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'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' creators Mike Schur and Dan Goor on following up 'Parks and Recreation'
Their new FOX comedy with Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher isn't a mockumentary
Dan Goor: Also, as a viewer, you have to figure out what the 90 percent is, and understand who this character is to appreciate the 10 percent. Oh, that's what makes this the most unique version of this character. If you sprinkle all that detail in in the beginning, it gets lost. I mean if Terry were a (REDACTED) in the first episode, you’d be like, “Okay, I get it.” But if we add it in later instead, it’ll be a fun twist and fun discovery. And then we have to decide when to include that detail about it. What's the best way to put it in? What's the funniest episode?
Mike Schur: The only accurately titled comedy in history is “Growing Pains,” because every half-hour comedy has growing pains. It's like they were acknowledging it: “Stick with us; we're going to be okay.”
Dan Goor: Were they, Mike?
Mike Schur: I don't really remember the show that well to be totally honest. I think I saw every episode of it when I was a kid. That was Kirk Cameron?
Dan Goor: That being said we're hoping that every one of our first six episodes are great, are fun to watch. We're not trying to say, “Buckle up it's going to be a bumpy ride, stick with us.” We are very happy with the pilot.
Mike Schur: No, I'm saying that about "Growing Pains."
Dan Goor: Oh, yes. I know but you were using it as an analogy.
Mike Schur: No, I was only talking about “Growing Pains.”
Mike, having been at this stage of things with three different comedies, do you feel like you have any better handle at this point on what you have to do after you’ve done a pilot you’re happy with? Obviously, you're in a much different position here than when you came into “The Office.”
Mike Schur: It's actually been different on all three shows because I wasn't involved in the pilot in “The Office.” When I came in, Greg (Daniels) had put a year into that already and had so carefully thought everything out that it felt like we were all just asking, “How can we help you execute your amazing vision?” On “Parks and Rec,” it was Greg and me struggling through but it was also a midseason pilot it was so odd, and we shot everything at once. And it was a much more of like a crazy swirl. So this is a little bit easier than “Parks and Rec,” because this was a more prototypical process where we worked on the pilot.
Dan Goor: We had written six episodes of “Parks and Rec” by the time they shot any of them.
Mike Schur: We had written the whole season of six episodes. And in this show it was a more traditional situation where we worked on the pilot for a long time. We had like a normal amount of time to do casting and other stuff. Then once we've done the pilot and shot it we've now had two and a half months to just sit around and think about the characters. So it feels like it's less insane than the Parks and Rec process, but that's because it simply is. Whether or not I'm any better at it, I don't have any idea. I think that having been through it once has been very helpful. And the kinds of problems you face seemed to me to be similar no matter what the situation is. We need to make sure that everything is as perfect as it can possibly be. And you don't have any time to do it and. Network TV schedule is very aggressive and the production schedule is very aggressive. And you're starting from scratch with something and you want to make sure that everything is perfect. I feel like I'm a little calmer now then maybe I was because I have done it once already.
Dan Goor: It's very nice to have Mike intimately involved. He's done it, and even though I was obviously very intimately involved at “Parks and Rec,” once you're in this position, you see how much more is involved. And it's incredibly calming to have a person who's had experience and is good as his job as Mike is. It's also great to have David Miner, who's been trough this many times.
I'd forgotten that you wrote the entire first season of Parks before you shot it. And a lot of what evolves out of characters and a lot of the moments you've talked about with those characters come from the second season where you've now worked with the actors for a while, whereas you had to write all of the first season in advance.
Dan Goor: There’s no right answer. It's like we were writing that season in a vacuum, so we didn't know what worked or didn't work in the pilot. Whereas here, we can see, “Oh, Andre Braugher can definitely do this kind of joke and Mellisa Fumero is really funny when she does this.” We saw all that. But when we started shooting at “Parks and Rec,” we also had six scripts already done. So we were rewriting but we were rewriting from six done scripts. Whereas here, we're starting from scratch a little bit. There's no right answer. It's very hard no matter what.
Mike Schur: The only easy way to do it is the the pay cable model where you have an infinite amount of time and money — they have like 47 weeks of preproduction. If you can get to be Larry David, and take like three years to decide whether you want to do a season of “Curb,” and then you write all of the ideas and episodes and you shoot all of them and you edit all of them and you make them all perfect. But there's only one Larry David.
Dan Goor: He's amazing.
Mike Schur: Yeah, he's an all-time genius, so short of achieving that first ballot hall of fame comedian level where he can literally design his own schedule, there's no shortcut.
Dan Goor: I'm sure when he's in the middle of it he's like, “Why am I doing this? This is a nightmare.” But these are good problem to have. We're very happy that we have these problems.
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