Interview with Michael Steven Gregory,
writer of the episodes "Second Foundation" and "Antibody" of the Silver Surfer Animated Series!
QUESTION: How long have you been a reader of the Silver Surfer?
ANSWER: The entire universe of the Silver Surfer was new to me so, going in, I wasn't strapped with the baggage some writers have in adapting beloved material from one medium to another. What's important in adaptation is to capture the essence of the source material and explore its potential in fresh, evocative ways to, hopefully, win an additional audience, but all the while staying faithful to the universe created starting with the first episode.
QUESTION: When did you first get interested in the Silver Surfer?
ANSWER: It wasn't until first being approached to write for the show that I had any knowledge of the Surfer, other than maybe some vague idea from childhood of a chromey guy with a surfboard. Larry Brody gave me a rundown of the story and articulated a very clear vision of how he wanted to approach the adaptation of characters and sophistication of storytelling. He felt from the get-go a more richly layered, cinematic style of scripting was necessary to capture the underlying themes and essence of the original comic books. Coming from a live-action feature background this appealed to me. Our feeling all along was we're writing a live-action show that happens to star animated actors.
QUESTION: What was your favorite Silver Surfer story?
ANSWER: Speaking in terms of the series bible, as that's my only reference, I have to say the "Antibody" episode. We'd elected to deal with some pretty heady issues on top of confronting the Surfer's own guilt and internal suffering for the "crimes" he'd unknowingly perpetrated as Galactus' herald. Starting with a Big Picture approach, these issues ranged from cancer, patricide, the spark of new love, obsession and vigilante justice to self-absolution and the ability to forgive, or at least understand and tolerate the nature of being. The ability to deal with these layers successfully within the confines of "childrens programming" rules is the challenge. The continuous give and take that occurs from script rewrite to network approval to script rewrite -- made it an interesting journey. Where my nature is to push over the top, Brody's is, fortunately for me, to constructively restrain. As a result I believe the final draft achieved some good, substantive conflict between the Surfer and Galactus, and sheds further light on the complexity of their relationship to each other. What's admirable about the show are the lofty aspirations of the talent behind it. While the final airing script may be a greatly diluted interpretation of what we'd started with, its integrity remains intact, and I think that is what'll make it as engaging to watch for mature, as well as younger audiences.
QUESTION: Who were your favorite inspirations in writing the Silver Surfer? And why?
ANSWER: No single character was so much an inspiration as was the one enduring theme: the unending quest of a persecuted hero for a long lost love. That premise alone for me provides such a grand canvas to paint on. I got to handle the Surfer/Nova relationship arc in the first season, and I suspect that next year we'll see some more interesting stuff between them.
QUESTION: Please tell us about the episode "Antibody."
ANSWER: Galactus is dying and the Surfer has to go inside his body to save him before it's too late. The citizens of the universe, represented by the ragtag fleet of Wanderers, holds its breath in anticipation, counting down the minutes to a moment none ever dared dream of: the end of Galactus! But why should they wait for nature to take its course? And why would the Surfer willingly save the life of the Great Devourer? And what is the source of the affliction that's killing him? These are the questions answered only is episode 7!
QUESTION: Will Nova first appear in "Antibody?"
ANSWER: This is Nova's introduction to the Surfer. It's a pivotal episode in that it establishes the chemistry between them, and sets up the prospect for mutual adventure in future stories.
QUESTION: Please tell us about the episode "Second Foundation."
ANSWER: Nova keeps her word to the Surfer in using her abilities to locate Zenn-La. She gets a hit and they go off in search. But instead of Zenn-La, what they discover is the nest world of the Skrull where they uncover a political conspiracy and a government on the brink of revolution!
QUESTION: What was your favorite part in working on the Silver Surfer animated series?
ANSWER: The opportunity to work and learn from a top-notch writer/story editor (Brody) with an "Aspire To That" attitude verses one of "Settle For This."
QUESTION: Who was your favorite character to work on?
ANSWER: The Surfer. As mentioned before, there's something about a noble man of good intent who has done a terrible wrong, either willfully or not, for which he is willing to pay when given a chance, and yet continues to press forward in effort to redeem himself in the eyes of his accusers. I just love that! And, of course, the eternal search for internal peace and the quiet, desperate hope of reuniting with his true and only love -- it just breaks my heart. Back to the "Antibody" episode, I introduced a character named Mao Jihaak who really had it in for the Surfer since he was responsible for her civilization's destruction. We ultimately reduced Mao to a cameo and transferred the character motivation to another, pre-existing Marvel character called Gamora. I think it put Mao's agent in a snit.
QUESTION: What are your plans to do next?
ANSWER: Got the annual Southern California Writers' Conference *San Diego to wrap up in March. This is an event I run every year which rekindles the spirit and faith in the writing business for me and alot of other writers and allows us to carry on for another year. I have a feature script to turn in shortly. Then, a couple of directing things before getting back to work writing -- which is what I should be doing anyhow!
You can find out more about Michael Steven Gregory at http://http://www.writersconference.com/msgindex.html and check out his Silver Surfer: Evolution of a TV Script page at http://www.writersconference.com/ssmain.html where you can see his actual scripts from "Antibody" and "Second Foundation."
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