DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is “changing channels” in the new episode airing tonight (May 26) on The CW as this week’s installment sees the characters inside other TV series from other genres — including shows like Friends, Downton Abbey, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Star Trek.
The episode is called “The One Where We’re Trapped On TV” and the director of the episode happens to be one of the architects of the entire Arrowverse: Marc Guggenheim, taking his first trip to the director’s chair.
To promote the episode, which airs at 9PM ET/PT on The CW, we spoke with Marc Guggenheim on the phone for a bit of a preview. You can find the interview below. Follow @DCLegendsTV on Twitter for the latest DC’s Legends of Tomorrow updates!
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: When this season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was being planned, did you specifically choose this specific episode to direct?
MARC GUGGENHEIM: I chose the slot; I didn’t choose the episode. I wanted to pick an episode that was as far away from Crisis as I can get, because I didn’t want to be directing for the first time and still dealing with post production on Crisis. No one knew what Episode 14 was going to be. It was purely chosen out of self-protection, not wanting to be completely overwhelmed.
With all of the shows in the Arrowverse, what made Legends the show that you chose to direct?
I didn’t really think of it in terms of all of the shows; I really only thought in terms of Arrow and Legends.
With Arrow, for years I’ve been saying that Arrow was not for first time directors, even though we’ve had first time directors on the show. It’s something I, as showrunner, had always discouraged, so I felt I needed to sort of walk my own walk. Not to mention the fact that we knew we’d be ending the season of Arrow with the series finale as well as the backdoor pilot, and there is not a single episode of Arrow that I could have gone and directed without impacting Crisis, so Arrow was never really a feasible thing. Legends just made the most sense.
Did you have to study or research techniques into how to shoot different TV genres for this episode?
It was definitely like going to film school.
I studied Trek and Friends and Downton Abbey and even Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to try to discern how the visual language of each of those shows was established.
That was fun. It was interesting. Certainly the multi-cam aspect was the most challenging, because I’ve been working in television for 20 years. I’ve spent a lot of time in editing rooms. So I know editorially how an hour long show needs to be put together, but a multi-cam sitcom? That was something very new to me, so I had to learn really fast.
Is there a genre or a series that you wish had been included, like Wiseguy, or Law & Order, or something like that?
I would have loved to — homaging Wiseguy would be awesome. I did stick 4587 on the hull of the Faterider. That would have been a lot of fun. I definitely want to direct again, and directing a legal drama would be a lot of fun.
Which one of the actors reacted the most enthusiastically to their new setting?
You know, I can’t single out just one. They all brought their A game. They really did. It was incredible. The amount of enthusiasm that everyone brought was really terrific, and it felt really special. I don’t want to diminish that picking one over the other.
Which version of Zari will we find in this episode?
Can I say without spoiling, that you’ll see both?
Was the Star Trip set the Waverider?
Yes, it was. But I love the fact that you had to ask, because it shows just how much work the art department did.
Did directing the actors face to face change your perception of any of the characters?
Yes and no. I wouldn’t say it changed. It was interesting, because like you’ve got characters like Sara Lance, who I’ve been writing that character and working with Caity for almost a decade now. That’s on the one hand. Then you have actors like Shayan and Olivia, who I’ve never written for and never worked with before.
What I think is so amazing about the Legends ensemble is, is that whether you have been in the Arrowverse for years, or you’ve just joined the show this year, everyone has the same level of passion, the same level of craft, and talent. It’s pretty amazing, I think, to have an ensemble show where the ensemble changes as often as Legends does, and yet, always remains as strong as the one that came before. Anyone who thinks that that’s easy, doesn’t know television.
For those who haven’t seen this episode yet: How did the Legends get into this predicament?
Charlie did her best to save the Legends from her sisters, and this was the solution that she came up with.
You have a lot of other projects coming up, including Prophet and Jackpot. Are you still going to be involved with the Arrowverse?
I knew that with Arrow ending and Crisis being done, that a chapter was ending, and just before the pandemic hit, I was talking with Warner Bros. about whether or not there was another chapter. And then. of course, the pandemic hit, and everything got thrown up in the air. I imagine at some point we’ll resume those conversations.
But I don’t know know what the future holds for me. I have ideas of what I would like to do, and ideas of what I would not like to do, but I haven’t had a chance to really explore all that with the studio yet.
Do those ideas involve more directing?
Absolutely. I am desperate to direct again. I really had so much fun. It was such a rewarding experience.
Before the pandemic hit, Greg [Berlanti] and I were talking about directing more and other shows, and now, again, the pandemic throws so many things into question.
One thing I did do recently during the quarantine, I wrote a spec pilot with an eye towards what I think production is going to look like, at least in the short term; something that was sort of designed to be produced in a post-pandemic world, and that would be a lot of fun to direct.
Was Legends able to tell all the stories that you wanted to tell before the lockdown, and is there anything you can tease about the season finale?
The great news is that everything was finished. All production was done before the lockdown. Some post-production, like on this episode and the finale, were done during the lockdown, but the writers got a chance to finish this entire season on their terms, which is great.
There are so many things about the finale that tickle me. One of the things I really like is that it keeps the tradition of all the previous season finales of Legends, where those season finales tee up the next season. I like that that tradition is alive and well.
Over the years, Legends of Tomorrow has often been hailed by critics as the best of the bunch. At what point did you realize that the show was really clicking well?
For me, the big turning point was Episode 8 or 9 of the second season where we did the George Lucas episode. That, to me, is the episode where it was the first indication of what the show truly could be. I don’t know when it dawned on me that the audience and the critics were responding to what we were doing, but I know for myself, it was the George Lucas episode that made me go “oh, wait a second. We’ve stumbled upon something really special here!”
Do you have any more words for the fans who will be reading this?
The Arrowverse has some of the most passionate fans I’ve ever seen, and I’m always incredibly appreciative. Even the fans who get angry at us, they are getting angry out of passion. They are getting angry out of caring about the shows. I always say there’s no show without the fans. There’s no show without people to watch them. I’m just glad that people are still interested in, you know what’s happening, in the zaniness that’s going on with Legends.
You can see a gallery of photos from “The One Where We’re Trapped On TV” below. Our thanks to Marc Guggenheim for participating in this interview!