Running Away To America
So why’s Peter in the USA at the current moment in present time? This is why:
The Rundown on Running Wilde
So far, no series at the Television Critics Association press tour has raised such a contradictory mix of anticipation and doubt as Fox’s Running Wilde.
Premiering September 21, the show stars Will Arnett and Keri Russell, and comes from the creators of Arrested Development. Therein lies the anticipation. But a lackluster pilot, plagued by issues that the creators themselves have acknowledged, aroused concerns over the show’s potential. Hence the doubts.
Here’s the basic set-up: Arnett plays Steven Wilde, the rich, ne’er-do-well son of an oil tycoon who is trying to win over Emmy (Russell). She’s the do-gooder daughter of his childhood housekeeper, and recently returned from the Amazon rainforest. Emmy believes she can save the world, and is the kind of woman who would name her daughter Puddle (Stefania Owen). But Wilde’s fortune comes straight from his dad’s company, which is willing to destroy vulnerable parts of the world for profit.
“We threw a lot of stuff out there very quickly,” said Mitch Hurwitz, who with Arrested Development’s Jim Vallely created and executive produces Running Wilde. He added that the pilot suffered from a lack of preparation and post-production time, which Vallely said hindered the creators’ ability to find solutions.
“At the time, when you’re under all of this pressure and you don’t have the time or the money to change it, it’s hard to identify exactly what the problems are,” said Vallely.
Much has already changed since the pilot. After originally shooting in Vancouver, the show will now be produced in New York and set back east. Characters have been reimagined, and Arrested Development alum David Cross has joined the cast.
For better or worse, the specter of Arrested Development loomed over the Running Wilde panel (and Hurwitz added that the team still hopes to make a feature film based on the show). Arnett said there were even questions about putting Cross in the series: “There was that thought of, ‘Will there be too much Arrested Development in this show? Of course we’re going to get the comparisons, good and bad, to Arrested. Bad mainly. F— it. We might as well get him.’”
Added Hurwitz: “There’s a burden associated with Arrested Development and it’s a high-class problem to have. We’re glad to be working, we’re glad to be trying to do something that appeals to a wider audience. If we can make that move, if we can get a big audience interested in the show, more and more of our subversion hopefully will be able to come out.”
Meanwhile, Keri Russell has rarely been associated with subversion or, for that matter, a comedy series. One critic asked her what “inspired her to do a sitcom,” which led to a round of teasing from the other panelists as she tried to answer.
“Don’t be thrown by the way he said ‘sitcom.’ Really, run with the ‘inspired’ part.”
“Yeah, why did you decide to do a crap-com?”
Russell began to answer, “I just wanted to be…”
“Wellll, exuuuse us!”
Also in the cast is Peter Serafinowicz, who had his own comedy on BBC 2 and who has appeared in a number of films including Shaun of the Dead. Serafinowicz will play Fa’ad, Steven Wilde’s neighbor of indeterminate Middle Eastern origin. Based on some the bits I’ve seen on YouTube, if Running Wilde makes it, Serafinowicz could be its breakout performer. He certainly had his moments during the panel, including a bit about how the network “has come such a long way since the days when they just did documentaries about foxes.”
Free of any professional history with Arrested Development, Serafinowicz also put Running Wilde’s potential into perspective. “They may be too modest to say this, but I think Arrested Development was really ahead of its time, and that’s possibly why they had problems and why it’s got such a huge fan base now. Today’s audience is more open to this style of humor.”
Serafinowicz then lowered his voice for emphasis and declared, “It’s very smart humor but also it’s very stupid as well.”