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|Created by||Bill Lawrence
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||1|
|Running time||22 mins (approx)|
|Original network||The WB|
Nobody's Watching is a US television program that was never broadcast. It originated with and was written by the creator of Scrubs, Bill Lawrence, as well as Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan, writers for Scrubs and Family Guy.
The pilot was developed for the WB Television Network, but network executives passed on the show for the 2005 schedule after test audiences seemed to be confused by its premise. However, in June 2006, the pilot was leaked onto YouTube and quickly attracted attention from viewers around the world. On July 3, a report in the New York Times suggested that the show could yet make it to a full series, thanks to the positive response from YouTube viewers. During the Friday, July 21, 2006, broadcast of Last Call with Carson Daly, guests Neil Goldman, Taran Killam and Paul Campbell called NBC president Kevin Reilly on air, who seemed to confirm an interest in the series. He later recanted, but a deal was struck to produce webisodes. Webisodes of varying length were released until January 12, 2007. In an interview with TV Squad, Lawrence divulged that NBC would broadcast a live TV special in March 2007. However in February 2007, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the executive producer Bill Lawrence had voiced concerns that the show would not be broadcast and this was eventually confirmed by an NBC spokesperson who said, "The project is not going forward." Lawrence also said that the actors' contracts would expire at the end of February. There has been no live TV special as of October 2013.
"Derrick" and "Will" have been extras on other NBC produced series such as Days of Our Lives and Scrubs.
The show is about two friends from Union, Ohio, named Derrick (Taran Killam) and Will (Paul Campbell), who send a home video to every network, claiming they can produce a better sitcom than the ones currently being broadcast. The WB takes them up on this offer. Derrick and Will are taken to The WB studios, where they meet the head of The WB, Jeff Tucker (Paul Adelstein), Creative VP Roy Ingold (Bob Clendenin), and Tucker's assistant, whom he introduces as Jill Something (Lauren Bittner). Tucker tells them to create their own sitcom, while working in various sitcom-related sets. In addition, a reality show will be made about their sitcom's birth. Thus, the pair has a camera crew following them around The WB studios, when they are not on the sets, and a live studio audience, when they are working on the sets.
After setting the scene, the rest of the episode focuses on Derrick and Will's first day trying to come up with a sitcom. Over the course of the episode, they hire Jill Something as their assistant and make a pity-hire of Mandy (Mircea Monroe), who had just been fired from The WB gift shop. Meanwhile, Tucker and Ingold interfere by trying to introduce narrative conflicts into the show. Tucker tells Derrick he would rather continue the show without Will and demands that Mandy kiss Will, even though she prefers Derrick.
The title of the show is explained in the last scene: the cast is hanging out in the sitcom set, with the live audience reacting as if it is an actual show, which Mandy thinks is weird but is told to just pretend that "nobody's watching". Will says that "nobody's watching" is a perfect name for the sitcom they are developing (thus, Nobody's Watching is the name of the fake sitcom in the fake reality television show, Nobody's Watching). Derrick protests that "nobody's watching" is a terrible name, because critics will constantly ridicule them with comments like "nobody's watching Nobody's Watching!" He declares that it would be insane to name a television show that. This is immediately followed by the announcer saying "Next week, on Nobody's Watching!..."
Derrick: Derrick is twenty-five and plays straight man to Will's wacky naiveté. Although the two were social opposites, they bonded through watching television (they can talk about an episode of Seinfeld for hours). He was accepted to the University of Notre Dame but went to community college instead because he was afraid to leave home. Though he was a nerd in school (described as "indoorsy" by Will so Derrick's feelings would not be hurt) and a self-confessed "25-year-old single loser who works in his dad's mini-mart", Derrick has a more tough guy persona than Will and refuses to share his feelings on camera or with Will, while Will frequently goes to a "weird, overly emotional place". Both he and Will worked at Derrick's father's convenience store after graduation, but Derrick seems more adverse to that fact than Will. He is also very ambitious, saying without hesitation that he would drop Will from the project if the network thought he was not working out. His reason for this betrayal is that if he loses the sitcom deal, he is not optimistic enough to recover from the loss and try again, while the more popular, more handsome, and more charismatic Will would recover quickly and go on to do better things. Derrick and Will also have a 15-year-old game of 'made ya' look!' that Derrick is currently winning by seven looks; they spread the game to include Jill and Mandy, who fall for it every time.
