Many know him as Bill Lumbergh from Mike Judge’s seminal workplace comedy Office Space, but now veteran actor Gary Cole is setting his sights on another workplace ensemble in the new FOX comedy, Tagged.
Cole will star in the series from writers and executive producers David Guarascio and Moses Port (Just Shoot Me) as Los Angeles County coroner, James Percy. Tagged follows Percy as he welcomes his son Wally (Tommy Dewey) onto his coroner’s office team after he turns down a far more lively job at a prestigious hospital.
Cole’s Percy is loosely based on Shiya Ribowsky, a famed medical investigator with the New York City medical examiner’s office, who at one time had the extremely undesirable and emotionally taxing job of attempting to identify the dead following the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.
While a lead character based on a sordid history of death doesn’t seem like it would make for many yuks, more perplexing still is the fact that the inspiration for the series comes largely from Ribowsky’s 2007 book Dead Center, which he co-wrote with Tom Shachtman - a book which was praised chiefly for its authenticity. Dead Center details stories of death, and the lives that surround each passing, through the eyes of the medical examiner in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world - a veritable wellspring of potential storylines, true, but none overtly lighthearted or comedic.
So will the cast and crew of Tagged be able to pull laughter from such a topic without offending or venturing into maudlin territory? Of course it’s way too early to tell, but then again that might just be the aim of the show. On the other hand, workplace comedies needn’t take all of their material from the actual occupation depicted in the show. While it’s certainly been a long time, I don’t know if Night Court necessarily beat its viewers over the head with legalese, I'm fairly sure that News Radio didn't press too heavily upon the issues concerning the news and how it was reported. Both series were just funny, often well-written shows that utilized their ensemble’s talents more than the actual workplace environment to generate laughs.
Cole certainly has both the dramatic and comedic chops to pull off a role like this. With his stints in the aforementioned Office Space and Talladega Nights, as well as small screen roles in shows like the Aaron Sorkin political drama The West Wing, the recently-cancelled FOX dramedy The Good Guys and the CBS drama The Good Wife, Cole has proven himself to be pretty versatile. Whether he’ll be able to lead Tagged to a fruitful run on FOX has yet to be determined.
With any luck, Tagged will be funny enough to land a spot on FOX’s fall comedy lineup, in which case we’ll be sure to announce when you can see it for yourself.