"For one thousand marks, Mr. Reizen, can you name that polka?"
Larry Lalonde—along with his partner Phil Bedard—served as "Dracula: the Series" story editor and wrote six of the episodes (as well as the teleplay for "Klaus Encounters," with Glenn Davis). He is also an extremely nice and funny guy, and quite genially agreed to an "interrogation." Larry stayed in Toronto during the filming of D:tS (but kept Luxembourg time!), so he wasn't able to answer all the questions I sent, but he responded to those he could and passed the rest on to Phil, who revealed to me that Larry was also the voice of the tennis announcer, of the "Name that Polka" game show host, and of Lawrence Lei's alter-ego, Alfred!
You and Phil Bedard wrote several episodes, and Glen Davis and William Laurin wrote another set. How did you decide which team would write which episodes? Did you "specialize" in one particular kind of story, or was it just a question of who had the free time that week?
Mostly, Phil and I write together, and Bill and Glenn are usually paired. It's been that way since '87 or so. The four of us go way back... going on 25 years now. We wrote and performed comedy together, beginning (as a group) in '75. Glenn and I wrote a sketch comedy revue before that, in '71, I believe. The group worked together in revues or on radio, or writing feature comedies (none produced, alas) until 1987, when Bill and Glenn were hired on as story editors on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. From then on, the pairings were as we find them now, with only a few exceptions. We all wrote the "The Director Files" episode of Once A Thief, for instance, though Phil and I are credited. Normally, the four of us don't work as a team. Once A Thief was just one of those happy opportunities.
So, the pairings were already established when Drac started up. Bill and Glenn, as creators of the show, had the story areas for the whole season mapped out, more or less, by the time Phil and I came on board. As a group, we fleshed out some ideas, dropped others, and basically assigned ourselves the scripts that we wanted to write.
The exception to the pairing rule was "Klaus Encounters of the Interred Kind." Glenn and I wrote that. Bill and Phil were going to team up to write an ep, but that plan never materialized. Glenn and I wrote KEOTIK late one night at the Toronto office. I forget who wrote the outline, maybe Bill and Glenn, and Glenn and I split the outline up, sat down at separate computers and wrote. An hour or so later, we had our halves done (I wrote the 1st half, Glenn the 2nd), and then we traded halves and re-wrote the other guy's. Et voila. I think the whole script was written in under two hours.
We don't really specialize in any sort of story, although Phil and I tend to be drawn to the ones that have the darkest potential. It's not that we're dark, twisted people; quite the contrary. We find that the darker or more disturbing a story is, the greater its potential for humour. We enjoy that juxtaposition.
How did Dr. Varney and Lucard meet each other? Is Dr. Varney definitely a vampire?
I'm not sure we knew how they met. If we discussed that amongst the four of us, I don't recall. Yes, Varney is definitely a vampire. Of course, the name Varney is well known in vampire lore.
Overall, what were you trying to accomplish with D:tS (besides selling ads, of course)? What aspects of the show are you particularly proud or fond of? Which was your favourite episode? Are there parts you wish you could wipe away?
We weren't trying to accomplish anything except producing a series that was as much fun as it was creepy. A show adults and kids could both enjoy.
I'm proud of the fact that we, as a group, without much experience in TV at that time, did a good job. Nothing spectacular, but for relative rookies, not too shabby, either. For Phil and I, the actual day to day producing of a series was completely new. I feel that, all in, we were a quick study and managed not to make a mess of things. David Patterson, co-exec producer, deserves a lot of credit, too. He was there if things got crazy, but also let us go when that was what was required. He trusted us, and that inspired confidence. Wendy Grean, exec in charge of production, was a rock as well. In fact, we worked with her again on OAT. She's the best, and a must to have in your corner. Sandy Pearl, a creative consultant on D:tS, was extremely helpful as well as being a lot of fun to work with.
My favourite ep? Hmmm. I don't really have one. Quite a few of the eps have elements I really like. "I Love Lucard" has some great stuff in it, especially the tag. "Black Sheep" is solid, "The Great Tickler" is hysterical, and so on. I get a kick out of "My Dinner With Lucard." Geordie, week after week, is sensational.
There were disappointing eps, as well. "Mind Over Matter" was a very funny script, but for a variety of reasons the final product just didn't live up. "Double Cross," the first one Phil and I wrote, is not our finest hour. The first half is pretty dull, frankly, but at least it picks up after that. There are other examples, but thankfully, not all that many. As usual, whenever you revisit your work, there's always something you'd do differently based on the experience you've gained in the ensuing years. But there's hardly any point dwelling on that.
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