Let’s talk about television, fans and the evolution of pop culture. No better event exists combining all three into one flawless extended weekend than that of ATX Television Festival. And no better example of this exists than that of Baron and Toluca, which is incidentally premiering its pilot episode at this year’s programme (June 2–5, 2022).
This festival is a little different than most, as its focus is on the celebratory element of television as a whole — its history, its present, and where it’s headed. The mix of panels, screenings and events provide a unique offering for attendees to hear from not only their favorite actors and actresses, but the writers, creators, directors and crew that have brought their favorite shows to life on the small screen — or are about to.
Enter Baron and Toluca.
A series conceptualized, written, directed and produced by Majandra Delfino and her ex co-star Brendan Fehr, Baron and Toluca (B+T) takes us into a meta-verse so steeped in television nostalgia from yesteryear, you won’t know what hit you. Delfino and Fehr played characters Maria DeLuca and Michael Guerin from teen-hit WB television series Roswell, which ran from 1999–2002.
The premiere pilot of B+T follows characters Jake Baron and Toluca Mendez, who are former stars of a cheesy 90s WB show called ‘Alien Advocates’ (sounding familiar?) who find themselves caught in a real-life paranormal mystery after appearing at a second-rate comic con. These estranged co-stars must work together to unravel the chaos surrounding them, in order to save themselves and the planet — that is, if they don’t kill each other first.
Peppered with ‘easter eggs’ that any avid Roswell fan will no doubt crack, Baron + Toluca is a stand alone show in its own right. Though it may borrow elements from TV classics that any millennial is undeniably accustomed to, Baron + Toluca is neither a re-boot, re-make nor re-imagining. B+T takes us on an unique journey rife with paranormal mystery and sci-fi elements akin to the likes of cult-followings Twin Peaks or The X-Files.
And that’s not where the similarities finish. As with any cult classic, and despite not yet having premiered its pilot, Baron and Toluca already has quite the following. Often dubbed a ‘spiritual successor’ or ‘love letter to the fans’, Baron and Toluca hosts a fanbase to be reckoned with. Delfino and Fehr first made noise about the concept of B+T back in 2016, with a series of cryptic tweets showcasing themselves standing together in front of Vasquez Rocks (a well known Roswell icon), which sent their fanbase into overdrive.
Based on the history and dedication of their fans, you’d be forgiven for thinking Baron and Toluca was therefore a sure-fire bet with Hollywood. However pitching a new project to the network execs is not dissimilar from trying to find your home planet without the Granilith (sorry, inside joke) — it’s just not easily done. And if it is, there’s usually a list of compromises that come with it. Delfino, having written the script herself, was determined to ensure that the essence of the show was preserved.
Building from their fanbase of support, Delfino and Fehr set out to crowd-fund the pilot episode of the show. Baron and Toluca’s crowd-funding campaign kicked off on Indiegogo on the 9th of October 2020, with a $100,000 goal to fund the pilot episode of the series. In 20 minutes from launching, they’d cracked 20% of their goal. Within a day of launching they were 50% funded, and then hit 75% in under one week.
Within two weeks of launching what should have been a six week long campaign, Baron and Toluca was 100% funded and the pilot was filmed in the following Fall of 2021.
Once the $100,000 goal was reached, “stretch goals” were introduced for continued funding throughout filming and editing. It goes without saying that one hundred thousand bucks is likely the bare minimum needed to film a pilot of a TV show (and that’s after calling in a few favors), so the stretch goals ensured that any additional funding would secure more sophisticated production, editing and crew for the show. With every stretch goal reached, fans were promised additional perks too, such as exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and a DVD of the pilot itself. The current funding of the campaign sits at just over $189,000 with perks still available for purchase (wink wink nudge nudge).
Delfino and Fehr’s genuine appreciation for their fans (dubbed “dans”) is evident in all of their social interactions — and the feelings are inherently mutual. Fehr has previously referred to the fandom as one “big ole weird family you wanna have a seat at the table for”, and it couldn’t be any truer. Not only are there questionable hashtags that only a fan would understand the histrionics of, there are hand signals, crab-walks (don’t ask…) and even karaoke etiquette that together produce a slew of personal jokes between the stars and the fandom.
Pop culture and fandom has evolved to such an extent in the last 20 years, that being a fan has transgressed that invisible boundary that used to exist between the screen and the person themselves. Not only are there thousands of dollars contributed from a global fanbase hell-bent on seeing this show succeed, there are fans literally involved with every aspect of it.
Fans have helped behind the scenes with filming, they have helped with merchandising and they have relentlessly helped to promote it over the last 6 years. There are fans with speaking roles within the show itself, and you can absolutely expect the Paramount Theatre to be filled to the rafters with this dedicated fanbase for Baron and Toluca’s flagship viewing.
The pilot episode of Baron and Toluca premiering at ATX TV Festival is the icing on the cake for this grass-roots, fan-funded, utterly-beloved-before-its-time show. In 2014, Delfino and Fehr were present on the Roswell 15 year anniversary panel at ATX, which was later deemed the catalyst for them to reunite and join forces for their new show. Wanna talk about “full circle” coincidences? Baron and Toluca has them in spades.
The evolution of TV, fans and pop culture has never been more evident than with the rise of Baron and Toluca. Don’t miss out on witnessing it with your own two eyeballs — make sure you get a seat for this viewing.
Baron and Toluca may very well be deemed a ‘love letter to the fans’ from Delfino and Fehr, but it’s a ‘P.S. we love you’ right back at them.
Where: ATX TV Festival
Contribute to the crowdfund: Visit Indiegogo
~ By Hailey Rodger