‘Tom Swift’ — Keeping the classic book positivity going in Season 1 • AIPT

There are a number of classic children’s literary characters who present their own television show. The Hardy Boys are on Hulu while The CW has Nancy Drew. In the latter’s second season, the episode titled “The Celestial Visitor” served as a backdoor pilot for Tom Swift, a sort of reimagining with him being a black, gay, millionaire inventor. Now he returns to the center of his own series tonight. During the press day, executive producers and stars had a lot to say about what viewers can expect.

The original novels were published over 100 years ago, and the source material doesn’t really hold up today. Executive producer Melinda Hsu Taylor wanted to make the program more inclusive but keep “the basic concept of optimism and friendship and a kind of relentless positivity… And then we populated a black and gay billionaire and , you know, all of his reunited family and friends.”

Actor, Tian Richards, also revealed a glimpse of Tom Swift and how he has changed since we last saw him in Nancy Drew. “[I]It’s been three years since Tom Swift was in Horseshoe Bay. So it’s happening in 2019, we’re happening nowadays. So Tom has definitely grown a bit more. When we first meet him, he’s still trying to bring the, the meteorite, to build the, you know, the spaceship for his father. At the top of our series, we meet him when he has just finished this spaceship. So again, definitely further on his journey.

He continued, “We look a little different, I like to say…we give a little more, you know, grown man energy, definitely this time around. And it was so beautiful this time, you can see Tom in his element. You see him with his family, with his friends, you see him in his hometown. So you really open up the fullness of who this man was.

However Tom Swift and Nancy Drew are in the same universe, don’t expect crossovers anytime soon. Executive producer Noga Landau said, “As far as the two shows talking to each other, if they do, it will eventually happen, and it will happen in a really interesting way. But, you know, what’s important to us is that these two shows are really independent. As if they were in the same universe, the characters know each other, we put a lot of really funny little Easter eggs if you’re careful between Tom and Nancy.

Photo: The CW

The series has a mostly black cast, but the creatives wanted to tell a universal story. Taylor explained, “We really wanted to make this a show where whatever kind of intersectional identity you have, you have someone to relate to, someone to cheer for, someone to look forward to.”

Executive producer Cameron Johnson added: “What we’ve been able to do here is bring a group of people together and tell the story of a person who has lost something and is trying to get it back, and also understand what I take from my parents? What am I leaving behind? And what is the life I can build when I am surrounded by the people I love.

An important plot point of the first season is the relationship between Tom Swift and his father, Barton. Richards was inspired by his own experiences of coming out to his family. “But it’s great to grow up in a home where you can be fully realized and fully realized.” However, he understands that everyone’s situation is different. “So there are a lot of people dealing with parents who, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, sometimes it’s a little bit more micro-aggression in between. It’s not, we’re still kicking you out of the house or disowning you, but it’s like a little micro-aggression, little comments that they make, little, you know, side-kicks that you, you feel.

But Johnson assured everyone that Barton just needed time to adjust to who his son really is and accept their different points of view. “Barton and Tom love each other a lot. The problem is that their vision of what it is to be a man is so different that it’s a big bridge to cross… But what really matters is accept that your child’s view, your loved one’s view of what their life should be, may be different, and your job is not to love, to try to beat them into submit and do as you dreamed of them. It’s to help them be the best possible version of that, of themselves.

There are other characters in the show besides Tom Swift. Ashleigh Murray, who played Josie McCoy on Riverdale and Katy Keen, talked about having a more mature role in Zenzi Fullerton. “Honestly, it’s so wonderful because, you know, me, I’ve always been a very mature person, even in my youth. And it’s nice to finally be able to walk and walk in that same maturity. You know, it feels good to feel like a woman and to be received like a woman, and to be respected like a woman, and to be able to introduce myself and to be able to command a space and to be able to attract attention and that I will be listened to.”

Regarding Zenzi’s bond with Tom, the actress said, “You know, they’re longtime family friends, but they’re like cousins. They’re like, they’re like siblings , you know, they can finish each other’s sentences or know what the other person needs and doesn’t need. You know, it’s, it’s a bond that’s really, really hard to break.

One person who will be heard but not seen is LeVar Burton. He gives the voice to Barclay, an artificial intelligence. Taylor voiced Barclay’s role in Tom Swift’s life. “We wanted someone who was a lonely kid’s best friend, whose parents were away and out of the house, who didn’t have people he could relate to, you know, on his level, but also at his age. So he basically created this robot, which would sort of be his Obi-Wan. And be supportive and smart and protective and loving, and, you know, secretly the way he wanted his dad to be.

Don’t miss Tom Swift when it premieres tonight on The CW.

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