Dark Aussie comedy reloads for intense new season
SCOTT Ryan is in a dark place, both figuratively and literally, when he answers the phone to talk season two of Mr Inbetween.
The creator and star of the hit Australian-American comedy series is in the editing room, putting the final touches on the new season just weeks before the global premiere.
"It's been pretty stressful to be honest with you. The time pressure is unbelievable, but we'll get there," he says. "We have more episodes, that's the big difference, and less time in regards to the writing."
The dark and dryly funny comedy series is Ryan's brainchild. He originally created the central character Ray Shoesmith, a criminal for hire juggling his work and personal lives, for his 2005 film The Magician. Ryan spent more than a decade trying to get a TV series off the ground - finally doing so with the help of director Nash Edgerton.
The series was met with critical acclaim - including AACTA and Logie awards - and has found a cult following in the US where it airs on the FX Network.
"You write something and it comes out and it's well received. Then it's like that first album syndrome of 'Geez what do I do now?' kind of thing. The thing is to stay away from going 'This is what I did in season one, so I'll do that again'," Ryan says.
"What I try to do is not go where people think I'm going to go. In TV there's a formula, but I don't really work like that. I sit down and try to come up with a bunch of good ideas."
In season two, Ray finds himself struggling to keep his work and personal lives from imploding. It's a dark new chapter for the anti-hero.
"Ray goes over the edge a bit in this season. He gets put under a lot more pressure and doesn't deal with it quite as well. You start to see the cracks and the flaws, and you start to understand why this guy is the way he is," he says.
"It's still the same show but it's a bit deeper and darker and more dramatic than season one. There were people in screenings who were crying, and I don't think that occurred in season one."
But there are moments of light and joy in Ray's life thanks to his daughter Brittany (Edgerton's daughter Chika Yasumura) and girlfriend Ally (Brooke Satchwell).
"I enjoy working with Chika so I wrote some more scenes for us. I wanted to see him more as a dad," Ryan says.
"Brittany's a bit older, a bit wiser, a bit smarter and she's starting to catch on to things, which is problematic.
"Ally and Ray's relationship definitely gets tested in season two.
"His world falls apart in a lot of ways. He really gets put to the test and we see what he's made of."
Season two of Mr Inbetween premieres tomorrow at 2pm, with an encore screening at 8pm, on Fox Showcase.