Art imitates life in ‘Save the Supers’

By Sabrina Otero
Times-News correspondent
teens20@thetimesnews.com

   What would you do if you were a superhero struggling to make ends meet amidst lay-offs and budget cuts?
Most recognized for his work on “The Legend of Neil” and “The Guild,” Sandeep Parikh, is a renowned Internet sensation, but most recently there’s been a lot of buzz on the “interwebs” concerning his latest project “Save the Supers,” which aims to answer that very question.
Teens & Twenties: Sandeep, how heavily involved are you in “Save the Supers,” and how is it different from your previous works? Also, how might it appeal to fans of “The Guild” and “Legend of Neil”?
Parikh: I don’t think I could be more heavily involved in “Save the Supers” than if I literally plugged the camera into my brain for extra hard drive space. I co-wrote it, directed it and acted in it. It was really challenging, but extremely gratifying.
   Also, I had to wear spandex for eight days straight, so any sense of shame I had went right out the window. It’s hard to be a commanding presence on set when you’re so … exposed. Anyway, if you love shows like “The Guild” and “Legend of Neil,” this one is definitely for you. It probably lies somewhere in between the two projects in terms of crassness, like a PG-13 for language and sexy cat costumes. But I’d say that this is easily my best work in terms of writing and acting. Directing, “Neil” still takes the cake because “Supers” is much more of mock-doc so it’s tougher to really put the wow-factor in.
Teens & Twenties: Many of the episodes seem almost like a hilarious behind-the-scenes version of The Justice League of America (JLA) (if these characters were real, flawed and in the flesh). What aspects of the original JLA did you hope to parody, and what inspired you?
Parikh: JLA is definitely the basis for the show. It’s very much a canvas we’re working off of. Each of the main characters maps to a JLA character, but the goal is to supersede the parody status, by twisting the personalities a bit and making them their own. The essential question I asked myself when developing the characters was, “What’s the realistic ramification of having their powers that we’ve never seen before?” World Man makes everyone redundant, so we map him to the office fratboy — essential because of his powers, but completely unruly and self serving.
Night Knight has no powers except his smarts and his sheer will to destroy all crime at all costs, so he’s the office weirdo with a singular goal that walks a fine line between good and evil. Elementra is immortal; therefore, she’s become completely jaded, and so on. The storyline follows the basic premise of what would happen if the Super Force was struggling in this crappy economy like everyone else.
Their budgets are slashed and they have to make ends meet. How would that play out? Each episode also weaves in essential superhero questions: Who’s faster — World Man or Fleet Foot? Have Elementra and World Man ever hooked up? What happens when Morphing hero becomes an alcoholic because they messed up a mission? (Answer: He becomes a puking lamp).
Teens & Twenties: Having watched a few episodes, I loved the casual banter between the characters. It’s so natural that it seems almost improvised. Are cast members permitted/encouraged to ad lib?
Parikh:
Yes, everyone is encouraged to improvise. Improvisational comedy is my background and the foundation to all of my … well, everything. I improvise with the characters while writing with my co-writers Ben Benjamin and Josie Kavadoy. I improvise while directing and of course while acting. I like to think of a script as the blueprint, the basic foundation with which to build the show and then the improv is all the little dressings that provide uniqueness and flow. It’s a really nice marriage between what is entirely scripted and what is improvised.
Teens & Twenties: Your character Merman is a great shout-out to Aquaman, a comic book character who readers often feel got the short end of the stick as far as superpowers go. What made you decide to take on his mantle personally and place him in a leadership role?
Parikh: Let’s apply the formula to number two to come up with the answer to this question. What are Merman’s powers and what are the realistic implications of having those powers? So, with Merman, we have an aquatic hero with relatively useless powers except for highly specific situations — a theme that is pretty common for Aquaman.
But there has to be a real reason for him to stick around, so why not have him be so committed to the team that he’s willing to do all the paperwork, accounting, all the frustrating management work that allows for this team to exist; therefore, let’s push him to the leader of the team by default because no else really wanted to. For me, as a writer, this disparity between strength of powers and commitment to the team allows for so much comedy, but also a ton of heart, which is when you know you’ve developed a pretty good character.
Teens & Twenties: Felicia Day, your fellow Guildie, makes an appearance in the third installment: Can we expect any more Knights of Good to drop by?
Parikh: Not in this season; however, in future seasons, I expect you’ll see many more. I do love me some Guildies. They truly are great friends, but I don’t like to shoehorn actors into my shows. For the most part, we write the best characters we can write and then think of casting.
Teens & Twenties: Word is there will be a season six for “The Guild.” Will we be seeing more of the take-charge Zaboo we saw last season, and how great was it to film a scene with the original Morpheus and master of all things Sandman himself: Neil Gaiman?
Parikh: Check it out on Geek & Sundry on YouTube, Felicia’s new channel. Zaboo has a great arc in this one, that I would say is more of a throwback to his more obsessive days. He really sets his sights on finding true love and his object of affection is extremely weird and awesome. Kudos to Felicia for finding a unique twist on “Zabs” — I think everyone’s going to love his storyline. [Neil Gaiman] was incredibly nice, game for everything, and actually did a bunch of improv. He’s a very gentle guy, kind of the opposite of someone you’d think would write the kind of wonderfully dark and twisted stories. But isn’t it always that way?
Teens & Twenties: Any exclusive spoilers you wish to share? We’ll even bribe you with blue-dyed flowers from the Garden of Lake Lanton.
Parikh: No spoilers, unless I’m feeling suicidal and desire Death by Day. Trust me, I don’t know how I want to exit this world but I don’t want Felicia to have anything to do with it. Her red rage … whew, I shudder even thinking about it.
Check out episodes of “Save the Supers” here: www.mydamnchannel.com. You can also catch Sandeep Parikh as Zaboo in “The Guild” by visiting www.youtube.com/user/geekandsundry.

 Sabrina Otero is a home-schooled sophomore and Teens and Twenties writer.

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