Regular viewers of ABC Family's popular "Kyle XY" may be in for a surprise when they tune into the third season premiere tonight. The gentle drama takes on a more edgy tone to launch its new crop of episodes and Co-Executive Producer Julie Plec offered up some insight into what is coming this season as well as how she freely admits to keeping an eye on what the online fans have to say about the show.
"The first episode [of the new season] is, in its own way, very different than anything we've ever done on the show before," Plec explained, "which is we put Kyle (Matt Dallas) in a Jack Bauer-like situation where he had to save the damsel in distress and it's much more action-packed." Peppered with stunts and Kyle using his supernatural powers increasingly more, Plec added these elements provided "a lot more exciting kind of minute-to-minute-to-minute than how we usually like to shape our episodes. We thought it would be fun for the audience especially after such a long time away from us to dive back in with a kind of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am type of episode where we can really see Kyle be a true hero."
Fans should not be concerned, however, that "Kyle XY" is going to permanently become a junior-"24." "The rest of the season evens out more because we love the idea of finally being able to explore Kyle as a true hero," Plec said. "I've always talked about the show in the press as an evolution of a superhero. Each season gets us closer and closer to the man he's going to be one day and this season, more than ever, he's taking all the life lessons that he's learned in his adolescence and he's really finally being able to use all his smarts and all his abilities in a way to really help people. So, it gives the season an opportunity for... the stakes [to be] higher than they've ever been and Kyle has to go through more than he ever has."
Over the course of the first two seasons, one of the plot points has been Kyle figuring out new powers that he possesses. Asked if Kyle has uncovered all his powers as the third season unfolds, Plec answered, "there's always going to be new powers to be discovered because the way we look at it is there's always going to be an element inside of his mind that he hasn't successfully been able to tap into. So that gives us kind of an endless opportunity for things he can do in the future. One of the elements of the series is wanting to see how Kyle is able to stumble into or discover a new ability that he never knew he could do. So that hopefully will be an endless well."
And what would a series with teen characters be without a little romance? The often bumpy relationship between Kyle and Amanda (Kirsten Prout) will continue to take its twists and turns this season. Plec revealed "this season is the season where the secret about who Kyle really is and the dangers that surround him finally takes its toll on the Kyle and Amanda relationship and really puts both of them as a couple through the wringer." As if outside, possibly evil forces weren't enough to challenge the couple, a third character that also gets in the way of their happiness is Jessie XX (Jaimie Alexander), who, with her own share of powers and secrecy, is the female equivalent of Kyle. Plec previewed the upcoming plot point that "Jessie moves in with the Traegers in the second episode and that's never a good thing because when you have two people who are as similar as Kyle and Jessie are, Amanda is not going to be liking that too much and she's not going to like how close Kyle and Jessie get throughout the season."
Considering the network that "Kyle XY" has its home, how does the inclusion of teens, sex and alcohol work its way into the show? In the season premiere, for example, the C word (condoms) comes up as does underage drinking. Does that make the Disney-owned network nervous? "What's interesting," Plec answered, "is that the creative side of the network has always really encouraged us to push the envelope as much as possible. Not to be titillating but to be truthful. We were all teenagers and we all know what we all did and what we all went through. They have always been 'be honest about it. Create the real scenarios.' Teenagers were drinking. Teenagers were maybe having sex a little too early. Situations that parents wouldn't want to see that their kids had gotten themselves into but it's true and that's how life is. What we try to be is fun and honest without being gratuitous."
Plec admitted that the biggest burden on the producers and writers is making sure both the teen and science fiction components to the series are served on every episode.
"It's the thing that makes us pull our hair out because they are both equally as crucial to the success of the show and the tone of the show and without the cool sci-fi stuff you have another teen drama and but without the teen drama you just have a genre piece that you can't wrap your head and your heart around. It is incredibly difficult to find that balance and it's our number one priority to make sure we do everything we can to give both sides their equal due."
An interesting casting fact with series on ABC Family is the employment of former Brat Pack members. While Molly Ringwald appears on the network's newest hit, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," fellow actress Ally Sheedy appeared last season on "Kyle XY" as Jessie and Kyle's biological mother. As for Sheedy's involvement in the new season, Plec would only say, "Ally Sheedy is at the end of the first episode and is gone but not forgotten so I can't really say if we'll see her again but she certainly will play a very important role in this season."
One new addition to the series is destined to keep the action moving while also uncovering more about who Kyle is and why he is on Earth. "The big add this season is [actor] Hal Ozsa," Plec shared. "Hal is the first time that we've taken this whole mysterious, behind-the-scenes-in-the-shadows guy in the world of Latnok and put a face to it. And the character of Michael Cassidy is a really crucial character both in this season and seasons to come. We can't really tell if he's a smart guy who took a bad turn, if he's a bad guy through and through, if he's a good guy who just has bad methods. He's going to become incredibly deeply embedded into Kyle's life and he's not going away anytime soon so he's a big, exciting new character for us."
The internet makes it easy for producers to get immediate reaction to a series and Plec is a big fan of mining the message boards for fan feedback. "I'm that girl who likes to go read [the chat boards on] ABC Family," she shared with a laugh. The web designers for "Kyle XY," she added, "created a great world on a smaller scale than what 'Heroes' has been able to do [with] an entirely self-sustaining site for Kyle. They've been able to do a lot more on their website than we simply can't do whether it's production or money or whatever. They can tell the kind of stories that we can't necessarily tell on the series so you get two Kyle worlds for the price of one."
The third season of "Kyle XY" kicks off tonight on ABC Family at 9:00/8:00c.