Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Episode Nine... and behind-the-scenes writer's commentary

"Ragged Isle" episode nine is up. After you watch, read through to the rest of the post for a behind-the-scenes perspective from the head writer.

WARNING: The rest of this post will contain spoilers for episode nine (and earlier episodes), so don't read any further if you haven't watched.

Very early on in the scripting process, but after we had mapped out most of the major story points we wanted to cover this season, Barry came to me and said, "I want to do a talent show episode."

"Okay," I said, cautiously. The talent show premise is a staple of many long-running TV series (especially sitcoms), usually turning up fairly late in the series' run, after the writers have run out of ideas and the actors have gotten thoroughly bored with their characters. Neither was the case with "Ragged Isle," and I wasn't really sure how to approach it.

But then Barry said: "And Karen and I are going to write it."

"Okay!" I said, far more enthusiastically.

It soon became clear that Barry and Karen had something more in mind than simply giving the actors a chance to show off their underutilized talents. They wanted an episode that would be funny and entertaining, but would also advance the emotional arc of the season. With a song.

As originally scripted, the song Rachel and the Sheriff sing was going to be Olivia Newton John's classic, "Magic." However, after repeated requests to obtain the rights to that song went unanswered, Barry wrote the original song you heard here. I think we traded up.

I did take a pass on the script after Barry and Karen turned it over to the collective, coining the phrase "Lobster of Ceremonies" (you're welcome), and contributing Vance Trundle's dialogue with the Sheriff, as well as a few other bits of dialogue here and there. But this episode enjoyed creative contributions from everyone involved. Sebastian Carlsen, who dabbles in stand-up, came up with his own comedy routine. Adam Cogswell originated his magic act (and costume). Michael Dix Thomas and Ian Carlsen choreographed their Awesome Times Two dance routine. Awesome. Amie Marzen's aggressively sunny take on the character of Julie continues to be a joy to behold. And Barry's band The Lodge were April and Rick's backup musicians.

April and Rick! Charged with doing the emotional heavy lifting of the episode, April and Rick really delivered on Barry's song. It seems clear that Sheriff Dalton and Rachel's relationship is in different place when the song ends than it was before it began. That's quite an achievement -- a testament to the power of the writing, the song, and Rick and April's talent. Well done, all around!

By the way, many thanks to Geno's Rock Club, a friend to this project from the beginning, for providing the location for this episode and for hosting our premiere party in March.

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