Overcoming the loss of your lead actor can be detrimental to a television series.
For Less than Kind — who suddenly lost the prolific, irreplaceable Maury Chaykin in July — demise surely seemed imminent.
“We thought about (calling it quits) but I think we just absorbed the shock of it,” said head writer/producer Mark McKinney, perhaps better known as one-fifth of the legendary Kids in the Hall comedy troupe.
“We realized we had created this great show about a completely authentic family and this was a really sad but completely authentic experience that people could relate to so (continuing) seemed like an obvious thing.”
Despite the difficult decision to persevere with a third season (which premieres this Sunday on HBO Canada), the experience of finding a way around a set that didn’t include Chaykin’s magnificent personality was an adjustment.
In an act of art imitating life in the new season, the fictional Blecher family will find catharsis grieving for their patriarch just as the real-life close-knit cast and crew had to.
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“Sam Blecher dies early in the series and like it happens in families, this rearranges and changes relationships,” explained McKinney.
“Then people work their way back; so we send the characters quite far out of their normal orbit and then sort of pull them back but I hope in a realistic way. And it’s funny too considering what we were dealing with.”
But turning out new episodes wasn’t just steely resolve for the show. For those close to Chaykin, filming became an exercise in therapy — that especially rang true for McKinney.
“Maury died five days before my mom did so it was really a hell of a summer.
But my own family, we grew a factor closer by going through that together and so did this cast so in that sense it was all good in a way.”
Maury Chaykin accumulated more than 120 film/TV credits in over 35 years. Here’s an abbreviated filmography of the actor:
- Less Than Kind (2008-2010)
- HBO’s Entourage (2005 – 2007)
- Nero Wolfe (2001 – 2002)
- Mystery, Alaska (1999)
- The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
- My Cousin Vinny (1992)
- Dances With Wolves (1990)