When Booth and Brennan failed to really seal the deal in the season finale of "Bones," fans were irate… a fact no one is more aware of than series creator Hart Hanson.
We caught up with him at the FOX Press Tour party and questioned him on the controversial season ender, fan response, what to expect for season five and when Booth and Brennan might actually have sex.
The season finale certainly got a passionate reaction.
Hart Hanson: Mixed reviews, I think is what people say.
Were you expecting that kind of response? Or were you thinking more fans would immediately fall in love with it?
HH: What did I expect? What I knew was that [my goal was to make sure] our really loyal fans would like it. And I thought, well, the rest of the [casual viewers] might not like it. But I knew that the people who watched every show would definitely like it more than the people who didn't. But I think I got it wrong. I thought two-thirds of people would be happy and one-third would hate it. And I think it's the other way around. I think about one-third loved it and two-thirds were mad. So that wasn't the best. I didn't guess well.
And of course you have a Twitter account, which means you had immediate access to fan reaction.
HH: Oh boy! And people are not shy [with comments like], "You suck!" They get mad. I get in trouble when I say things like this, but it means they are invested in the show. If there was silence and people went away, that would be a disaster. Hollering at me, and then tuning into the next show to see if I make up for it, that's not a disaster. Although every once in a while you go, hey, come on, it's hard to make a TV show! Give me a break! But you can't be self-pitying. There are no excuses in TV.
I know at Comic-Con, you said the loyal fans liked the finale. I was sitting by fans that weren't in love with it, but really feel they are loyal to the show. Do you think it's fair to say that some of the really loyal fans just didn't like the finale?
HH: Oh my God, yes! I don't mean to suggest loving the season finale is proof that you are a loyal fan. You are more likely to love the finale if you are a loyal fan, that's all. I wouldn't want people saying, he thinks I'm not a loyal fan because I didn't like [the finale]. Oh, no. In fact, the more loyal fan you are, maybe the more passionate you are because you either loved it or hated it.
The bottom line is the loyal fans are also more likely to come back to see what happens next, even if they hated the finale.
HH: I hope so. And I really hope [they do]. I always thought of the season finale and the season opener as kind of linked, obviously, because it's a cliffhanger. So what happens next, we'll find out [in the opener]. I think, I hope, that a lot of people who went, I don't like that season finale, will like it by the end of the season opener. If they don't, then oh my God, we'll try and make it up to them.
Do you have any regrets about airing the episode as a season finale instead of a midseason episode?
HH: I'm so torn. Every once in a while, I go [frustrated sigh], we should have done it midseason. [I should have just had] the love letter to the loyal fans midseason, and done something more wide reaching for the season finale. But then I thought, man, these fans, they follow us anywhere. And it's kind of like I wanted those fans to see all the little tricks, looks and echoes, and [I thought] they'll get that these are the personalities that are just underneath the surface of all these people. And they'll see, this is what it would look like if Bones and Booth were together. If Brennan and Booth were together, married, this is what it would look like… do you like that? So I go back and forth [on if it should have been the finale].
When we talked last year and you brought up the alternate reality episode, you mentioned Goodman might be a part of it. So on behalf of all his fans, what happened there?
HH: There are so many boring answers to these questions. He is a busy guy. Jonathan [Adams (Goodman)] works all the time. He's expensive. And we have to go, all right, what do we give up if Jonathan's available. That [alternate reality] story was one that we might have pulled him in for. He was literally one of my favorite actors I've ever worked with. I was nuts about Jonathan. I put a lot of my attitudes and things into his [character's] mouth. And I put a lot of my attitudes into Cam's mouth now. So one of these days it'll work out. The same with Zack, with Eric [Millegan]. He's moving to New York in two weeks, which makes it tougher [to bring him back].
[Bones executive producer Stephen Nathan joins us]
HH: Hey Stephen!
As we look forward to the upcoming season, it has been mentioned that the rumored scene of Booth and Brennan making out might have been a foiler on your part. Care to comment?
HH: [Laughs] I might have been trying to see where the leak comes from, but it could also be in [the episode]. I'm just trying to find out where information gets out from!
Stephen Nathan: Where is the leak? Is there a leak?
SN: Oh my God.
HH: How [else] did the [script] page of Brennan and Booth kissing get out into the world?
So it seems safe to say you were just putting that scene out there solely to try and plug any leaks.
HH: There is a very, very romantic moment in the season opener.
But it's not that kiss.
HH: It might be. I'm not saying.
You have gone on record saying there won't be any sex between Booth and Brennan in the upcoming season. Was that to combat all of the pressure of the past year where fans knew sex was going to happen?
HH: Have I said literally that they are not having sex?
It was reported you had said that.
