The girls from Pretty Little Liars may be dodging danger in Rosewood, Pa., but there are even greater forces at work in nearby Ravenswood, where a curse has plagued the town for generations and where ABC Family hopes to find its next big hit. ''It's a chance to tell a kind of story we can't tell on Pretty Little Liars,'' says exec producer Joseph Dougherty, speaking exclusively to EW about this fall's PLL spin-off, Ravenswood. ''But by the same token, we think it's going to appeal to the same audience.''
The concept for Ravenswood hinges on the tricky task of taking a paranormal world occasionally acknowledged on PLL and moving it to the forefront. ''In Ravenswood the idea is we're living more in a Stephen King corner of Pennsylvania,'' says exec producer Oliver Goldstick. At the center of the new story is Caleb (Tyler Blackburn), Rosewood's resident rebel and Hanna's (Ashley Benson) beau, whose impending departure from PLL caused a stir online. (He'll be joined by Beauty and the Beast's Nicole Gale Anderson.) But Goldstick notes that Caleb might not be gone forever. ''It's western PA; it's not like we're in Australia,'' he jokes.
Blackburn will exit in PLL's annual Halloween hour this October, with Ravenswood debuting right after. ''[Caleb] is such a well-loved character, we thought, 'Let's utilize the fact that his backstory is so much of a mystery to us still and let him take us to this world,''' says exec producer I. Marlene King. Viewers will first glimpse the new town in a mid-July episode of PLL's season 4 (premiering June 11), when Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Toby (Keegan Allen) track a clue there.
Unlike PLL, Ravenswood is not based on a book series. ''[It has been] really liberating to just create characters that will be completely new,'' says King. ''I think the stakes will be a lot higher for these teens than they are for the Pretty Little Liars. I hope a lot of OMG and WTF moments are waiting for us in Ravenswood.''