Bones’ Executive Producers Explain Squintern’s Death; Tease Season Seven!

Hart & Stephen - David Livingston-Getty Images

FOX’s long-running series Bones [returning Thursday, 9/8C] has taken the forensic procedural in a unique direction with its oil and water lead characters – the brilliant, cerebral, rational forensic anthropologist, Dr. Temperance Brennan and the intuitive, physical and determined FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth. You would expect, then, that a Q&A session with the show’s executive producers, Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan, would be a lot of fun. You would not be wrong.

Last week I had the opportunity to take part in a teleconference call with Hanson [co-creator] and. The Q&A session covered such topics as how Emily Deschanel’s pregnancy inspired and affected the decision to have her character, Dr. Temperance Brennan become pregnant; how, exactly, the decision was reached to write out beloved ‘squintern’ Vincent Nigel-Murray [played so endearingly by Ryan Cartwright], and much, much more.

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Stephen Nathan: Well, what we—we have no idea what the scheduling is. We don’t have any idea of what the scheduling will be. They do want to do ultimately, seventeen episodes. How it airs is really up to Fox. We’re kind of at this point, going along with the premise that we’ll do a season of thirteen episodes and the remaining four episodes are still up in the air where they will air, or how they will air. They could air before what we consider our last episode even. So, that’s a long way of saying we have no idea of when those four episodes will play out.

Hart Hanson: It’s a real pickle for us because we don’t quite know where to place these four stories in our universe and it’s tough if they air all in a row, they would be odd because they don’t—they would not contain any meaningful character arcs. So, it’s a pickle. We’re hoping we can get some guidance, perhaps after we air for a while and perhaps, after we see how the rest of the Fox show does.

Then as a followup, I was curious—are there any new Finder cross-overs to report?

Hanson: I’m crossing my fingers right now, but we shot a show in which Sweets came down to take part in an investigation and evaluate Walter through the FBI and right now, we’re closing in on having a conspiracy theory episode in which the ideal character, of course, is Jack Hodgins to come down and be dueling conspiracy theorists with Walter. The idea is really funny. We just have to make sure that TJ is available and that it fits into his schedule, but it’s looking pretty good for that, and we want to do one more. We want to do one more. We don’t know what it is yet.

By the way, we’re also looking to see if there is a place and a room for Stephen Fry to appear in a Finder episode as Gordon Gordon Wyatt.

I’ve seen the first couple of episodes and we’re seeing how Booth and Brennan are interacting and how it’s affecting the show. Can you talk about approaching that and how you made sure the balance of the show stayed intact by adding that relationship in?

Nathan: Well, really um, I think to us, it was somewhat organic. We just continued to write Booth and Brennan in the same way, which were two completely disparate characters who agreed on very little on the surface. Only now, they’re dealing with a pregnancy and a relationship. So, it really seemed to be a natural extension of the previous six years of Bones.

Hanson: Our big worry—Stephen and I used to talk about this all the time. We knew that Booth and Brennan would get together euphemistically in the season—in Season 6—and we knew that it would be over the death of a beloved Squintern and then, we sort of got this big gift. Then, Stephen and I had to talk all of the time. ‘Well what happens next? What does it look like? What replaces unrequited—sexual tension? What interesting dynamic replaces that?’

And it’s a tough one. And we talked about it at great length and then, the Gods intervened and Emily came and said, ‘I’m pregnant.’ At that moment we knew what replaced sexual tension was an actual human being.

Nathan: Also, I think what we really wanted to avoid more than anything was to have two—have a couple madly in love with each other, because it’s to me that’s always going out to dinner with a couple who have just met and make out all through dinner. And you want to kill them and never have dinner with them again. So we wanted to avoid that dinner. And we successfully did. We have a couple who we can invite over every week for dinner and they’re great company.

Hanson: They can never go out to dinner.

Nathan: Yes, they can’t go out, but at least, make out while you’re eating.

That’s a great answer. Could you guys also talk about back stories of some of our supporting characters? I’m hearing from a lot of my Twitter follower, they’d love to see more about Hodgins and his past and I think TJ would too from my last conversation with him.

