Fans of other fandom worlds will try and argue it, but there is nothing like a Roswell fan. For a small cult show that flew relatively under the radar, the fan-base is so obsessively devoted that they truly rival any superhero fan, Trekkies, or even the Star Wars community. Offering up the perfect blend of both mythology and emotion, mixing The X-Files and My So-Called Life in a way that had truly never been done before, the show touched audiences on a whole other level- creating an impactful bond that really only the community of super-fans and those involved with the show might ever truly understand.
So artistically impressive, with it’s super-fan reception so severe, the sociological evolution of what Roswell spawned really lends a hand to the entire fandom culture that is popular today. The network canned Roswell in favor of Smallville; a more simplistic version of the alien/human teen Romeo and Juliet story that audiences could be more familiar with as it had a well-known branding attached to it; the Superman story. Smallville took the basic structure of Roswell and watered it down with its language and plot structure, offering the classic “good vs. evil” concept, where every episode the hero faced a “freak of the week,” rather than Roswell- where the heroes were often selfish, layered, complex anti-heroes that faced complicated story arcs. Smallville won out as the show was easier for audiences to digest, and from there, superheroes become a phenomenon on television and in the box office- leading to the comic-con world we know today. And Smallville wasn’t the only one to take Roswell’s formula and water it down for viewers. In 2008, the idea of a supernatural teenage Romeo saving his mortal Juliet chemistry partner’s life and trusting her with his family’s otherworldly secret came up again, only swapping vampires for aliens with Twilight. And for all those who might be saying; “Twilight was a book first!” Well, so was Roswell. And thus, even more copies branched off and were born from thousands of vampire, werewolf and zombie shows and movies, as well as adapting supernatural teen-lit to screen.
As much as anyone cares to argue the fact- Roswell gave birth to the modern fandom movement, and it gets zero credit or recognition for it. Never appreciated for what it was, the show faced cancellation every season it was on as fans started the original fandom campaign before campaigns like these ever even existed; getting their beloved show renewed by sending bottles of Tobasco Sauce to the network. Friendships were formed within the fan community, lives were touched, quilts were made- it became so much more than a TV show for so many people, and catapulted the enormously talented cast and crew to extremely successful careers- including writer Jason Katims, who went on to write Friday Night Lights, and David Nutter, who most recently won an Emmy for directing Game Of Thrones.
Now, two of the extremely beloved cast members are teaming up again to pay tribute to those fans that have shown them such endless devotion by offering up a brand new show that recaptures the magic of what they fell in love with. With new show Baron and Toluca, Roswell actress Majandra Delfino has written a script that encompasses all the best elements of what fans loved about the cult-classic, blending sci-fi and dramedy, and recruiting her on screen partner in crime Brendan Fehr along for the ride. Knowing that it would be pretty impossible to get Roswell back, but wanting to give fans something for being the most amazing fans in the world, Fehr and Delfino hope to give audiences something new that they can enjoy, while paying homage to the nostalgia. For many fans, this cast is like family- and to have them back in any capacity would be a dream. Having been written and directed so brilliantly, the talented actors of Roswell were utilized in a way where they could truly let a lot of their own flare shine through- and that is a big part of what made fans feel extra close to them. With Fehr and Delfino, they have always had a magnetic chemistry that plays perfectly into both dramatic and comedic moments- and if they can bring 1/10th of that spark into Baron And Toluca the show will be good as gold, as really more than anything all fans want is to see them together again.
And the spark is definitely still there. The second they are together for the interview, they are bouncing off one another and showing that after all these years they are still very much the same dynamic duo that everybody fell in love with. They say not to sit too close at a ballet, but any fan who would be around the two of them would only fall further in love as they are the two funniest and most down to earth people imaginable. And, as far as the fans go, the devotion goes both ways. Baron and Toluca is Delfino and Fehr’s love letter back to the fans as they very much realize and appreciate how great this community is- especially after all these years. Almost twenty years later, Roswell still doesn’t get the true recognition it deserves, but it definitely has it’s rabid fan-base- and this is not lost on Fehr and Delfino who realize in the sweetest way possible how special this all is as they were saved from cancellation so many times thanks to these people.
Now, as they try and gift the fans with something new, they have a whole new campaign in the works- trading Tobasco Sauce for Tweets as they try and get Baron And Toluca picked up by Netflix- and it’s off to a triumphant start! Read more below to learn about how to get your favorite couple back on TV, and what you can do to help!
Let’s first talk about what inspired you two to join forces again and how Baron And Toluca came about? Although this is a major reunion for the two of you and does bring back several of the Roswell elements that people enjoyed, it’s not a reboot or a sequel. What is the plot, and what can fans expect?
