This week’s In Appreciation Of highlights Emmy-winning writer Peter Murrieta, original showrunner of Wizards of Waverly Place.
Welcome to In Appreciation Of, where we highlight actors, personalities, filmmakers, musicians and projects that have made an undeniable impact on pop culture.
Even if you grew up watching Wizards of Waverly Place, the name Peter Murrieta might not be familiar.
After all, most TV viewers take notice of the actors, rather than those behind the scenes.
For the uninitiated, Murietta was the Showrunner/Executive Producer of Wizards for Seasons 1-3.
However, Murrieta did not create the show, or at least the original concept.
This was always confusing to me. The opening titles said created by Todd J Greenwald. Yet, whenever the cast spoke about the writing, the main name mentioned was Peter Murrieta.
As the Wizards of Waverly Pod podcast explains, the show was originally called The Amazing O’Malleys.
This version starred most of the same cast, albeit playing slightly different characters.
Disney Channel brought in Murrieta – who had never worked on a kids’ show up to that point – to rework the show.
He made several big but crucial changes.
Namely, deciding that the family should be mixed-heritage (like his own) and changing their business from a magic shop to the Waverly Sub Station.
In addition, Murrieta also renamed them as the Russos.
In March 2023, Murrieta himself appeared on Wizards of Waverly Pod.
He spoke to co-hosts Jennifer Stone and David DeLuise all about his time on the show.
This included major details such as why Murrieta left Wizards after Seaaon 3, as well as his vision for how the show should end.
While Wizards ultimately went on without Murrieta, there’s no denying he was a big reason for its success.
During the Wizards of Waverly Pod interview, the hosts even reference how some of Murrieta’s personality traits appear in lead character Alex Russo, played by Selena Gomez.
After all, seeing as he won two Emmy Awards for his work, it’s clear he did a good job.
Unfortunately, we’ll never see Murrieta’s ending for the TV show fully come to fruition.
Maybe it’s not the end.
If Wizards ever comes back in some form, Murrieta might be there to helm it.
Until such time, fans can enjoy and appreciate Peter Murrieta’s impact on Wizards by watching the show on Disney+.