"The wait is over! Chad is back!" exclaims Blame Society Productions about the return of its flagship program Chad Vader. The first episode in the brand new second season of the comedy short series about the "Worst Day Shift Manager Ever" debuted online at midnight.
Super Bowl Sunday is a rather appropriate day for the series to come back from hiatus, given the burgeoning online audience for its high-profile commercials both before and after the big game. Created by Madison filmmakers and improv artists Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda, Chad Vader was a big winner amidst the rise of popular online video. Debuting in July 2006, the inaugural season spanned eight episodes released on a regular basis through the following spring, racking up tens of millions of viewers around the world and achieving status as a widespread internet meme.
Chad Vader subsequently received official approval and recognition from George Lucas and has secured a place in Star Wars fan canon, with Sloan even becoming a go-to voice actor for Darth Vader in video games. Since then, Blame Society has been in negotiations to bring Chad to cable TV, all the while remaining busy with creating several other comedy shorts projects for themselves and various online video networks. As these talks remain ongoing, Sloan and Yonda decided last fall to kickstart production on a second season in order to assuage fans hungry for more.
Assembling cast and crew members from Season 1, the creators along with producer Courtney Collins and DP Tona Williams got to work on preparing round two. Unlike the first season, though, which ran eight episodes running roughly five minutes in length each, they planned to format the new season to have more, shorter episodes, complete with cliffhangers. Shooting commenced a couple weeks ago at the Willy Street Co-op, which once again served as the set for "Empire Market," the primary location for the series.
An alumnus of the crew during the first season, I was able to work once again behind the scenes on these new shoots kicking off Season 2. The vibe both on and off set was once again friendly but serious, and it was clear that Blame Society was looking to expand Chad's story to a grander and more detailed scale, rather like The Empire Strikes Back.
This first episode was written by Sloan and Yonda, who supply the voice and body of Chad, respectively, along with Craig Johnson and Rob Matsushita, who likewise appear on camera in the roles of "Weird Jimmy" and "Lloyd." Its promo provides the setting for the new season: "Empire Market has been taken over by corporate chain Red Leader Foods. Chad and company get their first look at their new owner."
Two major new characters are introduced right off the bat. One is corporate liaison and likely new antagonist "Maggie McCall," who is played by longtime Madison actor and live theater supporter Karen Moeller. Accompanying her is assistant and probable new love interest "Libby," played by Australian filmmaker Kate George. Several other supporting actors return, too, all setting the stage for the title character's latest misadventures.
Titled "The Takeover," here is the first episode of the brand new season.
Yes, as hinted in the teaser at the end of "The Takeover," a droid will make an appearance in the next episode. Created by John Lee, this robot resembles those scurrying along the floors of the Death Star, but also crosses over sci-fi canons to make some rather Dalek-like declarations. Also on they way in subsequent episodes are two more major characters, the crossover of a character from the Chad Vader Training Videos series, and the death of a major character.
Yonda says they hope to release a new episode every three weeks, which would bring the second season through the end of summer. Production is ongoing, meanwhile, with shoots at the Willy Street Co-op and elsewhere. Blame Society is also asking viewers to donate or buy Chad Vader and other merchandise in order to support production costs for the series and keep new episodes flowing.
"It's great to have Chad back," says Collins. "It felt like it had been so long since we wrapped up Season 1, but when we commenced shooting last month at the co-op with many of the same cast and crew members, it was so easy to get right back into it, and the excitement on set was pretty contagious."