‘Secrets of Sulphur Springs’ Offers More Secrets, More Ghosts in Season Two
Disney Channel’s first mystery aims to keep boys connected to net as they get older
Season two of mystery drama Secrets of Sulphur Springs debuts on Disney Channel Friday, January 14, in the 8 p.m. ET/PT slot. The show is about a family renovating an old hotel in Louisiana, and the son discovers a time-travel portal in the basement, revealing the history of the hotel. Griffin Campbell learns that the inn is haunted by the ghost of a girl who disappeared decades ago, and uses the portal to unearth clues.
Launching a year ago, nearly to the day, Sulphur Springs is Disney Channel’s first-ever mystery series. Disney Channel envisioned the serialized show as a way to keep boys who otherwise may age out of the network’s programming tuned in.
Creator/executive producer Tracey Thomson said the show has connected beyond the young boy demo. “It has appealed to more people than we thought it would,” she told B+C. “Adults watch with their kids, and many who don’t have kids find it on Disney Plus, which is always nice to hear.”
Two episodes are on Disney Channel January 14, and the season begins on Disney Plus January 19.
A kid duo gets a glimpse at their parents as children after a trip in the time-travel portal. Young viewers dug that aspect of the show, said Charles Pratt Jr., showrunner and executive producer, wishing they could check out their parents when the elders were their age. “That little piece of fantasy was really something we wanted,” he said. “To reach that goal was great, and made it all worth it.”
Both Thomson and Pratt come from a soap opera background, and used a lot of cliffhangers to tell the season one story. That will happen again in the new season. “It’s definitely how we tell a story–we like continuing story,” said Thomson. “We tried to cliffhang every episode of the first season, and had a cliffhanger at the end of the season."
Season two follows the same pattern. "There are lots of twists and turns and it definitely plays a role in how we plotted the season and where we end up at the end of season two," she said.
Another show about people renovating an old inn, and finding out it’s got some apparitions, is happening on CBS with Ghosts. It’s a very different show, but touches on some–at least a few–common themes. “There are similarities but it’s a different audience and a different tone,” said Pratt. “It does play into what I call the best fantasy element of our show, which is, do ghosts exist?”
Sulphur Springs shot in Louisiana over the summer. It could get a bit sticky. “Summer in the south, with masks and goggles and everything else had its challenges,” said Thomson. “But these kids were great sports about it.”
Thomson and Pratt seem to like working with kids. “Kids as actors work completely instinctually,” said Pratt. “They have very little technique. They have to be able to memorize their lines but beyond that, they understand subtext, they understand what the scene is about. If they have questions, they know who to ask.”
The Sulphur Springs talent, including Preston Oliver and Kyliegh Curran, “has a wonderful work ethic,” he added.
The new season sees the kids venture back to the Depression era, where they see some distant relatives, and aim to solve a new mystery or two. “They’re going to find out who’s been haunting the Tremont,” teases Thomson. ■
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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.