What do Furbies, Talkboys, Star Wars hotels, and Legends of the Hidden Temple have in common? They’re all no longer in service or production, otherwise known as “discontinued.” On that note, there’s a new series of the same name debuting Thursday on Fubo via Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort Channel. Discontinued explores the past eras, products and phenomena that have been taken off the shelves, and in a darkly humorous sort of way, each selection that’s explored on the show becomes a stark reminder, ironically, of why they were so beloved in the first place.
Your host for this new adventure? The iconic “Ash” from those acclaimed Evil Dead films, aka Bruce Campbell, playing a version of himself reporting from the distant year 2037 to humorous effect. We recently caught up with the veteran actor, author, director, and frequent Sam Raimi collaborator to learn more about his funny new series.
Next question: What do gin, a soccer team, and a TV channel all have in common? A Deadpool star might come to mind since he owns one of each at the moment. “Ryan Reynolds is what you call a go-getter,” said Campbell. “So you want to be aligned, honestly, with people like that, who have a plan and who’s moving forward. So when they asked me about [hosting Discontinued], I’m like, ‘Yeah, when do I start?'”
Reynolds is surely a hot commodity these days, and Campbell was quick to joke about the Free Guy star’s high-profile nature while detailing how Reynolds’ team contacted him about Discontinued. “They don’t let us talk to Ryan. You can’t make eye contact,” he said. “There are a lot of ‘Ryan Reynolds rules.’ So it was conveyed through four different third parties, through burner phones, that he was happy with the show. That’s that’s all I know.”
Meanwhile, Campbell is no stranger to playing host. “I did a brief stint on Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and I’ve hosted a game show,” he said. “So I’m entering the hosting phase of my career. I don’t fight dead guys [in Evil Dead films] anymore. I’m in nice, air-conditioned studios.”
Millennials will likely watch each upbeat episode of Campbell’s new show with either a smile or smirk slapped across their face. It might just be a happy accident that Discontinued debuts on a Thursday, aka “Throwback Thursday,” with many of the vintage products featured on the show likely to illicit a reaction in the vein of, “Aw man, I remember those!” Says Campbell:
“Sorry to rain on your parade and all your discontinued stuff. But people try all kinds of stuff, and not everything takes. Even big corporations like Disney have miserable failures because they don’t always know what people want. That’s the hilarious part about show business. You don’t know. That movie could be Star Wars, or it could be some horrible bomb.”
And just like show business, Discontinued is “hilarious” in nature, thanks to Campbell’s deadpan-comedy introductions to segments that cut away to equally funny correspondents out in the field. “What makes me laugh is emerging technology. We were dealing with a lot of devices that failed: Furbies, talking creatures, talking robots. And they were always on the verge of collapse and failure the whole time,” said Campbell, who added:
And so it’s kind of nice to see technology’s gone way further, because the stuff that we’re talking about, how it’s discontinued, I think it was discontinued for this reason: They weren’t quite ready for primetime. And so it’s fun to see the emerging technology and how corporations try and sell it. They’ve tried to make a doll talk forever, so it’s fun to see it come and go.
Another example of a hip product that ultimately crashed and burned is the BlackBerrry, which is featured heavily in the show’s pilot episode. “The BlackBerry was an example of a device that, in its day, was very advanced, and then it didn’t really change,” Campbell told us. “My agent, to this day, is crying about how there’s no more BlackBerry.”
We had to ask if there’s a particular throwback item that hasn’t been featured on Discontinued yet, that Campbell would like to see explored. “I was born the year of the Edsel 1958. That’s a long time ago. They put a car out there that was named after Henry Ford’s son Edsel,” said Campbell. “The Edsel, if you look at it, a nice-looking old car, but it bombed. And it was named after Henry Ford — they thought it was an absolute slam dunk. So you never know.”
In terms of Campbell’s big-screen career, cinephiles are probably well-versed in his plethora of cameos in Sam Raimi’s films over the years, dating back to the original Spider-Man film trilogy and continuing with the latest Doctor Strange installment. “Sam’s one of the good ones these days,” said Campbell. “The trick is just to pick the stuff that looks like fun. I think he did a great job with Doctor Strange, and it’s always fun to come in and torture the lead guy. And let’s not forget, I put an end to Doctor Strange. Let’s never forget that… Watch the post-credit sequence. It will tell you everything you need to know.”
And of course, who can forget Ash from the first few Evil Dead films and the acclaimed spin-off series? Even if you don’t see Campbell in the recent Evil Dead Rise, that doesn’t mean he’s done with the franchise. “I’ve remained a producer, and was one of the producers on the recent one, which made the most money of any Evil Dead movie ever made,” Campbell told us. “So I’ll always stay involved as a producer. But as an actor, the old chainsaw has been hung up.”
Southern California residents may have also spotted the Ash character in-person at Universal Studios’ annual Halloween Horror Nights a few years back. “That was a lot of fun,” said Campbell. “That was Ash’s swan song. It was his last hey-day, his last hurrah.”
And looking ahead, even if “the chainsaw is hung up,” Campbell remains busy both in front of the camera and as a writer:
“I’m going to make a new movie in the spring in my lovely state of Oregon. It’s time to make movies again. The old days, me and Sam Raimi and Rob Tapper, we kind of make movies the handmade way. And I’ve been an actor for hire for a long time, and I’m a producer for hire, and it’s time to just go back and make cool little movies. Again, it’s way easier now to make low-budget movies with the equipment and all that sort of stuff. So I’m rolling up the sleeves and getting back at it.”
“And I’ve just started publishing myself. I did three bestsellers through a regular publisher,” added Campbell. “Now, I’m doing what everybody can do. I’m publishing my own stuff. So that’s been fun to take a lot of projects that will never get made as a movie, because movies are expensive and hard to put together. Put them out as a book — why not?”
Why not indeed? In the meantime, Discontinued will debut Thursday, Nov. 30 on Fubo via the Maximum Effort Channel.