Tuesday night TruTV premiered the first two episodes of the series as part of the New York Television Festival in a packed theater, and we were excited to be invited. First thing we noticed walking in the door, Bobcat Goldthwait is attached to the series, and that is always a good sign. Bobcat has been helping to create some of the best comedy in film and television for decades now, so we were excited to learn he directed a few of the episodes, and flew in from California just to moderate the panel at the premiere.
For anyone unfamiliar, truTV has left the world of true crime television behind and have been evolving to a comedy based network. They’ve been proving their strength with popular shows dealing in everything from sketch comedy to hidden camera pranks, with shows like Impractical Jokers, Friends of the People, Billy on the Street and The Carbonaro Effect. Those Who Can’t which won’t air till 2016 may be their best project yet.
Those Who Can’t is the network’s first fully scripted comedy. It takes place in a small town high school– Smoot High– and centers on three immature teachers who act a lot like the school’s worst behaved students. The shows creators and stars– Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy play the teachers and get into a slew of trouble all of their own making. The series is slightly reminiscent of Brooklyn 99 in tone and style, but it’s 100% original. The series evolved out of characters that Cayton-Holland, Orvedahl and Roy created for their popular webseries- The Grawlix which was in turn based on their monthly stand up show, also called The Grawlix. If you’re confused, don’t worry there’s no test.
For years, Adam, Andrew and Ben have been the talk of Denver, and watching the first two episodes of Those Who Can’t we could immediately see why. They have a rare chemistry and great energy, and the show is fun and creatively and comedically sharp. They also have a tremendous supporting cast. The team brought comedian Rory Scovel on board, who is brilliant as the school’s eccentric principal, and Maria Thayer who you’ve seen pop up on a huge list of some the funniest shows on television (Eaglehart, Louie, Strangers with Candy, 30 Rock, Portlandia, The League, Mulaney, Kroll Show to name a few). Thayer is outstanding as fellow faculty member librarian Abbey Logan, who just wants to be liked by the popular students.
The reaction to the episodes was tremendous in the theater, and in a lively Q&A with the cast followed the screening, we learned that the series was filmed at Van Nuys high school, which also served as Ridgemont High School in the iconic 80’s comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High. So if you believe in comedic karma, that’s one more thing going for the TWC team. Brothers Evan Nix and Adam Nix directed the series, and said they knew they had something special even as early as when they were still filming the webseries. Goldthwait, who directed two of the episodes showered praise on the Cayton-Holland, Roy and Orvedahl, saying they are some of the nicest, funniest people he’s ever worked with and compared them to The Young Ones or the Marx Brothers.
We asked Bobcat how he seems to end up working with some of the best talents in the business before the rest of the world knows about them. Bobcat said that it was because he made some decisions early on in his career that he wasn’t happy with, and wanted to make up for it now. “I sold out and did a lot of crappy things,” he said, “so now at 53 I only want to be involved with cool things.”
TruTV found Those Who Can’t when Amazon purchased the pilot and featured it as part of its Amazon Pilots program. Although the team said the pilot had the strongest and most positive viewer response at the time it aired, Amazon decided not to pick up the series, but Amazon’s pass was truTV’s gain. When Amazon didn’t pick up the show TruTV purchased the series as part of their rebrand.
Kyle Kinane, Susie Essman, T.J. Miller, Kate Berlant are just a few of the familiar comedy faces you can look forward to seeing throughout the series. Those Who Can’t is set to premiere in early 2016 only on TruTv.
Watch the original trailer for Those Who Can’t.