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Joel McHale: 'Crime Scene Kitchen' is baking with dash of 'Forensic Files'

Joel McHale's Crime Scene Kitchen airs Wednesday nights on Fox. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Joel McHale's "Crime Scene Kitchen" airs Wednesday nights on Fox. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, June 2 (UPI) -- Actor and comedian Joel McHale says his new Fox competition series, Crime Scene Kitchen, combines two concepts for which he and TV viewers can't seem to get enough -- mysteries and dessert.

Airing Wednesday nights, the show challenges contestants to determine what has been baked, based on nothing but the ingredients and clues left behind. They then must recreate the recipe for celebrity judges, chef Curtis Stone and cake artist Yolanda Gampp.

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"I'd like to incorporate some live sharks, and maybe mixed martial art fighting, but, other than that, I am enthralled by this format," Crime Scene Kitchen host McHale told reporters in a recent Zoom call.

"There's a lot of baking shows, and, obviously, The Bake Off has done very well," he added.

"This show captures some of those elements, but I also watch Forensic Files on HLN endlessly. ... I want to figure things out. And so, this becomes, also, an unboxing video, but instead of taking off a mask at the end, we get to eat delicious desserts."

McHale enjoys cooking, but acknowledged whipping up cakes, cookies, pies and pastries requires next-level culinary skills.

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"I cook a lot of meat and a lot of fish, but the world of baking is so complicated and incredible," he said. "It's, like, magic; it's like science. And to watch and listen to Yolanda and Curtis talk about this stuff, the precision is out of this world. So I was so thrilled to see it all happening before my eyes."

McHale tells jokes, comments and tries the food in the series, while Stone and Gampp offer extraordinary real-world experience and expertise that also can be thrilling to watch.

"It looks like this thing is perfect, and then, they can point out, 'Well, your crust depth here is what really ruined the whole thing,' and it did!" McHale said. "The precision is incredible."

Stone added: "Yolanda and I have very different skills"

"I make pies for a living, and I bake breads all the time, and Yolanda decorates cakes that just look unbelievable. So my worst nightmare is probably working with modeling chocolate and fondant in the baking category, and that's exactly what she does best. So we complement each other well."

Stone said McHale is more of a foodie than he lets on.

"That man is obsessed with food," Stone teased. "He would come into work and show Yolanda and I videos of things that he cooked the night before, and then he'd send it out to all of his favorite little shops.

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"I spoke to him for probably about 20 minutes about the kind of coffee we grind because he comes in and buys it by the 3-kilogram bag. So, he certainly knows his way around the kitchen."

According to producer Conrad Green, viewers of the show needn't worry they will get lost if they don't have a background in baking.

"It's a very accessible show," Green said. "You don't need to be an expert in foods and baking to be able to understand it. When you see these people searching through a kitchen, we try to make it quite clear, so you can follow their thought processes."

The host and judges also guide audiences along.

"Our contestants come from such a wide range of backgrounds," Green said. "We've got pie makers from Missouri. We've got high‑end chefs from Vegas, and everything in between, including home cooks. So you can really root for them, and try and understand how they're approaching it."

At the end of the day, the detective work of figuring out what the finished product should be is what's crucial.

"Because you can make an amazing dessert, but if it's the wrong dessert, it still doesn't count. It still could be what sends you home," Green said.

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For years, McHale has moved between acting in TV shows like Stargirl, The Great Indoors and Community, hosting reality shows like The Soup and Tiger King, and touring as a stand-up comedian.

He thrives on the artistic variety and hopes to continue pursuing an unconventional career path, much the same way Dwayne Johnson, Ellen DeGeneres and Jamie Foxx juggle diverse projects.

"A lot of people are like, 'Gun to your head: What do you have to do, and what would you choose?' And I always thought, 'Where is this place that they're holding a gun to my head and making me choose something to do in my career?' I really do love it all. I like doing standup and acting, and then yelling at bakers. It's fun. I've never really chosen," he said.

McHale's beloved sitcom, Community, ran 2009-15, and launched the careers of Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown and Ken Jeong.

Most of the cast recently reunited for a charity table read of a Season 5 episode.

Asked if there is any possibility they might collaborate again for an unscripted special like the Friends stars just did or sign on for a full-fledged revival a la The Conners, Fuller House and Saved By the Bell, McHale offered a glimmer of hope.

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"If you had asked me last year, I would have said, 'Oh, yeah, maybe.' But I would have been kind of like, 'There's not a chance.' After that table read we did, and after the success [of the reruns] on Netflix and Hulu and Amazon, I would say there's a much better chance than ever.

"And whatever Yvette says is a lie," he joked about Brown, who has been fanning the flames of the fandom by saying she wants a movie to follow up the series.

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