If you think you’ve seen James unleash the Beek on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, the upcoming season will make you howl as it proves you wrong.
James Van Der Beek‘s character’s self-absorption reaches a new saturation point in Season 2’s very first episode – airing Tuesday at 9:30/8:30c – when the former Dawson’s Creek star attempts to reunite his old WB castmates.
“We came up with a really fun, unexpected way to tell this story in terms of James’ character playing sort of a heightened version of himself on the show,” creator Nahnatchka Kahn tells TVLine. “So we have [Cougar Town‘s] Busy Phillips as herself, but we also have [Saved by the Bell‘s] Mark-Paul Gosselaar as himself and [Malcolm in the Middle‘s] Frankie Muniz as himself.”
If you can’t remember when Gosselaar and Muniz visited the Creek, it’s because they didn’t. As you might’ve guessed, James’ reunion “doesn’t exactly work out the way he’s planned, and we have a lot of surprises along the way,” she adds.
Read on to hear what Kahn and executive producer David Hemingson have to say about James and Apartment 23 roomies Chloe and June in the episodes ahead. (Hint: You may want to invest in some scoring paddles, because Dancing With the Stars figures prominently.)
TVLINE | Is there any time jump between where we left off and where Season 2 picks up?
NAHNATCHKA KAHN | No, not really. Because honestly, we produced 13 episodes for Season 1, but because we premiered so late, we only aired seven. So we still have six left from Season 1. So we’re breaking the premiere episode and a couple holiday episodes that we’re going to slide into the timeline of Season 1, basically.
TVLINE | That means that the Dancing With the Stars storyline is still in the works.
DAVID HEMINGSON | Alive and well.
KAHN | Exactly. We’re going to play that out. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
TVLINE | Can you tease anything about that?
KAHN | I can say that Dean Cain remains his nemesis on the season of Dancing With the Stars.
HEMINGSON | James is a fantastic dancer.
KAHN | James is a great dancer. He actually makes it off the premiere of Dancing With the Stars, our version on our show.
TVLINE | Will we see Dean multiple times during the season?
KAHN | Yeah. We have a couple more spots for Dean. He’ll be there for a couple more episodes.
TVLINE | Do you have any other guest stars who are part of the Dancing With the Stars storyline?
KAHN | We were excited we got [DWTS pro] Karina Smirnoff to guest star on the premiere. James wants her as his partner –
HEMINGSON | And him and Dean are sort of fighting over her. So we’re excited to have her on the show.
TVLINE | We know June gets a new job. She runs up against Fox Paris, played by Angelique Cabral. All we know about Fox is she’s pretty, she’s a junior analyst and she’s a schemer. What more can you tell me?
KAHN | We thought it was funny: June finally gets this big job and she’s so excited, that’s what she moved to New York for and she lost the job the first day she was there, so she’s kind of back to square one. She’s thrilled. She’s telling Chloe about everybody at her office including this great girl Fox Paris and Chloe’s like, ‘Uh-huh. Uh-huh. She’s your nemesis.’ And [June’s] like, ‘What are you talking about?’ [Chloe’s] like, ‘She’s your nemesis, trust me’. [June’s] like, ‘She couldn’t be nicer!’ Basically, we’re playing the Hannibal Lecter thing with Chloe and this girl, where Chloe’s like, ‘I know exactly why because if I was her, you would be my nemesis.’ She’s telling June what this girl is going to do before she does it, sort of like [Silence of the Lambs‘] Hannibal Lecter in the mind of Jame Gumb or whatever. [Chloe] can predict what she’s gonna do.
TVLINE | Are there any other new characters you’re bringing on in the season ahead?
KAHN | We’re going to introduce a love interest for Chloe that she meets on Halloween… It’s kind of like the first time she sees a guy as more than a sex object. This is somebody we’d want to bring back a couple of times for her.
HEMINGSON | He’s challenging and capable and able to match her.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about Chloe. What kinds of things are we going to learn about her this season?
KAHN | We’re going to see her family again. We’re going to learn a little bit more about her family dynamic, what we set up in Season 1 with her dad and her mom.
TVLINE | It would be really easy to push Chloe into being too mean – or too nice. How do you maintain her edge but keep her likable? How do you keep the relationship between June and Chloe what it is without turning it into something too sappy… or terrible?
KAHN | It’s a two-fold thing. Tonally, it’s tricky. It’s tough for people to get right away. You err more towards way too mean or too sappy. There’s a very fine line in striking the funny tone of that. There’s a difference between a party girl and a whore. There really is, you know? And a lot of people don’t really understand the distinction. But it’s very definite, in my mind at least. And then you add on top of that Krysten Ritter, who’s just such an amazing actress, and she can just pull it off.
HEMINGSON | She just conveys so much. She dimensionalizes and deepens this character.
KAHN | You talk about likable? It’s because of her. She somehow smiles and delivers a line, and you love her.
HEMINGSON | She’s got such good timing.
TVLINE | Let’s hit James now. Aside from his Dancing debut and making it past the first episode, what’s up for him?
KAHN: [Laughs] The guy that Chloe meets, that she winds up liking who’s her sort of match, has directed James in this movie called Love Monster which is the first movie about man-puppet love. And it’s basically a giant, 9-foot-tall muppet… and James. So we’re dealing with his promotion of Love Monster and trying to get the word out about his latest project.
TVLINE | I’m sorry, let me make sure I have this absolutely clear: A 9-foot-tall muppet?
KAHN | [Laughs] You know that muppet [from] The Muppet Movie, the one that runs? They have those full-body puppets? It’s one of those, but it’s a girl. It’s a girl muppet. It’s a romantic comedy. The poster is that muppet carrying James, bride-style.
TVLINE | Do you have any other celebrities playing themselves in the coming season?
KAHN | Those three in the opener, they’re playing themselves. That’s all we’ve done right now, but we’re figuring out a couple more things. We’re also working with People magazine with James in conjunction with their Sexiest Man Alive issue. I guess they’re fans of the show and they were like we would love to do something with James and Sexiest Man Alive. We broke a really funny story where he can’t figure out why he’s never in the mix every year to be on the cover. And June, who’s been a fan, has every issue saved in a binder in her room that she calls the Sexiest Binder Alive, she just casually says, ‘Well, it’s because you’re not sexy.’ He says, ‘What?’ She says, ‘No, you’re handsome, obviously. And parts of you are sexy — like your legs are sexy, your face is sexy, your arms are sexy. But you put it all together and it’s like, nah...‘ We’re excited to shoot that one. Hopefully we’ll have a couple of cameos in that episode.
TVLINE | Now that you have Ray Ford as a regular, we’ll see more Luther in this season?
KAHN | Yeah, definitely more Luther. He’s just such a great actor and he’s so natural and he fits so well with the rest of the crew. We’re definitely featuring him more. Him and James are just hilarious together.
TVLINE | Is he going to be sticking to his assistant role? Will we see his dreams and aspirations?
KAHN | I think he definitely has dreams and aspirations. I think he’s going to be more in an assistant [role] out of the gate, but we’ve already set up the fact that he writes plays… I think we’d love to get a reading of his play done, put it up somewhere, a little black box theater.
TVLINE | Any holiday episodes, aside from Halloween?
KAHN | When we see more of Chloe’s family, that’s the Thanksgiving episode that we’ve broken.
TVLINE | Want to tease anything else?
KAHN | James has sort of a latin tango-y number he’s learned. He’s an amazing dancer, by the way.
HEMINGSON | His pants are very tight.
KAHN | Extremely tight pants — and a sheer shirt.