“Pretty Little Liars” and “Ravenswood’s” I. Marlene King knows a couple things about screaming teens. The first show, which she co-created with Oliver Goldstick based on Sara Shepard’s books about an deceased mean girl who seems to be taunting her friends behind the grave, has a cult-like following that brought an average 3.94 million views to the ABC Family show in 2013 and paved the way for marketing opportunities like a just-launched clothing line. The second show, where King shares creator title with Joseph Dougherty and Goldstick and which drew a more respectable average 1.96 million fans during its 2013 premiere episodes, is more about scaring fans with ghosts, curses and creepy kids. Both shows resume airing tonight on ABC Family and King was kind enough to share details about developing both shows and about the secret that started it all — “Pretty Little Liars'” “A.”
FANS NOT CAUGHT UP ON BOTH SERIES SHOULD NOTE THAT THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.
“Ravenswood,” which premiered in October, is centered around Tyler Blackburn’s Caleb Rivers character from “Pretty Little Liars.” How did you keep the origin story for this character in check while still fitting him into the new series?
It was a little complicated in terms of timelines. In the airing of “Ravenswood,” the shows weren’t airing in synch, they weren’t simultaneous. So we had to figure out, OK these five episodes happened during these five episodes of “Pretty Little Liars.” My assistant Kyle [Brown], god love him, became the keeper of the timeline. It was just one of those things. We’re blessed this go around, so they will be airing back to back. They will be airing almost simultaneous.
As opposed to “Pretty Little Liars,” which hints at supernatural forces every now and then, “Ravenswood” is deeply into that spooky world. Why did you decide to try this approach?
It was really one of those things. When we did our second Halloween episode, we introduced this little ghost girl, or she was presumably a ghost girl, who was trick or treating the Marin household and fans really responded to it. We kind of loved getting that feedback. I’ve always loved ghost stories. We have a real “ghosty” family. I would say everybody has a ghost story and my family has a lot of them. The idea of doing a ghost story was always something I wanted to do and this was a perfect opportunity to explore that genre.
“Pretty Little Liars” has a lot of plot twists and “Ravenswood” has this spooky element. How do you keep it all from becoming too absurd for the audience?
With “Pretty Little Liars,” we occasionally push the boundaries of how much can happen to four girls in a season. But we keep the characters so grounded, their families so grounded. And we’re really excited about future episodes of “Ravenswood” too because we’ve been airing them in blocks of five. In the future, we’ll hopefully be able to air them in blocks of 10 where we really get to know the characters more, know their stories more. We’re excited to have more time with these “Ravenswood” characters.
How did doing the show in blocks of five come about?
It was strictly an ABC Family decision and I’m not really sure from a programming standpoint why that was the decision. It’s fine in some respects because it’s almost like a miniseries, but we’re just so desperate for more time to spend with these characters. Getting more episodes so we can have those soapy, wonderful romantic moments.
“Pretty Little Liars” started with the idea, at least, of a teenager bullying other teens. With “Ravenswood,” the enemy is on the adults. Why the change of pace?
When we first developed “Pretty Little Liars,” ABC Family had it set in their mind that this is a family network and it still is. They had a mandate at the time that the adults couldn’t be bad. They wanted the adults to be good. And when we went to “Ravenswood,” they sort of loosened up a little bit. And I sort of loved this idea of [Raymond] Collins (Steven Cabral) and [Carla] Grunwald (Meg Foster) – I love Grunwald. We fell in love with her on “Pretty Little Liars,” too. She just this wonderful, creepy, quality. And I’ve always loved the idea of sexy villains too. And I think Collins, he’s creepy and he’s sexy. We’re still having fun exploring that too. In the next couple episodes, you get to see a different side of Collins.
I love tonight’s episode. We had so many questions with “Ravenswood” and tonight’s episode gives us a really solid foundation to build upon. What happened to this town that brought this pact.
Speaking of bullies on “Pretty Little Liars”: Alison is alive!
The girls now know Alison is alive. There are two centers of their world: Who is A? As we saw in the last episode, one minute Alison was there and the next she was gone because Ezra was approaching. They don’t know yet that Ezra is A, but Alison does. Or might. The girls really go on a quest to make a case for Alison to come home.
“Pretty Little Liars” fans have grown to not be too trusting with comments like that. Can we commit to Ezra being A this time?
I can’t commit to anything at this time … I think it makes it more fun for the fans to guess.