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Episode 37: Nerdist Writers Panel
Jane Espenson and Douglas…
The Writers PanelThe Writers Panel

Nerdist Writers Panel #37: Jane Espenson and Douglas Petrie

Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time; Husbands; Buffy; Caprica) and Douglas Petrie (Charlie’s Angels; Buffy; Pushing Daisies) return to the studio to revisit Jane’s old blog,, and discuss how, while the business may have changed since she was regularly updating it, writing has not. Plus: Who is Ty Cashman?

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  1. Jamie says:

    1. I love this show. I feel like the advice given is really helpful.
    2. I really want to come up with a scenario when a character says “Did I just say that out loud?” and the answer is “no.” Possibly if that character is a telepath.

  2. Tausif Khan says:

    While I find it interesting that some of the people that Jane has worked with have gone on to higher positions in that industry- Danny Strong-Recount/Game Change and now David Goodman it also makes me sad because there aren’t enough female visions on television.

    Steven DeKnight took what he learned on Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse and is now the showrunner for Starz’s flagship show Spartacus. The first time he directed an episode was in the fourth season of Angel. Undoubtedly that helped him shape his vision for what he found interesting. As he was known for writing great fight seasons I felt that his becoming a director was the next natural step to his writing.

    Tim Minear even though he wasn’t the creator of Angel or its showrunner wrote and directed the foundational piece of the series and made sense of Angel and his struggle. He wrote/directed Darla and made it abundantly clear that he has a strong vision and understanding of the character and illuminate the path the show was going to take four the next couple of years.

    I feel that Jane Espenson is in a similar position on Once Upon a Time. All of the strongest episodes are from Espenson. It is because of her writing we know how menacing a villain Mr. Gold is and how bad ass a character Red Riding Hood is. Her touch of femininity makes the characters feel so much more real and grounded. What is most interesting to me, and I don’t know if anyone else feels this, but Ginnifer Goodwin sounds a lot like Jane Espenson her voice and cadence. When I watch Snow White I feel like I can see Jane giving that same performance. It is a testament to the writing how fully realized the character is in the hands of Espenson and how much of hero she actually is in that all Goodwin needs to do is speak like Espenson, in her rhythms and her character gains that much more gravity and grace.

    The only other time I have been able to do that is with Joss Whedon. When Iron Man did his head count monologue to Loki (its in the trailer I am not spoiling anything) I saw Joss Whedon do that monologue in my minds eye. What was even greater is that because Whedon also directed his material I saw levels of sincerity and pain in Robert Downey Jr.’s performance I have never seen him display anywhere else.

    I would love to see more of Espenson’s vision on the show. I would love to she her direct.

  3. Tausif Khan says:

    I really hope that Jane Espenson pushes Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz to let her direct an episode. I feel that a lot of her confidence issues will go away if she were to sit in the directors chair because she works in a visual medium. A lot of the power of television is in dialogue but planning how it will look becomes easier when you can see your work first hand and hear how it sounds allowing for quick troubleshooting. But more than that it will allow you to have clearer vision of your work. television is becoming a visual medium.

  4. LevelledUp says:

    The talk about gangster psychopaths and making them funny got me thinking he should check out this season’s Justified and Neal McDonough’s character Robert Quarles.