“What Just Happened??! With Fred Savage” premieres Sunday on Fox. Fred Savage takes aftershows for a ride in new Fox series
Fred Savage is hosting an aftershow. The catch: The show it comes after doesn’t exist, technically.
If you’ve never heard of the sci-fi series “The Flare,” you aren’t alone ... but it’s discussed at length by Savage, its “stars” and special guests on “What Just Happened??! With Fred Savage,” which Fox premieres Sunday, June 30. Think of what “Talking Dead” does in relation to “The Walking Dead,” and you’ll recognize the intention as “The Wonder Years” alum Savage (who’s also a top sitcom director now, and also a creator and executive producer of his new show) and others emulate such programs.
“The Flare” always ends in a moment of suspense or drama or excitement,“Savage explains, ”and our show is called ‘What Just Happened??!’ because ‘The Flare’ leaves us just pulling our hair out because it’s so incredible. We’re not poking fun at anything or satirizing anything; we’re really embracing the idea of fandom and that thing that each one of us is incredibly passionate about.
“And we’re doing it positively,” notes Savage. “I feel like now, in particular, is an interesting time to be a fan of something. There always seems to be some negative angle where you start to hate that thing you’re a fan of, and this is really a celebration of that side of fandom that is just joy and enthusiasm and support.”
“Based” on an also-fictional book called “The Sun Is the Moon at Night” by nonexistent author TJ Whitford, “The Flare” is visible in segments directed by “24” veteran Jon Cassar. Its cast includes Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Kevin Zegers (“Dirty John”), Amy Acker and Tyler Ritter. Also appearing on the “What Just Happened??!” premiere is Rob Lowe, who starred with Savage in the Fox show “The Grinder” (and returns next season in the new “9-1-1: Lone Star”).
“There is this fervent desire by fans of a show to discuss it in a public forum,” Savage says, “and even though you would think Twitter has become that forum, all these culturally significant dramas – like ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Stranger Things’ – have had these aftershows. We have some DNA from those (in ‘What Just Happened??!’), but then, we’re also taking a lot of elements from latenight talk shows. We have a co-host (comedian Taylor Tomlinson), a band (Best Coast) and genuine guests who come on to do real interviews. It’s a bit of a blend.”
As his stint as host of the ABC game show “Child Support” also suggested, Savage enjoys appearing as himself now, in addition to playing someone else. “It’s stretching me in new and sometimes terrifying ways,” he muses, “and for me personally, it’s terribly exciting in that respect.”