The creator of the popular new series talks about the recent pick-up of the series and more
Josh Friedman is one happy camper right about now. It was just recently announced that his hit new series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was picked up for another season. Friedman took time out from his schedule - more than we expected, actually - to do a conference call regarding this pick-up and I was one of the lucky callers in attendance. Here's what the creator and executive producer of the show had to say.
I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what you went through, in terms of logistics, in order to get the show picked up for a second season?
Josh Friedman: Sure. I think what we did is pretty much what's standard on all shows. It's an opportunity for the studio and the network and the production team to sit down and talk about the show, look at what we did right, what we did wrong and keep doing the right things and stop doing the wrong things. We went in and made a presentation to Kevin Reilly and his team and we had a conversation about the direction we wanted to go. In this case, we actually, about six weeks ago, we were brought back on to start working on episodes. Even though we didn't have an official pick-up, we were being paid to start working and generate stuff so when the pick-up came, we would basically be on schedule for a fall debut.
It was announced in the press release that Brian Austin Green was back as a series regular. What other changes can we expect in Season 2 in terms of the cast and the crew?
Josh Friedman: As everyone's wondering, we are getting rid of Summer Glau... no, I'm kidding. If anyone was worrying that we blew her up in the end and she's not coming back, I'll reassure you that she is coming back, eventually, in full force. I will say that I brought the entire writing staff from last year, every single person. I was really happy with what people did last year. I think, in a weird way, it's kind of like a sports team. Consistency and continuity are a big part of it, so we're looking to make as few changes as we can. We felt pretty good at where we ended up. We've had little drop-outs of people, some people got other jobs on the crew because the schedules are different, but, I think on the whole, it's pretty much going to be the same group from last year. In terms of Brian, that character and Brian's portrayal of it, people really responded to him last year. We have some stuff that we're interested in doing with him this year. One of the ironies are you put someone on your show, and they do a really good job, and all of the sudden everyone wants to hire them, so you sort of have to lock them up. Brian was becoming a little popular, based on the show, so we moved as swiftly as possible to make sure he was going to stay in Terminator-land for as long as we needed him.
Were there ever plans of bringing him on full-time when you first thought of bringing his character in, or was it something that kind of evolved as you saw how well the story was received?
Josh Friedman: It's sort of an evolution. With characters that are new, you just never know. I certainly don't, I'm not experienced enough to really be able to know right away, and I don't know that you can. I think I had hopes that character would work, but I also knew that, in terms of expanding the mythology a little, it was a somewhat risky step and Brian was a somewhat-surprising choice for a lot of people so I was hoping that would work. I try not to fuck things up.
Looking back on the season, can you give me one thing you were really happy with and one thing you were not so happy with?
Josh Friedman: Well, this is gonna sound kind of generic, but I just love our cast. You never know what you're going to get with people. You audition them and you hope you've done the right thing and I was really comfortable with the cast. They really did what I needed them to do and they really took it to a different level. In terms of things we didn't do well, I don't know, sometimes it might have gotten a little confusing. I want to write a show that's complicated and sophisticated and subtle, I mean, everyone does, I guess, but I tried to write something that's very serialized. It's not some stuff that you have to do some thinking with. I definitely felt that there were points where the storytelling was a little muddy, where we could probably do a better job of not keeping 800 balls in the air. Maybe we could get 500 balls in the air. I used to have a saying and I instituted a program last year called "No Plot Point Left Behind," where every single thing that I introduced I kept trying to bring forward and pay off. I didn't want to let anything drop. I think we started accumulating a lot of stuff, most of it paid off and some of it didn't so I want to try to make sure that everything I want communicated is communicated this year.
There have been rumors of Fox talking to you guys about doing a second Terminator series. Would that be a series that runs in conjunction with the series or would the two cross over?
Josh Friedman: There have been rumors of that?
Here and there.
Josh Friedman: I haven't heard them. I'm being completely serious at this point.
It's just a rumor at this point.