Hanson: TJ is angling to be the lead of the show. He had so many ideas. You may have seen his—he is a really good writer and director if you check out his work on YouTube. So he has tons of ideas and man, as an actor, he’s up for anything. But, well what do we want to admit to Stephen?

Nathan: Well, we can admit to we’re going to hear a little bit about his grandfather and see him kind of dive-in in episode six with our new resident villain. Kind of dive-in as only Jack Hodgins can, and in adding a bit of conspiracy and a bit of code breaking. So, he’s—

Hanson: And, we have a story in our pocket about TJ—Hodgin’s brother. But, it’s in my mind, and Stephen may talk me out of this, in my mind it’s attached to a piece of casting that I can’t imagine doing it without this piece of casting attached to it or my interest level drops. So, we have to wait and see if that happens and no, I would never admit who it is.

Nathan: But, we will see, you know, there’s a lot of Angela and Hodgins in the first six actually. And so we learn more about them than we ever have before as well. And Billy Gibbons returns.

Hanson: Stephen you want to—yes, you want to take an opportunity to talk a bit about the new Squintern?

Nathan: Well, I think everybody’s seen the new Squintern, Finn. Luke Kleintank plays him and he is somebody who will be recurring with us. He’s phenomenal.

Hanson: I really just want to hear you say, ‘Luke Kleintank.’

Nathan: I know. We’ve cast some actors just because of their names this year.

Hanson: Yes, I just want to say starring with Luke’s flying tank.

Nathan: And he is great. We are already writing him in—he’s already returning. And we’ll get into that in the last eleven, but I don’t want to give anything away, but he comes back and it’s quite a nice involvement with the other characters.

Hanson: And babies do tend to drag relatives out of the woodwork, so we have some. I think, actually the Booth and his grandfather and his father’s story in the first six is maybe one of the best episodes of Bones ever, certainly one—an amazing performances by David Boreanaz and I’m dying for everyone to see. And that has family attached. And also, Stephen, I don’t know if we should admit too, but we think we have a pretty good idea for who should take care of the baby.

Nathan: Yes, I think that’s something that we can keep to ourselves until the—because that’s after the first six. But it’ll be a lot of fun, yes.

Hart, Can you talk about the amnesia aspects within the premiere and how that concept came about?

Hanson: The amnesia aspects? I’ve totally forgotten what they are.

Nathan: That’s a good joke.

Hanson: I’ve totally forgotten what the amnesia aspect is. I have. I have.

Nathan: The first murder was—the woman had amnesia. We just kind of wanted to—

Hanson: Oh, okay, I instantly go to our main characters and go ‘Who the hell had amnesia?’

Nathan: The amnesia episode obviously was based on Hart.

Hanson: Ask me which episode of The Finder is shooting behind me right now. I don’t know. God, when did those discussions first start, Stephen? Like in last—?

Nathan: Well, it was—yes, it was last year when we were planning the new season. We really wanted to have an episode that would kind of resonate with what Booth and Brennan where going through. What you bring to a new relationship, and how it’s been formed completely by your past and whether you can make remake those memories and what it is to make new memories. So, we were just kind of playing with that concept. And then, we also thought it was a cool murder. I want to make it deeper than that, but a cool murder usually wins out.

Hanson: We always start with a cool murder or a cool corpse, I should say.

Alright. Fair enough. Well, can you both talk about how you keep up with changes in real forensics and investigation techniques between seasons and how they impact the writers?

Hanson: Oh well, we have quite a few. There’s a writer’s room full of smart writers who are digging through stuff all the time and I—most of the time, there’s—who comes in with technology Stephen? I have a bin full of technological ideas. One of the writers seems to come in with cool technology.

Nathan: There’s a group of them. They come in with new equipment that has just been developed and new investigatory techniques. It’s a remarkable group of people, because they will come to us and say, ‘Well, you know, this person could have been murdered, actually in another galaxy. It’s totally real at this point and wind up in somebody’s ‘Soup for One’ can.’ It’s crazy. And I—

Hanson: Yes, I have to credit that to the writer’s room, because I don’t know about you Stephen, but I’m certainly not looking for new forensics techniques in my down time.

Nathan: No. No, no, no. We have—I would say that 90% of the stuff that we do in the show is completely real and scientifically accurate. We might stretch or shrink the time as necessary, but the science is correct and usually is mind boggling to us.

Hanson: Yes, and people do send us. I mean, we get links all of the time to journals and new forensic techniques and scientific techniques. I happen to send them immediately up to the writing room. I don’t even read them because it makes my head hurt, but now I just send them up to the writer’s room and they churn those things out. They’re an amazing group of people.

Luke Kleintank - Kevin Winter

There’s a lot that’s been said about Booth and Brennan and Hodgins and Angela, but what’s going on with Cam this season besides hiring the new Squintern?

Nathan: Well, so far in the first six, it really—a lot has to do with the new intern and her juggling the lab with this new dynamic. You know, with Brennan being pregnant and still trying to maintain a functioning lab. She is going to have–

Hanson: And she still has daughter problems.

Nathan: Yes, and though the remainder of the episode.

Hanson: … story line, Stephen, do you?

Nathan: No. No, no, no. We can’t mention that story line, but there’s going to be a lot more for Cam in the second half of the year. We have all of that planned out now. A lot of stuff with her daughter. Um, she also is going out with a doctor still. So, all of that is going to be explored in the second half of the season when we come back, but we just had so much to do with Booth and Brennan that it was very, very difficult to service everybody as much as we would like. We keep asking the network—the network will only give us an hour. I don’t know why.

Hanson: And imagine what it’s like to be the only woman in a work place who hasn’t had a baby.

 

Yes, it’s going to be interesting. When are you guys starting production back up again?

Nathan: We start back on December 1st.

Hanson: Yes, Emily is doing great. She is really healthy. The baby is really healthy. We always thought there was a chance that Emily might say, “You know what I’ll come back in the New Year. Just give me through Christmas.” But she is coming back at—our best case scenario had her coming back to shoot in December and that’s going to happen.

Nathan: Yes, that’ll happen. So, we’re going back middle of November to gear up production and write like the wind and then, she’ll be back. It’s a wonderful new episode.

Hanson: I don’t think you should say, ‘Write like the wind,’ because the wind blows.

Nathan: Well, you know, you’re right.

Hanson: That …is totally for you.

I loved the premiere and I love how you sort of kept some of the tension by having Booth reveal that he’s going to wait for Brennan to propose to him and I’m wondering if you can tease how long we might have to wait for that? Is that something we’ll see first six or in the back seven, or what we’ll see.

Hanson: That was Stephen Nathan’s idea. That was a really great idea. I remember Stephen coming running into my office to say, ‘Here’s—‘ because, of course, our first questions were how are we going to deal with this? And Stephen came in. Stephen does run. He runs like a duck, but he runs, and he came in running into my office to say, ‘I want to do it this way!’

And I thought it was a brilliant idea. I think the theme of this year is there and I wouldn’t in a million years want to say how long it would take to—to unroll itself. But if …—

Nathan: Yeah, we have to find out how they’re dealing with it first, too. You know, how Booth and Brennan are dealing with it. That’ll be the surprise.

Fair enough. Fair enough.

Hanson: I know, I hate to say it, but we can’t give away that.

Oh no. … is it something we might see this season?

Hanson: We can give away this—

Okay?

Hanson: That’s when Booth and Brennan will catch most of the killers.

Spoiler alert, spoiler alert.

Hanson: And you know what? You can print that.

BONES:  Brennan (Emily Deschanel, C), Booth (David Boreanaz, L) and Hodgins (TJ Thyne, R) investigate remains found in a paintball field in "The Memories in the Shallow Grave" season seven premiere of BONES airing Thursday, Nov. 3 (9:00-10:00 ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr:  Beth Dubber/FOX

Oh, thank you. Well here, I think, hopefully an easier to follow up here. I feel like, Stephen, you’ve recently Tweeted something about a case of something being even too gross for you and I was wondering what that was. Am I remembering that correctly Stephen?

Hanson: This is my main question these days.

Nathan: Really? That? It was in episode six with our new villain and there was actually—it was just something that I’m sure will appear on the DVD so the fans will be able to see it. But it was just a little bit too disgusting even for me. And I love disgusting, but it’s got to be a little bit funny. I know that …

Hanson: Listen, Stephen is the gross one of us. He just took those opening sequences with the bodies and he just with great glee, he makes things horrible, and for him to say ‘that was too gross’ is amazing. Can I also say that I saw—Stephen, I’m not going to blow what this is, but there was—we were looking at a rendering of remains in the lab when something happened that I physically ran away from the monitor as did one of the characters in the lab.

Nathan: Oh, yes, oh, yes, yes. That’s great, and that’s horrifying, but fun. You laugh a little bit. You—

Hanson: Not so much me.

Nathan: Well, you laugh and then maybe, you pee a little bit.

Hanson: Well, I did come back and say, ‘Do it again! Do it again! Show me again!’ And it never, oh just so horrible, but—

Nathan: I think what happened is that the thing that got me this time is that it was a fresh body, which we don’t normally do and the people who do the bodies are so brilliant. The Yeagers. Chris Yeager—they are so brilliant and they are so realistic that when it was kind of fresh and newly killed, it was too—it was just too horrible. It wasn’t…to the Bones fans, it was me. It wouldn’t have been right.

Hanson: We learned a little bit of a lesson from the gravedigger’s head exploding about fresh, fresh murders.

Nathan: Yes, yes that was a you know—that was a little bit fun, but not, not—

Hanson: Yes, no I don’t like it.

Oh, this has been a fun call and I knew it would be—can you guys talk about filming while Emily was pregnant. The challenges, how in the world she handled it, because wasn’t she quite a bit pregnant during a lot of it?

Hanson: Emily … pregnancy at all. Tell them Stephen, tell the story about the stunt double in the first shot and the whole ….

Nathan: I just want to say one thing that Emily—we actually scheduled the shooting of episodes five and six so that we were shooting them at the same time. All I can say is Emily was so pregnant that she finished on Monday and had the baby the next day. So, she was working until—she basically was in the good earth. She was unbelievable, but she refused to have stunt people and there’s a scene that you’ll see in I think it’s the second episode, where she just has at some 350-pound man, and that was her.

Hanson: Well, Stephen I was thinking that we hired a stunt double, remember? It was a story point that Booth was concerned about Brennan getting to across some broken ground to a crime scene and we told Emily, ‘Well, you know what Brennan would do—she’d run across there, but we’ll have a stunt double for that.’ And she said, ‘No, I want to do it.’ And we had to physically tell her ‘No. You’re not going to run across that to get to the body. We’ve got a stunt double for that.’ She’s just been totally game.

Nathan: She just did absolutely everything. I mean, you know, there were a couple of times that the days were long, and we sent her home. But, honestly, she is built from iron. She is unbelievable.

Hanson: Sadly, she is going to say it’s because she is a vegan, so I’m going to lose that war.

Well, the first two episodes were great and so that’s why I had asked about that because it was fun seeing her tackle the guy in episode two, and so I wondered how it went the rest of the time. Oh well, a second quick question—

Nathan: She’s been really beautiful, which is nice too.

I have a second quick question and this came from somebody on Twitter. Breast or bottle and is that something you guys have discussed with or without Emily?

Hanson: You mean Brennan or Emily? Because Emily, we wouldn’t discuss that at all, at all. And, I think Brennan it’s something we’re discussing. I mean, it’ll be in the show.

I have to get my South Park moment out of the way. You killed Mr. Nigel-Murray! You bastards!

Nathan: I—you know, what? That was horrible for us. We hated that. We love him so much and –

Hanson: The reason he got killed is very simple—someone was going to die this year and we waited until we knew each of our Squinterns, what they were going to be doing the following seasons. And he got a series, thirteen, on the air, on the SciFi network so he was the one to be killed. Also, I’ve always thought in the back of my mind that should the SciFi series go away, I wish it only ill, that is one of the few characters that you could conceivably bring back as a relative or where you can laughingly say, Vincent Nigel-Murray is dead but Nigel Vincent Murray is still alive. And because he can do a million accents; he is such a chameleon and we actually had a good little weep. I think that’s everyone when he left.

Nathan: Oh, it was terrible. We called the other show and told them he stunk and they shouldn’t hire him. We did everything we possibly could, but they just ….

Hanson: We are doomed with these Squinterns. Every single one of them could go get a recurring new job—a starring job in another series any day.

