Since Buffy the Vampire Slayer left the airwaves in 2003, there has remained a considerably large gap in the genre of high-schooler-fights-monsters television. Well, America, never fear, because from the Great White North comes salvation (or damnation, rather) in the form of Todd & The Book of Pure Evil.
Earlier this year, Canadians were treated to the clever, hilarious, and quite often gory adventures of Todd and his band of misfit, evil fighting teenagers, and it became quickly apparent that this was not your average television fare. The main characters are often more concerned with getting high than saving the world, their vocabulary would make a sailor blush, and the mistakes of their fellow students often lead to a touching lesson learned about the inherent goodness of mankind.
Just kidding about that last part. If you fuck up or whine a lot, you’re usually killed in a spectacularly bloody fashion. In other words, this show is awesome.
The series follows metalhead Todd and his best friend, one armed drummer Curtis, as they fight to undue the curses doled out by a mysterious tome, the Book of Pure Evil, wreaking havok on Crowley High, the only highschool in a town founded by a Satan worshipping cult. Since Todd and Curtis have a habit of getting completely stoned, they’ve found a reliable support system in Jenny, who’s journalist father has gone missing after an investigation of the cult, and Hannah, quite obviously the brains of the group, even if those brains are a bit scattered.
And we can’t forget Atticus Finch, Crowley High’s guidence counselor, and arguably the greatest character on the show, whose connections to the Book of Pure Evil make everyone just a little unsure of what to make of him.
We were lucky enough to snag some time from the Craig David Wallace, co-creator of Todd, in between shoots for the upcoming season two of the show. He wouldn’t give us too many hints on what we can expect from the new season, but he did promise us that, thankfully, there would be no vampires.
WF?: Todd & the Book of Pure Evil gets described quite often as The Breakfast Club meets The Evil Dead, and when I saw the premiere episode, the first thing I said was that it felt like watching Buffy again for the first time, but without all the sappy crap. Where did the idea for Todd originate?
CDW: The original idea for Todd came out of my love of midnight madness movies like Evil Dead and Army of Darkness. And I also love modern updates of old stories, like Young Sherlock Holmes. So Todd was originally “Young Faust”, the story of a teenage metalhead who sells his soul to the devil to win the heart of the most popular girl in school. But when the script for the short film was finished, there really wasn’t much Faust in it except the name, so it made sense to call it something new. At one point I wanted to call it “Faust Times at Crowley High”, but alas, legality stepped in. For the best, really.
WF?: We’ve heard that the show was in development for something like seven years. Was it brutal having to wait the better part of a decade to see your series finally make it to the small screen?
CDW: We finished the short film in 2003, and shot the pilot for the series in 2009, so it was around 6 years of development. But during that stretch of time, we were pitching to broadcasters, writing most of the scripts, and our broadcaster was bought by another broadcaster, so that explains a bit of why it took so long. It was a long, brutal wait – but looking back it was the best thing for the show, and for me in particular. During that time I really learned how to write a script and how to produce, and developed a really strong relationship with our broadcaster – so when the series was greenlit, I was able to be the showrunner, which I don’t think would have happened earlier.
WF?: Was it your intention to choose a leading actor who is the spitting image of a young Glenn Danzig?
CDW: I think Alex House’s resemblance to Danzig has more to do with how we styled him for the show. What can I say? I love Danzig. His haircut from the late 80’s/early 90’s is my favourite metal hair.
WF?: We’ve seen zombies, evil twin lesbians, a Humunculous, and even a giant demonic baby. Any hints at the creatures we’ll be seeing in season 2?
CDW: No vampires, werewolves or angels. There’s enough of that in other shows. All I can say is that what you’ll see on Todd Season 2 won’t be like anything else on any other show.
WF?: I have to ask, who ended up with season one’s giant cock monster puppet?
CDW: Seymour the C-Monster is enjoying a well earned retirement in the workshop of master monster maker David Scott.
WF?: Did much research into the occult have to be done for the series, or did most of the iconography stem from the imagination of the writers?
CDW: Most of the research into the occult was done by me as a teenager years ago. I have a paperback copy of the Necronomicon I picked up at a used bookstore when I was 16, and couldn’t believe I was actually allowed to buy it! I’ve always loved occult iconography, but the show is pretty silly at heart and we just try to have as much fun with it as possible.
WF?: Are we going to see some new locations around Crowley this season?
CDW: We like to keep it around the school, but there will be a few surprises.
WF?: I think it’s safe to say that the show has done really well in Canada, and now it’s been picked up by FearNET HD in the States. Were there any unique challenges that you faced bringing this show to television, not only because of the rather ballsy use of gore and “adult humor”, but because of the fact that it’s a Canadian feature?
CDW: Besides the six years it took for us to get the show into production, we actually didn’t have many obstacles. Everyone at the SPACE channel in Canada really supported the show from the beginning, and always told us to stay true to the crazy off beat adult show we had pitched them. I think some US broadcasters may have feared the adult content and rampant unrepentant drug use of the lead characters, but FearNet has the balls to embrace it.
WF?: Do you have any words of advice to people who aspire to create successful TV projects that might not be considered mainstream fare?
CDW: Stay true to your vision for the show. Trust your gut.
Todd & the Book of Pure Evil makes it’s American television debut August 2nd, 10PM, on FearNet HD. For more information, visit the official website.