MAJANDRA DELFINO: Basically, what happened was that I had this idea that I could not shake, and it essentially involved a very meta-take on the lives of people that had been in Michael and Maria’s situation. I had written a pilot and I just couldn’t shake the thing. I had an option deal elsewhere, but I had this thing that just loomed and I couldn’t really ignore it. So, I finally approached this very huge player in the Roswell family- who will remain nameless for now- and I asked him to read it and tell me whether or not I was crazy, or if I had something substantial. And he read it and loved it and said that this is really cool, and really special and could capture what people liked so much- while still really being something completely different on its own. And he also said that the TV landscape needs something like this because there is nothing out there specifically representing science fiction as it was in the 90’s- now it has become this whole other thing of superheroes, etc. And there is something really nice about going back to what it was that Roswell represented for people. So, I worked on it with this man and sharpened it up to have it be ready and worthy, not just for the fans, but for Brendan- and just as I was getting close to putting the cherry on top and finishing, low and behold I get a call from Brendan and... [looks to Brendan to take the story] Brendan, this is where you take over the story.
BRENDAN FEHR: So, I was on hiatus and me and Majandra hadn’t spoken in a while, and I remember driving and picking up something my wife had bought on Craigslist, and with my mind just kind of going, and always thinking of what is the next step, I felt the need to create something- but I don’t write, and so I had this idea hit me that I knew who I wanted to create something with. So, I just wound up giving Majandra a call out of the blue, and she was so excited, and I told her that I thought we needed to do something creatively together. And funny enough, she told me how she was on the verge of finishing this script for us- so the timing of it was just crazy. It was incredible. We hadn’t talked in however long, and I just felt this compulsion to give her a call- because I just knew there was something special concerning what we did on screen together. It was fun for us to do, and that made it fun for the fans to watch. So, I didn’t want to recreate what we had, but I wanted to use that and do something unique and special and use the strengths that we had as individuals and as the people we had grown into, and then as a team, but always keeping that beloved familiarity around it as well- to bring the fans in and give them what they want, but something that we want as well. So, it was this great series of events and we both jumped in with two feet and made this happen.
MAJANDRA: And it’s funny, because although we are keeping the plot very vague right now, something I can say is that it does start with sort of an off-shoot of comic-con that brings these two people back together. And I put the project on hold for a bit because I just thought I was crazy. I was like; “This is stupid, this is in your head, no one is into it, they don’t care what happens to Brendan and I, or Michael and Maria, or these people playing them,” or, whatever. So, I put it on hold. But, then we wound up attending the Austin Television Festival, and not only did we end up seeing so many fans that made me realize there really was a need for this type of genre, but it so mimicked in a weird way what I had already written that it felt so incredibly meta to me. So, I spent my time sharpening it up and that’s when it was finally ready to be read and Brendan called. And what’s great about it is that it’s not just about the two characters that give fans that feeling that they love so much, but it really is that great kind of paranormal show- because I’m just kind of obsessed with that world. That was a real drive for me. I want to see that stuff come back. And I will say, having had this stamp of approval from this mystery man was epic- because it made me feel like it could in fact be a great love letter to Roswell that people could actually love.
Do you at all worry that fans of Roswell will be so desperate for Roswell back that with this having such similar themes they will always go back to that? And does doing this mean that an actual Roswell reboot is completely out of the cards?
MAJANDRA: It doesn’t really have themes that are that similar that I think fans will feel that way. And I don’t know as far as licensing and all that, but the man that encouraged me to go forward with it told me that he gets a call about a Roswell movie at least every day from a fan- and he doesn’t know how they have the number to call. Roswell fans are devoted. But, it would just be impossible for it to happen- way too many moving parts, too many people, it just doesn’t seem feasible. So, I just figured that this could really be the next best thing- I figured fans would rather see something, than never see anything again.
BRENDAN: Right, and you’re obviously not going to please everybody. What’s comparable in my world is the new Harry Potter book. My daughter read all the other books, and now she’s reading this new one. And it’s not the same for her- it’s different and written in play form, and jumps ahead nineteen years. She’s not embracing it just as much as the other books. It’s not canon, per say. So, with Baron And Toluca, it is its own thing- it’s not Roswell canon, but we always want to pay homage to the show, we want to appreciate and include the fans and bring them along for the ride. But, we don’t want to try and recreate something- because when you try and do that it only comes across as imitation and never seems authentic. So, we will definitely always be paying tribute to the original, and of course the devoted fans, and have the little Easter eggs that fans will appreciate- but create something new. But, of course, we will always maintain the chemistry of these characters. Even when we were doing Roswell, one thing Majandra and I always brought up was Moonlighting with Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd. It’s that chemistry that is so much fun to watch because it can go so many different ways. And we’re bringing that dynamic into something fun and new. So, it’s repackaged familiarity...
