Chat with Doug TenNapel of Push, NV

ARGN and Unfiction.com had the honor of hosting a chat with Push, NV, consulting producer and "Push Puzzle Kingpin" Doug TenNapel on Sunday, December 8, 2002.

Before working on Push, NV, Doug TenNapel got his start in television as an animator for the cartoon version of "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." Later, he got into video games and created both the "Earthworm Jim" game and subsequent television show. His upcoming TV effort, entitled "Gear," is based on his graphic novel of the same name, published by Fireman Press.

Mr. TenNapel has dozens of comic book, video game, animation, and television credits, and he also wrote, directed, and played a part in the 2000 movie Mothman. His graphic novel "Creature Tech" has recently been optioned to be made into a live-action motion picture.

SpaceBass: First of all, I'd like to welcome Doug TenNapel and thank him for taking the time to come out and chat with us. We really appreciate any opportunity to pick the brain of a puppetmaster.
TenNapel: Yeah! glad to be here.
SpaceBass: Before we start taking questions from the audience, I'll start out with one question that I know a lot of people want answered, and then we'll start voicing people to ask their own questions.
SpaceBass: So, to start: What is the connection between NoahBoddy and Push, NV?
TenNapel: Wow, I'm not gonna know a lot of that stuff…
TenNapel: …Push was separated between fiction and real world puzzle…
TenNapel: If there was a connection, it would go in after the fact probably by our web content guy Steve Edwards…
TenNapel: …Noah was a plant that we could control…
TenNapel: … bleed out clues and keep track of our most "dangerous" audince members.
TenNapel: audience
TenNapel: next?
SpaceBass: Let me follow-up quickly..if Noah was a plant, does that mean the NoahBoddy game that started after Push ended is indeed run by people who were involved with Push?
TenNapel: I don't know. I know that we had plants we control but I couldn't keep track of who was real and who was not…
TenNapel: …if he was or was not a plant, it wouldn't surpirze me!
TenNapel: …that may sound like a lame answer…
TenNapel: …but after a while the Push production got huge I didn't always know what one arm of the production was doing. Next?
SpaceBass: Okay, thanks. Let's go to the audience. Our first questioner is Push.
TenNapel: I like your name already.

Push: Doug, will there be a DVD set of Push?

TenNapel: I have no idea. I know that the Exec producer Sean Baily was talking about it so who knows. As the puzzle guy, I wouldn't necessarily be involved with that unless it was to create new puzzles or remove old puzzles from the set. Next?
SpaceBass: Do you have a follow-up Push?
SpaceBass: (it will help speed things along if you say 'flup' when you ask your question)

Push: Was your delay last weekend caused by Watermark?

TenNapel: Push, Good ONE!…
TenNapel: …my delay last weekend was caused by my own incompetence… so I blame Watermark! Next?
SpaceBass: Thanks, Push. Next up is Tien_Le. Go ahead Tien.

Tien_Le: Welcome, Doug, thanks for joining us. Who was Enoch? and followup…who were Enoch's 'contacts'?

TenNapel: Hmmm this is going to be difficult…
TenNapel: …it's like Shattner at a Star Trek convention…

vpisteve: heh

TenNapel: …I'm not perfectly familiar with the drama of Push so try to question me about the puzzle work. They really are separate parts of the show…
TenNapel: …I know some things about the narrative but I tried to stick close to weaving puzzles into the show. Next?
TenNapel: Moderator you can post two questions at a time and I can respond faster. Up to you.

vpisteve: i'll stick my head in here for a sec

TenNapel: (squirting ketchup on head)

vpisteve: can you explain in a little more detail your role, just so folks are clear on exactly what your contribution to everything was

TenNapel: Sure…

vpisteve: how did it all work for you?

TenNapel: I was involved with the very start of the show…
TenNapel: …like the week after Ben and Sean pitched Push to ABC I was meeting with Sean…
TenNapel: …I helped craft some of the elements of the pilot and the overall arc of the season…
TenNapel: …but once we got going I left working on the dramatic elements of the show…
TenNapel: … they brought in writers and directors to do that…
TenNapel: …I had worked on Push for 1.5 years BEFORE prodtuction started…

vpisteve: wow

TenNapel: …so I had a ton of puzzle notes to craft. That's me. I created the puzzles FOR THE MILLION DOLLAR PRIZE ONLY…
TenNapel: …the dramatic puzzles (non-prize money stuff in the mystery of the show) was primarily handled by Sean Baily and Steve Edwards…
TenNapel: …Edwards and I shared an office at the studio so we worked together a lot, towards the end he was helping me with a lot of puzzle stuff.
TenNapel: Next?
SpaceBass: Catherwood has the next question.. Cath?

catherwood: was the web interactivity side of things restricted by the goals of TV group and their "game integration team" on what could and could not happen beyond the show and the $million game?

TenNapel: Wow…
TenNapel: …the drama of the TV restricted everything.
TenNapel: …push had to work as good TV first…
TenNapel: …so there were lots of web ideas and puzzle ideas we had that just couldn't be done because it was too intrusive or required too much work that sucked away from the TV show…
TenNapel: … further, lawyers…
TenNapel: …need I say more?
TenNapel: Next.
SpaceBass: Next up is the42guy..

the42guy: Ā«Thanks SpaceBassĀ»
the42guy: How did the final solve ["vongilnail"] due to cancellation differ from the original solve? Follow up: Do you think if Push had been scheduled on a different night (it was against "CSI"), it might have survived?

TenNapel: … good questions…
TenNapel: …I always new that vongilnail would be the final answer…
TenNapel: … We had cleared 10 different phone numbers from 10 locations under different names to make sure they couldn't get traced back to LivePlanet…
TenNapel: …I had hoped that Von Gil Nail could be worked into the narrative of the show so I presented the name to Sean Baily…
TenNapel: … it was too late to create the character but we knew that name would come down the pipe, when the series got canned we just had to incorporate the clues from the cancelled shows into the last episode…
TenNapel: …it was kind of an exciting challenge!…

the42guy: yah, that was an interesting ending. :)

TenNapel: …I love solving puzzles and this was a real life puzzle to solve…
TenNapel: …I dont think Push would have survived…
TenNapel: …it's the wrong show at the wrong time in life…
TenNapel: …perhaps another season or HBO or a feature would have worked but I personally don't blame CSI on our troubles.

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