The Gray Area Season 2

Inside the Gray Area: “Canny Valley”

July 28, 2020

The discussion continues with Part 5 of “Paths Not Taken.” Over a few glasses of scotch, writer and showrunner Edward Champion discusses how he broke his own rules with “Paths Not Taken,” the tricky nature of sustaining momentum for feature film-length radio plays, wrangling 290 tracks of audio, why Maya and Chelsea aren't prominent in this episode, the importance of worldbuilding, why Urbana is mispronounced, the problems with Harvard men, the blind spots of “smart” people, why Ingeborg Reidmeier is brilliant and why she got the lead role for this story, asexuality, sexual kinks, connections to “The Demon Hunters,” gorilla glass, how Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography was used for research, the crossover between wingnuts and innovators, the creation of the engineers, gender parity in storytelling, responding to the techbro culture of Silicon Valley, on having to scrap outrageous fictitious news items because they came true, working with the great Carol Jacobanis, contemplating a second term of Trump, on using government audio clips for drama, Years and Years, Russell T. Davies, the family of Apotheosis engineers, screwball comedy directors from the 1930s, the problems with dystopian fiction, pushing back against the flaws of The Man in the High Castle and The Handmaid's Tale, the Ted Sarvas Easter egg, why you should never mess with a writer, how a typo in the script presented a creative opportunity, Terry Gilliam's Brazil, why the Southern preacher appeared on the newscast, the amazing Luvelle Pierre, how The Golden Girls became a great source of inspiration during recording, “dollface” and James Cagney, A Tale of Two Cities, Dorothy Parker, history as a series of cycles (Vico!), whether or not revolution is a viable option in America, Margaret Atwood, the Mannstein Plan, creating a flowchart of multiple universes, Fringe, inventing “smart paper,” creating security safeguards from the imagination, being inspired by the cage from “Once Upon a Time” and “Fallout” in The Prisoner, Lane's alleged illiteracy, unreliable characters, the dark web, the difficulties with growling stomachs in audio drama, William Gibson, John Carpenter's Escape from New York, how to insinuate a larger world with a small detail, the problems with continental breakfasts, the joys of Jewish culture, The South Beach Diet, researching Tony Danza, improvising interruptions during recording, the Futurama connection to electromatter, why all the women swooned for The Receptionist during recording, Being There, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, The Wizard of Oz as a story template, how Sam Raimi also uses the Oz “returning home” template, the use of anagrams, the unanticipated influence of Doctor Who's anagrams, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the Megaphone VST plugin, what he recorded to make the door smashing sound feel right, paying homage to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, social engineering and hacking, the alternative Brianna (seen previously in “Loopholes”), why “maybe it's the pipes” is a silly cliché, coming close to recording on a gun range, capitalists who profit on people's dreams, the vacuum monologue, and encouraging weird intensity in actors. (Running time: 33 minutes, 45 seconds)

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