Executive Producers Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan Talk BONES and THE FINDER

     April 4, 2012

Already renewed for Season 8, the Fox drama series Bones returns in a new timeslot on Mondays with all-new episodes, starting with a very untraditional arrival of Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan’s (Emily Deschanel) baby daughter. In “The Prisoner in the Pipe,” a neighborhood is on edge when remains are found in the sewer, identified as a male fugitive who escaped from the penitentiary for financial fraud, and Booth and Brennan turn to an inmate for clues about the murder.

During this recent interview to promote the return of the show, executive producers Hart Hanson (who is also executive producer of The Finder) and Stephen Nathan talked about what it will be like for Booth and Brennan to work together and have a baby together, how they decide when a recurring character will come back for a specific episode, how the arrival of the baby will change things (or not) for the characters, the decision to skip over showing the development of the Booth and Brennan relationship before skipping straight to the pregnancy, what’s to come for the other characters, what might happen to the four stand-alone episodes that are in limbo with the shortened season, and whether other cast members might appear on The Finder, if that series gets another season. Check out what they had to say after the jump:

Question: Will the FBI become an obstacle for Booth and Brennan at work, especially now that they’re going to have the baby and be living together?

HART HANSON: 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 that. It may come up, from 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.

STEPHEN NATHAN: I think the most important thing for us is to keep the show on the same footing it’s been on for seven years, which is that this is a murder show, and Booth and Brennan are always going to be working together to solve these murders. 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 will make it difficult. It’ll just be them working together, and the difficulties they have working together, as they always have.

In the spring premiere, Daisy (Carla Gallo) is back. And then, in the following episode, it looks like Finn Abernathy (Luke Kleintank) returns. When you’re working on an episode, when in the process do you decide which intern you want to use?

HANSON: We figure out who we haven’t seen for a while, we figure out who would best fit the story, and then we find out if that person is available. Usually, all three of those things don’t occur, at the same time.

NATHAN: Sometimes we have finished a script and 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 definitely wanted Daisy to be in the episode where the baby is born. And things are starting an arc in the episode following that, so we were glad that worked out, too.

With the arrival of the baby, can we still expect the same format, primarily focusing on a case of the week, or will there be more time spent showing the new parents and what it’s like for them at home?

NATHAN: There’s always been that balancing act, in the show, of their personal life and the cases. 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. 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.

HANSON: The balance won’t change, but the context will.

How will the arrival of the baby change Brennan?

HANSON: Well, we’ve always seen Brennan as a character who, because of her upbringing, was afraid of life, did not want to engage with life, or had to be protected by a veneer of rationality, logic and science. The first thing to come and breech those walls was Booth, who made her confront that and lead a more dangerous life, at least emotionally, in that her happiness is contingent upon another person’s happiness. You might be able to avoid a lover, as someone whose happiness and 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.

NATHAN: 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. All of that will continue.

NATHAN: 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.

Can you talk about the decision to reveal Brennan’s pregnancy before you revealed that she and Booth had a relationship?

HANSON: We always knew that the end of Season 6 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 7, accordingly. So, Season 7 would have been the story of how Booth and Brennan came to grips with the fact that they are now intimate and sexually involved. We probably threw out 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 6 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.

How much time will have passed when Brennan returns to work after her maternity leave?

HANSON: It’s actually a short amount of time.

NATHAN: There’s probably six or maybe eight weeks, between the time the baby arrives and she goes back to work.

HANSON: 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 who’s going to take care of the baby, and how is Brennan going to juggle being a mom living with Booth and how Booth is going to juggle her and the baby, and do their jobs. But, they’re still doing their jobs.

NATHAN: 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.

With the shortened season and four episodes that now have to stand alone, where there any character arcs or more serialized storylines that you had to push off until next year?

NATHAN: The four actual episodes will not be arc-related. They have to be able to stand on their own, so with those four episodes, we were able to do stories that we wouldn’t have normally done in a regular line-up of episodes.

HANSON: They are very, very stand-alone, and maybe even a bit odd with the gags to them.

