The creator of the hit Fox program talks about the series finale and more
Hart Hanson has been delving into the world of forensics and anthropology for the past three seasons on the popular Fox series Bones. The third season finale, "The Pain in the Heart," will air on Monday, May 19 at 8 PM ET on Fox and I was in on a conference call with the series creator about the finale and more. Here is what Hanson had to say.
Another year, another Fox schedule another Bones-is-moving-to-Friday joke?
Hart Hanson: Oh God! Yes, I hope it is another Bones-is-being-moved-to-Friday joke. I'm cranky about it on a whole bunch of levels. First is, we're a very good pairing with House, but I understand what the network has to do. I can see their reasoning, I just don't like it. I hope it never happens. I hope we don't go to Friday. They do that every year and so far we've only had reruns on Friday.
Is there a certain pride in being thought of as the show that can go anywhere and do the same, or would you rather just be on the same night and just be a massive hit?
Hart Hanson: I would rather that we were left somewhere and allowed to grow. We've been pretty good at hanging onto the eyes that come to our show. We've demonstrated that we do that. That being said, it's not so much pride as gratitude that our audience just keeps following us. It's gratifying that no matter where we go our audience follows us. I've heard that we're one of the few shows, and I've also been told that we are the only show that came back from the strike and went up in viewers. Everyone else has been down by double-digit percentages and that's just our viewers finding us and watching us. It's more gratification than pride.
Looking at the finale, this is going to be the end of the Gormogon arc, right?
Hart Hanson: It is, yes.
Can you talk about what that serialized arc accomplished for the storytelling this season?
Hart Hanson: Well, for us, we're a very episodic show, Bones is. We're a murder show. We solve a murder every week and hope to have a few laughs and tears along the way. Any of the serialized stories that we do, we do them quite rarely, are more of a tip of the hat to our fans, to our viewers who tune in all the time. You want to give them a little something extra that they feel rewarded for coming back week after week. That was the point of the Gormogon story, just a little something extra. It was changed by the strike. We had a few more beats to go with it, a few more twists and turns in mind when we started it. Being as we're very episodic, we decided it would behoove us to wrap it up in a season and not carry it on to another season. The culmination of that story is slightly different than what we had in mind, but in the end, it worked out differently than we had in mind, but the end result is the same, if I can be very oblique.
Going back to the Gormogon thing, can you tell us if Eric Millegan will be returning as a cast regular in Season 4?
Hart Hanson: I shouldn't tell you that (Laughs). Let me say this. We haven't seen the last of Eric Millegan.
What came first, the idea to make a series out of Kathy Reichs' book or the need to find a good idea about an oddly-matched investigative team?
Hart Hanson: That's a really good question. I have always been looking for a project that would allow me to do what I get to do on Bones. I've done some things similar over the years, and I've written some pilots that didn't get done and, to be honest, I've told this story before, I came to the Bones project because I bailed. I had another project going with the studio and it just wasn't going to work out. I left them in the lurch and 20th Century Fox has been very good to me, and I felt I owed them a pilot. They sent me to Barry Josephson, because he had optioned a 2-hour documentary, an A&E documentary, on Kathy Reichs. I did not know her books, but if I hadn't felt beholden to the studio, I wouldn't have done it because, at first blush, it looked like they wanted CSI, a forensic show and that was not going to be my strength. As I watched the documentary, and felt beholden to 20th, that I owed them something for investing in me, it happened that way. I bent toward the procedural and banked that procedural towards what I like to do which is the goofiness and characters of Bones. Of course, that's the thing that got me into a pilot and of course that's the thing that got on the air. I would like to say I did it totally on purpose and had a plan right from the beginning, but, really, I owed some people.
Hart Hanson: Yeah. I think that was from Zap2It started that. I think she singlehandedly suggested that. David Shore and I are both Canadians. We knew each other a little bit in Canada. He came down here before I did and then I came down and our offices on the 20th Century lot are not far from each other so we're great and grand friends. We talk about these things all the time. I don't know if that would ever happen between our schedules and, more importantly, Stephen Fry's schedule. He is the busiest man on the planet. I don't know when he sleeps. We would certainly have him be a regular on this show if he were available. I know David is very interested in getting Stephen on. David is a very very strong writer. He might not want to borrow someone else's character to do that. You just never know. Of course, House is a gigantic hit and we're a pretty good hit, but it would behoove us to do a crossover, so we'd jump at the chance. There's something very funny about having Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in a scene. That's very appealing to everyone.
