Maybe it was because the preceding panel dealt with NFL football, but TV journalists butted heads repeatedly at today’s TCA panel with executive producer Kevin Williamson, asking how his new series Stalker is different from his older show on another network that features many similar elements. The EP/creator appeared with stars Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott, but Williamson spent most of his time on the panel explaining why the drama about detectives tracking stalkers is different from his Fox series The Following, which is about an FBI agent tracking a serial killer and his murderous cult (Williamson said Jennifer Johnson has taken over as showrunner of the Fox series).
The first questioner said both shows deal with the fear of being attacked, which seemed to surprise Wiliamson. “To me, it’s apples and oranges,” he said, calling The Following a “little horror movie every week” with a “popcorn” quality to it.
The questioner pressed on: Both shows thrive on violence, right? Williamson drew laughs when he conceded that The Following has a “sort of violent, stabby-stab” quality to it. But still, he insisted, the shows are different, even though both have a “creepy” quality.“This is a crime show. This is on CBS.”
When pressed about a violent car sequence in the Stalker pilot, Williams said it wasn’t characteristic of the whole show: “Maybe we were a little flashy to get picked up. Let’s talk next year after you see all 22 episodes.”
How about violence toward women? Williamson pointed out that statistically more women are stalked than men, but said he is deliberately avoiding a show about violence toward women. He said all sorts of stalking, including cyber-stalking, will be explored in the show.
Throughout the panel Williamson continued to defend the show as more than a gratuitous slasher/thriller, saying there’s a “moral takeaway” in each show. Williamson was then asked about his penchant for what a questioner called “stylized violence.”
“I wouldn’t agree with you about the stylized violence,” he insisted. “I’m looking for my Dawson’s Creek montage at the end of every episode. I’m writing for the moment after the scary.”
One questioner still wasn’t buying that whole moral core assertion though. Finally, Williamson gave up. “Turn the channel,” he said.