want to take it, and there will be, hopefully, an audience out there that will be appreciative of it and ready to receive it.
The first season borrowed a lot from the original. With it behind you, did you feel free to expand Forrest’s story in season two?
Our attitude was, yes, this has been a pre-existing Australian series, but we can take from it what we want and we can leave aside the things that we don’t want. We asked, “What do we love about what they did? What do we just want to take? What do we want to flat out steal from them? What do we want to change and take in a different direction?” Our show in season one was very different from their show, actually, but in this season, we didn’t go back and watch anything. We just kind of barreled ahead. I can only think of one topic in season two that they also did. Our treatment of this particular topic is quite similar to theirs because I love what they did with it.
You’ve talked elsewhere about how heavily scripted the show is. How much time did the writing team spend plotting the new season?
We gave ourselves less time to write season two, actually. We didn’t have to take the time that we did with season one figuring out basic things about how the show works, who Forrest is and how his world works. That is something, if I had to do it over again, I might to do differently. The challenges of writing a second season are different challenges, but I wouldn’t say that there are fewer challenges. It’s a different thing but it’s difficult, so it did feel a little bit like we didn’t have quite the time that I would’ve loved to have had. But yeah, we worked the scripts very, very hard through all the time we had. We actually did a little more writing during production than we did in season one, which is very challenging to do because I’m in every scene, and Jeffrey Blitz is directing every scene. So, it’s a little hard to get writing done while you’re doing that.