Last month when I was in LA, I spent the day at the Disney Channel Building and then toured Hollywood Centre Studios. We watched clips from the new GAMER’S GUIDE TO PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING before visiting the set of the show to view a network run through of Episode 9, where we also interviewed cast members Cameron Boyce (“Conor”), Murray Wyatt Rundus (“Wendell”), Felix Avitia (“Franklin”), and Sophie Reynolds (“Ashley”).
GAMER’S GUIDE TO PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING is a fun new show. Cool and charismatic Conor gains notoriety as “KidFury,” a professional video game player, but he suffers a devastating thumb injury that forces him out of the glamorous professional gaming world. After years of being tutored on the international pro circuit, he begins high school for the first time and meets three fellow gamers—Franklin, Wendell, and Ashley. They team up to form the first-ever gaming league at their school, and together they learn that building lasting friendships in the real world is more important than accumulating high scores in the digital one.
On staff they have writers and they have two hardcore gamers who know that world like the back of their hands. There are games all over the second floor of theHollywood Centre Studios building, and there are big consoles in the writers' room, so what they write is right in front of them. And if they have questions, the go to the hardcore gamers and they supply the answers.
Storytelling is always about the characters, the connections, the interactions. The comedy and gaming is a big part of the world, but it's just the backdrop. It's really about the connection between the four characters.
On their characters and gaming
MURRAY: I've been gaming since I was 7 years old. Gaming has been a big part of my life. When I get home, gaming is all I do.
SOPHIE: I'm not so much a gamer, but my older brother is. So I play a few video games, but it's not really my thing.
CAMERON: Gaming's not really my thing, so there's only a couple I play. 2K is one I play, because I'm a big basketball fan. Madden sometimes during the football season. I'm mostly a sports video game guy. If I tried Call of Duty I'd have like 18 deaths and 3 kills.
FELIX: I'm a big gamer. I love to play games on console, console games, which is like PS3, PS4, XBOX. I love the advanced warfare like Call of Duty. I love the FPSs, which are first person shooters. I also love racing games and sports, too. I can pretty much play everything and anything.
MURRAY: I play Wendell on the show, and he's very, very full of himself. He is a very cocky character. He believes everyone around him doesn't know what's really going on, that he is really the mastermind of everything. He's very aggressive when he plays video games with the crew, and that really describes him.
SOPHIE: I play Ashley on the show. She's the girl. She hangs with the guys. And is not always the smartest with the books, but she's got a really good heart, and she's just a good friend, and she's a great gamer, super-smart gamer. That's her strength.
CAMERON: I play Conor. His backstory is that he was a professional gamer, and he did all these tours, and went to Tokyo and London and all these places doing all these professional tournaments basically. And in the midst of a tournament, he breaks his thumb, which is kind of what you need to game. It was very painful. Yeah, but since then I've healed. Conor has to basically be a regular kid now. He was homeschooled and other stuff to do his gaming, so his mom tells him, “Okay, well you're going to go to regular school.” So he’s like, “Okay, I don't really know how to be a regular kid,” so he goes, and he makes some friends, but he kind of tries to use them at first to get back on the tour where he thinks he belongs. Then eventually he realizes that he kind of likes having these guys around.
So instead of going on the solo gaming tour, he chooses to keep these guys around and go on the team tour with these guys.
FELIX: I play Franklin on the show. Franklin's very positive, very energetic. He wants to fit in. He's not the best gamer like these guys who grew up like that, but he really wants to be, he wants to fit in with people, and he wants to be a part of the group. So he's very smart, though. Outside of the gaming world, he's very smart. He knows common sense and knows he loves school and just being in that.
And, of course he's got a great sense of fashion, always wearing ties and shoes and pants and shirts, but he's just a good kid and he wants to make everybody as happy as they can be all the time. That's what I love about him.
CAMERON: This is our 9th episode, so we've been here for about 9 weeks. We work 5 days a week, so actually I'll start on Wednesday 'cause that's when we do our table read. It's kind of the beginning of when we shift our focus to a new episode. So we'll do table read on Wednesday. Our table reads are not table reads. We never sit. We're standing and kind of making up blocking as we go, and it's really crazy and high energy in there. And then, Thursday we have run through. Friday we have run through. We have a weekend, and then Monday, Tuesday we come in and shoot. I'm still getting used to it. I'm used to Monday to Friday.
FELIX: Don't forget that we have the script changes four times every episode, so we have to keep learning it.
Showrunner Jim O'Doherty: It's just, yeah, things change. Jokes will fall flat or storylines that have to be shored up or something, so that's, that's a good point. You know, they're, they're, um, they're kind of new. The, you know, Cameron has been on TV for a while, but the rest of the cast is amazing and there's always just so much respect from the writers because they are so new and fresh and young and not a lot of experience, and you give them these scripts and then the next day there'll be asterisks on the side where things always change. And they're on top of their lines. They're on top of who they are and what they're supposed to be doing.
I've been doing this 20 years or something and these guys are as good as it gets. It’s really a lot of respect, and we're all really proud to be working and have this family, this team that we have, you know. You come to work and all of what we have is based on respect for each other, and it's respect, it's based on treating each other with a real decency and appreciation.
CAMERON: And that shows up on screen too. You can tell the cohesiveness we have, we share as a group. You can tell in the results really. That's it.
On Gamer's Guide vs Jessie
CAMERON: There are a lot of differences. To start, like I was telling her, the schedule is the biggest adjustment I've had to make, going from Monday to Friday, and then having a weekend and then focusing on a different episode. Now we're kind of thrown into the fire. On Tuesday, we stop shooting and then on Wednesday we have a whole, totally new script. So that's different, but I'm adjusting, and it's cool because the people on Jessie were really cool people, and when I heard about this, I was really excited about it, but I was thinking, “Wow, I'm really going to miss those really great people on Jessie.”
And then I come here, and they're just as great if not better. I mean, we have such a tight group, and it's been 9 weeks. So it's really weird to kind of go from a family to another family, but instantly feel like family at your second family, if that makes sense. No, no, I love them, but it's been great. The transition has been really smooth and these guys make us all feel like we're at home here, and we all feel it.
Watching a Network Run Through
If you've ever been on a working TV set, you know it can be chaotic and fun. You also know that you need to be quieter than mice at times and laugh or clap at others. We got to watch the run through of Episode 9 after we interviewed the four main cast members. It was fun watching these kids work. It's clear they love what they do, and they are good at it. We started in Conor's basement and followed the group's adventure through the Halloween episode (sorry, no spoilers from me!). We walked around the working set, in the restaurant, the game store, the Riverwalk, the woods, the high school, and more.
GAMER’S GUIDE TO PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING premieres Wednesday, July 22nd, at 9:30 PM ET/PT on Disney XD.
I've been invited to LA courtesy of Disney for a media event. All opinions are my own.