FXX's Dicktown Season 2 premieres today and the writers/directors/stars/ of the hilarious animated series John Hodgman (The Tick, The Daily Show) and David Rees (Going Deep with David Rees, Codefellas) are here to "break some goddamn news today." Dicktown deals with the tenuous nerd/ jock balance between Jon Hunchman (Hodgman), the once-famous boy detective of Richardsville, North Carolina ("Dicktown," to the locals), now pushing 40 and still solving mysteries for teens; and David Purefoy, his former high school bully, who is now his unlikely (and only) friend/driver/hired muscle.
The two routinely have fights over the minutiae of obscure cultural references (such as who Mon-El is in the DC Universe)- usually with Purefoy not caring and Hunchman becoming angry that he doesn't care. Between chasing down stolen pimento cheese recipes and high school mascots gone rogue, John and David never stop trying to solve the biggest mystery: how to grow up. But when a menacing figure roars into their lives on a weird motorcycle car, they learn the past isn't done with them quite yet.
With "Scoops aplenty" the two "dicks" of Dicktown recently sat down for an extremely jocular chin wag with Bleeding Cool to discuss their collaborative writing process, inspirations for what was almost called "Wet Detectives," the guest stars we can expect this season, and why Hodgman "despises 'The Flintstones.'"
What is the inspiration for the two of you doing "Dicktown"? Is it a spinoff of "Codefellas"?
John Hodgman: In a sense, it is. David and I have known each other for 22 years. We hadn't collaborated until David and Bryan Spinks made an animated show for the web in conjunction with 'Wired' magazine called Codefellas. I'd always been wanting to get back to work with David on something, and FX reached out to us because they were developing this anthology show called Cake wondering if we had any animated ideas or ideas for a short-form animated show. David and I had already been talking about trying to do something in the Detective Show model, in the 1980s. Very glamorous and fun. Simon and Simon, Riptide, Heart to Heart style of show.
David Rees: Guys living by the water.
JH: Yeah, two guys living by the water solving glamorous mysteries.
DR: " Wet Detectives". That's what it should have been called,
JH: Yeah, it's only slightly less gross than Dicktown, as the title. The show is somewhat based on real-life in that I was always this introverted weirdo, lonely nerd, and only child. David, I hope I don't speak out of turn here, had been something of a bully in high school. Once we kind of walked into who our animated exaggerations of ourselves were going to be, it became clear that they shouldn't be cool, they should be sad. Hunchman should be an Encyclopedia Brown-style boy detective who's now grown up but is still stuck in the same hometown, still solving mysteries for teenagers. David's character, David Purefoy, would be his former, literal bully and arch-nemesis. The 'Bugs Meany' for those of you who get that reference. Now the two of them are just stuck together in this town trying to figure out what it means to be a grown-up, particularly among teenagers who are their clients who are better at being grown-ups than they are.
What is the writing process like? Is it just you two bantering back and forth, trying to make each other laugh?
DR: There are two stages. The first is that we come up with just ideas for episodes or mysteries. Those have to get approved by the network before we can actually open the final draft and write the scripts. (FX has to run it past their 'Mystery Approval Department') When it comes to actual scriptwriting, we choose the ones we feel strongest about. Whoever is a real champion of one idea will take the first pass and then just email it to the other, then they'll do a pass. We try to be in the same space when we're just starting the season, coming up with ideas and throwing out things that made an impression on us. When it comes to the writing, I'll do the first draft, you do the second draft and then let's try to fight for the things that we missed that the other guy cut or vice versa. I think the collaboration has been pretty smooth overall.
JH: I'm someone who had very, very little experience with collaboration before working this closely with David. The collaboration I learned was working on the scripts through The Daily Show, which is under a very sort of high-pressure, quick timeline. No favorite lines are tolerated if they're not pushing forward the joke. As an only child, I was nervous about collaborating. Working with David was very smooth and in this case, we were always going for the joke, but we always were protecting each other's stories and the stuff that each person wanted to explore a little bit more.
JL: The returning cast includes Griff Newman as Lance, Stephen Tobolowsky as Mr. Hunchman, and Jon Glaser as your lawyer Mark "Taggy" Tagliano. What other guest stars can we expect this season?
DR: Anna Akana comes back as Meg. She puts on a musical based on 70s splatter movies called 'I Sing on Your Grave'.
JH: With songs by Michael Penn and David Rees. Paul F. Tompkins and Janie Haddad Tompkins return as their characters Loafer Toeknuckle and Emma Bowers. Some of the new people are Paget Brewster, Amy Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Jamie Lee Curtis in a role that I shall not tease. Weird Al Yankovic does the vocals on our Dicktown theme song, in Episode One. That theme song, which we're going to release soon, is the video montage that opens the season. It is that kind of Simon and Simon, Riptide, 80s opening montage that John Hodgman and David Rees had always imagined for themselves. It's our ode to our original idea for the show that thankfully never got made, "Wet Detectives." In addition to all those great folks, we have returning as well Ronald Peet's Tucker and Becky Janice's Heather, but also Kristen Schaal, Jean Grae. And also, I'm very excited about this exciting new talent. Jean David Phantom. You haven't heard of him yet, but [he] really nails it as the voice of Pon Pon, the Belgian boy detective. Check it out.
In addition, Dicktown will also be welcoming special guest stars Jo Firestone, Tony Hall, Amy Sedaris, John Early, and Fortune Feimster. There is so much more in the full interview- Batman & Robin, 2XL, what the duo learned about working in animation from the first season, more of what to expect this season, Guest Stars for Season 2, favorite cartoons and cereals, and as promised, why Hodgman "despises The Flintstones." You are highly encouraged to enjoy below:
FXX's Dicktown, premiering Thursday, March 3 at 10 pm ET/PT, streaming on Hulu the following day, was created, written and directed by Hodgman and Rees, and is executive produced by Hodgman, Rees alongside FX's Archer executive producer Matt Thompson of Floyd County Productions.