What does Kathy Reichs think about how you re-imagined her work?
Hart Hanson: I think one of the great advantages we have, is we're not really doing her books. We did an inside joke for Kathy's fans, to have Temperance Brennan, who is the character in her books, in our show, she's the person that writes the books and her herroine is Kathy Reichs, for anyone that's paying attention although it makes your brain hurt if you think about it too much.
I've read a couple of these books and even the flavor of them is not the same.
Hart Hanson: Oh no. It's just not the same at all. She's the first to acknowledge that we didn't get the rights to her books, we got the rights to the documentary on her, from A&E. It's a little bit of a different thing. For once, it's not like I'm trampling on her characters. I'm not incurring upon her vision of the universe that her character is in. I just finished writing a pilot based on Harlan Coben's novels that are based, exactly, on his Myron Bolitar character, and that was a different kettle of kisch entirely. He's a very open, wonderful guy. It was a whole different enterprise than Bones, where I basically came up with the character of Temperance and then went out from there and created a television show around her, to actually using characters that existed in another medium.
Are we going to be seeing more of Brennan's family in this coming season, especially with her father now out of jail?
Hart Hanson: Yes. Those two actors are just two wonderful actors to have on the show, Ryan O'Neal and Loren Dean, who plays her brother. Yes, we have plans for Ryan. It's one of the reasons we got him off on the murder charges, so we don't have to put him in prison. We have ways to fold him into a few stories, so the answer is yes. Every actor on the show wants to work with him, which is really indicative of something. The people who have had scenes with him, just love it. It's Ryan O'Neal. Why would you waste a chance to have someone like that on your show? Loren, I just know Loren Dean can have a series any minute, if he wants one. He's an incredibly good actor, so yes. I think our fans like those stories and I think the opportunity to have Booth interact with her family is also very attractive and gives us a number of the kinds of stories we like to tell on Bones. We also want to go more into Booth's family in Season 4 as well. That was one of the casualties of the strike as well, the story we had about meeting some of Booth's family, so we want to do that in Season 4.
I read that at the beginning of Season 4, the team is investigating a case in London.
Hart Hanson: Yes!
Did you guys shoot on location for that?
Hart Hanson: We haven't gone yet. I'm doing a pass at the script right now. We hope to start shooting there starting in mid-June. We'll take David and Emily will go off to be Booth and Brennan in London. It's going to be a two-parter in Fox's week of two-hour premieres. We're August 26. I think we're up against the Democratic National Convention, so that's going to go well (Laughs). They'll be watching in London, I hope.
I was just wondering for the next season do you have any dream guest star that you're looking at securing?
Hart Hanson: That's a good question. To tell you the truth, we've been killing ourselves to get out the London story in time and we will start really kneading out the next Season 4 in July when the actors and crew are on hiatus. But, boy oh boy, Britney Spears really gave a boost to How I Met Your Mother. We can't help but going, 'How do we get that many people to tune in?' I think she's probably the best person for that in the world. We're not averse to stunt casting, to getting eyeballs on the show. It's funny, though, because when we talk about getting guest stars, we seldom go for those people, we end up talking about actors whom we love that may not necessarily bring in the huge number viewers. It's not stunt casting, it's like acting stunt casting. Early on, we wanted to meet Booth's grandfather and the name that just kept coming up was James Garner, and how much fun would that be to have James Garner come and be on the show. That's always been in our heads and also we want to meet his brother, which I haven't gotten the particulars of people we're looking at, but that could be a really fun part to cast as well.
So, are we going to be seeing Dr. Sweets next season?
Hart Hanson: Oh yeah. Yeah... unless he's the Gormogon, in which case you won't. But if he's not, yes (Laughs). It's a good thing I'm not in the CIA (Laughs).
The Bones season finale will be aired on Monday, May 19 at 8 PM ET only on Fox.