Will: Will is Derrick's best friend. The two became best friends when Will had to hang out at Derrick's house after school because his mother worked overtime at the Cracker Barrel. Will does not have a father, which Derrick tries not to mention because it seems a sensitive issue, but Will at first does not seem to have any qualms about it; he mentions his father's absence almost too casually, with phrases like, "I'd call my dad right now if I had one" and constructing his favorite game ('made ya' look!') around it: "Made you look! I don't have a dad!". Later, it is revealed that famous television fathers, such as Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince of Bel Air, were Will's father figures growing up; when he first meets Alan Thicke, who played the father on Growing Pains, he accidentally calls him 'Dad'. Will is described as a "typical jock" (while Derrick was "indoorsy"), but is anything but typical when it comes to the stereotype; he is not unintelligent but rather charmingly oblivious. Unlike Derrick, Will is also overly optimistic, overly emotional, and overly sympathetic; he is unafraid to tell Derrick how much he loves him and would rather have fun and fool around on set than concentrate on the sitcom. Jeff Tucker and Roy Ingold decide to secretly focus a portion of the sex appeal on the show on Will, because Will is so good looking (he is described as "boyishly handsome" and "playfully yummy" by the executives). Will is a huge fan of Growing Pains, much to Derrick's annoyance. Will's primary father figure was in fact Dr. Jason Seaver.
Jill Something: Jill was Jeff Tucker's assistant, but now works with Will and Derrick on the sitcom project. She is methodical, business-like and, like Derrick, very ambitious. Even though she is only 24, she has already been the personal assistant of two network executives in Hollywood. Even though Will and Derrick are technically her employers, she takes the dominating role on the project, much to Derrick's annoyance; Will, on the other hand, continually asks her permission to do things (such as walking around the office barefoot). Will also ignores Jill's professionalism and often urges her to fool around with him on set. Jill makes it known that she has had to work hard to be where she is because she refuses to climb the corporate ladder the easy way by exploiting her femininity, but Derrick is also quick to point out she's never formed an emotional connection with anyone while working either. He also knows that Jill secretly wants to have a boss that appreciates her, which she apparently thought Tucker did until he let her switch jobs so easily. Jill admits to Will, with whom she has made a connection, that she has never had a friend who was as close to her as Will is to Derrick but she always wished she did. It is unclear if Jill's last name really is 'Something' or if her boss just could not remember her name when introducing her.
Mandy: Derrick's love interest and former WB giftshop employee, Mandy was fired after she insisted that men would not buy underwear that said Smallville across the front (though Will immediately insists that he would buy ones that said Everwood). Mandy moved to Hollywood to live with her previous boyfriend, who turned out to be an abusive carjacker, and had been living there a month when she was hired by Will and Derrick. Will met her while she was soaking wet after being caught in the lawn sprinklers and sobbing; he dubs her 'wet girl' and immediately hires her out pity. She then goes to the WB wardrobe department to get dry clothes, where Jeff Tucker has the wardrobe director dress her in revealing clothing. This revealing clothing attracts Derrick's attention, and instead of being mad at Will for hiring her, he lets her stay and begins to harbor a crush on her. Jill dislikes Mandy because Mandy claims that she has had to work hard at life and Jill makes it clear later that Mandy's stunning face and body has made life a lot easier for her. It is revealed in the third act of the pilot episode that Mandy is actually an actress planted within the reality show to create more sex appeal, though her story about the abusive boyfriend is true. It is also implied that, over the last year, Mandy has had extensive makeovers and plastic surgery to improve her previous look (which was so ugly, it provoked a "yikes!" out of Ingold). Despite this, Mandy finds she really does have feelings for Derrick, but the network execs push her to kiss Will because he is better looking. It is revealed in the pilot's epilogue, that Mandy and Derrick kiss in the studio bathroom in what would have been the second episode.
