Spoilers for The Kominsky Method Season 3 premiere -- “Chapter 17. In all the old familiar places” -- lie ahead.
The Kominsky Method recently debuted its humorous and heartfelt final season, and it's ultimately a worthy send-off for the Chuck Lorre-produced show. The final six episodes are filled with memorable moments for Michael Douglas’ Sandy Kominsky and those in his orbit. But of course, the season starts out on a somewhat grim but hilarious note with the funeral of Sandy’s best friend, Norman Newlander, who was played by Alan Arkin in the first two seasons. While the sequence is played out well, it turns out Douglas was actually “nervous” about this aspect of the Netflix Season 3 premiere.
Alan Arkin’s Norman Newlander was an important part of the show, so it was only fitting that he got a proper farewell. But the funeral didn't go all that smoothly, as some of the speakers made some remarks that were “less than appropriate” for the occasion. When I recently spoke with Michael Douglas about Season 3 of The Kominsky Method, he revealed that he had reservations about the funeral scene and recalled talking it out with Chuck Lorre:
Well, this last season, with the funeral of Alan [Arkin’s Norman], I was a little nervous, to say the least. When Chuck Lorre said, ‘Yeah yeah, we’re going to begin the first season with Alan’s funeral,” I said, ‘Geez, are you sure you want to do that? I mean this is a comedy.’ He said, ‘I know, I know.’ And god bless Chuck Lorre, he’s just so talented, and Alan’s funeral was hilarious, such great stuff.
During the scene, several of Norman’s loved ones provide some honest thoughts that border on sincere and inappropriate. Norman’s ex-Scientologist grandson Robby refers to his remains as a “meat body,” while his girlfriend Madelyn goes into intense detail when discussing how the two of them got intimate. So all, this sounds pretty on-brand for a funeral written by Chuck Lorre.
This sort of funeral scene wasn’t exactly something Michael Douglas was accustomed to, especially for a comedy but, ultimately, the actor seems to have enjoyed it. The scene had plenty of laughs, yet it also had its share of heart, which was particularly evident in Sandy’s speech. In our interview, he went on to praise Chuck Lorre’s handling of the sequence:
And I guess that’s sort of when you’re as talented and had all the success that Chuck Lorre’s had, I guess you take chances, and you want to take chances. But what a wonderful way to sum up [Norman’s] life and his character with a funeral, hearing from people he worked with, people he was intimate with, more information than you wanted to know. It worked out well, and I was happy when I saw the dailies from that sequence. I was very happy that we accomplished it and that it was over with.
Shooting the scene had to be somewhat bittersweet for the cast, as it marked their goodbye to Norman. The character’s untimely death likely came as a surprise to fans but, with Alan Arkin opting not to return for Season 3, having the character pass on made sense.
Even though Norman Newlander was missed during the final season of The Kominsky Method, it was nice to see the show pay tribute to the character (and by extension Alan Arkin). And if you’ve seen the season, you know that Norman still has an impact on one of the season’s biggest developments.