How’s this for a pitch: Joel Embiid meets a shady version of The Office.
That’s the loose premise behind the third-season premiere of The 5th Quarter, a sports mockumentary series chronicling “the greatest untold and untrue stories in sports history” that’s available on Verizon’s go90 platform.
Never heard of go90? You’re not alone. It’s Verizon’s mobile-only content service named after viewers’ turning their phones to watch videos in landscape mode (“go 90” degrees). Though go90 has been toiling in relative obscurity compared to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, the success of the first season of The 5th Quarter managed to attract a lot of big names in the sports world to the show, including Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin, Lonzo and LaVar Ball, and, of course, Embiid.
The show’s creator and show runner, University of Pennsylvania graduate Michael D. Ratner, got to know Embiid during a ride-along he directed that ran on Vice Sports in June 2016. He wanted Embiid for Season One, but at the time, the injured Sixers star was still sitting out, and “it wasn’t the best look to go doing a second career before really being successful on the court,” Ratner said.
When Season Two rolled around, Ratner pitched a couple of ideas to Embiid, one of which ended up becoming “The Processor,” in which the Sixers star takes an internship at a shady import-export company run by Chapelle Show alum Donnell Rawlings. ESPN’s Kenny Mayne and NBA legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving also make appearances in the 11-minute episode.
“Embiid is, without a doubt, the best follow on social media, and I always knew he would thrive in a comedy role,” Ratner said. “It was actually amazing. He was able to be really funny without saying much, which is hard to do right. In fact, a lot of his suggestions or improvs ultimately made it to the final cut. He was fantastic.”