MAJANDRA: I like what that guy said...what was it? It’s a “Spiritual Successor?”
BRENDAN: A “Spiritual Successor!” Yes! Some guy said that. And some people can think of it almost as like an alternate universe.
MAJANDRA: Right, it’s very meta. And it still allows Roswell to have been alive and still be alive. And what’s great, is that the people who have been a part of Roswell who might have had major resistance to ever being attached to something like Roswell again, this gives them sort of a vehicle to maybe pop in and do a guest star or guest directing spot without ever really being fully attached.
BRENDAN: Right, so it’s definitely an original story without ever disparaging the name. We are looking to be judged on Baron And Toluca’s own merit. It’s the best of both worlds of nostalgia and newness.
Majandra, you are also really joining the amazing women’s movement happening in film with this project as you get behind the lens, as well as in front of it by both writing and creating the story- which is something that isn’t quite alien to you. Just recently, you were in Band Aid, directed by the amazing actress turned director Zoe Lister-Jones with Roswell co-star Colin Hanks, and your other spectacular Roswell co-star, Shiri appleby, hasn’t just been doing Emmy worthy work in front of the camera on UnReal- but she’s also been directing as well! How does it feel joining that movement? And Brendan, what do you think of Majandra as a writer? Is there any chance Baron and Toluca will see Shiri Appleby or Zoe Lister-Jones on to direct some episodes? And as you mentioned before, any chance any of the rest of the amazing Roswell cast might come back to guest star?
MAJANDRA: Wow, as far as writing, I actually had someone on the set of Roswell- Rodney [Charters]- buy me Final Draft Pro when I was eighteen and tell me; “Please use this!” He was really sold that I had some writing talent. Which, of course at the time I was sitting there thinking; “Am I gnarly looking? Do I not belong in front of the camera?” [Brendan, Majandra and I all crack up] But, I really thank him, because now I’ve always been writing, and I wound up having the man who loves Baron And Toluca become a silent mentor of mine- and I couldn’t be learning from someone better- he is the best. So, this has been my long journey of trying to write something worthy to get people to tune in to see it. And of course we would love our Easter egg directors on the show to be kick-ass Roswell players- Shiri [Appleby], Colin [Hanks], everyone! And as far as Zoe [Lister-Jones]? She has to do what I say! Of course she will be on! [Laughs] She’s one of my best friends! She has no choice.
BRENDAN: As far as Majandra as a writer goes, I think this is a great script. I had so much fun reading it. And even early on when Majandra was just writing music, she was always just so creative- so much more creative than me. She always had that ability and skill, and it’s apparent as she sold a number of scripts. But, this was one that we wanted to keep for ourselves because we are just as passionate about it as the fans are. And I trust her so much in her writing.
MAJANDRA: And it’s very much a joint venture. Brendan and I, as much as we always get into fights with each other and have that back and forth, we have an innate trust in each other. So, as much as I’m providing material on the page, Brendan has an extremely sharp eye. So, the dream scenario would be him directing a lot of the episodes, with myself as the writer. This would be a great team effort in creating this world.
BRENDAN: In a dream world, all the prep- the writing, the story and the bible of this world is Majandra, with me putting in my two cents here and there. And then once it’s ready to shoot and as far as producing it, hopefully I will take on an even larger role. I’ve always wanted to direct- even back during the Roswell days. I was always behind the monitor and this was always a huge passion of mine. So, ideally, this was really a great partnership as her strengths are really in writing and my strengths are really more in bringing it to the screen.
MAJANDRA: You’re like the David Nutter to my Jason Katims. [We all laugh] This is that moment where we start to compare ourselves to such great people, and really we’re just assholes! [The laughs get louder, as these two are truly the most charismatic, fun, and down to earth people.] But, in all seriousness, the perfect situation is shutting me away in a room to write, and Brendan rallying everyone together with that director’s eye.
Let’s talk about Netflix and why that network has been the projected home for Baron And Toluca. What made you seek out Netflix? Would you be open to the idea of having the show on another channel as well?
MAJANDRA: We are open to other channels, and we actually have already had a few bites. The reason we are so dead-set on Netflix is because I think Netflix is partly, if not mostly, why our fan-base has multiplied to such a crazy extent. I feel like our fans are still the same age, and only Brendan and I are getting older. And I think Netflix has this beautiful reputation of being nostalgic. It’s sort of the perfect home for Baron And Toluca.
