Interview: Alex House and Chris Leavins of Todd & The Book of Pure Evil

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By Diane Wild of TV, eh?

As a squeamish woman beyond the 18-34 demographic, I may not the target audience for Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. But as I’ve said more than once on the TV, eh? podcast, I’m glad this distinctive show exists and that it got a second season, premiering tonight on Space.

In an interview that will be available in Tuesday’s podcast, stars Alex House (Todd) and Chris Leavins (Atticus) explained why Todd is more than a high school horror show.

“I’m not a horror fan, I’m not a genre fan, but this show transcends that for me,” said Leavins, also known for roles in Traders, Slings & Arrows, and his popular web series Cute With Chris. “What’s exciting about being on this show is it’s one man’s vision: (co-creator and executive producer) Craig David Wallace.”

“We take a very campy approach at some real themes, and we don’t take ourselves seriously when we’re touching on those themes, like feeling alone in high school and having no one understand you,” added House, who also starred in Dark Oracle. “We don’t get too emotional about it, but it’s certainly there.”

“While teenagers will enjoy it, what really spoke to me about it was the fact I remembered how ridiculous some of my problems in high school were, and that’s why it was funny now,” House continued. “Todd’s so hung up on Jenny, but there’s monsters running around killing people. He can’t focus on that because his love life and sex life are the most important things to him.”

The series recently won a Gemini Award for Best Ensemble Cast in a Comedy Series, and House, Leavins and fellow cast member Jason Mewes, who plays Jimmy the janitor, will be on a SXSW panel next March. If past fan expos can be trusted, they’ll be luring loyal fans to Austin for that.

“There’s a certain type of person who is really real drawn to the show and they’re extremely passionate about it,” said Leavins. “It’s super-refreshing when you go to those panels and they’re quoting back obscure dialogue from episode seven or asking you odd questions about the shape and style of your sweater vest in episode four. You make the TV show in a vacuum and you forget that people watch it.”

House’s own high school experience wasn’t much like Todd’s … and not just because of the absence of monsters and a book of pure evil. “I wasn’t as much of a loser as Todd. I was relatively popular,” he admitted. “Some kids hated me,” he added, prompting Leavins to bring up his “child star” days by sharing the anecdote about Todd director David Winning bringing in a DVD of a Twice in a Lifetime episode in which he’d directed a then 12-year-old House with Markie Post (sample clip at the 1:14 mark here, with House holding the kittie – thanks David!).

“The stakes are higher this season. We do have a formula with the moster of the week but more and more what’s bleeding into our episodes is the serialized feel to it,” said House. “I feel like we’re definitely building toward an end at some point and we’re fleshing out the back story. Season one was about setting the stage.”

“Creatively, the show is better,” Leavins promised, adding there will be a wall-to-wall musical episode this season. “Almost the entire creative team came back this season, and they came back with a renewed vigor. Everyone just threw themselves into the show. There’s nothing like it on TV and people were really passionate about it.”