To say that I’m a fan of Jane Espenson’s work would be something of an understatement. I’m of the opinion that she’s one of the best TV writers out there. She’s written for some of my favorite shows (Firefly, Buffy, Battlestar Galactica and more recently, Game of Thrones). I could go on and on about Espenson and how some of the episodes she’s written are absolutely brilliant (Buffy examples of brilliance include “Band Candy,” “Pangs,” “Conversations With Dead People,” and “Life Serial.”) but if you know who she is, odds are, you’re already aware of her skills. From the sounds of it, she’s been keeping busy lately, with numerous upcoming projects.
The Huffington Post spoke with Espenson about her recent work, including Game of Thrones, the upcoming Torchwood: Miracle Day and her latest job on the writing team for ABC’s upcoming drama Once Upon A Time. The whole interview is worth reading, whether you’re a fan of hers or have an interest in TV writing in general. I also recommend following her on twitter @JaneEspenson.
On the subject of writing for Game of Thrones, Espenson expressed enthusiasm toward the writing team for the show and of course, the excellent source material. She was also very pleased about the portion of the story she got to write about, especially the horse heart.
I LOVED LOVED LOVED my experience at Game of Thrones! I was told which part of the book was "mine," and I tried to stick close to it. I had been given the BEST part, of course -- not just the crown, but the horse heart -- it was the horse heart that just blew me away as a reader. I knew they wanted to capture the book, but I was also given license. For example, there was very little if any Arya in that part of the book and in my initial draft I added some material for her, and David Benioff and DB Weiss were very happy with that and supportive of adding when it made sense
As Arya’s tied with Daenerys as my favorite character in GoT, I loved that she managed to squeeze in some screen time for the adorable, sword-fighting girl.
Espenson didn’t have much to say in terms of specifics for ABC’s upcoming drama series Once Upon A Time, which will bring certain classic fairytale stories to modern day in a mix of fantasy and reality. The series seems to be in the early phases of development beyond the pilot, however she does seem enthusiastic about the story.
I would like to see more shows that mix humor and scifi - they often do really well. I just signed on to be Consulting Producer on Once Upon A Time, and I think it has the right mix. It's got a great feel to it -- the characters in it are bringing reality into a sweetly idealized world and vice versa in a really compelling way.
Espenson is apparently in the process of adapting U.K. series Randall and Hopkirk, Deceased for Syfy, as another British-to-American remake (much like Being Human except this BBC series aired back in 2000 and only for 13 epiosdes). Here’s what she had to say on that project.
I just know that SyFy came to me and Drew Z. Greenberg with this UK show 'Randall and Hopkirk, Deceased,' about a PI team, one of whom is a ghost. Now, we don't even normally write as a team, but that was part of the appeal, since we really do work well together. We looked at the show and liked it, and we considered various approaches, and ended up going with something kind of Battlestar-like in that we decided to really ground it.
For those of you who are interested in the upcoming Starz series Torchwood: Miracle Day, Espenson didn’t give a lot away in terms of the plot, however she does remind people that it’s not a reboot and that this is still the same show fans have been loving and supporting for years.
Well, I can't give plot spoilers, but I can remind people that it's not a reboot, or "American remake". This is the same show. The adventure brings our UK characters to the US and there are new US characters, but this is also still Jack and Gwen and Rhys and even PC (now Sgt) Andy. There are scenes set and shot back in Wales and lots of references to previous adventures. It's Russell's show as much as it ever was.
I’ve already established myself as a huge fan of Espenson’s so this could just be fan-loyalty here, but I believe Espenson’s the kind of writer who writes for what she likes and would want to stay loyal to the original work and try to enhance what’s already good about a show and the characters as opposed to changing them or turning them into something else. So, I do believe Torchwood is in good hands with her and I’m more excited than ever to see Miracle Day.
Finally, she also talked a bit about writing women and the difference between male and female characters. Her perspective on the subject is really interesting and may clue us into how she manages to bring the best out of the characters.
My personal belief is that men and women are so much more alike than people think. So all of this stuff about owning our differentness always leaves me a little confused. And that awful "women are actually smarter" thing has just resulted in a bunch of killjoy female characters who stop the men from doing fun things. I'm so delighted that Tina Fey has finally managed to write a woman who is so hilariously imperfect, but not imperfect because she's a woman -- imperfect because she's a person. God, that is the hardest line to walk.
Read the full interview at HuffingtonPost.com.