Creators and executive producers of ABC’s new The Crossing found themselves hand-holding TV critics Monday who worried the midseason high-concept sci-fi drama series would be pulled prematurely by a network whose primetime past is littered with gone-too-soon genre dramas.
Resurrection, which lasted two seasons on the network, and Prey, which lasted just one, were mentioned by name.
Written/executive produced by Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie, executive produced by Jason Reed and directed by Rob Bowman, The Crossing revolves around refugees from a war-torn country who start showing up to seek asylum in a U.S. town. But the country these people are from is the U.S., and the war they are fleeing is 250 years in the future.
“Resurrection was canceled prematurely, I assume?” Dworkin asked critics at TCA who’d questioned what would happen if the network “pulls the plug” prematurely. He’d been asked why critics/viewers should make that “leap of faith and watch week after week” after being burned by their Resurrection experience.
“We don’t have much to say in the programming decision,” Dworkin acknowledged, but said “I can tell you we shot a whole season and each episode is going to give [viewers] something to make them want to come back.” The season finale, he said, will give viewers a “whole host” of reasons to come back for Season 2. Season 1 is 10 episodes plus pilot.
EP Jay Beattie assured the TCA gathering they do not have a set ending in mind for The Crossing, adding, “this show can go on for years and years” as the refugees integrate into the society of the small town.
And, just when you thought everything was hunky dory, some critic brought up Prey, and Dworkin had to get back to work, telling critics every episode of The Crossing will “bounce” into the next and that his story “has so many balls in the air it’s very fertile in a way that really helps.”
One critic wanted to know that writers would not wait so long to reveal storyline that viewers “get frustrated.”
“I’m a fan of making people wait as long as possible so long as its entertaining them and pulling them along,” Dworkin responded, candidly.
EP Jason Reed insisted their series had enough entertainment value that the show does not rely entirely on “card turning.”
Steve Zahn plays local-sheriff-with-a-past Jude Ellis in the series. One critic noted Zahn is not “a sheriff type,” exhibiting “much more humanity” that we usually get out of made-for-TV sheriffs; the critic wondered why he had been cast.
Beattie, showing enormous tact, said their concern only had been whether Zahn would be interested in doing network television; casting Zahn had been suggested by ABC, on the belief it was more important the actor be able to convey incredulity than, say Gunsmoke’s Matt Dillon, or A&E’s Walt Longmire.
“What’s great about it,” Zahn said of his Jude Ellis character, “is he reacts like I would: ‘This is crap! These are crazy people!’” “He’s got a good soul, he’s a tarnished guy who has got some stuff he’s working trough, but he’s a good guy” who eventually does come to trust the facts of what is unfolding in front of him, Zahn described.
“It’s a very gradual thing,” he said. “It wasn’t some ‘I’m time traveling to Gettysburg’.”
Sensing he’d stumped some sitting in the Pasadena hotel ballroom, Zahn added, “It was a battle. Civil War.”