Hart Hanson & Stephen Nathan, Executive Producers for Bones, recently spoke to the press about the upcoming second half of the season and more. They are honestly two of the funniest guys I’ve ever spoken with or read on Twitter. You can tell they love their jobs and their cast and crew and have a lot of respect for each other. I got to ask the first two questions and then a third at the end of the call, so my three questions are first. 🙂
Stephen Nathan: You haven’t heard a definitive answer, because there isn’t one yet. All we know is that we have a season ender, and that will leave us with four extra episodes that have to be able to be slotted anywhere at any time without notice. That’s all we know.
Hart Hanson: There’s been no word from Fox when they want to air it, whether they want to air them in the summer, or whether they want to save them for next season or slot them in next season.
Stephen: We just don’t know, so that actually made from some four kind of interesting episodes.
Hart: Yes. I mean it might be that the executives at Fox just watch them at lunch just amongst themselves. We haven’t been told.
Jump with me to read more from this hysterical pair.
Jenny: Will the FBI become an obstacle for Booth and Brennan at work, especially now that they’re going to have the baby, and they’re living together, and all that?
Hart: We’re not planning a storyline in which the FBI says you can’t be partners. We discussed it and then we thought, God, if we tell that story, there isn’t a single audience member who’s going to go, oh my God, I wonder if they’ll never be allowed to work together again. So we just decided not to do—it may come up time to time, especially from Sweets that it’s odd to have a couple working together, but it’s not the oddest thing in the world. So, Stephen, you do you have anything more?
Stephen: No, I think the most important thing for us is to keep the show on the same footing it’s been for seven years, which is this is a murder show, and Booth and Brennan are always going to be working together to solve these murders. So we don’t ever intend to take that away. That’s not to say that it won’t be incredibly difficult for them, but it won’t be because of any bureaucratic nonsense that it will make it difficult. It’ll just be them working together, the difficulties they have working together as they always have.
Jenny: Who is the brilliant mind behind the storyline about where Brennan is giving birth? I don’t want to give it away for the people who haven’t watched the episode yet, but I watched it and it is pure brilliance.
Stephen: You know what, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if it was. I think Jon might have had a huge—I think Jon Collier I think came up with that. We had many, many, many discussions. There were so many things thrown into the hopper, and I think Jon Collier who wrote that episode, you know what, it’s so funny after doing what we’ve done now is 713 episodes and it’s very difficult to—
Hart: We don’t always remember.
Stephen: Yes, sometimes I go home and I wake up. I’m in bed with Hart’s wife, he’s in bed with mine. I don’t know. We don’t know what the hell is going on anymore.
Hart: There’s a ton of, Jon Collier wrote that episode and he’s a terrific writer and there’s a ton of my pal Stephen Nathan in there.
Stephen: It all runs together. The overlap is appreciated. Thank you.
On how they choose the squinterns for the episodes
Hart: It’s a twofold thing. One is we figure out who we haven’t seen for a while. Two, we figure out who would best fit the story, and then three, we find out if that person is available. Usually all three of those things don’t occur at the same time.
Stephen: Sometimes we have finished a script, are very, very excited that the intern of our choice is going to be in it, only to find out that they’re unavailable, so we have to rewrite the script. But we’ve been very fortunate, because these stories were very, very specific. We wanted Daisy, definitely wanted Daisy to be in the episode where the baby is born, and things are starting an arc in the episode following, so we were glad that worked out, too. She’s just been a phenomenal addition to the show.
On whether the balance of the show will change between cases & personal
Stephen: There’s always been that balancing act in the show of their personal life and the cases, but we’re a murder show, so that will not change. But when we do go home, they have a new arrival, which changes their lives, so the baby will be a part of the show, because it’s a part of their lives. But somebody is still going to be murdered in a heinous and cruel way, and we will be revolted at the beginning of the show as we always have been and hopefully we’ll catch them.
Hart: The balance won’t change, but the context will.
Stephen: Oh, that was great.
Hart: I had the time to think up a succinct response while you were talking.
Stephen: No, that was one great sentence. I’m going to use that.