BRENDAN: And even though this isn’t a reboot, we did take a look at the fact they are putting on Fuller House, and a follow up to The Gilmore Girls- and their love of bringing back those well liked television shows and bringing them back to life, that is something we thought fits into our mold. And obviously just the format of Netflix that allows us to do a shorter season of 6-10 episodes, which I think is really great.
MAJANDRA: Right- it helps you make a better show that is really worthy of these fans and the amazing campaign.
BRENDAN: The streaming services, as well as cable, they hire people that they trust and then they let them go do their thing. I think that’s really important. I think a good boss hires someone they think is really qualified, and then basically gets out of their way and lets them do the job they were hired to do- and the cable networks allow shows to do that. And that freedom is important creatively.
MAJANDRA: We also have big players in our industry that are eager to get involved, and we want to be able to come to them with something as prestigious as Netflix.
Speaking of reaching out to Netflix, talk a little bit about the online petition going on currently on Twitter every Saturday to try and get Baron And Toluca viral. How has it gone so far, and how can more fans get involved if they want to see the show on the air?
MAJANDRA: Well, it was sort of one of those experimental things to see if anyone would be interested, and then it just took off as something that became beyond Brendan and I that was run by fans- with one super-fan sort of overseeing the campaign. It’s gone great, we trend number five every single time, and it’s been about five weeks. It’s really about getting more people to tweet at this point, see updates at the website, and learn what the motivation of fans are- which sounds so weird to say, because I feel like I’m almost saying that from a secondary position. It seems like there is some second-tier movement. You know how Roswell fans are. As far as us, the more people that show that Baron And Toluca is something they do indeed want and that there is an actual built in live audience, then it has more of a chance.
BRENDAN: Remember, we didn’t have this kind of social media when shooting Roswell. But, Roswell knows all about campaigns! Someone said; “Twitter is the new Tobasco!” Which, in a sense, it is. So, we were just sort of investigating the interest on social media, and twitter is just so immediate, so that’s why we chose it first. But, fans are already saying that it’s spreading to Facebook and Instagram. So, again, it is this whole campaign where we put this out in to the ether and fans just helped us find our way in helping make this show a reality. But, we still have a long ways to go and need more fans to participate- but they are all out there.
MAJANDRA: It’s such a huge turn-out. It’s really given us the fuel. And I think that’s why other networks are now interested, because it’s become so big that you can’t ignore it. It’s like; get the attention of the prettiest girl in the room- aka Netflix, and everyone has to tell their friends.
BRENDAN: So, we’ll be releasing more throughout time. Maybe a trailer? We haven’t decided.
MAJANDRA: Ideas to give people incentive while feeling the waters of the level of excitement that is out there.
Obviously, it’s common fact that the Roswell fan-base is one of the most devoted communities in the world that know how to get things done- and they never lost hope in the show. Talk about a memory with a Roswell fan that truly stands out to you where you remember knowing just how much of an impact the show had on people.
MAJANDRA: God, I feel like there are too many to count. It was always so clear that it was just such an impactful show. Both Brendan and I were really into attending things and getting out there and meeting people. But, to me, what really spoke volumes was that this many years later the fever and passion is still there, and new lives are being changed by the show- and that’s where I was just Godsmacked by the effect it continues to have.
BRENDAN: The campaign that is running now is just amazing. Every week I find even more new fans saying how they love the show, asking what the campaign is all about. In terms of how close this fan-base is? It’s kind of a sad story, but it really shows how much people’s lives were touched; I attended a funeral of one of the women who was on The Crashdown originally. These fans come from all over to visit. I know one woman named Sue who was a big fan, and she would come all the way from England to visit her American friend that she met while talking about Roswell twenty years ago- they are lifelong friends and they spend time together. And I’m in contact with these people! They all have their handles- like Moondragon- who was a huge community member. She was kind of close to Covina where we shot the show. And someone had posted that she had passed, and I had met her several times, so when they posted the details of the funeral and asked if anyone would like to send flowers or whatnot I happened to be in town at that point, so I went and attended the funeral. Afterwards, I spoke to her husband and I shook his hand and he didn’t recognize me, but I mentioned that I wanted to give my condolences. So, he thanked me, and asked who I was, and when I told him that I was Brendan Fehr his face just lit up. He asked me; “What are you doing here?” And I told him that I knew her and how much I appreciate this kind of thing- and he broke down a bit and couldn’t believe it. And it was in that moment that I really realized that this was so beyond fanboys and fangirls for this community, and I got to be a part of that community too. And it was fun and important to be a part of it. The friendships that were made through this community, the hard times that people got through while watching that show- I’ve never heard the kind of stories I’ve heard from fans about anything else I’ve ever done. They are not comparable to how fans feel about this show. So, to be able to pay homage to that and have fun doing while doing it and create something new that these amazing fans can enjoy is really our goal. We have the material to do it, and we have the passion, and we know we have the love for these fans.
