Better Late Than Never: An Interview with Henry Winkler, William Shatner and Jeff Dye
Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC
What happens when you take the Fonz, Captain Kirk, NFL’s Blonde Bomber and heavyweight champion Big George and drop them in the middle of the most populous city in the world? Hilarity. Seriously. We have watched a lot, and we mean A LOT, of TV in our days but we have never laughed out loud so much as we did when watching the first episode of Better Late Than Never.
On NBC’s new alternative comedy show, set to premiere on August 23, 2016, Henry Winkler, William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw and George Forman explore Asia with their comic sidekick Jeff Dye. We recently went to a press screening expecting these ‘70s superstars to entertain us for a bit. We never expected to fall in love with them all over again.
During the event, Henry Winkler summed up exactly what we were thinking about the show as we watched it, “Isn't this show chunky? There's so much in it. Usually you watch television and there's something's great at the beginning and then at 15 minutes, then kind of at the end.” But this show is full of laughs throughout.
The five men spent one month together traveling through Tokyo, Kyoto, Seoul, Hong Kong, Phuket and Chiang Mai. They were plopped into absurd scenarios, fed food from animal parts we didn’t know were edible and asked to confront some of their biggest fears. And while the situations themselves were outrageous what makes the show special is the chemistry between the men. Winkler’s unwavering positivity, Shatner’s deep philosophizing, Bradshaw’s brazen forthrightness and Forman’s gentle-giant demeanor make for some funny, embarrassing and extremely touching moments.
William Shatner explained his reasons for signing on to the show, “The whole idea of going with four people you don't know, to a place you've never been and the challenge.” He continued, “I thought, God, Terry Bradshaw. I used to play football and I watch football all the time and I analyze it… And I thought, ‘If I could ever catch a pass from Terry Bradshaw.’ And then I knew a little bit about George and I thought, ‘If I could ever get in the ring with George and box him…’ Henry's a very funny guy. If he could make me laugh… Wow, what a bucket list!”
While some of the circumstances they find themselves in seem slightly contrived, the reactions and interactions between them are genuine. Watching them respond to each other is the best part and you feel like you are right there laughing and crying with your best friends.
Henry Winkler, who also serves as Executive Producer stated, “I was able to go into the editing room and see what was going on and what they were doing. And each time I did, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I want to be with those guys.’ And I'm in it. It was so delightful.” That’s exactly how we felt after watching the first episode and why we’ll keep coming back for more.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the show to us was the sidekick Jeff Dye (I Can Do That). While we knew what to expect from the four main players, Jeff was a bit of a wild card. He was there to help the elder statesmen navigate the situations. He was absolutely funny in his own right, but to us, his real role was to be our eyes as he sat in awe watching these icons verbally spar, unable to hold back his excitement and laughter at almost every turn.
He spoke about the four men with reverence. “They all really had a mutual respect for each other. I oftentimes struggled with feeling a little left out, just because these are really big stars and they've all mastered their thing. And so I enjoyed sometimes just sitting back and watching them interact with each other, and [hearing] the stories they would tell.”
Check out Better Late Than Never. You won’t be sorry. We’ve only seen the first episode but if Henry Winkler is right, you’re in for a treat, “The ones that come are even better. Our relationships starts to change as we really get to know each other and get more comfortable with each other. I think that you will have an extraordinarily good time with us.”
Tune in to Better Late Than Never on August 23 at 10 p.m. EST / 9 p.m. CST on NBC.