On how having a baby will change Brennan
Hart: Well, sure. We’ve always seen Brennan as a character who, because of her upbringing, was kind of afraid of life, did not want to engage with life, or had to be protected by a veneer of rationality and logic and science. The first thing to come and challenge to breech those walls was Booth who made her confront, lead a more dangerous life, at least emotionally in that her happiness is contingent upon another person’s happiness. And now she has a child, and you might be able to avoid a lover as someone whose happiness, your happiness is contingent upon, but definitely not a child. So that’s what she is contending with, she is now a big open bruise because of another human being and she will find that very disorienting.
One sentence, Stephen. That was really good.
Stephen: You’re on fire today. Brennan is so objective even about herself that she is caught off guard by all these new feelings. I think that’s what’s great for us in terms of writing the show. We get to see a character who is as astonished by these new feelings and this new behavior as the audience is. We saw that in the first six episodes when the hormones were going crazy and she was crying, which she had never done before. She has different emotions that she’s unaccustomed to, so all of that will continue.
Hart: There’s a story in one of our four hanging chad stories. One of the victims is a kid, and Brennan turns to Booth and says in a very shocked way, “I find I have a great need to go see Christine,” and it makes no rational sense; and that’s sort of what Stephen is talking about is she’s just shocked that someone has gotten so deeply into her heart.
Stephen: We’ve done that actually in the second episode back. It’s the first time she is going back to work, and she has to deal with leaving Christine for the first time. Emily just did a wonderful job. It’s a great new area for us to explore.
On Booth and Brennan having to learn to compromise over things like finances
Hart: I’m really glad you said that because a lot of feedback that we get is that Booth is perfect and Brennan isn’t, and Booth is not perfect. He’s not perfect, and he has to, in his own way, has to give up as much as she does in this new life, and that is an ongoing, what is it, field between them that they have to plow. It’s like how much is she going to pay for and how much is he going to pay for? We get a lot of comedy out of it, as well as character stuff. It’s a good, fertile field for us. I’m going to leave the field metaphor alone now.
Stephen: But you got a plow, you got a field. The next answer has to with the harvest.
Hart: I got to lay fallow for a month.
Stephen: But the house is not in the shape it was in the last episode.
On revealing Brennan was pregnant before revealing that they were now in a sexual relationship
Hart: We always knew that the end season six would be the reveal that Booth and Brennan had slept together. We knew that they were going to sleep together. What changed everything was when Emily confided in us that she was pregnant, and we decided to adjust the storyline for season seven accordingly. So season seven would have been the story of how Booth and Brennan come to grips with the fact that they are now intimate and sexually involved. We threw out probably a half a season there, perhaps more and inserted that they were going to have a child.
So really the only thing that changed in season six was the very last scene where she turns to Booth and says, “I’m pregnant and you’re the father.” That scene, of course, would not have existed. Otherwise mostly that season would have been intact as it was. What we have to do now is show the romance in a couple that’s been together and has a child. What America is going to miss is the unfolding courtship of Booth and Brennan and we could not be happier to avoid that.
On how long Bones would be gone for maternity leave
Hart: It’s actually a short amount of time.
Stephen: No, it’s a short amount of time. There’s probably six weeks or so, maybe eight weeks between the time the baby arrives and she goes back to work.
Hart: She gets oddly about the same amount of time as Emily had.
Hart: We did not want to do a story where our main crime solver was at home for a number of episodes. That seemed to us to be a really good way to lose a ton of viewers and momentum, so it’s right back into the fray. Mind you, we do contend with, as Stephen said, we have to contend with who’s going to take care of the baby, and how is Brennan going to juggle her being a mom living with Booth, how is Booth going to juggle her and the baby and do their jobs. But they’re still doing their jobs.
Stephen: Yes, we didn’t want to turn the show into some sort of domestic show where the murder was a secondary aspect. The murder is still the primary focus of the show, and their domestic lives are crucial and important and what we love about the show, but people are still dead.
