Jane Espenson is one of the most beloved science fiction TV writers out there, and also a very busy one. She's worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Caprica and a whole bunch of other shows, and now she's working on the new season of Torchwood.
She'll be writing about a third of the season-four episodes, so we asked her to tell us what she's got planned for Torchwood fans and how she ended up working on the show:
Okay, so first, are you a big Torchwood fan?
Oh, yes! I enjoyed earlier seasons a lot (Hi, James Marsters!), but was impressed on a whole 'nother level by Children of Earth. The combination of wildly imaginative science fiction with totally grounded reality ... it really blew me away.
How did you end up getting the writing gig? And exactly how involved are you going to be?
I'm thrilled to say I was invited. My agent told me about it very casually; I was already busy at the time, and he thought I'd want to decline, but I jumped in fast to say I absolutely wanted to participate. I will be writing three episodes of the 10-episode arc.
What's got you most excited about it?
Working with Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner and the others. Writing for a show I already adore, for characters and actors I already respect. Writing for a show with roots in another country—this is a new experience for me, and I'm loving it.
And is there something you're just DYING to do or try on the show? Or something you can only do because it's Torchwood?
I love blending tones—mixing the broadly comedic moment in with the darkly dramatic one can heighten both. Torchwood is a show that welcomes that kind of moment. I'm also really eager to play with all the culture-clash material that comes naturally out of the show's pedigree. And I'm especially eager to write material that pushes the boundaries of what can ordinarily be done on television.
So how do you approach a show like Torchwood vs. your work on, say, Buffy or Caprica?
Because of the length of our season and the lead time before production begins, we're actually approaching Torchwood in a very unusual way—all the episodes will be written before any of them begin shooting. This is allowing us to "break" all the episodes at once, with the entire writing staff working together in a very concentrated one-month work session. This is making for a very intense and collaborative process, all guided by Russell's very precise vision. The final product is going to be tightly plotted and lovingly crafted.
Can you give us any juicy details? Or maybe just some slightly moist
ones? Or anything at all?
We've already changed the name of at least one character that was announced in the press. And there's nothing to stop us from changing more—so if you hear anything, even if it was true at some point, it probably isn't anymore. So the more you learn about Torchwood, the less you know.