WHO DIDN’T DO IT?

Vice Prin­ci­pals re­turns with plenty of shoot­ing sus­pects

Windsor Star - - YOU - FRAZIER MOORE The As­so­ci­ated Press

Vice Prin­ci­pals Sec­ond sea­son de­buts Sun­day, HBO NEW YORK At the end of last sea­son’s fiercely ab­sorb­ing Vice Prin­ci­pals, ad­min­is­tra­tor Neal Gamby was left sprawled on the pave­ment of the North Jack­son High park­ing lot in a pool of blood, gunned down by an un­known as­sailant.

Could this be pay­back from Dr. Belinda Brown, the for­mer North Jack­son prin­ci­pal who was over­thrown by Gamby in ca­hoots with his some­time-ally Lee Rus­sell (even as they stayed bit­ter ri­vals, both vy­ing for Brown’s job)?

Noth­ing is so sim­ple on Vice Prin­ci­pals.

“It’s not like there’s just one per­son Gamby can point to who could have done it,” says Danny McBride, who plays him, and can’t help but chuckle. What’s so funny about at­tempted mur­der? For starters, Gamby is such an in­dis­crim­i­nate jerk! “It’s like he’s rubbed EV­ERY­BODY he’s ever en­coun­tered so wrong that ANY­ONE could have done it.” Even his co-con­spir­a­tor Lee!

Upon his re­cov­ery, Neal will spend this sec­ond and con­clud­ing nine-episode sea­son, which pre­mières Sun­day on HBO, try­ing to flush out, and wreak vengeance on, whomever it was who tried to off him.

He will also re­sume his dogged cam­paign (in part­ner­ship with Lee when they’re not in cut­throat com­pe­ti­tion) to land the grand prize: his name on the North Jack­son prin­ci­pal’s of­fice door.

Among the many things that make Vice Prin­ci­pals so funny, yet so poignant: No one could be less fit for the job than this mis­an­thropic lout — un­less it is Lee, a machi­avel­lian dandy.

A cre­ator and writer of Vice Prin­ci­pals, McBride (East­bound & Down, This is the End) has joined co-star Wal­ton Gog­gins (The Shield, Jus­ti­fied, Six) to re­port on get­ting back to school for this series, and to ac­count for how the show is in a class by it­self.

For in­stance: The half-hour for­mat and its reign­ing pair of knuck­le­heads sug­gest that Vice Prin­ci­pals is a com­edy. Which it is. But isn’t.

For all its out­ra­geous­ness, the series is solidly grounded, and pop­u­lated with de­cep­tively well­rounded char­ac­ters played by a solid cast.

“This is a com­plex char­ac­ter study of two morally ob­tuse hu­man be­ings,” Gog­gins sums up.

“We use the broad com­edy just to trick the au­di­ence,” says McBride, “to make the view­ers think they’re go­ing to get the usual run-of-themill com­edy — and then we sucker punch them with some real drama. Sud­denly they have no idea what the show’s go­ing to take se­ri­ously and what it’s NOT go­ing to take se­ri­ously. And ul­ti­mately they don’t re­ally know what they want to have hap­pen.

“Once we get the au­di­ence there, they’re just putty in our hands, and we can take them any­where.”

Gog­gins says “any­where” also ap­plies to him as an ac­tor in­hab­it­ing a char­ac­ter he doesn’t need to pi­geon­hole. “You turn your­self over to an imag­i­nary set of cir­cum­stances,” he says. “You can go any­where with the role and not judge the out­come. It’s no more com­pli­cated than that.”

“I never look at any­thing I write in terms of a genre,” says McBride. “I just don’t think life is that way. Some of the fun­ni­est stuff can hap­pen in the mo­ments of great­est tragedy.

“We ap­proach the show as if it’s a drama and then we find the com­edy within that.

“We’ll even take punch lines out of the scripts.

“I want the jokes to hide them­selves and emerge when you’re least ex­pect­ing them.

“I think our com­edy works if these char­ac­ters feel real and they’re tak­ing what’s im­por­tant to them so se­ri­ously that it’s funny — be­cause they ’re so in­vested in what they want.”

This is a com­plex char­ac­ter study of two morally ob­tuse hu­man be­ings.

HBO

Danny McBride stars in Vice Prin­ci­pals, which re­turns for a sec­ond sea­son on Sun­day. The ac­tor rel­ishes the show’s un­pre­dictabil­ity and its re­luc­tance to con­form to ex­pec­ta­tions im­posed by genre or for­mula.

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