Editor's note: This story was originally published in October 2018. The show premieres Monday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time.
SALT LAKE CITY — Shooting a TV show in a bread factory has its benefits.
“It does smell good,” Brian Adams said. “We actually shot the pilot in an abandoned drill bit factory, which smelled a lot worse. So this is actually an upgrade.”
Adams and his wife, LeeAnne Adams, created “Dwight in Shining Armor,” a new adventure-comedy series coming to BYUtv. The show, which has been filming at a bread factory in south Salt Lake, has been in production since April, and will premiere on March 18. “Dwight in Shining Armor” delivers the “Sleeping Beauty” story with a few twists: What if she was awakened in 2018 instead of in her own time, what if her sleeping spell applied to her whole kingdom, and what if that kiss woke all of them up?
“The first idea, of a guy waking up a sleeping princess, that’s the fun romantic comedy feature,” LeeAnne Adams said. “But once we busted it loose, and realized it could be more than just the princess — that there could be a whole world that was awakened with her — that’s when the idea became a series. That’s really when we decided we had a TV show on our hands.”
The show’s titular character, Dwight, is a well-liked, well-behaved high schooler with many acquaintances but few close friends. While in his town’s nearby forest, Dwight falls into a hidden pit, accidentally landing on (and unknowingly kissing) the aforementioned sleeping beauty. Her name is Gretta, a tough, sword-wielding princess who doesn’t seem to need any saving.
LeeAnne and Brian Adams — and many others on the show’s set — describe “Dwight in Shining Armor” as a “double fish-out-of-water story”: Dwight is a tidy young man unaccustomed to medieval battle, witchcraft and wizardry; Gretta doesn’t know how to behave in a gentle, sterile modern world. This setup, LeeAnne said, is a writer’s dream. And, in the case of “Dwight in Shining Armor,” it manifests in a constant stream of witty, fast-paced dialogue, as characters hurl old English and modern English back and forth.
“They can play off one another,” she said. “And it does give the show a unique cadence. And now that we’re 20 episodes into it, we have a really good sense of that cadence.”
The couple has been dividing and conquering, with LeeAnne leading the writing staff in Los Angeles, and Brian overseeing things on set in Utah. It’s the first time they’ve worked with BYUtv, and Brian said it’s gone smoothly so far.
“A lot of the times with networks, it’s a constant battle between their vision and our vision. There’s been none of that,” he explained. “We see the show the same way. They have been really generous and helpful, kind of letting us produce the show that we want to produce.”
It is, by its own admission, a pretty silly show. Gritty realism is exchanged for lighthearted comedy, all revolving around the characters’ inherent dichotomies. Kody Busch, the show’s production designer, said its juxtaposition of old world and new world is apparent from the start. From both a production and storytelling standpoint, it offers considerable freedom.
“There are these boundaries, but they stretch and they bend and they fold,” Busch said. “You try to put a little bit of logic into the fantasy. But one of the beautiful things about this show is that the suspension of disbelief just goes out the window right away.”
“Dwight in Shining Armor” is set in a fictional town called Woodside. According to Brian Adams, Woodside is an exaggerated version of Oak Park, California, where he and his family live.
“We honestly think that if an ogre showed up to ours kids’ school, people would be like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s an interesting choice of hairstyle — isn’t that great, the way he’s expressing himself?’” he said. “Everyone is so accepting of everything.”
That familial spirit seems apparent on set, too. Sloane Siegel, who plays Dwight, and Caitlin Carmichael, who plays Greta, have known each other for the past five years. “When we’re off camera, we’re just like siblings,” he said.
The show, Siegel added, has a comedic rhythm more akin to live audience, multi-cam sitcoms, but with more serious, realistic camera work. The end result is a dynamic comedy that could become a big hit for BYUtv.
“They’ve captured their own version of storytelling,” he said of the show’s creators. “And that’s hard to do these days, to come up with an original way to tell an already-told story.”