ATX TV Festival 2022: Baron and Toluca

First look at the UFO indie pilot from Roswell stars

Majandra Delfino and Brendan Fehr, stars and creator of indie pilot Baron and Toluca, which received its premiere today at ATX TV Festival (Courtesy of ATX TV Festival)

Meet unlikely supernatural investigators Jake Baron and Toluca Mendez. Former co-stars and former lovers, they're played by Brendan Fehr and Majandra Delfino – themselves former co-stars and former lovers.

In the case of Jake and Toluca, they're on the faded end of celebrity from an X-Files-esque UFO show, while Fehr and Delfino are in real life best known as earthbound human/alien hybrid Michael Guerin and the native Terran Maria DeLuca from the short-lived but beloved WB show Roswell. Its determined fan base played a major role on getting it picked up, post-season 2 cancellation, by UPN for a third season. Two years ago, those same loyal fans crowdfunded the indie pilot of Baron and Toluca, the SF-tinged dramedy created by Delfino and Fehr which premiered today at the ATX TV Festival.

Earlier teasers for the show suggested something more overtly sinister, a darker timeline in which Toluca was capable of holding down a job – a feat of which the pilot's version of Toluca is clearly incapable. A serial monogamist, sticking around until the money runs out, she's forced back into the equally down-at-heel Baron's company when they get an invite to Comic-Con. Well, not that Comic-Con. Welcome to Lincoln County, New Mexico (take 380 out of Roswell, and don't blink or you'll miss it), where life takes a strange and dangerous turn.

If there's a problem with Baron and Toluca's crowdfunded pilot, it's that it's overstuffed. It's a relationship comedy, but also a Twin Peaksian blast of small town strangeness, and a meta-comedy on celebrity, and a supernatural thriller. The first episode, clocking in well over 60 minutes, has enough plotline for three episodes of hour-long drama or, if they took a lighter direction, just as much character-driven comedy. A full series could go either way, or just keep with its deliberately awkward energy, because of the easy, dynamic, and charming interplay between Fehr and Delfino. Scooby-dooing their way into disaster, they bicker and jab, giving a hilarious edge that pushes the pilot beyond its crowdfunded technical limitations.

Their years of working together, of obvious on- and off-screen intimacy, plays deeply into their characters, and the exasperation they feel with each other. The love song Baron and Toluca sing is "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" but there's also a constant subtext of their lives as former pop culture icons. Their old show, Alien Advocates, is barely remembered, they're quasi-celebrities, and the opening sequence in a terrible local sci fi convention rings a little bitterly true for anyone who has hung around the circuit where extras from Battle Beyond the Stars charge $10 a pop for autographs (and they'll throw in an old headshot if you don't have correct change).

But what really makes Baron and Toluca work is that the duo aren't teens (or 20-something playing teens) any more. True, there are a lot of throwaway gags, and some fun stunt casting, that will make Roswell fans pop, but it's in the more mature moments that Baron and Toluca could well find a wider audience. The show-within-a-show may spoof The X-Files, but there are moments closer to David Duchovny's other hit, Californication, in the grasp of aging and complicated intimacy, of Baron's quick denial and despair when he becomes the target of something very otherworldly, and in Toluca's childlike desire to be special again, balanced against her self-destructive urges. Complicating everything is Miles (Arthur Martinez), the charming but equally desperate cop who pushes them together for his own well-intended ends. It's a lot in one small package, but then there's a lot here to make their (hopefully) ongoing story intriguing.


ATX TV Festival, June 2-5. Tickets and info at atxfestival.com.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Richard Whittaker
Review: <i>Disney’s Frozen</i>
Review: Disney’s Frozen
Broadway in Austin brings all Arendelle’s magic to the Bass

June 15, 2024

Memorial Announced for Film Giant Tom Copeland
Memorial Announced for Film Giant Tom Copeland
Former Texas Film Commission head oversaw massive growth in industry

June 13, 2024

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

ATX TV Festival, ATX TV Fest 2022, Baron and Toluca

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle