ARUN RATH, HOST:
A man wakes up in the middle of a forest, cuts and bruises all over his body. Disoriented and confused, he stumbled into a town.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WAYWARD PINES")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) You OK?
MATT DILLON: (As Ethan Burke) Where am I?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) You're in Wayward Pines, Idaho.
DILLON: (As Ethan Burke) Idaho?
RATH: Matt Dillon plays Secret Service agent Ethan Burke in the new Fox thriller, "Wayward Pines."
CHAD HODGE: He goes to the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, looking for two other Secret Service agents who went missing there. And pretty soon, he finds out he can't leave.
RATH: That's Chad Hodge, the creator and executive producer of "Wayward Pines." The show is being compared to the '90s cult classic, "Twin Peaks," another federal agent in a weird, northwestern town, and to "Lost" because of the mystery aspect and that opening scene, which begins, as "Lost" did, with an extreme close-up of the main character's eye. I asked Chad Hodge if those comparisons are flattering or annoying.
HODGE: Oh, it's absolutely flattering. You know, the eye thing is absolutely accidental.
HODGE: Yes, it is, for sure. I wrote that into the script and - but it's not something that was, you know, intended to be a nod to "Lost." It's very much - I like to call this story and this narrative kind of a single-player point of view, in the way you come in. It's like a videogame, the way you come into this world through this guy. You are this guy - you, the viewer. So I think that shot of the eye really brings you in as like, OK. Like, I'm looking at you. You're looking at me. Like, let's go. And in terms of "Twin Peaks," absolutely I understand that comparison, and I'm flattered by it. And truthfully, it's no secret that Blake Crouch, the author of the books, was inspired by "Twin Peaks." As a kid, he was obsessed with the show.
RATH: You know, I don't want to sound too nerdy, although, you know, this is public...
RATH: Public radio, so I can be nerdy.
HODGE: We are all nerdy, yes.
RATH: But the thing that I thought about, more than another TV show, it made me think of Kafka.
HODGE: Oh, yeah.
RATH: This character, the Matt Dillon character, Agent Burke, who's in - I mean, it's creepier and scarier. But he's in this kind of absurd situation.
RATH: And trying to figure his way out. And it's kind of a combination of bureaucracy and evil and...
HODGE: Absolutely. Absolutely, it's all of that. It's very Kafka-esque. I mean, especially as you get into the series, it's very much a comment on rules and law and government and secrets. It's very much an allegory for our country and our world.
RATH: And you also have M. Night Shyamalan as an executive producer.
RATH: What does he bring to "Wayward Pines"?
HODGE: Oh, well, I mean, he has such a resume. And going back to "The Sixth Sense," that - his ability to capture tone and make you feel scared and tense and also sort of a darkly funny point of view was something that I thought would be really great for this show. I thought there was no way that he would do this. But we sent him the script first. And I thought, OK, great, well, you know, about a month from now we'll probably hear from him, and it'll be a pass. But the next day he called and said, I love this script. What happens? If they're all dead, I can't do it. And (laughter) I said, they're not all dead.
RATH: So this is 10 episodes self-contained, right?
HODGE: Correct, ten episodes self-contained.
RATH: Has something changed about the way that TV works nowadays, that a project like this, that 10 episodes self-contained - is this more common now?
HODGE: It's more common now. It wasn't as common when I sold the project, which was a couple of years ago. I never in a million years thought that a broadcast network would buy this. The eye for this was on cable. So when Fox was interested in this, I said, well, it's not a 22-episode thing. And Kevin Reilly, who was the president of Fox at the time, he said, well, you know, I want to do this exactly as you want to do it. I want to make it an event series. I said what's an event series? I had never heard those words before. And he had literally just started the week before a division of his company to make these limited-run series. And so he was fully behind that.
RATH: Am I going to be satisfied at the end? Or is there going to be a McGuffin, something that kind of kicks us down, you know, from the end of the episode 10 to something else that's uncertain?
HODGE: No, you are going to be satisfied at the end. This is truly a beginning, middle and end, 10-episode event series. One thing that I really wanted to do with this show is not cheat you as a viewer. I'm a TV viewer too. Of course I like to be surprised, but I don't like to be manipulated. And there's no manipulation here at all. Could there be a season two? Sure. But this was not designed to go beyond this season, at least at this point.
RATH: So questions will be answered.
HODGE: All of them will be answered.
RATH: We're going to follow up with you to make sure that...
HODGE: Yeah (laughter).
RATH: That actually happens (laughter). Chad Hodge is the creator and showrunner of the new show, "Wayward Pines," which is on Fox on Thursdays right now. Chad, thanks so much.
HODGE: Thank you so much for having me.
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