Interview with Stephen Nathan from Bones

bonescall1115smallBones, which has aired on Thursdays and most recently on Mondays, is moving to Fridays, starting with tonight’s new episode. The season’s been a busy one, with tracking down and killing Pelant, Booth and Brennan finally tying the knot, Cam’s identity being stolen, and more, but there’s still over half a season left!

Executive Producer Stephen Nathan recently spoke to the press about the show, including tonight’s new episode, the move to Friday nights, Hodgins, Cam, the squinterns, & more. Check out what he had to say before you tune in to tonight’s episode!

On how the story line of Brennan serving on a jury came about

Stephen Nathan: Well, it’s something that we have kind of had in the file for years and just finally were able to break it. It seemed to us, somebody who is so incredibly logical and someone who would have the ability to uncover many more facts in a case be on a jury where their hands are tied, in terms of being an investigator, and they have to deal only with the information they are given. And Brennan, being supremely rational and logical, follows the judge’s instructions to the letter of the law, so that what she feels is utterly unimportant. She is only dealing with the evidence, and that gets us into a lot of trouble.

In terms of…being funny, it is pretty funny having her around a jury, because she wants to be the foreperson, she is not the foreperson, if somebody asks a question in court, she answers. So, it really is Brennan going on a jury. It really was a chance for us to integrate two murders in one story and have Brennan involved in both, even the one she is not investigating because she is on the jury. That’s really complicated-sounding, and I just want you to know it really is complicated. But we hopefully do it in a way that won’t give anybody a headache.
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On the show’s move to Friday night

Stephen: Well, you know for a long time, it was always upsetting when we would get moved around. We are team players; if they feel they need us someplace, we’ll go there, and it’s always been proven that wherever we go, the audience follows. I say that with an unbelievable amount of appreciation and love for our audience. They are so devoted that they do follow us everywhere.

That said, they have announced us moving to Fridays for years, and we never have, and now we are, and this is a fact. Thankfully, this has happened, and this is just me talking, at a time when the days of the week really don’t mean all that much on television anymore. So many people time-shift a show, so many people watch it later. Our DVR numbers go up 35-40% sometimes in live +3 and live +7 day viewing, because we are opposite The Voice, so people are going to watch that live because people are going to be talking about it the next day, and we’re the type of show that you can say, “I’m going to watch Bones tomorrow night.”

Now, we still have a tremendous, large audience that watches us when we are on, but I am really not that concerned with Friday. I think all these loyal fans are going to come over to Friday, and if they don’t watch it Friday because they are going out or something, they’re going to watch us on Saturday or Sunday or the next Monday, and I really believe that we have to view our audience in a different way. The days of sitting in a chair and leaving one network on and watching shows live are fast disappearing. There’s Hulu and iTunes and everything, so I think that Friday is not ideal, because Thursday was great for us and great for Fox because of us, and so was Monday, and on Friday there are fewer viewers, but hopefully we will stop the flow of viewers leaving on Friday and show them that Bones still has a little [life] left, even though we might be in a walker.

On Cam’s identity theft story line

Stephen: Well, we are going to be dealing with the, for the next few episodes where we are highlighting Cam, we are going to be dealing with the struggle she is having with her identity theft, which also becomes an identity crisis. We are going to be dealing with that, because that is really an interesting, doing the research on that, that’s really fascinating, because most of the time, the police do nothing. They can’t do anything. They don’t have the resources, and people are kind of left to fend for themselves and try to dig them[selves] out of a real horrible place. Fortunately, she has Angela. So, we will be dealing with that and eventually dealing with the person who has stolen her identity.

On Hodgins, his family secrets, & time in the field

Stephen: Well, that’s going to be a little bit further down the line. I actually think that might not air until February, but I could just say very briefly that Hodgins finds out some things about his family, and he had a very close family. I mean, they were very, very wealthy, but he did have a very close family, but he is going to find out some secrets about that family that are going to be quite surprising to him. And it is not going to be grand political secrets or anything like that. It’s going to be very, very personal.

And we are also, in another upcoming episode, Hodgins is somebody who is sent out into the field, something he always loves a chance to do, because there is a murder that revolves around a family that was close to his family when he was growing up. So, he is going into a world of wealth that he no longer enjoys.

On the new “big bad”

Stephen: That will be reintroduced in the episode that I was just talking about, when Hodgins goes back to an old family friend. So, Brennan is the type of person who is not going to forget the words of warning that were given to her by Pelant, and that has been simmering for the past six episodes or so, and we will see that surface in a way that concerns Booth and the other people at the lab and is something they are all going to have to contend with, seeing how immersed and overwhelmed Brennan is by the idea of this new serial killer.

In terms of the serial killer, I think we have, in a strange way, gone in the opposite direction [of Pelant]. We always feel that it’s best not to try to repeat ourselves. So, Pelant was such a big bad, was such a huge presence in everybody’s life, such an enormous and personal threat, that it’s very difficult to do that again, and everybody is going to compare one to the other.

So, we have another serial killer who is surfacing, one who has existed for many, many years, and who is anonymous, who we are calling, actually, the ghost killer. So, it’s a very ephemeral presence and sort of an evil that lurks in the shadows, someone whose identity we are not even sure of. When we find out the truth that many of these murders that have gone into limbo in cold cases are linked, we then have to find out really who it is. We are pointed in the direction, in the episode actually that we are shooting now, that will be the first one back in January, but all that is happening is we are being pointed in a direction, and we also haven’t, let’s say, felt the end of Pelant.

On the reappearance of Danny, Aldo, or family

Stephen: [Danny and Aldo] will definitely reappear. Danny, we are working on that episode now. Again, this will be next year. This will, again, be probably in February, and it will be an episode which sort of teams Booth and Danny in a common cause, but also causes Booth to question Danny in a way that hopefully will be very surprising. That will be on whatever night Fox puts us on in January or February.

[As to Booth’s and Brennan’s family members,] yes, we’ll revisit them as well; when is still a question. I think what we are trying to do a little bit more this season is to highlight the personal lives and conflicts of a lot of our supporting cast. This is a family that has become so tight and so close that we get to see them sort of through Booth and Brennan’s eyes. We are examining a little bit more this season Cam’s life, Hodgins’ life, and even the interns. We are doing quite an emotional story with Wendell coming up. So, we are going to see the sort of family of this show. Their lives hopefully become richer and a little bit deeper than they have been in the past.

On the upcoming episode star David Boreanaz is directing

Stephen: We are prepping that now, and it’s a terrific episode. He is just going to kill with it. He is simply one of our favorite directors, and this one is sort of a bit of a take on the “Looking for Sugarman” documentary that was out. It’s the murder of an anonymous singer who we learn a lot more about as we uncover this case. This is also the episode in which we are going to see Wendell contend with something none of us want to contend with. Is that vague enough?

On the challenges ahead for Booth & Brennan

Stephen: Well, there are a lot of challenges that they are going to have to face now. I mean, at one point, we want to examine the fact that both of them working together are in an extremely dangerous situation, and what does that mean for their family? What does that mean for Parker and Christine? How does their work affect their family life now? These are some of the things that we are going to be exploring, because they are real. But, primarily we are just going to be putting them in hopefully ever more challenging situations and allowing them to rely on the Squints and their friends even more than they have in the past.

On which Squinterns we’ll be seeing more of this season

Stephen: Well, we might be adding an intern. What happens with our interns, again with great love, these interns are such a gift to us, but they are all fabulous actors, so they have other work and they sometimes disappear, in which case we do add other people. Oliver Wells, who was just starting to blossom on the show and will be appearing in the next few episodes, is directing a movie, so he will be gone for a while and hopefully will be back.

As I said, we are going to be dealing with Wendell, with Aristu and Cam, Clark now is going to figure in quite heavily in certainly the initial telling of the Ghost Killer story, Fisher is going to be coming back and might be hooking up with someone we know, and I think we’re really just trying to explore these characters. We have loved writing all of them, and we kind of can’t get enough of them.
Thanks to the always hilarious and gracious Stephen Nathan for chatting about the show. Catch him on Twitter @squarechicken.

Don’t forget to tune in to FOX tonight at 8/7c to catch the new episode!

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