Ben Edlund is exactly who you’d expect him to be. He created The Tick. He wrote and directed “Smile Time,” the puppet episode of Angel. And he’s penned some of Supernatural‘s most off-the-wall episodes like “Monster Movie” and “Wishful Thinking,” with the suicidal alcoholic teddy bear. He’s an insane genius, a master of the absurd whose brain operates in an entirely different way than normal people’s.
BuddyTV spoke to Edlund about where his wacky Supernatural ideas come from, though getting a straight answer from him isn’t easy since he seems as amused by his brilliantly off-beat mind as the rest of us are. In between fits of laughter, Edlund talked about his upcoming serious episode of Supernatural, the show’s use of religion, ghost bees and man-eating cookies. Continue reading for the full transcript and to listen to the interview.
Come back over the next two weeks for our interview with Supernatural writers Jeremy Carver and part 2 of our interview with Sera Gamble.
Exclusive Interview with Sera Gamble, Part 1
A lot of your episodes seems to be the light, funny, comedic episodes of Supernatural and is that on purpose, is that just how you approach writing?
Yeah. I think it’s a combination of things. The show itself, even before I got here, had that capacity, where it could go there, it had that as part of it’s territory. And I come from a background of a lot of that kind of writing. So it’s something that feeds into what kind of ideas I might be interested in and what ideas I pitch. And it’s changed up just recently, but I was pigeon-holed happily. And then actually Sera [Gamble] and I switched just recently, the last scripts we both wrote. She’s doing the wacky one and I’m doing the pull your hair-out, “Oh, that’s so terrible.” I mean terrible in a character sense.
Yeah, not terrible in a bad sense.
No, that’s not what we’re switching. I take my terrible with me.
Is that then difficult to transition? Because it seems like there’s a big difference in writing a more comedic, lighter episode than a heavier episode. So, is that a challenge?
Yeah. It’s hard for me when there’s not absurdist touches in it. It’s hard for me to track whether it’s good or not, because my sensibility leans in that direction so much. It’s a different thing. Scenes that have to kind of work fully on their dramatic engine and not so much on a secondary thread of jokes, set-ups and things like that. But you know it’s one kind of effort replacing another, because writing the comedy is it’s own kind of particular grind.
Have you ever either proposed something or come up with an idea that was almost too comedic or too out there? Because I know a lot of fans, with “Wishful Thinking” with the suicidal teddy bear, it was almost, but not quite, too much.
Well ask some people, for some people it’s way too much and that’s fine. Yeah, I routinely pitch things that will never see the light of day. I often think that I am making perfect sense. Like I feel like, “Oh no no, that’s the one.” I had one that I was sure of, it’s always when I’m driving into work, “I totally nailed it,” this one won’t get me laughed out of the room or have to stay in the room while laughter is ringing. Like the one I thought was perfect was ghost bees. Ghost bees, you don’t even have to pay for them…you just make sound effects.
Invisible ghost bees! Like a hive, that was wrongly dealt with in life. So for a good two to four hours that makes perfect sense to me, and then it wears off like any other mind-altering substance.
Does a lot of that come from creating The Tick, which sort of had the same basic premise?
Ghost bees would have totally flown on The Tick!
Exactly. So do you find yourself coming up with ideas and trying to fit them into a live action, serious horror show?
Every one of the core ideas on The Tick you could take from a different angle and go, “Oh wouldn’t it be spooky if?” Wouldn’t it be spooky if cookies were haunted and they tried to eat you? Yeah! There’s a great distance between my own personal ridiculous end-game and where we get to here, as far as what is allowable. And that’s cool, because without the governor on the engine, this show would make no sense.
Do you get input from fans saying we want more of this or this is a great idea for your show?
I have a friend of mine who doesn’t watch the show, but who is always desperate to get ideas on the show. And I’ve stolen quite a few of his ideas. As far as fan response, yes. When we’re at a convention or something then there are those moments. I don’t look too much at what goes on in the fan-website worlds. Although I see it once in awhile, it’s a little spooky to have people talking about you. So I don’t look at it too much, but I’m sure they have wonderful ideas. This is one of my high points: I pitched that we do an act break from the POV of a cat. Nowhere else in the story do you go into the cat’s POV, but only for one act break.
Was the cat relevant? Or was it just a passing, roaming cat?
It was some lady’s cat. The whole point was the cat was seeing a monster that no one else could see. But you never go back to the cat. And that’s why I need someone to stop me.
The religious aspect that’s been added to this fourth season, with the angels and the 66 seals, is that hard to incorporate or how do you attack that? Because, religion is such an omnipresent thing to put your own spin on it, it seems like a difficult task.
It’s just like doing a new Batman series. Yes, I like that area, and I like the notion of picking and choosing from the Judeo-Christian backdrop and putting forward that we got some things right and some things wrong, but ultimately there is something more going on in the universe. That’s really ripe stuff. And it’s a very interesting evolution for this show, to go from two guys in a car with Aerosmith, which was all really good fun and everything. I didn’t start thinking that we would get into this territory exactly, though it is always there when you are dealing with hell and the devil and all that stuff.
-Interview with John Kubicek
(Images courtesy of the CW)