Nathan: Don’t say that.

Hanson: We have to be prepared for it.

Nathan: You’re just going to encourage them.

Hanson: … to become a huge star now?

Nathan: I know. I know. It’s a remarkable group. It really is.

And speaking of recurring characters—Patricia Belcher— for some reason, she kind of reminds me of a Margo Martindale. Whenever she comes in, the place just lights up. You know something special is going on. What’s coming up with her for this season?

Hanson: We—well go ahead Stephen.

Nathan: She is going to make at least four appearances this season even in the shortened season. We love that. She just does an incredible, incredible job.

Hanson: Yes.

Nathan: And you’re absolutely right. Every scene she’s in, it just lights up. And David loves working with her, and they’re just a great couple.

Hanson: Can I point out that Patty Belcher could not—is probably the actor who is least like her character than any actor I have ever worked with? She is not that woman, so she is an amazing actress.

Okay, so Emily is no longer pregnant, but in episode six before the hiatus she still supposedly—Brennan is still pregnant. Have you shot more than six episodes? Or how will you handle the baby bump situation?

Hanson: You want to go there?

Nathan: We’ve shot six and in episode seven, she is, yes, she is still pregnant.

Hanson: Yes, she is still pregnant, but we won’t say for how long.

Oh, okay, well can you tell us you know the show has juxtaposed religion and science. Will it be an issue with Booth and Brennan having the baby together, raising it in the church, getting it baptized, everything like that?

Hanson: Oh, I would say so. Wouldn’t you Stephen?

Nathan: Oh, yes, we’re still playing that. They’re going through all of those huge issues that any couple goes through when they’re having a baby, so you know—

Hanson: And the stakes are raised. They used to have these kind of theoretical arguments about God versus science. Well, now the stakes are raised. It has to do with the upbringing and shaping of a human being. So, it only makes it—that’s what I mean about it being such a gift to us. It’s like, ‘Oh wow! This brings a whole new level to the disagreements these two radically different people have about the way the world works and where people fit in the world.’

Nathan: And you will see that in the first episodes and also I can, without telling you anything at all, episode seven is that big time. Yes, they’re dealing with that issue in a pretty intense way, yes.

I have a question that a fan has asked. Is there going to be a birthday party for Brennan this year?

Hanson: I have no idea. I cannot in any way answer that. Stephen, do you have any thoughts on that? We don’t generally do that. I’ll tell you why.

Nathan: No, we never—

Hanson: To do a birthday party without saying how old someone is, it seems counterproductive and there is not really good reason. It’s not vanity. It’s just why define the age of a character? We do every once in a while, but do you have a thought on that Stephen?

Nathan: No. I don’t. I never—it never crossed my mind to be honest, to have a birthday party for Brennan.

Hanson: I’m kind of interested in why you ask.

Because apparently—one of our fans asked—because apparently last episode she was ah, didn’t show up for her own birthday party.

Hanson: That, that—she was what? I’m sorry?

There was an episode where she didn’t show up for her birthday party.

Hanson: She didn’t show up for her birthday party?

Yes, they were planning a birthday party?

Hanson: Once again, I have amnesia. I don’t remember that at all. Do you Stephen? You have a better memory than I do.

Nathan: No, no, I just – all I remember about birthdays are cake.

Hanson: I do remember that if there is one thing Emily doesn’t like it’s a surprise party, but that’s Emily, not Brennan.

Right. Okay, this is a—

Hanson: So if you’re planning to throw Emily a surprise party, don’t.

I got a question from the fan and I thought I would ask it.

Hanson: You know what?

Nathan: It’s such a—I mean, it’s somebody who obviously is very—

Hanson: ….

Nathan: Yes, very well.

I’m sorry, I didn’t—you were both talking. I didn’t hear you.

Hanson: Is this what happens when series go for seven years? All of a sudden you can’t remember story lines like that? It doesn’t even ring a bell for me at all.

Okay.

Nathan: I think it was probably something that occurred within a story and there are 130 … It’s pretty to ah—I can barely—I forgot my own address. Maybe, that’s where the amnesia episode came from.

Hanson: If we find out, we’ll Twitter it.

Okay, thanks.

Hanson: Thank you.