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‘Everybody Was Rooting for Us’: Pooch Hall Talks Returning to ‘The Game’ Reboot Without Tia Mowry, Their Characters’ Journeys

Since the 2006 premiere of “The Game,” millions of viewers and fans have tuned in to watch one of the most-talked-about television shows on social media. When fans first met the cast nine seasons ago, Tia Mowry-Hardrict played Melanie Barnett, aka Med School, who gave up Johns Hopkins for her NFL rookie boyfriend, Derwin Davis, portrayed by Pooch Hall. Before its cancellation in 2009, the “Girlfriends” spinoff aired on The CW. Years later, BET picked up the series for six additional seasons.

“The Game” reboot series premieres Thursday, Nov. 11 on Paramount+ featuring Hall, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Hosea Chanchez, and other original cast members. Instead of San Diego, California, the hit series will tackle the football world from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pooch Hall. (Photo: Benny H)

Pooch Hall spoke with Atlanta Black Star on Sept. 10 about continuing Derwin and Melanie’s love story without Mowry and how they compare to other famous sitcom couples.

“First and foremost, I want to shout out Tia as being one of the hardest-working women in show business,” he declares. “It’s too bad that we can’t continue where we left off. We were compared to so many different couples like Joanie and Chachi (“Joanie Loves Chachi”), Martin and Gina (“Martin”), and Rachel and Ross (“Friends”).

“We are in those conversations,” the actor continues. “The fact that she’s not there does stink, but she has not stopped working since leaving ‘The Game.’ I know the fans were looking forward to having her and I back together. But … the show must go on.”

Viewers connected with Derwin and Melanie’s complicated relationship issues on “The Game.” Despite exiting the series in 2012 to pursue other projects, Hall and Mowry returned for the finale in 2015 to reveal Melanie had given birth to twins.

“T [a nickname he calls Tia] and I, we’re looking forward to continuing our journey to get to that happy place, first, because everybody was rooting for us. Then unexpectedly they went with a different direction,” Hall explains. “That’s their prerogative, and they felt that was the best direction for the show. And then eventually, all the fans were making enough noise. T and I were brought back to where we could kind of close up our chapter, in a sense. But it was — still it wasn’t fulfilling, according to the fans.

Cast members Tia Mowry and Pooch Hall attend BET’s “The Game” launch event at Butter on Jan. 11, 2011, in New York. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Pooch Hall commends “The Game” creator Mara Brock Akil for crafting a dynamic series that continues to influence today’s culture. The 44-year-old admits NFL and NBA players and college athletes continue to seek “advice” on how his character handled having a child from a different relationship.

“They’re like, ‘Yo, I got this girl pregnant, but I want to be with my girl,'” the actor describes. “Sometimes it’s kind of like, ‘Well I’m Pooch, and that didn’t happen [to me]. But I guess if I’m [answering] as Derwin, I think you just got to let the cards fall where they may.”

Pooch Hall pokes fun at social media star Brittany Renner, who had a child with 22-year-old NBA player P.J. Washington earlier this year.

Hall also shares his excitement about “The Game” reboot, his role in the forthcoming “Ray Donovan” film, and his Thursday night hosting gig on the mobile app WinQuik. The free-to-play trivia app features live games and various challenges for users to win cash and other prizes.

“I’m really excited about what’s coming,” Hall adds. “Everyone’s having a lot of fun with our trivia app and winning money, connect[ing] with people and just seeing how their individual talents compare when their using one of one challenges and making predictions on the app, which is free download and free to play, by the way.

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