NATHAN: 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 with the relationships between people, so these really were stand-alone.

HANSON: We have to hope that Hodgins’ (T.J. Tyne) hair doesn’t change too much.

NATHAN: And, the baby could be in college.

HANSON: We knew what was coming when we started the season, so it’s not like we started something and then withdrew it, but we have many, many arcs and ideas 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 connected to the baby.

NATHAN: There are five fewer episodes, so that’s a lot of missing arcs. But, they’ll be back if we’re back.

When people have babies, usually it brings in extended family. Are viewers going to be seeing any of that, on the show?

NATHAN: Yes, we will. We’ll certainly see some of those 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.

Is Pelant going to scare the crap out of people in the season finale?

HANSON: Pelant is going to scare the crap out of people in the season finale.

NATHAN: 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.

What can you say about Cam’s (Tamara Taylor) storyline coming up?

NATHAN: She’s been very heavily involved this season, in the lab with our people, as the boss. She’s taken that role, which has been expanded a bit, and you’ll see that in subsequent episodes. We have a lot planned for Cam, personally, but 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, like Hodgins and Cam, more extensive arcs. We will be doing that next season.

Will Brennan and Angela (Michaela Conlin) have any more heart-to-hearts, now that they’re both in the same place in their life, as new mothers in very strong relationships?

HANSON: 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, or the fact that they are moms, by the way.

NATHAN: We’ve had a few, especially one where Angela and Brennan leave the lab and play hooky. And Cam is also now involved in that relationship. She’s become a bit closer to Angela and Brennan.

HANSON: Angela has her own issues with how she’s changed, being a married woman with a child, that we explore a little bit. 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 than Brennan is. She’s more reflective. It’s come up at least three times in the last six episodes, and there’s 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. Angela knows Brennan better than Booth does, in that way that another friend of the same sex can understand you more than your partner.

NATHAN: And she knows Brennan better than Brennan does.

How did you decide where Brennan would give birth?

NATHAN: I think Jon Collier came up with that. We had many, many, many discussions. There were so many things thrown into the hopper, and Jon Collier wrote that episode. It’s so funny, after doing 713 episodes now and it’s very difficult to remember who comes up with a specific idea.

Hart, did the cast of Bones feel concerned that your attention would not be 100% focused on the original show, since you also have The Finder?

HANSON: Yes. Bones is a pretty tight theatre company. We’re a pretty tight bunch. We’ve been together a long time, and there was concern, but it was of that nature. I don’t think they thought the show was going to fall apart. Stephen Nathan has been here since the first episode. It’s not like if I died, the show wouldn’t go on. There might be more jokes in it and more references to bagels, but otherwise, Stephen is perfectly capable. So, they weren’t worried on a professional level. It’s mostly a pleasure to work on Bones and we like each other, so I think it was more as if I was moving a block away or something. But, my office is in the same place. Both shows are shot on the lot. Stephen and I share this ugly little porch. We cannot get away from each other. The actors are just a stage away, so they wander into my office. I think they mostly realized that since I wasn’t physically going anywhere, so they had nothing to worry about. And, Stephen Nathan is a very confidence-inspiring guy. He just stepped into the gap that I left. Now that The Finder hasn’t been shooting for a month now, maybe more, we’re enjoying working more closely again.

Why have you only had John Francis Daley and T.J. Thyne guest starred on The Finder?

HANSON: Bones shut down for a period of time and wasn’t shooting, and it was during that time that we could use Bones actors on The Finder. We figured out very quickly that John was the first one because the story of having someone down to look at Walter’s (Geoff Stults) mental competency was a good storyline for us and a really natural fit. And then, the story that suggested T.J. was a conspiracy theorist story. If it had been another kind of story, then we would have brought down Cam or Angela. Of course, Emily couldn’t be in it because she was busy having a baby. We could have had David in an episode, but he very much wanted to direct an episode, so that’s when he directed. I’m knocking on wood that we have an uphill climb, but if The Finder comes back, then eventually everybody will be on it.