Jeff Tucker: the WB's ruthless network head, he decides to film Will and Derrick's sitcom-within-a-sitcom. He also decides to film himself and his VP Roy Ingold so the audience at home can see how networks pull the strings on reality shows. He set up Derrick and Will's show to be sponsored by Snapple, and pulls out the drink for product placement when he can. At one point, he tries to create drama on the show by telling Derrick the plug on the project will be pulled if Will does not leave and encourages Mandy to kiss Will even though she has a crush on Derrick. He relishes the power of his high position and, at one point, Derrick's rhetorical "Oh, God, thank you" is met by Tucker with a "You're welcome". Tucker is revealed on camera to have a fondness for prostitutes by Ingold. In the pilot's epilogue, Tucker reveals he has been ctiticized for not having a minority character of the show and he has Will and Derrick interview dozens of black men to become their 'office manager' to help with their sitcom. The character is named after Jeff Zucker, president of NBC.
Roy Ingold: Ingold is creative VP at the WB and is Tucker's right-hand man. He secretly dislikes the callous and cold-hearted Tucker but constantly plays sidekick to him. He is uncomfortable around the television camera filming his boss and him, and Tucker is always quietly but sternly reminding him to stop staring at the camera. The character is named after Jeff Ingold, Senior Vice President of Comedy Development at NBC.
The program is filmed in a mockumentary style, as if Will and Derrick are on a reality TV show. The program's plot actually relies on many instances of "breaking the fourth wall", with Derrick and Will frequently communicating with the studio audience. In addition, there are many references to other popular sitcoms such as Yes, Dear (Will and Derrick's euphemism for the word "shit"). In the pilot episode, Derrick and Will even find their way onto (a replica of) the Central Perk set and meet James Michael Tyler (Gunther from Friends), although Jill simply brushes him off. Later in the episode, Will runs into James L. Avery Sr. (Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham from Happy Days) and Alan Thicke (Dr. Jason Seaver from Growing Pains).
Nobody's Watching uses its laugh track in a non-standard way. It is only used in the scenes featuring the studio audience and the recording of the sitcom within the sitcom. As the studio audience are, in effect, extra cast members, there are instances where their laughter - or otherwise - does not relate to the action the viewer is shown. Examples in the pilot episode include a scene where Alan Thicke performs to the studio audience in the background while the main scene of Will talking to Jill takes place in front of the camera. In another scene the main characters can react to the audience's reaction, which prompts Jill, after insulting Gunther, to apologize. When they see the tape of Derrick betraying Will, the audience moans disapprovingly, which prompts Derrick to call them "drama queens". In another scene, Will and Derrick enjoy naming random states and seeing how many people in the audience cheer to show state pride.
A great deal of the humor stems from the many layers on which the fourth wall is broken. Will and Derrick think they are making a sitcom, and think that the live studio audience and the sets are part of a "making of" reality TV show, though Tucker has told his VP Roy that the reality TV show is the real show, and has no serious plans to make Will and Derrick's sitcom. Will and Derrick constantly overact, which during extended "sitcom mode" sequences seems odd. However, scenes in Tucker's office are also shot as part of the reality show, though he tries to downplay this by never acknowledging the cameras (a mistake Roy constantly makes). However, several times they break through a second fourth wall, talking not only to the viewers of the sitcom-style live studio audience, but straight to the actual viewers of the real series.
- "Nobody will be watching 'Nobody's Watching'", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 6, 2007
- "Nobody's Watching picked up by NBC", TV Squad, July 21, 2006
- "Thanks to YouTube Fans, 'Nobody's Watching' May Return From the Dead", New York Times, July 3, 2006