As UPN and WB throw away the genre shows that put them on the map (ENTERPRISE, BUFFY, ANGEL) and Fox repeatedly refuses to give the next potential X-FILES franchise a chance to blossom, who would've figured the PAX network would be the last hope for genre entertainment?
Nonetheless, PAX has given a 22-episode commitment to their new Three Musketeers-inspired YOUNG BLADES (making its debut this Sunday, January 23 at 8PM EST). Created by Dan Angel and Billy Brown, the series is set in 17th Century France as Captain Duval (Bruce Boxleitner) trains his sometimes reckless Musketeers in protecting France's young King Louis (Robbie Sheehan).
It's a light-hearted romp with great swordplay and a great sense of humor about itself. And since this is unlike any of the PAX programming that has come before it, they're willing to give this budding new genre show a fighting chance.
Recently, creators Angel and Brown talked with Cinescape about YOUNG BLADES in this two-part exclusive.
CINESCAPE: What made PAX want to do a project that was definitely outside their box likeYOUNG BLADES?
DAN ANGEL: They were attracted to the scripts and the idea of doing a television series that would satisfy their core older demographic and bring new younger viewers to their network. This seemed a perfect fit.
BILLY BROWN: I believe PAX wanted to expand their audience. NBC consults on the show, and I assume NBC was pushing them in that direction.
CINESCAPE: Have they left you alone creatively?
BROWN: To a large degree we've been left alone creatively. Not totally alone. We get notes from PAX and NBC. I consider them, and when I feel they are insightful, which often they are, I address them. I may not take their exact recommendations, but I try to ask myself what about the script might be weak that they are noticing.
CINESCAPE: Did you do a pilot and then get a 22-episode commitment or was it a 22-episode commitment from the script stage on?
BROWN: It was a 22 commitment from the script stage on although the network has the option to cut production off at 13.
ANGEL: We actually sold it to them two years ago through a Universal Studio deal but Vivendi went under. We revived it with them this year, 2004, but they always responded to the first script. No pilot shot.
CINESCAPE: Did you read the Musketeers novel before writing the teleplay? If so, what elements did you find hadn't been explored before that you wanted to bring to Young Blades?
BROWN: I have read Dumas, but it was really my collective memory of the books and previous THREE MUSKETEER movies, as well as other shows and movies that were the inspiration. Certainly the humor in the Richard Lester movies influenced me.
ANGEL: Billy and I read it long ago and always loved it. It has never been on television as a series. We were influenced by the Richard Lester MUSKETEERS movies, Princess Bride and most recently Pirates of the Carribean. Obviously the audience loves this genre. So do we. We wish we had the budgets those movies had but have worked hard with a small network and limited financing to create a fun show for everyone.
CINESCAPE: Will there be an overriding arc during the 22 episodes, or will they be stand alones?
BROWN: The episodes will both stand alone and reflect an over-arcing character development. New viewers will certainly be able to tune in anytime during the season and not be confused. At the same time, steady viewers will notice the characters deepening.
CINESCAPE: How long did it take to train your cast to be proficient in swordplay?
BROWN: The cast is training on a continuing basis. They all are athletic and have advanced faster than anyone thought they would. They received about 2-3 weeks of training before we shot the first episode, but as I said, they continue to train.
ANGEL: They went through intense sword and horse training for approximately three weeks. We wanted more time before shooting but the network schedule for delivery would not allow for a longer period. However, All the actors took to it very well and worked many hours on their own. The training has not stopped. They have really been training all through production. They do about 80% of their own stunts.
CINESCAPE: When I first heard the title YOUNG BLADES, it sounded like it had something to do with skateboarders. Has there been a general misconception about the show before people have seen any footage or found out what it's about? Is PAX does something to educate viewers about what the show is?
BROWN: I don't think it's a problem, especially since the logo incorporates a sword. But, yes, just upon hearing the title, some have been confused.
CINESCAPE: Can you talk a little about Bruce Boxleitner's character and what he brings to the show as an actor?
CINESCAPE: Any special guest stars popping up in the near future that are familiar to genre fans?
BROWN: Charles Shaunessy (not for genre fans so much, perhaps) guest stars as D'Artagnan's father, the legendary Musketeer of Dumas fame. I've seen the dailies and he's terrific. Melissa Gilbert (again, not genre, but Bruce Boxleitner's wife) is slated to guest star as Captain Duval's former love. Of course, we have Michael Ironside as a regular.
CINESCAPE: When will you know if you have a commitment for a second season from PAX?
BROWN: We should know by the middle of February if we are going to produce the back nine for the first 22.
Stay Tuned for Part 2 of our exclusive Dan Angel/Billy Brown interview on Friday.