If you’re a TV critic, you wondered why CW’s In the Dark did not cast an actress who is sight disabled for the lead role of a complicated young woman who cannot see, who works at her parents’ guide-dog school, and who is the only witness to the murder of her friend.
If you’re a dog person, you wondered why they didn’t cast an actual guide dog to play Pretzel, the woman’s guide dog, instead casting a canine actor named Levi.
That’s because, explained consultant Lorri Bernson, who is blind and came to TCA with her new-ish guide dog Captain who led her through maze of chairs on stage set up for the cast and producers, a guide dog would mis-interpret multiple takes of a scene in a bad way.
“If I were to repeat what I just did, even three or four times, when I repeat it’s because he made an error,” she said.
“He would slowly break down because he did not know what he was doing wrong.”
No such issues with Levi.
On the other subject, EP Nicky Weinstock said they went to 29 organizations for visually impaired and auditioned many actresses for the role, but ” ultimately we went with Perry Mattfeld (Shameless) for the lead role, because she was the best actor for the role “in a really exiting way.”
They did, however, cast blind actress Calle Walton in another role on the series and hired a blind writer.
Some critics thought the show an odd fit for CW. It developed out of a company retreat at which Bernson was an inspirational speaker, which left some at the network thinking “there is a show here” Weinstock explained. He wanted it to be written by Corinne Kingsbury who said she would only come on board if Bernson was involved. “I find, on any big swing idea, there usually is a show there. And it’s either a really good show or a really bad show,” Weinstock quipped.