Haddonfield gave birth to Syfy's hit TV thriller-omedy Warehouse 13 - or at least its next episode.
The episode, "Don't Hate the Player," to be telecast at 9 p.m. Monday, was conceived and written by Haddonfield High School alumnus Ian Stokes, one of the newest additions to Warehouse 13's stable of screenwriters.
"Television writing really is a team effort," says Stokes, 28, to dispel the illusion he wrote the thing while locked away in a garret. (Do they even have garrets in Hollywood?)
"There are 10 staff writers on the show . . . and showrunner [executive producer] Jack Kenny oversees it all."
Now in its third season and already renewed for a fourth, Warehouse 13 is the highest-rated show in Syfy's history. It's one of the humor-tinged thrillers, including Eureka, Alphas, and Haven, that have reinvigorated the cable channel's lineup
The oddball show stars Joanne Kelly and Eddie McClintock as two very oddball Secret Service agents who help an even more oddball and shadowy federal agent, played by Saul Rubinek, oversee a huge warehouse filled with objects with dangerous magical-mystical properties. The team investigates the most oddball - if often fatal - events around the country, determine whether an artifact was involved and, as one of the show's taglines puts it, "snag, bag, and tag" the object for storage at the warehouse.
Stokes says Warehouse 13's blend of humor and suspense is the perfect fit for his peculiar sensibilities. He's a lifelong sci-fi fanatic. "I grew up watching the X-Files," he says. "It was a huge show to me."
But Stokes also is a devotee of the irreverent (and yes, oddball) animated sitcom The Simpsons. "I probably have watched every episode . . . multiple times," he says.
Sometimes to the chagrin of his parents.
Stokes' family is as far from the TV business as it gets.
His mother, Kathi, teaches at Cherokee High School in Marlton, while his father, Bob, is an IT specialist at a pharmaceutical company.
"I'm kind of the odd man out," Stokes says, noting that his one sibling, Geoffrey, 27, is a public school teacher.
"I've always known I wanted to be a TV writer," says Stokes, who studied dramatic writing at New York University before heading out to Los Angeles in 2004 with four fellow Tinseltown aspirants.
Stokes jokes that he's lived the Hollywood cliche. He began his career as personal assistant to Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis.
"It was a really cool job," Stokes says. "He lives in Santa Barbara," he adds, extolling the virtues of the gorgeous coastal city. "I could have stayed there forever."
He was working at Syfy as an administrative assistant when Warehouse 13 launched in 2009. He joined the show in its debut season, but as a lowly writer's assistant.
One day, he had a story idea.
"I didn't really know how the process worked," he says.
Before he knew it, he had cowritten the season one episode "Breakdown."
Recalls Stokes with fondness, "It was my very first script, so it was cool that it actually got made." Next season, he was made a bona fide staff writer.
Monday, Warehouse 13 will feature a crossover episode with Syfy's other Monday night sci-fi-omedy, Eureka.
The shows already have had crossover episodes, and Fargo (Neil Grayston), the nerdy lead character of Eureka, is (kind of) involved in a romantic relationship with Warehouse 13's excitable, fidgety apprentice agent Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti).
In the new episode, Fargo finds himself trapped inside an elaborate fantasy-themed video game and calls the Warehouse 13 team for help.
"It's Tron meets Dungeons & Dragons," Stokes says.
To help Fargo, Warehouse 13 heroes Myka Bering (Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (McClintock) "have to go inside the game and find him."
Stokes says he has the ideal job - and a great office. "We are in Universal Studios. It's the coolest place to work," he says. "You got a whole theme park right there [including] 'Jurassic Park the Ride.' "
It reminds him of home: Jurassic Park, he says, is about a dinosaur "who was discovered in Haddonfield."