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It's always a joy when you get a chance to see an actor show up with a starring gig on a sitcom after said actor hasn't done much work in the field for many years. Such is the case with Steven Weber and his new sitcom, Indebted. The actor, who's still well-known from his time on the long-running NBC sitcom Wings, is returning to TV comedy with a leading role for the first time in many years. And, he's got some thoughts about how his new part on Indebted compares to Wings' Brian Hackett and what it's like to come back to sitcoms after such a long time.
Indebted sees Steven Weber take on the role of Stew, a man who, along with his wife Debbie (Fran Drescher, The Nanny) lose all of their money and show up completely unannounced to the home of their adult son, Dave (Adam Pally, Happy Endings), and his wife Rebecca (Abby Elliott, Saturday Night Live). Even though the young couple has spent a few years in the new parent game of dirty diapers and sleepless nights, and are finally looking forward to reclaiming some of their non-baby centered enjoyment, they now have to deal with Dave's boundary-free parents and the question of who is now parenting whom.
According to Steven Weber, fans will probably be able to spot some similarities, as well as some noticeable differences, between Stew and the glib, womanizing character he portrayed on Wings from 1990-1997. CinemaBlend's own Nick Venable had the chance to speak with him recently, and Weber said this about how the two characters do, and don't, line up.
It's not [the stereotypical sitcom dad]. I can see that they have qualities in common, that they both are pleasure-seekers. One was a little more profligate than the other. Brian was, yeah, the amusing kind of womanizer and all that stuff. A skirt chaser. But the character of Stew is not like that. He's desperately in love with his wife, been married a long time. And he probably went through some interesting phases and challenges with her that they were both able to weather. But yeah, he's a fun, free-wheeling dude that Brian would have loved to have hung out with and emulated. That's one reason that it's so much fun to play this character. It's so attractive, especially after having played such reprehensible, repulsive guys so often in the last 15 years.
Steven Weber has, certainly, made quite a name for himself in recent years by playing a number of not so great dudes (I'm looking at you iZombie's Vaughn Du Clark), so it does make a lot of sense that he'd want to lighten the potential emotional load of portraying creeps, villains and ruthless business tycoons for a bit and get back to some good, old fashioned comedy. And, going back to the headspace of someone who is roughly as fun-loving and carefree as Brian Hackett seems like a solid move.
Speaking of working on a good, old fashioned comedy again, because Steven Weber has spent so much time recently playing bad guys, it means he hasn't really had long stretches of work on sitcoms. But, if you're thinking that being back on a multiple-camera sitcom has been rough for Weber, you'd be wrong. When asked if he's enjoying being back in front of a sitcom audience, Weber responded:
Yeah. It's fun. I mean, it's kind of the gold standard of TV gigs to be on a four-camera sitcom. The schedule is good, the pay is good, and the environment is good, too. Everybody's grateful to be there. Nobody's forced to work on a soundstage in this industry. And fortunately, it's a show that I find genuinely funny. The people are genuinely loving and kind and grateful, so it's really been a great experience, without exaggeration. So I'm happy to be doing that. Not that I have ever really been unhappy doing my other jobs, but it's just such a fun show to be on. . . . I mean, look, there's, there are fewer and fewer sitcoms. They're kind of the old school variety and I'm happy to have landed this one.
Take notes, everyone. Not only is Steven Weber having fun with his starring gig on a new, four-camera sitcom, but, apparently, it's the place to be if you want to work in scripted television. It's also very lucky that Weber sounds like he genuinely enjoys working with Fran Drescher, Adam Pally, Abby Elliott and the rest of the cast and crew, and that he finds Indebted truly funny when he reads over the scripts each week.
Weber's castmates on Indebted have some solid sitcom / comedy pedigrees of their own, and, as could be expected, he says that that's been a boon for the show. When asked what the advantages of all that well-honed comedy timing were, Weber said:
It's invaluable. Everybody is funny and can improvise. Even the people that hadn't really done it. Like, I want to say Jesse Hodges had not really done a sitcom, and Adam Pally hadn't really done it for any length of time, if at all. And Abby, of course, was on SNL and her comedy pedigree is insane; it's glorious. Because they are such gifted performers, it's something that they were able to get right away, and enjoy, and figure out. Because there's a learning curve, and even though I did it for years on Wings, I hadn't done it in quite some time, and there's a lot to get used to again. Again, it's such a unique format, that it's kind of thrilling.
I mean, there's just nothing not to love about this, right? Everyone loves working on Indebted, and Steven Weber and the rest of the cast all have the kind of funny-people knowledge that makes everything snap into place when they hit the set and begin working together in front of that live audience and all those cameras. Sounds like exactly the kind of thing comedy lovers should be sure to tune in for.