‘Tacoma FD’s Kevin Heffernan & Steve Lemme on Season 3’s Quarantine Drama
The loveable Station 24 firefighters are back on duty for Season 3 of Tacoma FD. The truTV comedy comes from the minds of Broken Lizard’s Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, known for comedy flicks like Super Troopers. For Tacoma, Heffernan and Lemme serve as creators and head up the cast as brother-in-laws Chief Terry McConky and Captain Eddie Penisi, respectively.
Together with their joke-cracking squad, including goofy Andy (Eugene Cordero), former medic Granny (Marcus Henderson), foolhardy Ike (Gabriel Hogan), and the chief’s trailblazing daughter Lucy (Hassie Harrison), these first responders are forever bonded by their time together in Tacoma, Washington.
Over Season 3’s 13 new episodes, that bond has never been more evident, whether they are playing pranks on one another, participating in some ridiculous competition, or responding to a house call that gives them more than they bargained for. Don’t believe us? Below, we put Heffernan and Lemme in the hot seat.
How did the atmosphere on set for Season 3 compare to past seasons?
Kevin Heffernan: There were definitely challenges. Challenges in terms of how we shot it, how we wrote it. We didn’t really get to go out in the world so much. We had this great scene we wrote with a parade in it, which we couldn’t do. We were limited in material, but it kind of made it interesting. There were a lot of episodes where we are in the station doing fun stuff like a chili cookoff or a pickleball tournament. That allowed us to focus more on the characters, which is cool. We quickly got past the protocol stuff and came out with some great stuff. As good as anything we’ve done.
I appreciated the way you acknowledged the times with the premiere’s quarantine episode. But instead of COVID, it was a Simian Flu scare after coming in contact with a pet monkey, that forced the group into isolation.
Steve Lemme: We have some friends in the Tacoma Fire Department that were quarantined in the first week or two. We wanted to acknowledge it because it was something they were going through. This was our way of acknowledging it without being a bummer to people. We took the funny bits of quarantine. The promises of bettering ourselves by saying we will exercise, read a book, bake bread, which all of us throw out the window.
Heffernan: And we didn’t know when we shot the season eight or nine months ago what the state of the world would be.
Lemme: The irony in it all is that we had a COVID situation where we had to shut down for a week. Kevin and I got exposed, so we had to quarantine. My office in my house at the time was open to the rest of the house. Our construction crew came in to assemble a wall in my house to isolate me. They just brought a piece of the set as a wall. That was the same wall that is used as the “snore-age” room in the episode. Life was intimating art. I was in the snore-age room where we quarantine those we believe may have Simian Flu [in the premiere].
Last year I asked you who would be your bucket list guest stars. One you mentioned was former UFC champ Stipe Miocic, who appears in an episode.
Heffernan: We didn’t know he was a fan and a firefighter in real life. We got put together with him, and he came to set. Some of the guys like Gabriel and Eugene are huge MMA fans. He is such a badass in the ring, but he was uncomfortable in the acting world. It’s kind of funny to have this badass guy kind of looking at you for advice. We had a blast with him.
Lemme: I directed that episode, and the first day it was really hard to give him direction because I was so terrified. We actually sat down at lunch. He was like, “Do you think you can give me some tips?” He and I had a one-on-one lunch where I could barely speak because I was so scared to tell him what to do.
— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) January 20, 2021
Could this be more than a one-time thing? I feel like viewers will love him here.
Lemme: I thought by the end he was cooking pretty well. He was improvising. We had a great time. I don’t see why we wouldn’t have him back.
You also have comedian Whitney Cummings as a sexual harassment counselor. How was it having her on board?
Heffernan: She fit right in with the cast and got the humor of the show. She had her blue hair, which we wrote into the episode. The fun thing is having these people who have resumes and backgrounds and skills that come into work. And she was one of those people.
There’s a flashback episode coming up where we get a little backstory on how Terry and his wife Vicky (Heather Mazur) got together. Are we going to see more of that in the future?
Lemme: One of the things I’m really proud of this season is each episode has a totally different feel. Kevin and I had a shrimp cocktail-eating contest 25 years ago, where I beat him in real life, and he didn’t remember that. That was the jumping-off point for this.
I think Kevin came up with the Rashomon idea of telling this story from three different points of view. It turned out really well. Whether the vomit sequence actually happened doesn’t matter. It’s being told from Eddie’s point of view. So it can be a Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life type of thing. We always wanted to tell the backstories of these characters too, how they met and what happened. I think we would definitely do it again.
What are you most excited for viewers to see this season?
Heffernan: There are a few episodes that are really different. Episode 6 for example is called “Rise of the Machines.” It’s an episode where we get a smart system and upgrade the tech in our station and the tech starts to take over. It allowed us to do 2001: A Space Odyssey. The genre things you get to do are fun for me.
Lemme: Episode 7 is The Thomas Crown Affair meets Ocean’s Eleven, which was fun to do. Honestly, we’re editing still, but what I’m really excited for people to see is the season finale. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think it’s super cool and also a departure and different vibe than the whole season.
Heffernan: Definitely more Backdraft.
Lemme: There is some back-drafting. Okay, we fight a fire.
The first Super Troopers is about 20 years old. What do you make of the film’s legacy and how it set the foundation for what you’re doing now?
Lemme: I don’t think any of us ever imagined that it could spawn this type of thing. Our dream was to have it play in one theater. Certainly, that was my hope. I think we’re still on our way up. The TV show is going great. Super Troopers 2 did really well. We’re going to do Super Troopers 3, and it’s awesome. And before that with Broken Lizard, we’re going to do a movie within the next year or so. We’re cooking, and it’s great.
Tacoma FD Season 3 premiere, Thursday, September 16, 10/9c, truTV