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November 26, 2014

Adventures in Extra-ing on the Set of Fox's 'Good Guys'

by Danny Gallagher, posted May 19th 2010 5:06PM
TVSquad's Danny Gallagher with Fox 4 Weather Report Fiona Gorostiza on the set of Fox's 'The Good Guys'That dumpy guy in the middle with the tasteful sportscoat and tussled hair that screams "I stopped caring long ago" may just look like a random shot of John Q. Public walking down a busy Dallas thoroughfare.

Actually, that's me, Danny Gallagher, your humble TV Squad blogger and believe it or not, I'm acting.

During my recent visit to the set of Fox's 'The Good Guys' in downtown Dallas, FOX didn't just give me and my fellow gaggle of media types a chance to get chummy with the stars of the show. This was far from a friendly get together or a chance to score some free grub from the craft services table. This was hard work. We were cast as extras.

And believe me when I use the phrase "hard work." It's not meant to be hyperbole or exaggeration for comedic effect. It's just that. It's long, tireless, difficult work whether it's for a primetime TV show or a low budget student film. It might just look like random people walking past the camera but four seconds of screen time is equivalent to three gallons of blood, sweat and tears, four if principal shooting takes place in the middle of the Texas summer and catering didn't bring enough Diet Coke.

The crew started our day at the crack of dawn, an ungodly time for us bloggers who consider getting up before noon akin to waking up to 'Reveille,' and brought us over to general casting and wardrobe. Just out of the wardrobe director's reach stood a rack of police uniforms. I was looking forward to just the experience of being on a live set and maybe even getting a few seconds of TV time, but I really wanted to play a cop. I mean I REALLY wanted to be a cop. I would have been willing to take a Taser to the face during the audition process to prove my commitment to the core of the character.

During breakfast, the set director takes us through the scene we are shooting and has a couple of us read the blocking of the show's main characters -- Det. Dan Stark, played by Bradley Whitford, and Det. Jack Bailey, played by Colin Hanks. Following a quick table read, we were whisked away to the set.

TVSquad's Danny Gallagher posing in front of Dan Stark's awesome Trans Am on the set of 'The Good Guys'The scene took place in front of a downtown savings and loan building and we were ordered to walk back and forth behind the main scene from various angles. Some were paired off as couples and given motivations for reactions. For my first shot, I was brought to the opposite end of the street and told to just walk behind Stark's iconic Trans Am as I look at my cell phone.

The main challenge is to pretend that we're not noticing the main action on the other side of the block and that's hard to do when you're recognizing famous faces left and right. Mr. Whitford and Hanks were just a few feet away, but they are joined by a familiar looking, bald headed gentleman. He turns to face me and I immediately recognize his smiling mug. It's Dan Castellanetta, also known as the voice of Homer F#*$in' Simpson.

I'm not easily star struck, but if it's someone who's work I admire, I immediately turn into "Drooling Girly Fan Boy," my Mr. Hyde. I am an unabashed 'Simpsons' fan and Castellanetta is someone I admire for reasons other than the fact that he breathes life into the world's most famous yellow-skinned father.

Unfortunately, I didn't spot him downing a quick drink in between flights at an airport bar or strolling down Sunset Boulevard in between recording sessions. The urge to thrust out my clammy hand and introduce myself feels like I'm resisting the whims of a great, godless, geek-out magnet. This is a hot TV set and I'm supposed to act like a professional. Obviously, no one in the crew knows what I do for a living.

Pretty soon, the cameras start rolling and we're ordered back and forth across the street for take after take. The takes only last a few seconds, but pretty soon, minutes become hours and feet turn into miles. We're not doing anything more complicated than walking, but the steps add up and by noon, we're a giant ball of hot and sweaty achiness.

I run inside a local eatery to grab a quick swallow of water and put my jacket away and when I return, several of my fellow press people have been whisked into a van. They return in full police uniforms and begin to haul away what appear to be bad guys fresh from a heist. Natalie Abrams from TV Guide was one of the lucky few who got to play cops and robbers, something she bragged about on her Twitter feed, which inspired me to quip back "Have fun (I hope you choke to death on your badge)." She hasn't returned any of my emails.

My dream of becoming a police officer without any actual authority or responsibility slowly crawled back into its grave like a melancholy zombie. The experience, however, wasn't a total loss. It gave me a better understanding of the challenge of putting together a show on such a complex and bustling stage. Hundreds of faces are involved in the process and each one of them have to fire on a specific spark at a precise moment in order for the whole process to work. It's much more complex than just telling some random schmo to walk down the street and pretend like he's not really part of the moment.

It's also quite humbling to know that your contribution, however small it may be, plays a role in a much larger, complex system to create something that so many of us take for granted.

So keep an eye out for me on a future episode of 'The Good Guys.' I'll be easy to spot. I'm the guy who is so not playing a #&*$^ing cop.

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Mediocre Guy

Awesome article! Love that show!

August 01 2010 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Edward

Here here!

With a number of movies, tv shows and commercials under my belt, doing work as an extra is fun!

May 19 2010 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Curtis Gibby

You must not be THAT much of a Simpsons fanboy if you don't know how to spell "Castellaneta".
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0144657/

May 19 2010 at 6:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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