What about on you, personally? Is there any scene from Roswell you can think back to filming, or even that you can watch over and over and always think of with just the fondest memories?
BRENDAN: For me? It’s the origin of Michael and Maria. It has to be all of 285 South. That’s the one where when I look at everything, that was the start of it all. And even Majandra and I, as actors, at the time we were like; “So, this is what they’re doing with us? Okay, so I guess it’s going to be us.” Because we didn’t know that in the beginning- it evolved.
MAJANDRA: That’s so funny, I couldn’t agree more- that’s definitely my favorite- 285 South. All that stuff that went down. And what people don’t even realize is that because our characters didn’t have much happening together until then? Brendan and I didn’t even know each other as individuals in real life! So, there was so much that happened, and it felt like, “Oh, great, I’m stuck with YOU!” And then we had so much fun! And then realizing that there was something really special about the chemistry and the characters. That was such a powerful realization.
BRENDAN: I think that’s the first time you really saw the dynamic between the two, and it was such a great foundation that was created for the rest of the series and our relationship. My memory is hazy on some other episodes, and I could use a brush up, but that is one that just doesn’t go away- it just comes right to my mind. That episode.
Have you already read through any of the script of Baron and Toluca together? How does it sound? Do you have any other dream casting choices, or people you would love to get on board the project?
MAJANDRA: We definitely have our dream ideas.
BRENDAN: There’s a few characters in there that could be filled by some pretty incredible people! It all depends on who we could get on board. But the script is so well done, Majandra did an amazing job. It’s really it’s own thing, but has all the best elements of the best episodes of Roswell where it’s that fine line of comedy and drama- where it’s character driven, but still has that excellent sci-fi component. It’s also funny, without ever being cheesy. Baron And Toluca will definitely have that 285 South feeling where you get these two characters that hate to love each other, and love to hate each other while in this great sci-fi world. It will be a very fun ride.
MAJANDRA: It is going to be a really, really fun time!
We’re going to play a quick Roswell trivia game...
- What was the name of the Roswell holy grail that possessed powers of time travel and space travel?
BRENDAN: The Granolith! I said the Granolater before! [Laughs]
- What mysterious organization was Congresswoman Whitaker a part of that lured the cast to Copper Summit, Arizona for the Harvest?
MAJANDRA: Oh, I know this! Ugh, I had two children! I have ten percent left of my brain!
BRENDAN: It wasn’t just the FBI, was it?
AC: The Universal Friendship League. Remember? She was a skin?
MAJANDRA: Oh my God! I knew that!
BRENDAN: [Laughs] Are you sure it wasn’t the FBI?
- What was Shiri Appleby’s characters name in Summer Of ‘47?
MAJANDRA: Oh, that’s a really good question!
BRENDAN: I don’t even know my name in Summer Of ‘47!
MAJANDRA: Yeah, I don’t either. Wasn’t your name Hank?
BRENDAN: Oh, yeah! I was a young Hank! Wait, no, that was my foster dad’s name! What was Shiri’s name?
AC: You were Betty, Majandra.
MAJANDRA: Really?! Do I get any points for that!?
AC: Shiri’s name was “Yvonne White.”
- In the episode of Destiny, what Texan city is Tess manipulating the FBI into thinking that Agent Pierce is sending them to?
MAJANDRA: Oh, I was really bad at the Tess trivia...
BRENDAN: I remember we broke into her house... [thinks] where was she sending them to? I give up, I don’t know.
BRENDAN: HONDO! Yes! I swear I knew it!
MAJANDRA: ...No you didn’t.
- In 285 South, what were the two answers Michael gave for his favorite show- both joking and real?
MAJANDRA: THE VIEW!
BRENDAN: And Win Ben Stein’s Money!
MAJANDRA: That was good team work there- we came up with that one as a team answer!
And what a team they are. Almost two decades later and they are still the funniest couple television has ever seen. Baron And Toluca simply can’t come soon enough.
To help get Baron And Toluca here as soon as possible, log on to the website at www.baronandtoluca.com to learn more about what you can do, and make sure to tweet every Saturday at 6pm EST (and even more);
.@netflix - the people have spoken! Give us the show B+T!!!! @baronandtoluca www.baronandtoluca.com #NETFLIXforBandT
And don’t forget the period before the .@netflix!
Remember- Twitter is the new Tobasco, and all it takes is a tweet to bring your favorite duo back!