SPOILER ALERT: Don’t learn when you’ve got not but watched “Mythic Quest: Quarantine,” streaming now on Apple TV Plus.
When Rob McElhenney determined he wished to do a digital episode of one among his tv sequence in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no query that it will be his new Apple TV Plus comedy “Mythic Quest” and never his long-running FXX sitcom “It’s At all times Sunny in Philadelphia.”
“The factor in regards to the ‘Mythic Quest’ characters is that, just like the filmmakers, they imagine in science and so they respect the regulation. And so we might make an episode that we felt was socially accountable,” McElhenney tells Variety. The “Sunny” characters then again, don’t, he provides, which suggests the form of episode the manufacturing workforce would have delivered would have been the other of what he did with “Mythic Quest.”
“I don’t know that it will be socially accountable to make proper now. Possibly in about six months from now or a 12 months, hopefully we’re going to see what the ‘Sunny’ characters have been doing in quarantine, however I’ve a sense it’s not what the ‘Mythic Quest’ characters have been doing,” he continues.
“Mythic Quest: Quarantine,” the brand new half-hour, remotely-produced episode of “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” that acts as a particular 10th episode in its first season, finds its characters months after its February finale left off, self-quarantining from the COVID-19 pandemic of their particular person houses. They’re luckier than many, in that their online game work means they will nonetheless do their jobs remotely. A direct concern is the truth that they created a virus for his or her sport, which now appears prefer it’s in poor style and needs to be scrubbed — till Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) will get the thought to create code for a vaccine.
Whereas McElhenney’s Ian appears to be residing his greatest life, alone in his compound, enjoyable in his scorching tub, understanding in an at-home gymnasium and making ready guided meditation in a lush backyard, Poppy is throwing herself into her work to maintain herself from spinning out right into a melancholy spiral. In reality, McElhenney notes, they’re each struggling, simply in their very own methods.
“He’s such an insane narcissist. He’s making these movies as a result of he wants the eye,” McElhenney says.
After firm Zoom conferences the place it’s apparent to Ian that Poppy has not modified her shirt, not to mention showered just lately, he worries about her psychological well being and tells her to log offline and deal with herself. When she begins dodging his calls, he lastly leaves his compound for the primary time in three months to verify she is OK.
“There’s this odd uncanny valley phenomenon that occurs the place we’re not within the room with folks and there’s the interface in between us and it doesn’t really feel as intimate as being with one other human being. We needed to lean into that side that there’s this artifice that’s holding us again from actual emotional output,” McElhenney says of characters’ communication for a lot of the episode. “When he goes to Poppy, it’s as a lot for her as it’s for him. There have been some egocentric motivations. And but he nonetheless provides her the choice. I made a acutely aware determination that my character doesn’t attain out to hug her. He permits her to return to him if she wants it.”
As a substitute of truly breaking quarantine in his personal Los Angeles residence to drive to Nicdao’s, McElhenney directed this scene in order that Nicdao’s husband might stand in for him. Shot on Poppy’s pc digicam, left on however in a room distant from her entrance door, the 2 figures are small within the body, in addition to shrouded in shadows, so it’s not apparent that it’s not McElhenney embracing her. Nonetheless, McElhenney admits the manufacturing workforce had “hours and hours of debate” about depicting somebody breaking quarantine as a result of they “wished to verify we have been making one thing that was each ethically and socially accountable.”
In the end, the workforce realized it was essentially the most accountable to depict care all types of well being.
“Bodily well being is paramount significance, however that ought to not supersede psychological well being,” McElhenney says. “When you’ve got somebody in your life who you actually imagine is struggling to the purpose the place in the event that they don’t obtain some degree of bodily contact issues might take a really darkish flip for the more severe — and I feel lots of people have these experiences — then now we have to be rational and now we have to be compassionate and now we have to be understanding.”
Nonetheless, they didn’t wish to be “cavalier” in regards to the scene, in order that they made certain to arrange that each characters had been “locked away of their houses for months, not having any contact with anyone else,” McElhenney continues. And as soon as they’ve this second collectively, they actually return to their very own self-isolation.
