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If there's one thing Chucky is known for, it's that laugh. The killer doll that's embodied the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray since 1988's Child's Play has a cackle like no other, and it's typically followed up with a slew of R-rated language, including plenty of F-bombs. However, while franchise architect Don Mancini has spent over three decades crafting his devious little slasher, there's still more to be said for everyone's friend 'til the end in SYFY and USA Network's Chucky, premiering tonight, Oct. 12.
"One of the nice things about having a franchise — I suppose it could be a downside, too — is that I've spent an unholy amount of time in my life thinking about Chucky. So I just think about it all the time," Mancini told SYFY with a laugh. Going into development for the series, Mancini had plenty he wanted to explore, including Charles Lee Ray's backstory and what makes a villain. "But once I wrote the bible for the first season and the pilot for the show, we were in the writers' room and all these other very talented writers brought their own talents to bear on that, and just made it even more interesting."
His fellow writers also helped flesh out his main focus for this season: "The culture of bullying and how bullies operate; how they bully others, but how they can also infect others with that poison.
"I wanted to explore how it's possible to come back from the edge," he adds. "Because I think that culturally, sometimes we don't want to consider that aspect of serial killers. Not that I'm an expert on this matter — even though I write about a fictional serial killer or two, I don't really know anything about serial killers other than they are human beings... sometimes a bully [or] killer is made this way, sometimes they just come out [that way] — they're hatched bad."
That the show follows the misadventures of teenager Jake Webber (Zackary Arthur) and his relationships with other kids — and the titular stab-happy doll — at his high school in New Jersey adds to the "born or made" question. Can someone go bad with the right influence and circumstances? Or does there have to be something deep down inside, a grain of evil in their soul? Does Jake have more in common with a serial killer than he thinks?
During the Chucky panel after the premiere screening of Episode 1 at New York Comic Con 2021 on Oct. 8, Mancini expounded on another goal of the season: showing a gay teen and a burgeoning queer relationship onscreen, something Mancini wished he'd seen growing up as a young, gay man. Getting to make Jake, a kid working through his sexual identity, "cool," nuanced, and a passionate artist was only adding to the point.
For more of our interview with Mancini and even more Chucky content, keep an eye on SYFY.com and watch Chucky when it premieres on SYFY & USA Network on Oct. 12 at 10/9c.