Almost History: Showrunner Daegan Fryklind on DC’s ‘Project 13’
To preface the article, I want to say that this interview will (hopefully) be the first of many in a new series where we look into failed TV show pilots and movies and share details on these projects. These articles will be put under the “Almost History” banner, with myself and writer Thomas Polito contributing to it.
The first entry of ‘Almost History’ is about a pilot that was commissioned at The CW based around DC Comics character Traci 13, tentatively titled ‘Project 13’. I had the chance to interview Daegan Fryklind, who would have served as showrunner on the series.
Emre Kaya (Geeks Worldwide): First of all, I wanted to ask: Is the series canceled? We haven’t really heard anything about the series since the initial announcement back in 2017, which lead a lot of fans to believe that the series has been canceled. There are also instances of television series and movies surviving such long periods of silence though. What’s the story behind Project 13?
Daegan Fryklind: It went through the development process with the CW along with about 30-35 other pilot scripts that year. I think about 8-10 were picked up to pilot (half are from WB and half from CBS Studios – there’s always a fair split between the two studios). Of those, I’m not sure how many were ordered to series… Maybe 5 or 6? We weren’t cancelled per se, we just didn’t advance to the next round.
GWW: I remember hearing about the series originally and being very excited for it, it sounded like a very special and different kind of show, especially compared to the other CW DC shows. Would Project 13 have been in the same universe as those series (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, etc.)?
DF: Those DC shows are all produced by Greg Berlanti, who does a masterful job of bringing their DC universe to life along with his showrunners and writers. That’s how you can get the crossovers, they’re all under the Berlanti umbrella. My producers were Brownstone Productions, which is the TV production company for Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman. I partnered with them on a pilot the previous year and we loved working together, so when WB reached out to see if I’d be interested in writing for The Thirteens, it was a no-brainer to team up with Brownstone again.
GWW: You’ve been working on a few series since the initial Project 13 announcement. The Bletchley Circle, In The Dark and Shadow And Bone, would you be willing to work on Project 13 again now if given the chance?
DF: I loved everything about Project 13 and if there was a chance to resurrect it, I’d be all over that. The take was: A father/daughter X-Files, with all this personal baggage for them to work out as they solve cases (The death/disappearance of Traci’s mother and a larger mythology that would unfold from that). The joy of working in the genre is all the world-building. The sad part of development is when you build a world that no one will get to explore.
GWW: Did you have plans for the rest of the show? What would the main cast of characters have been like? We know of Traci and Terrance, but did the show include any other main characters?
DF: Traci has some issues so her world was fairly tight; Her girlfriend Reynauld, her ally Bruce Gordon (Head of the Brooklyn Paranormal Society). Looking back over this, damn, I miss these characters.
Daegan closed the interview off with the following:
It was a goddamn joy getting to bring this to life, even if just for the handful of folks who helped shepherd it through development. Thank you for prodding me and taking me on this trip back to Project 13. I’m also truly loving Shadow and Bone so life goes on, you know. There’s always room for the next cool thing.
Would you have liked to see this show based on what you heard today? Personally, I would have loved to watch this series. The description the showrunner gave us sounds awesome and it’s clear that a lot of love was put into the script. As I noted in the interview, this series sounded very different from the other CW DC shows that we had at the time and I hope that Traci 13 manages to find a way to appear on the small (or big) screen in the future. It pains me to know that the writers built an entire world around this character and we will probably never get to see it, but we hope these articles can give them a semblance of the attention they deserve.