On the extra four episodes & whether the shorter season meant shifting any story arcs
Stephen: The four actual episodes will not be arc related. They have to be able to stand on their own, so those four episodes we were able to do stories that we wouldn’t have normally done in a regular lineup of—
Hart: Very, very standalone and maybe even a bit odd with the gags to them, what’s the world they have conceits to them or—
Stephen: Yes, they’re more stylized than we normally would do, and we were able to try to tackle stories that we might not normally have tackled, because we don’t know how old the baby is going to be. We don’t know what’s going to happen between relationships between people, so these really were standalone.
Hart: We have to hope that Hodgins’ hair doesn’t change too much.
Stephen: Yes, that’s right and the baby could be in college.
Hart: [As to whether or not there were any more serialized or character heavy arcs that had to be pushed off,] yes, but we knew what was coming when we started the season, so it’s not like we started some and then withdrew them; but we have many, many arcs and ideas, a bin-full of ideas for them that we simply didn’t pull out, because it wasn’t going to go in this year. I’m pretty sure the one that we would’ve gotten to, had we had a normal length of a year would be some more Booth family stuff. I still want to do a Hodgins family surprise. But those just went away, because of the shortened season and because we had these strong B stories, character stories connected to the baby.
Did I interrupt you, Stephen?
Stephen: No, no, I was going to say—
Hart: I wasn’t apologizing, I was gloating.
Stephen: I enjoyed it. There are five fewer episodes, so that’s a lot of missing arcs, but they’ll be back if we’re back.
On whether or not we’ll see extended family
Stephen: Yes, yes, we will. We’ll certainly see some of the people, we’re going to see Brennan’s dad. He’ll return. We’ve already seen Booth’s grandfather this year under sad circumstances. Certainly going into next year, we’re going to see the extended families.
On how new serial killer Pelant is going to affect viewers
Hart: Pelant is going to scare the crap out of people in the season finale.
Stephen: Yes, there will be no crap in people anymore after Pelant’s episode. He really is going to turn the series on its head for a little bit. He has much more power than any of our serial bad guys have had in the past.
On Cam’s upcoming storylines
Stephen: She’s been very heavily involved this season in the lab with our people kind of as the boss. She’s sort of taken that role, that role has been expanded a bit, so you’ll see that in subsequent episodes. We have a lot planned for Cam personally, but as Hart said earlier, our hands were a little bit tied this year because of the five fewer episodes, we weren’t able to give some of the other characters that we love, Hodgins and Cam, more extensive arcs. We will be doing that if we get picked up.
Hart: We’ll get picked up, Stephen.
Stephen: We will?
Stephen: And we’re so heavy.
[Note from Jenny: The show was picked up not long after this call. Congrats, Stephen & Hart!]
On whether or not we’ll see some great Angela/Brennan scenes now that they are in similar places in life
Hart: Stephen, I’m looking at you with consternation in my face. There are two episodes that we’ve done in the last month that have good Angela and Brennan stuff in them. It’s not all over the baby, by the way, not all over the fact that they are moms. That’s certainly helps, but—
Stephen: But we’ve had a few, especially one where Angela and Brennan kind of leave the lab and play hooky. We do have them, and Cam is also now involved in sort of that kind of relationship. She’s become a bit closer to Angela and Brennan. But Angela and Brennan do, we do see them quite intimately in a few episodes.
Hart: Angela has her own issues with how she’s changed, being a married woman with a child that we explore a little bit; and so she is better situated to understand what Brennan is going through feeling that she’s changed, although Angela is more nostalgic for who she used to be I think than Brennan is. She’s more reflective. But yes, in my mind it’s come up at least three times in the last six episodes and, in fact, at least one really strong storyline.
I think in the season ender the audience will get a very good feeling for how close Angela and Brennan are. In some ways Angela knows Brennan better than Booth does in that way that another friend of the same sex can understand you more than your partner.
Stephen: And she knows Brennan better than Brennan does.
Hart: That’s true, yes. That’s a good line, Stephen.
Stephen: You can have that one. I’ll take that context one. I like the context one because it sounds smarter.
Thank you again to both Hart & Stephen for such an entertaining call. It’s always a pleasure!
Don’t miss the new episode of Bones tonight on a new night on FOX at 8/7c.