One of the joys of working the TCA press tour in Pasadena earlier this month was chatting with the cheery cast members of Outsourced. The NBC comedy has defied early predictions to emerge as a success story this season, especially creatively. Back before it launched, when I asked my teenage son Daniel if he found the pilot hilarious or offensive–and he told me, “Dad, it’s hilarious because it’s offensive”–neither of us had any idea it would also turn out to also be charming and original.
Tonight it faces a new challenge, having been moved back an hour to 10:30 p.m. as part of NBC’s latest experiment. You might recall the network tried something with Jay Leno every night of the week last season at 10. They’re still trying to sort out 10 p.m., and this entire night of comedy deal is their latest shakeup.
The good news for Outsourced is that it now follows 30 Rock. Still, comedy after 10 is like the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup–it hasn’t happened since the ’60s. A few networks are trying it this winter which means a) they’re desperate and b) there is suddenly a glut of sitcoms on network TV, almost unthinkable just two years ago. (Although, given the number of indistinguishable rom-coms that are coming up, that glut may not last long.)
|Gupta (Chenna) goes Bollywood|
The gang from Outsourced seemed completely oblivious to the whole 10 p.m. comedy trap when I spoke with them last week at the NBC press tour party. Calgarian Rizwan Manji (shifty Mid-American Novelty associate manager Rajiv) was first to sing the praises of this week’s episode, “A Sitar is Born.” The episode finds Todd (Ben Rappaport) stumbling upon a surprise singing talent among the staff and hosting a talent contest in order to help bring it out. Not-so-shy Gupta (Parvesh Chenna), however, thinks this is his shot at becoming a Bollywood star and leaps into the spotlight.
Manji grabbed Chenna and co-star Anisha Nagarajan and spread the love around as critics quizzed all three about the Bollywood number. Chenna demonstrated a few moves. What came across was the genuine joy these three felt at just being part of this show.
Their more seasoned co-star, Deidrich Bader, echoed that sentiment later, saying he’d never seen a cast like it. He was very happy for them and said the positive energy was very contagious on the set.
Outsourced airs Thursday at 10:30 p.m. on NBC and Global.
UPDATE: My voice was almost gone by the time I caught up with the Outsourced cast on NBC’s leg of the TCA press tour. Prolific colleague Will Harris graciously allowed my to piggyback on his questions as we teamed up on the Outsourced gang. Read his detailed Q&A of our cast encounter here at tv.com, he does a nice job of capturing the closeness and enthusiasm shared by the players.