There’s charm to a simple TV series title: “Friends.” “Cheers.” “The Office.”
Then there’s acronym-happy shows such as “NCIS: LA,” “CSI: NY” and “Law & Order: SVU.” So show creator and star Paul Scheer happily created a spoof on those crime shows for Atlanta-based Adult Swim last year dubbed “NTSF: SD: SUV.”
That’s “National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle,” in case you were wondering.
“Most people I talk to just say a bunch of consonants,” said Scheer, promoting the sophomore season, which begins tonight at 12:15 a.m. after “Childrens Hospital.” “If you hit random consonants, you might get 80 percent of the title right. I think it’s a funny title. Obviously, I talk about the title a lot. But it angers people because it’s so hard to remember. But that’s the best thing about it. By thinking, ‘Wait! What’s the name of that show?’ you’re actually thinking about the show.”
Scheer is a true marketing mentalist, eh?
His sunglass-loving character, Trent Hauser, is a blend of Jack Bauer of “24″ and David Caruso’s Horatio Craine on “CSI: Miami.” Sadly, Caruso’s show was canceled on CBS after ten seasons this past spring.
“I heard David Caruso was scared after he saw my season,” Scheer said. “He figured he can’t keep up with me.”
Besides, “NTSF:SD:SUV” is over in a mere 15 minutes vs. an hour for “CSI:Miami.” “We get more done per minute than he ever does.”
Scheer, who also stars in FX’s “The League,” loves the 15-minute format. “You never outstay your welcome,” he said.
Since it’s the second season, he said each cast member will get more airtime and more story lines. This includes June Diane Raphael (Piper), Brandon Johnson (Raphael) and Kate Mulgrew (Kove).
And there are guest stars, of course: Aziz Ansari (”Parks & Recreation”), Ray Liotta (”Goodfellas”), Alison Brie (”Mad Men”), Aubrey Plaza (”Parks & Recreation”), Bill Hader (”Saturday NIght Live”), Stacy Kiebler (WWE), Ed Helms (”The Office), Ellie Kemper (”The Office”), Steven Yeun (”The Walking Dead”) and the incomparable Hal Linden (”Barney Miller”).
Plot lines include Robot Sam is implicated in a murder, Piper gets married to an ex-ninja, and homages to “Chinatown,” “Kill Bill” and “21 Jump Street.”
The budgets aren’t large on Adult Swim. So instead of a car chase, they do a chase in virtual reality. During the robot episode, they wanted to create an entire town of robots. “But we couldn’t afford more than one robot,” he said. “So we bought a bunch of ‘Iron Men’ kids’ masks and painted them white to create more robots.”
And like others constrained with tiny budgets, Scheer looks on the bright side: “It allows you to be more creative and do things you wouldn’t often think about. And you get funnier results. I think if folks are always saying yes to you and accommodating your every whim, things turn out pretty badly.”
The best compliment he got was on the set of “CSI.” People there told him they liked the show and felt it looked as good as their show. “That was nice to hear,’ he said.
One disappointment so far for Scheer: no sunglasses sponsor. “I have one pair and a few backups in case they break. I’m protective of my sunglasses. This season, I am tortured by someone who breaks my sunglasses. That’s truly torture for my character.” Torture is very much not bloody on this show. “We torture somebody by deleting their iTunes library,” he said. “We take an OCD person and rearrange his table.”
As for Rob Corddry, creator of “Childrens Hospital,” which airs right before Scheer’s show, “we have a bond. A bald man’s bond. He and I have been friends forever because of Upright Citizens Brigade [the improv group.] My show has a voice. His show has a voice. They’re sister shows without feeling like the same show.”
I asked about a cross-over episode between the two. “We have been talking about it,” he said. “it’s be fun but it would take a little planning. My dream is to have Richard Belzer involved. He’s in every cop show.”
“NTSF SD SVU”
12:15 a.m., Thursday nights, Adult Swim
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk