Series TV is often considered a writers’ medium, but it’s not so often that TV viewers actually see writers in the spotlight. “The Writers’ Room,” a breezy new weekly chat show on the Sundance Channel, attempts to change that by offering a glimpse behind-the-scenes of six successful and critically-acclaimed series: “Breaking Bad,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Dexter,” “New Girl,” “Game of Thrones” and “American Horror Story.”
Hosted by “Community” star Jim Rash (a writer himself not only for “Community” but also the Oscar-winning feature “The Descendants” and current indie hit “The Way, Way Back”), “Writers’ Room” focuses on a different series each week to offer casual and lively discussions of the featured show’s origins, approach to storytelling and insider-y tidbits. Each episode (running about 22 episodes sans commercials) is essentially a glorified DVD box set extra, but fun and informative enough to appeal to anyone interested in the increasingly respected field of TV writing.
Rash makes for an amusing and well-informed host who keeps the discussions relaxed and consistently on the right track with a mix of smart and playful questions. He’s equally at ease asking about modulating a monster like “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White or deciding when exactly “New Girl” roomies Nick and Jess should kiss, as he is bantering with Amy Poehler and the “Parks” team about gay penguins.
If anything the episodes go by too quickly, feeling like they’ve just scratched the surface of each subject. There’s a clear objective here to make “Writers’ Room” accessible to as many viewers as possible — although spoilers, especially in the “Breaking Bad” installment, do crop up — when the reality is the show will likely draw a core audience of dedicated fans and TV nerds happy to dig a little deeper.
Still, it’s intriguing to see a network like Sundance take on a project like this and recognize that scripted TV — and the process of creating it — deserves the attention.