Taking good care of family members and prolonged household is what began the thought for this episode general, McElhenney shares: “We’ve got 150 crew members who, identical to a lot of the remainder of the nation, are sitting round and actually eager to get again to work, and if we will help folks earn a paycheck for 3 weeks, we wished to determine how to try this.”
With the intention to movie this episode remotely within the actors’ real-life residences, they have been despatched new iPhones, with which to movie themselves and new Air Pods, by way of which to speak with the opposite actors within the scene and McElhenney, who additionally directed. Relying on the scene being labored on, wherever from 20 to 40 folks logged right into a Zoom assembly so they might see what was being shot. The assorted crew members would have their cameras and microphones off, McElhenney says, till one noticed one thing within the body that wasn’t fairly proper. Then he advised them he trusted them to simply soar in and say one thing so they might alter as they went.
Whereas McElhenney calls this episode “essentially the most troublesome manufacturing I’ve ever been part of in 15 years of tv,” he additionally says it’s the one among which he’s essentially the most proud. In making ready for it, he did watch the primary “Saturday Night time Reside At House” episode and a few late-night programming. He additionally heard in regards to the “Parks and Recreation” particular whereas engaged on this, so he referred to as Mike Schur for recommendation and to verify they weren’t doing something too comparable. (They weren’t, which McElhenney says was nice as a result of “I can’t compete with Mike Schur! He’s the excessive water mark and somebody I respect very a lot.”)
As a result of he wished to show it round whereas everybody was nonetheless in quarantine, and he wasn’t certain how lengthy that may be, the “Mythic Quest” workforce turned across the episode from conception to supply inside three weeks, with the precise manufacturing week the most well liked week Los Angeles has had shortly — which posed an extra problem nobody anticipated.
“Half the solid didn’t have air con and due to sound we needed to ask them to shut all of their home windows and switch off any followers,” he says. “Now, there are folks all around the world which might be struggling a complete lot greater than an actor sitting in a home sweating by way of their clothes, nevertheless it did current challenges insofar as they’re dripping sweat in a few of these scenes and it was overheating the gear.”
Whereas there’s a whole lot of comedy inside the particular episode — from consulting producer Craig Mazin’s return visitor starring function to C.W.’s (F. Murray Abraham) lack of ability to determine expertise to David (David Hornsby) dropping a sport and shaving his mustache — McElhenney didn’t need the episode to “appear to be we have been simply profiting from the scenario.” Along with “eager to respect and honor folks’s tales and what they’re actually, actually going by way of,” McElhenney wished to lift consciousness for a very good trigger.
Inside the story, David proposes that the corporate give again as a result of it’s profiting a lot off of people who find themselves on the lookout for leisure whereas sitting round at dwelling. Brad (Danny Pudi) doesn’t like to present issues away with out getting one thing in return, therefore the wager for David’s mustache as they battle it out on a online game. Ultimately, Brad donates the cash on behalf of the corporate and Ian matches it personally. And life is imitating artwork as a result of the “Mythic Quest” workforce raised $300,000 for Mercy Corps’ COVID-19 aid fund, which McElhenney and his spouse Kaitlin Olson personally matched.
“As we got here up with the self-esteem of the corporate donating cash, then I believed, ‘Wow this might be actually cool if we might determine a approach during which we as a present have been doing the identical,’” McElhenney says. “The group is a worldwide one that’s doing a number of the greatest work on the market for these affected by this pandemic. What we have been what we’re hoping is that we will elevate consciousness for this unimaginable group. However we additionally wish to be very respectful of our viewers who has been requested to present and provides and provides and provides. They usually have responded, and I do know as a result of I’ve run a few fundraisers over the course of the final three or 4 months and other people proceed to present and I do know that individuals can’t afford to present. After all I need folks, if they will, to proceed to present, however I additionally really feel like I don’t wish to ask anybody for anything anymore. The viewers has had it tough and so they’re going to have a tough couple of possibly years. So that is simply one thing we’re placing out on this planet and for those who can provide, nice, however we simply hope you benefit from the present.”