Exclusive Interview: John Shiban, Executive Producer of Supernatural (Part 3)
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How does it work when you sit down in the writers room at the beginning of season? Do the individual writers pitch their own ideas? Do the Head Writers come up with the ideas and then assign scripts? How many writers do you have on staff? Yeah, it's kind of all of the above, to be honest. Basically in both seasons, Eric and I started the year off sitting down and talking mythology for a week or two, just trying to figure out how we are going to advance the boy's story and what to do with dad and the demon, etc., etc. Eric had in his mind since the beginning sort of the five year plan, but its how you parcel that out and how you tell that story over an individual year, something has to be worked out because you never know what's going to happen along the way. Some really interesting things came up in year one that we're playing with now. So, we'll do that, and then we'll bring in our staff. I mean, our staff is not huge, but we have another writing producer, consulting producer, two story editors and a staff writer currently. And then there's Eric and myself, and Bob Singer comes in every once in awhile and pinch hits on a script now and again. But we've got enough to keep...we've got into a groove in that everybody will get together early in the year and throw out ideas, and we'll put them up on a board in the writers room and check off ideas as we go. And everybody's ideas are fair game because usually what happens is we'll end up combining one or two. Someone will have a really good situation for Sam to be in, and another writer will have a really good monster. And you go, wait a minute, what if we take your Sammie story and this guys' monster, and that's an episode. We kind of found a groove although we were a little heavy on mythology early this year because of Dad's demise, so we naturally had to deal with that, so that made our first few episodes really big on mythology. But we tried to parcel it out so you get a big story about Sam and his fate, and then we'll get into a more monster of the week for two or three episodes, and then we'll come back to the mythology again. We try to parcel it out. You know you want a big cliffhanger for the end of the season and a cliffhanger for Christmas break. And then we'll work individually with the writers breaking those stories, we don't usually break them with everyone, so that we have writers that are writing and writers that are outlining, and writers that are breaking at any one moment. Will Jeffrey Dean Morgan be back for an episode or two? I can say yes, we have plans of bringing him back and having Dad make an appearance. It's not in the near future, but as is obvious on our show, the dead are not always dead, and we've heard about where he may or may not be as you recall if you saw the last episode that aired, "Crossroad Blues", where the demon said Dad's down in hell suffering. Yeah, demons sometimes lie, but I don't know. We will deal with that and you will see him again, but I'm not sure when. Will Dean or Sam ever get love interests? Indeed! There is an episode coming up where Sam will actually get very much involved with a young lady, but the trick with them as the fans know is they're always on the move, so relationships are hard to establish and hard to maintain. But we're going to try to deal with that issue and let Sam have some emotion there. Is there anything you want to tell your fans about any upcoming episodes? Yeah. I'm really excited about the next new one, we had two repeats in a row after November sweeps, and now we've got Croatoan coming up, which is really one we've talked about for a long time and we used to talk about the same thing on X-Files, which is that old legend of the lost colony of Roanoke. If you remember your history class, Roanoke was one of the first English colonies in the Americas. The colony was established and then a few years later someone had come back and everyone had just disappeared and its always been a mystery, and it's fascinating. So taking the idea of that and putting it into a modern day town that may or may not disappear overnight, we trap our boys there, was a lot of fun. This is sort of a combination of Roanoke with "28 Days Later". I always wanted to do a George Romero kind of movie, and this is our chance to do it, and it turned out terrific. We do have a very big mythology episode coming up where you'll learn a lot more about Sam and you're going to learn about what Dad whispered to Dean about Sam on his deathbed. And we're going to find that out very soon, we're not going to wait until the end of the year to reveal it. I'm excited about that, and that'll really tee up a very interesting endgame for the end of the season.
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This interview is the fifth in a series of BuddyTV interviews with the creators, writers, and producers behind many of TV's hit shows. Thus far, we've featured an interview with Mark Schwahn (creator of One Tree Hill) an interview with Hank Steinberg (creator of The Nine), an interview with David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik (the creators of The Class), and an interview with David S. Rosenthal (new Head Writer/Executive Producer of Gilmore Girls).
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