Josh Friedman: I have no idea what that would be. That would be really cool if someone told me what that was supposed to be, I'd go write it but I've just got the one in front of me. I think they're excited about the possibility of cross-promoting with the movie, but there's not necessarily any cross-pollination with the movie. That's kind of a hard target to hit.
With future-war, you guys showed a whole lot more than I actually thought you'd show, in the first season. Are you going to be revisiting some of that through Reese, for Season 2?
Josh Friedman: I'm hoping to revisit the future-war. I love the future-war. I had plans, last year, to do a number of future-war episodes. They're the most expensive episodes we do, and they're the most time-consuming and the hard part is the CGI. Not only does it cost a lot of money, but it takes time. It's hard to turn those things around on the schedule. The future episode that we shot last year, was shot as the last episode, even though there were three episodes after it, but we pushed it to the end. It was actually the episode that we pushed and pushed until I left for the strike. I wasn't on the set for a single frame of the future episode. I was gone. We had to push it because of the amount of prep for it and it's a lot of post. I'm hoping for more. I love the future.
I was on the last conference call with you for the season finale and you said that Episode 10, the episode that you got cut off with, was just a great episode but it would be a terrible second-season premiere. Would there be any way you could integrate that into the second season at all?
Josh Friedman: Not likely. Someday I'll share what it was. I want to try and see if I can integrate it, but, really, it's like the lost episode, not the show Lost, but it's just the episode that just had to go away, which is unfortunate because we had a very cool idea.
Do you have any idea when the DVD for the season might come out?
Josh Friedman: I think there's a date for the DVD, but I don't know what it is. Hold out, I'm gonna yell out to somebody... (consulting producer) James Middleton says August. We did do a bunch of extras for the DVD. There's at least three commentaries out of the nine episodes, including a pilot commentary, one on the finale, one on the future episode, so we did a bunch of those. There are some mini-docs, we've got some good stuff. I think it's gonna be really cool. We had Summer (Glau), Thomas (Dekker), Lena (Headey), (director) David Nutter, James (Middleton) and some of the other writers and Brian (Austin Green) also. We all did commentaries, so there's some good stuff on it. I like it.
You said that the series would contain less action than the films because of the smaller budget. I was wondering, now that you've been picked up for a second season, is the budget going to be a little bigger and can you incorporate more action?
Josh Friedman: Yeah. I think that we will be bringing in more action this year. That's one of things that the studio and I were talking about, how much action vs. drama vs. special effects and I think everyone is excited to try to do a bit more of everything. It's money, and that's always the issue. You have to stay within the confines of what works economically for everybody. I think we did some nice stuff last year and I think if you do too much of it, people get bored of it. I think people like a balance, but I think this year, we will try to do a little bit more.
Since you have a full season coming up, would you maybe try to get Michael Biehn in to play Kyle's dad or any other cameos?
Josh Friedman: I'm not a big fan of cameos. I feel like it's really distracting and I know that the fans like it, but I think most of it just goes to the fact that we have a different Sarah Connor and we worked very hard to have Lena be Lena and not Linda Hamilton. I think if we start bringing in characters from the movies, I think it would be this weird fetishistic Where's Waldo thing that distracts people. You want to have a world that is self-contained and real and when you start doing that, I find it distracting. But, I love Michael Biehn. I think he's cool as hell and I don't know what I would do with him except to say, 'Hey, it's Michael Biehn.'
I was wondering about Season 2 and how far into it we'll have to wait for Underwater Terminator?
Josh Friedman: (Laughs) I do love Underwater Terminator. Someone's going to have to write me a big check for me to do Underwater Terminator. I have a weird infatuation with Underwater Terminator. I spend a lot of time with people, frankly, talking about the buoyancy level of Terminators or whether I think they can swim, if they sink, how they propel themselves and yet I've never written anything about Underwater Terminators. It's just one of those weird hobbies that I have, trying to figure out what they do underwater and how they look. It's dear to my heart.
Look for the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 1 DVD in August and the Season 2 premiere sometime this fall.