Okay, so there is a backstory here, and I have to warn you, it gets a little meta. Just as NBC’s sitcom “Community” was transitioning into a morass of delayed premieres and staff unrest, the writers of the show introduced something called “Inspector Spacetime.” An obvious parody of the much beloved sci-fi series “Dr. Who,” “Inspector Spacetime” rapidly became a running gag both on “Community” and among fans of each show respectively.
For a while, “Inspector Spacetime” was simply consigned to exist within the “Community” universe, being used often as shorthand to portray the idiosyncrasies of the geek-centric characters Troy and Abed. That is until Travis Richey decided to take the show into his own hands.
As the Matt Smith-channeling “Inspector,” Richey has taken his original role as “Community’s” Inspector Spacetime and transformed it into an original web series. Well, sort of.
After receiving a cease and desist letter from Sony lawyers, Richey was forced to rename “Inspector Spacetime” with the deliberately clunky moniker “Untitled Web Series about a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time.”
With season one under their belts, the cast and crew of “Untitled Web Series about a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time” are gearing up for a bigger and bolder second season. I caught up with Richey where, as any self-respecting “Dr. Who” fan would do, I quizzed him restlessly about his love and knowledge of the Doctor, the Inspector and everything in between.
Do you believe that NBC’s refusal to work with you on what once was “Inspector Spacetime” has anything to do with the current troubles “Community” is now facing?
Travis Richey: I can’t help but think that. If it was a show that they really cared about developing, it seems to me that they would have done the web series on their own. I have never seen a more perfect subject for extra TV content.
Are you a fan of “Dr. Who,” the show that your web series is parodying?
I have been aware of “Dr. Who” my whole life. I watched it as a kid with my older brothers, who were always exposing me to the things they liked. I was essentially a child of the 80s. They were watching “Dr. Who” on PBS, and I remember Tom Baker being my first doctor.
Who is your favorite Doctor?
I think David Tennant is incredible, which I know is a popular answer. But, not only as a fan but also as an actor, I am just in awe of what he did with that role.
You are essentially borrowing ideas from two shows at once. Have you received any backlash from fans of either “Dr. Who” or “Community”?
I think there is a — I want to use the word “ignorance,” but I want to use it in the most positive way. There are people who don’t understand what we are doing. Like they will say, “Aw, this is a ripoff of ‘Dr. Who,’” who don’t understand that yes, it is a “Dr. Who” parody.
Do you plan to only work from the “Dr. Who” source material, or will “Untitled Web Series about a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time” have original plots?
I think we very much have “Dr. Who” in mind. But, one of the things I love about the inspector is that the universe it exists in stands on its own. My writing partner and me are very much about story. The first season — I like it — but we have a much bigger story in mind for season two.
Is it true that you are planning on signing with YouTube network The Collective?
We are very serious about signing with The Collective but can’t say anything yet. But, it is a very serious prospect.
With the trouble many YouTube networks like Maker and Machinima are currently facing, how did you decide on a network that you believed would look our for your best interests?
I did a lot of research looking into companies I might join, and I knew that I didn’t want to just join a network. I was aware of Maker before this, and I already knew that they weren’t a good fit for my content. They tend to be a little more crass, and you can see it in their content, which is appealing to an audience but not my audience. Channels like Machinima are good but don’t deal a whole lot with comedy. What I really wanted was a place that understood not only comedy and geek-ness but knew how to work with an actor who was a self-producer.