Best of Fall #10: Don McKellar and Bob Martin find the funny in depression in their new TV series
The impish comedy men Don McKellar and Bob Martin can’t get enough of the crazy—or of each other. Twitch City, the cult sitcom about an agoraphobic television addict? McKellar starred and shared the writing with Martin. Slings and Arrows, the behind-the-scenes satire about a theatre festival headed by an artistic director perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Martin wrote, McKellar co-starred. The Drowsy Chaperone, the wedding present–turned–Fringe hit–turned–Broadway show about a musical-obsessed shut-in? Martin starred, Martin and McKellar wrote, and they both won Tonys.
The long-time friends—who’ve been working together since forming a children’s theatre company at Lawrence Park Collegiate—are back at it with a 12-episode TV series that gives full rein to their love of loonies. Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays is a giddy ode to the panicky, the anxious, the low-functioning. Michael (played by Matt Watts, the real-life inspiration for the show) is a government worker who has been seeing his cognitive behavioural therapist, David (played by Martin), twice a week for 15 years. He’s slowly getting better, as David drags him out of the office and onto the streets of Ottawa to conquer his catalogue of fears (women, buses, asking strangers for the time). Meanwhile, David is the one who’s truly stuck, paralyzed by his broken marriage, drinking problem and control issues. He sees Michael as his way out—writing a book about his favourite patient will provide the ultimate distraction: Oliver Sacksian fame and fortune.
The show has a simple allure: Michael and David, like Twitch City’s Curtis and Drowsy’s Man in Chair, make the viewer feel sane by comparison. McKellar and Martin enlisted a cohort of old comrades to work on the series, including Patricia Rozema, who shares directing duties with McKellar, and Mark McKinney, who has a hand in the writing. With their help, the pair will be dishing out whip-smart and deeply odd comedy as hilarious as it is depressing. Long live codependency.
Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays
Premieres Sept. 14