WonderCon is always a great event to listen to fascinating discussions about the behind-the-scenes creation of some of our favorite shows and films. Friday had one of the two weekend panels highlighting TV writers. This one was specifically about the shows that inspired writers to be writers.
The panel was moderated by Mark A. Altman (The Librarians, Femme Fatales), and speakers included Deric A. Hughes (The Flash, Warehouse 13), Ashley E. Miller (Sarah Connor Chronicles, Black Sails), Amy Berg (Counterpart, Da Vinci’s Demons), and Steve Melching (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels).
The conversation started with a dive into what shows/series inspired the assembled panelists to do what they do now. Turns out that Ashley does a great Forest Whitaker, because The Twilight Zone revisit got brought up and therefore impressions.
Steve cited Star Trek TOS, in syndicated reruns. He said he was just learning to read as a kid, and he would see the credits. “Writing for TV is a thing,” he’d thought, “I could do that as a job.”
Amy said she was obsessed with original Mission Impossible, and Bionic Woman, but the one she started writing for in her head was Star Trek TNG. She “Mary Sued the shit out of that show.” She said she likes reading specs, to know writers can mimic the voice of a show.
Deric chimed in to add that a lot of showrunners are looking for that — someone who can fit their style.
Ashley said she accidentally fell into being an applied mathematician, but her love was always in writing stories. Star Blazers, Gatchaman — “I consumed that shit, and to this day it sits with me.”
Deric said he wanted to write features, but he was told by some smart people, “you want to have a career, you need to write television.” Deric said you might as well buy a lotto ticket because you have better chances of winning than selling that feature script, so here he is.
Altman also asked the panel what their ideal left-field show to remake would be.
Steve said Northern Exposure. Realizing the different storylines were connected, but thematically rather than obviously. Pretty brilliant.
For Amy, The Equalizer and The Hunter. She loved hard crime growing up. But also the Wonder Years, because as a kid watching Kevin and his family, it just felt so real.
Deric said Miami Vice. He was just so drawn into that world. Also Automan — he was obsessed with that show, saying he wishes to this day they had more budget.
Ashley: Salvage 1. “Elon Musk can suck Andy Griffiths‘s d**k. He built a spaceship out of shit every single week.” Everything that was wrong was right about the premise, she said. Everyone looked down on this guy, and he does something amazing that no one can believe. Ashley bets bet Elon will sit down and watch it and go “that’s it, that’s how I can fix the world.”
Deric adds, Greatest American Hero, too. Also, Space 1999. It would be retro, so why not? Mad Max but in space.
Amy really wanted to have a go with V, but they did that remake, and it just wasn’t good.
Steve: Six Million Dollar Man, because Steve Austin was his hero until Luke Skywalker came along.
Shows the panelists hated:
Amy hates the remake of V, obviously.
Steve has a love-hate relationship with Buck Rogers. It was both the most awesome and goofiest on TV.
Amy: “It was your Airwolf!”
Ashley hates Galactica 1980. “Terrible.” It made him angry because it wasted the premise of the original. It had Wolfman Jack, which was fine, he said, but don’t ever patronize your young audience with children with special powers. He was starved for genre TV, so he watched every episode.
Mark had to watch it recently and says as bad as you remember it being, it was WORSE. The Halloween episode specifically.
Deric hates the live-action Spider-Man. He cited the bad special effects — it wasn’t green screen, it was “lame screen.”
The WonderCon panel ended on a high, asking what the best and worst TV series based on an existing film was, and the two responses from the majority of the panel were Planet of the Apes for worst, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for best.
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