When “Mythic Quest’s” second season premieres on May 7 on Apple TV Plus, one of its essential supporting players, F. Murray Abraham, will be in limited scenes.
This was because, as co-creator and star Rob McElhenney put it during a virtual Television Critics Assn. press tour panel for the show on Friday, he did not want to be responsible for potentially getting Abraham “very sick.”
The second season of “Mythic Quest” filmed amid the COVID-19 pandemic and did see a number of cases of the virus on its set. Initially when the team first decided they were going to resume filming under new health and safety guidelines, McElhenney recalled talking to Abraham about finding a creative way to keep him off-set because what they knew then, and what we still know now, is that the older age groups are more at-risk.
McElhenney said that Abraham didn’t want to sit things out, but “respectfully,” McElhenney disagreed. The first bath of episodes, therefore, see Abraham’s character, C.W. Longbottom, still working remotely, although the rest of the office has gone back to in-person work in a post-pandemic world.
“After [Episode] 207 he does come back in person, but when he does it’s with very small amounts of people on camera,” said McElhenney.
“It gave them an opportunity to laugh at my incompetence with computers, let’s not forget that,” added Abraham.
McElhenney also addressed the COVID outbreak on the set of the second season, clarifying that they did have a contact outbreak, but that it was not in Zone A, the zone in which the actors are, but rather in “Zone B or C” and that it came during construction of a set.
“We knew that nothing is 100% safe and we knew we could do the best we could do,” McElhenney said.
Once they realized they had a case on set, he said they “immediately shut down for two weeks,” and he was happy to report that everyone who contracted COVID has made a “full recovery.”
“A lot of this was really unfortunate and we were really doing our best,” he said.
In addition to keeping Abraham off set for much of the season, new safety precautions McElhenney said “Mythic Quest” had in place included COVID testing “sometimes five days a week,” contract-tracing, wearing PPE and having cast members eat their meals in isolated pods. Abraham added that he was tested every day, even when he was just waiting at his hotel. He called the attention to his health and safety “very reassuring.”
Late last year, McElhenney wrote a letter addressing the health and safety standards on set, in which he said they had been expecting an outbreak” for weeks” because “the numbers in the county are spiking and consequently our numbers are doing the same.” At that time, he said there was zero evidence of “any transmission at work” and called the set “one of the safest places you can be outside of your homes.”
Although reports came in that “Mythic Quest” had a dozen cases of COVID last year, on the panel McElhenney claimed the numbers were only “one or two” and said that those individuals were “immediately sequestered” once they tested positive.