"Working" will feature several new cast members when it returns for its second season Sept. 22, but one thing fans can count on continuing--besides Fred Savage--is the clever commercial spoofs that have become one of the series' defining elements.
About 12 minutes into each episode, the show cuts away to a fake commercial "brought to you by Upton/Webber," the mysterious conglomerate for which Savage's character works. During the first season, these commercials skewered issues such as pollution, equal employment opportunity, strikes, cloning and toxins.
The commercial satires are the brainchild of the show's executive producers and creators, Michael Davidoff and Bill Rosenthal.
"We just wanted to play with what's out there in corporate America as much as possible," Davidoff says. "The original idea was that the commercials would be completely seamless. You wouldn't know if it was a commercial or not."
NBC's sales department, however, was not thrilled with that prospect. "They said, 'We won't even air this episode with this commercial in it because it is completely seamless,' " Rosenthal reports. "They were afraid the audience wasn't going to know what was real and what wasn't. What they asked us to do and what they essentially made us do was put a little laugh at the end of them, which we would rather not have done, but we did."
Davidoff, Rosenthal and their staff of writers come up with the ideas for the commercials, which are filmed in the serious, overly tasteful style of most corporate spots.
"They are pretty tough to come up with," Rosenthal says. "Our entire staff works on them. It's one of those things that everybody is constantly doing. Of the 20 we settled on, there were probably 200 ideas."
And corporate America's response? "We are hoping to get complaints, but unfortunately it hasn't happened yet," Rosenthal says, laughing.