Comedy Dead Pixels begins on The CW Aug. 18. The show has run a couple short seasons in the U.K., on E4, and will air a dozen episodes in the U.S.
It’s about three friends, Meg, Nicky and Usman, who are obsessed with a video game called Kingdom Scrolls.
Kingdom Scrolls is made up. Creator/exec producer Jon Brown said the producers had The Elder Scrolls in mind, “maybe the third best role-playing game around,” he said, as players move on to the next new thing. “It’s something that quite appealed to me--people have an attachment to a world and are not quite ready to let it go.”
Brown dug into sunk-cost fallacy, which is about the many, many hours, and often a lot of money, people have invested in a game, which makes them reluctant to quit it. “That’s something a lot of people can relate to, whether it’s a relationship or a job,” Brown said.
Brown is an executive producer on HBO smash Succession, and has worked on a handful of shows alongside Succession creator Jesse Armstrong. Is he surprised by the success of Succession, which is up for an Emmy for best drama next month?
“Being British, you expect everything to fail,” he quipped.
Emmy top drama is between AMC’s Better Call Saul, The Crown, Stranger Things and Ozark on Netflix, The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, Killing Eve on BBC America, The Mandalorian on Disney+ and Succession on HBO.
Brown said several of his projects alongside Armstrong have been well reviewed, but have not broken out. “It’s an honor to be on the fringes. We’re just so great that no one gets it,” he joked. “You tell yourself that.”
Brown added, “It surprised all of us how much Succession has caught fire.”
Shooting season three is held up due to the pandemic. Brown said it means more time tinkering with scripts. “We’re given bonus time to rewrite episodes and try to get our head around it all,” he said.
Armstrong brings the same clever wit to Dead Pixels, according to Brown. “He’s got such a brilliant antenna for what’s funny and for character,” he said.
Brown’s first job was reviewing video games for a magazine. He believes gaming has become mainstream enough for a show like Dead Pixels to connect. “What people realize nowadays is, most everybody plays some sort of video games. They’re not that niche anymore,” he said. “When I was growing up, video games were very much a dirty secret that you kept. There was nothing cool about playing them.”
The show’s U.S. premiere in summer 2020 is “accidentally timely,” he said.
“We’re all living the lives of the characters,” added Brown. “Stuck inside, connected through virtual worlds.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.