SN: I know what [Hart] meant by that, but it's not necessarily true. I don't think you should listen to everything. He's not always literal.
HH: Yes, and I might have been saying [raises voice in mock exasperation], that's it! They're not having sex! No one's going to yell at me again. My intentions may not have been entirely clear or pure when I said that. I've got to be so careful now [with what I say].
SN: You know, it's too soon to tell. We have 22 episodes. We're shooting episode three now. So many things can happen between now and then. I don't think anybody should say no to anything. Everybody tries to get answers. I'm not saying [that] about you
, but people want to know what exactly is going to happen.
HH: But they don't really, because they like the surprise.
Comic-Con was an interesting experience this year, because you got to hear back from the fans post-finale.
HH: It was. I was absolutely floored when [Comic-Con moderator] Will Keck
said clap if you want them to get together, and then clap if you don't,
and there was more noise for don't get together. It was close.
was incredibly close, but the "don't want them to get together" just
barely nudged out the fans wanting them together. Although I did see
people who clapped for both options.
HH: Emily [Deschanel
(Brennan)] said that! I thought it was the most brilliant thing when
she said, some of you voted twice. And it was like, you know what, it's
like that in our writers room when we talk, it's like that when we talk
to the network, when we talk to the studio. That seems to be about the
right [ratio]. Slightly more people are like, not yet. Let's see how
long we can do this [dance] without driving away the audience. It's a
real juggling act. Who knew this would be the big [issue]… oh, we
knew. We knew the first time they acted in the pilot they had
chemistry. We went, oh no, we've got to figure out when they sleep
together, when they come together.
So do you have a definitive plan for when Booth and Brennan will get together in terms of what season it is? Or is it flexible?
I'm pretty flexible, although I know how it happens and when. I know
when [it happens] in the life of the characters, I don't know when in
the life of the series. I've always known — I can't say too
much about it — [but I know] how that happens. I believe that with a
series — and it sounds flaky, but it's the only way I'm flaky, I
promise you — you just have to listen to the series and watch the
series and try not to listen too much to the fans. It's impossible not
to [listen to the fans] though. And you talk to the actors and the
people who are there every day and try and figure out how it's going.
And you have to be flexible that way, I think.
SN: The fans don't want to see [Booth and Brennan do it]. They might say they do, but they don't. Because that's why they're
watching. They don't want it to end. It's tantric sex. That's what
we're doing. "Bones" is tantric sex. It's a show Sting will like.
What an exit!
HH: He's like that all the time.
Back to the new season, we know that Cyndi Lauper is coming on as a psychic, but can we expect any other familiar faces?
HH: We're going to cast Booth's grandfather. We have someone we really want, but I can't talk about it in case we don't get him, and then the person we get [will feel] horrible. We can't have that. And I was just talking to Ryan O'Neal's best friend to see how he was, and we'd like to have him back [as Brennan's father]. And I've got an idea for one more intern I'd like to bring in. A severely bipolar intern.
Brennan would probably have a hard time dealing with those kinds of emotional issues on a regular basis.
HH: Yeah, to her it would appear to be completely irrational behavior. So it's fun.
And Brendan Fehr is returning as Jared, correct?
HH: Jared will be back. I'm guessing [for] two or three [episodes]. I definitely have two ideas for him. And things pop up, where I think, oh, that would be good for Jared. Someone's going to snap him up though. All these actors we have, [like] the interns, they're all really good. We don't have them in holding deals, they're just guest stars, so we go to them and hope they are available. It's brutal.
How about the other characters who are regulars? I'm hearing Angela and Sweets will be spending a good deal of time together, yes?
HH: Everyone wants to work with John [Francis Daley (Sweets)]. And he really has a good thing going with Michaela [Conlin (Angela)]. Him and Angela are fun.
And some fans have noted they have some tension, possibly romantic, sexual, something along those lines. Will that be played up this year?
HH: Yes, that's right. It's there. Did I tell you Angela's going to break her celibacy [vow]? I'm not saying with who though.
Can you say if it's with a male or a female?
HH: Male. And someone we know.
If it's Booth she sleeps with…
HH: I'm not saying it's not Booth.
Nice use of the double negative. Anything you can tease to about the 100th episode?
HH: David [Boreanaz (Booth)] is scheduled to shoot it. We don't know what the story is yet. But it's our 100th episode, so we have to do something a little big.
Oh God, the body is going to be disgustingly grotesque, isn't it?
HH: Oh, we have such disgusting bodies this year.
I'm not a squeamish person, but that Comic-Con montage of the bodies had even me a little uncomfortable.
HH: I know, right? Isn't that something? When we were looking at them all together, we were going, oh my God, this is our signature. We're revolting. We're the most revolting show on at eight o'clock. And then we make jokes about it. That's what we want: vomit and then laughter.
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