Steve and Nancy Carell’s upcoming TBS comedy “Angie Tribeca” premiered at SXSW on Saturday, as part of the Episodic screening category for SXSW Film, launched last year to premiere new television series, which fit the bill of the festival’s edgy and unique feature material.
“Angie Tribeca” is a satirical take on police procedurals from the husband-and-wife exec producer-creator team, starring “Parks & Recreation” alum Rashida Jones, as the title character, a 10-year vet of the LAPD’s elite RHCU: Really Heinous Crimes Unit.
“We had a great time putting this together and shooting this,” Steve Carell said, as he and Nancy were greeted by loud applause from the tech fest crowd. He joked, “We have the second one if you want to see it — it’s on my iPhone.”
The duo presented episode two — on the big screen — to an audience of laughter, before starting the panel, which featured Hayes MacArthur, who co-stars as Jones’ detective partner; Jones; and showrunner-exec producer Ira Ungerleider.
“I hadn’t seen anything like this, and it’s really, really stupid,” Steve Carell said when asked where the idea for the slapstick sitcom, in the vein of 1980’s flick “Airplane!,” came about. “Any heart that comes out is sort of inadvertent. We just wanted something that was irreverent and silly and made us laugh.”
The project marks an “Office” reunion between Jones and Steve Carell, who sent the actress an email with an offer for the part. “I read it and was like, there’s no chance I’m not doing this,” Jones excitedly said. Ungerleider, whose credits include “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother,” also jumped at the chance to work with the Carells, joking: “I vomited.”
The laffer brings in an impressive slew of guest stars. Lisa Kudrow and Gary Cole appear in the pilot, while “Parks & Recs'” Adam Scott and James Franco stop by in episode two. Bill Murray will also guest in the first season.
“None of them wanted to do it,” Steve Carell joked of the freshman series’ guests. Nancy Carell gave props to Jones, saying that her A-list friend base is helping the show. “Rashida knows every person in the world.”
As for the series regulars, MacArthur was an unexpected addition. Nancy Carell revealed Jones’ police partner was originally set to die at the end of each episode. (A fake-out death ends the first episode.) “We loved him so much, we couldn’t kill him,” Steve Carell said.
As for the verbal gags and near “unproducible” scenes — thanks to extreme special effects, such as a leg breaking mid-scene; silly stunts, like a dog playing an organ at a wedding; and complex sets and props, which Jones pointed out have included horses, Native Americans and SWAT teams on set the same day — Jones and MacArthur admit that mastering the humor is a challenge.
Despite the hurdles of tackling the unique comedy, Jones is thrilled they’ve almost wrapped their first season: “We’re shooting it, while TV still exists, so that’s good.”
TBS ordered a 10-episode first season of “Angie Tribeca,” slated to premiere this fall. Campbell Smith and Thom Hinkle also serve as exec producers.