Editor’s note: The Fourth Wall is a platform for creators, actors, and industry insiders to bring the readers behind the scenes of the production process. In our latest installment, we removed the curtain on the writers’ room for the second season of Fox’s The Mick.
This part of the walkthrough looks at the fourth episode from The Mick’s second season with co-creator John Chernin. Previous installments can be found here
The Mick Season 2 Episode 4 – “The Haunted House”
“Mickey and Jimmy throw a Halloween party in their spooky, charred mansion but things get out of hand. Sabrina hopes to use the house party to cement her legacy, which her parents have tarnished, and Mickey teaches some pranksters a lesson.”
Written by Scott MacArthur; Directed by Matt Sohn
DEN OF GEEK: The show’s first season didn’t really do a lot of holiday episodes. Were you guys more focused on just establishing the show as its own thing first? Do you feel more comfortable embracing those familiar sorts of things now?
JOHN CHERNIN: I think in season one we just went into things with a lot of ideas that Dave and I had already talked about before even starting the writers’ room. We never stopped to consider, “We should do an episode for this holiday or that one.” I think when we started we already had 13 or 14 ideas that we were ready to go with. This year when we knew that we’d be premiering in the fall, we knew that we had to do a Halloween episode. We also thought that their burnt down house already looked haunted so that visual alone lent itself to doing a Halloween episode.
The characters in this show are obviously crazy about Halloween. Do you see some sort of Halloween rivalry or stunt episode becoming a tradition for the show?
Well, let’s see how people like this one first. I don’t know. I think it’s probably too early to tell, but those characters do certainly love Halloween.
Did Chip being anti-Halloween and the outsider of the group just make sense to you guys? What was the reasoning there?
I think we always try to find conflict in scenes so we wanted to pit someone against Mickey and Jimmy and Chip seemed like a natural fit. It feels like he would look down on a holiday that’s all about handouts. I think it’s just so funny to us how seriously this 14 year-old kid takes life. That he’s already decided that he’s over Halloween and that it’s meant for children. That’s something that just amused us.
Obviously all of the costumes in this episode are great, but did you guys consider anything different for any of these characters?
The only one that took a little while was Jimmy’s costume [a pile of garbage]. We went back and forth on a few ideas, but we were always pretty set on Alba as Fernando Valenzuela and Mickey as Randy Johnson. Do you know who Fernando Valenzuela is?
Not exactly, but I mean the episode makes it clear he’s some Major League Baseball pitcher…
Most of our writers didn’t even know. It’s just something that made John and I laugh. It’s really just for us. We’re pretty much Mickey in this episode where we’re just telling people, “It doesn’t matter! It’s going to be great!”
I love how over the top Mickey and Alba go here with their storyline. It really verges on being uncomfortable, especially since they’re up against children. Talk a little on their story here.
It seemed fun—I mean this episode went through so many different versions. We worked really hard on this, then re-broke the story, then threw it in the trash a ton of times. Scott MacArthur did a really wonderful job with this script. Scott, who plays Jimmy, wrote this one. With the Mickey storyline is just seemed fun to see her become what she hated. It started with the security guard and how she was so down on this guy and everything that they stood for, but then becoming that guy.
You mentioned Scott MacArthur writing this episode. Is there more interest from the cast to attempt writing or directing here?
Scott was actually hired as a writer before he became to be Jimmy. It sort of snuck up on us on accident. We hired him. It was his first writing job back in season one, but he had such a funny sample script and he’s such a hilarious guy. We were having a hell of time casting Jimmy so we had Scott give it a shot and he basically is Jimmy, so it worked out.
This episode definitely has one of my favorite Sabrina storylines. Her breakdowns are so well done and she acts so much like Mickey that it’s crazy. Did you want to invite that comparison between how similar these two are and Sabrina’s odds of turning into Mickey?
I think that’s something that we’ve always known, even before we shot the pilot, that Sabrina and Mickey are extremely alike in many ways. Although they’d never admit it. So we’ve always seen that and it comes to the surface a lot more in this episode. Sofia Black-D’Elia is so awesome in this episode. She’s always a great actress, but she really gets a chance to show what she’s capable of in this one.
Her screaming at the end is just so wonderful! And that leads into how that Carrie-esque conclusion is also one of my favorite things that you guys have done. Talk a little on building to that visual and what’s going on with Sabrina there.
That was what really excited us about this episode. We wanted to have some sort of supernatural element to things, but also not to break the rules of this universe. So we found the connection that all of Jimmy’s effects could go off at the same time and that to an outsider that may look like Sabrina did all of that with her mind. That’s when the episode really started to click for us.
Our walkthrough of The Mick’s second season will continue next week.