Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The gang fails Frank on It’s Always Sunny, plus Nancy Drew’s Scott Wolf doesn’t know whodunnit

Danny DeVito, Scott Wolf
Photo: Patrick McElhenney (FX), Robert Falconer (The CW)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, October 16. All times are Eastern. 


Top pick

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FXX, 10 p.m.): Frank is not having it this week. Not even a little.

In “The Gang Chokes,” everyone in the gang chokes, in one way or another. Frank chokes literally, and the rest of the gang chokes in that they cannot summon the will to perform the Heimlich maneuver, so Frank just keeps on choking. Dennis Perkins, however, will not choke; he will rise to the occasion and recap.

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Regular coverage

Riverdale (The CW, 8 p.m.)
Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m)
American Horror Story: 1984 (FX, 10 p.m.)
South Park (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.)

Wild card

Nancy Drew (The CW, 9 p.m.): It should perhaps not be surprising that on The CW’s spooky, Riverdale-adjacent take on Nancy Drew, the biggest, spookiest mysteries are those closest to home. In the show’s early episodes, at least, the most potent of those mysteries seems to swirl around Carson Drew, Nancy’s attorney dad, a man who clearly loves his daughter and mourns his wife—and just as clearly has some big secrets he wants to hide. Something about the combination greatly appeals to Scott Wolf, who betrayed his enthusiasm as soon as he sat down with The A.V. Club at the summer Television Critics Association press tour. “I’m always happy to talk about something I’m in love with, deeply,” he said, unprompted.

We spoke with Wolf about why he loves this show so much, his fondness for mysteries in general, and the trials and tribulations facing a teen detective’s dad.

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The A.V. Club: What is it that you love about this show? What attracted you to it?

Scott Wolf: Oh man, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of, in terms of the tone and the story. I mean, first and foremost, it’s a really, really great group of producers and writers and actors—good, talented people all over. But I grew up a fan of these mysteries. I was something of a massive Hardy Boys fan, and I loved Nancy Drew. So to be in it [was great]. It’s my first time sitting at the mystery table, and being inside of it.

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AVC: And what about Carson Drew in particular?

SW: The thing that makes me excited about playing a character, or being a part of a story, is when there’s a lot at stake and everything feels sort of honest and authentic. It exists on levels you’re chasing after, to try and better understand this person. There are the exterior conflicts, but also all these interior conflicts. And with this show, every character within the piece, maybe save Nancy, is potentially not who you’d hope they’d be. And none of us really know. That’s fun. We’re a whodunnit, and we [the actors] don’t know who done it. We’re finding out along with the audience, little by little. We’ll know a little ahead of you, obviously.

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AVC: So you’re not in on the mystery at all. That’s cool.

SW: It is! And then working with Kennedy [McMann, who plays Nancy Drew] has been great. The relationship between Carson and Nancy is something that was a huge part of the original book series, and here, it’s a relationship that is interesting and textured and complicated in our best ways. When we meet them, they’re really struggling terribly in the aftermath of losing his wife and her mom. So it’s about watching these two characters trying to find each other in the horrible emotional aftermath of everything they lived through. They really want to be connected. To see two characters who have that deep bond and well of affection kind of clang their heads together, and bounce off each other, and have this distance and pain between them… there’s so much story to be told, and that’ll be a journey that they take for awhile, and it’s gonna be really hard.

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AVC: As an actor, how do you reckon with the ambiguity of not knowing whether or not you’re the one who “done it”? Do you feel the need to leave wiggle room and extra ambiguity in your performance, on the off chance it was you?

SW: What I try to do, and I feel like the producers and writers are great with everybody [about this], I tell them I want information on a need-to-know basis. I love the unfolding of a story. I don’t want to be ahead of it, I want to just be immersed in it. But there are definitely story elements that inform our relationships now, inform the way certain scenes get played, inform things in a big way. One of the ways that it’s been discussed amongst the producers and the cast is, no matter what you do, it works with where we’re going. If something is revealed and we didn’t see it early on, that’s okay, not all of us need to know every little detail. But when there is something that it feels like, “This is a bit of information I need some clarity on,” they’re great. They’ll share.

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But I think the cast consensus is that we don’t want to be in on it all. We want to be surprised along the way. So it’s a little of each, but they’re great about sharing with us what we need.

AVC: Obviously they’re in a tough spot, but how would you characterize Carson and Nancy’s relationship overall?

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SW: I think the essence of their relationship, as you find them in the pilot, is that these are two people who are grieving in very different ways. The fundamental part of it is that they’re both really hurting, and they’re not hurting together. They’re hurting on their own. You could combine that with the fact that Nancy’s now 18, she would’ve left home already and started school had it not been for what happened, and so there’s this little bit of a weird limbo. [They need to] figure out a new dynamic now. It’s like, “You’re not this 10-year-old, you’re not even a 17-year-old kid who I can say, ‘Be home by this time, don’t do this, do this.’ You’re a grown-up, you’re technically an adult and yet, you’re still living at home.” So there’s all the emotional baggage that we’re dragging along, but we’re also just sorting through this. What is our relationship anymore? There’s just more fodder for conflict between them at the moment than anything else.

AVC: How do you think he feels about the sleuthing?

SW: I think it’s like a love-hate relationship he has with it. I think they share a naturally inquisitive nature. As an attorney, he’s unearthing the mysteries of what’s going on in people’s lives, something that I think he knows that she has done as well. And he’s fostered it in a way. So on the one hand, you’ve got this person who’s kind of a prodigy, and I think [Carson loves] that about her. I think when it crosses the line, which it does often, and she’s breaking into stuff interfering with people’s lives, maybe in ways that they hadn’t asked for, that makes me maybe a little more uncomfortable.

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It’s like any parent with a child who has something that they’re good at and that they love. You encourage it and you participate in any way you can. And so I think that’s been part of it, but now the stakes are higher. She’s a grown-up. So, you know, getting caught breaking into something at 13 is different than getting caught breaking into something at 18. And that becomes part of the story.

AVC: So, you loved the Hardy Boys. Are you still a mystery reader?

SW: Oh, yes. I drift between fiction and no-fiction, and I got really into true crime. But I just picked up a Nancy Drew book because of this, and I sort of thought I’d read 20 pages and put it down, just to get a splash of it. And, like, an hour and a half later, I had read a hundred pages or whatever it was, and could barely put it down. I mean, there’s a reason we’re here, almost a hundred years after the first book was published. There’s something indelible about that storytelling.

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About the author

Allison Shoemaker

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.