Saturday, September 18, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Jed Seidel discusses "Dog and Pony"

Jed Seidel began his writing career in 1994, penning an episode of Northern Exposure.  Since then he’s enjoyed tenures on various critical and commercial hits including Nash Bridges, Felicity, Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars.  Jed is currently a consulting producer on Terriers and co-wrote last night’s episode “Dog and Pony” with executive producer Shawn Ryan.
Pasha:  Your first television writing credit was on Northern Exposure.  How did you break into television?

Jed Seidel: I was an assistant on Northern Exposure and between getting cappuccinos and xeroxing, I used to beg the producers to let me pitch... three and a half years later and countless cappuccinos runs, they finally gave me a shot...

Pasha: How did you get involved with Terriers?

Jed Seidel: Out of the blue, I got an email from Shawn Ryan (who I worked with for many years on "Nash Bridges," and luckily has remained a friend) asking me if I wanted to collaborate on a back-up script, before the show got picked up.  Unfortunately, it went to an old email account I rarely use so I didn't see it for about three days!  Shawn did a really wonderful thing, where he invited me to come watch the pilot being shot for three days.  It's one of the best pilots I've read in years, so I was pretty thrilled to be involved...

Pasha: What does your role as a consulting producer entail? 

Jed Seidel: It's really just a title, and no different from any other producing position I've had.  Mostly it entails working in the room with the other writers, participating in re-writes, voicing my opinion in casting and like all the other writers, being on set during production...

Pasha: Breaking the story of the first episode after the pilot can often be tricky.  What was the genesis of “Dog and Pony”?

Jed Seidel: It was a combination of a few different pitches.  All the writers work on putting the stories together, and then it goes through the filter of Tim Minear, Shawn Ryan and ultimately, Ted Griffin, who is really the voice of "Terriers."  

Pasha: How did you and Shawn Ryan balance reintroducing many of the elements and themes of the pilot in such a way that it caught new viewers up but didn’t bore people who saw the pilot?

Jed Seidel: Honestly, it's hard to answer this question without including Ted and Tim Minear, because every decision about story went through them.   I think that the first interrogation scene gave a good recap of the main crime story but otherwise we trusted the audience to catch up.  The characters and relationships are set up so well in the pilot, we just continued along the same path.

Tamara: “Dog and Pony” focused a lot on the relationships the two main characters share with those around them.  Hank’s past actions clearly upset both his ex-wife Gretch and his ex-partner, Mark Gustafson.  Yet while Gretchen’s seemingly made peace with the past, Gustafson is obviously still angered by it.  Can you perhaps offer some insight into why this might be?

Jed Seidel: Both relationships are going to play out over the course of the first season.  Hank continues to be a thorn in Gretchen's side and that relationship is anything but resolved.  In the past, Hank really screwed up his partnership with Gustafson and jeopardized both their jobs and their friendship.  There's a brilliant episode later in the season that Tim wrote which flashes back to when Hank was a police officer and the damage he did.  It's so damned good, I can't wait for people to see it!

Pasha: There have been comparisons drawn between Terriers and Veronica Mars.  Both have a penchant for clever dialogue with a focus on class divides in Californian coastal towns.  As a writer, has working on Terriers reminded you of your time on Mars?

Jed Seidel: Once in a while, I would bring up something we had done on Veronica Mars, but Shawn and Ted weren't that familiar with the show.  And even though the shows have some surface similarities, at their cores, they are very different.  Veronica's cases mostly came from high school, and in the later years, college.  Hank and Britt live in a much more adult world.  But having said that, they were both filmed at the same studio and many crew members from Veronica Mars worked on Terriers, so that was always fun for me. 

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