Hart Hanson has answered your questions about "Bones." We had an overwhelming response and so not all of your questions were submitted to him but I tried my best to represent the most burning questions. Whenever possible, I combined similar queries.
"Bones" has been picked up for two more seasons so you have more adventures of Booth and Brennan to look forward to.
Executive producer Stephen Nathan did not participate but I still included his picture. (Hart's on the left and Stephen's on the right in the pic below.)
"Bones" obviously has a loyal and fervent following. We appreciate your participation. Enjoy.
We're still sorting out the prize. The winner will be contacted by email.
What is something you really want to do on the show but feel you would
break the budget with if you even attempted to have it done?
A. Oh, there’s so much we could do with more money. We’d like to be out in the world more, we’d like cooler effects, we’d like to use the Angelator more, we’d like to give David more action sequences, we’d like to do a “train” episode … it’s a very long list. In fact, we’d like to utilize some of our favorite guest stars even more. But this is a harsh world and somehow we have to use intelligence and creativity in place of budget to get the effects we want — money is a lot easier.
Will the writers approach the writing process differently now that
“Bones” has been picked up for 2 seasons instead of 1? (Miraya) And how
much will the cliffhanger affect the creative direction of the show for
season 5? (Quratulain)
A. Being picked up for two seasons will indeed have an effect on the unfolding storylines within “Bones.” We may be able to get a “run” at a few things that we’d be guessing about otherwise. And the cliffhanger from last season may mean something different to us than it did to the audience. But having fudged that answer brilliantly (didn’t need budget for that, did we?) yes, the cliffhanger from Season 4 has a very definite effect on Season 5.
Q. Mr. Nathan has experience as an actor. Would he act in one of the episodes you write? Would you want to see Mr. Nathan in front of the camera? Now be honest. You guys are a great team! (Brian)
A. In fact, I am one of Stephen Nathan-as-an-actor’s biggest fans. Not counting his stint in Musical Theater. Even Stephen cannot get me to enjoy that stuff. I'm handicapped in that way. But I think Stephen is a terrific actor and my prophesy is that he will do it again, as an (even older) old fart.
We were just about to utilize Stephen in a role on “Bones” but it occurred at about the time we knew that a writer’s strike was going to occur and it just seemed wrong to deny an actor who didn’t moonlight as an executive producer the pay. So it didn’t happen.
Q. Any plans for any other crossover episodes and if so, with which Fox series would you most like to cross? (Corinna)
A. There are no actual plans for a crossover though we nave notions and ideas. Perhaps this is the year when “House” and “Bones” could find a crossover opportunity. Both Stephen and I are big pals of David Shore and Katie Jacobs (exec producers on “House”) and one of us is a fervent admirer. Also, we’re paired up with “Fringe” so that could possibly turn out to be a natural. Also, everyone on “Bones” now suffers deep and inappropriate crushes on Seth McFarlane.
Q. Hart, what are your thoughts on becoming a Twitterer? What has surprised you most? Who was the one to talk you into Twitter? (re: Hart Hanson runs a Twitter: twitter.com/harthanson) (ForensicMama)
A. I am completely freaked out by Twitter. I started out thinking that I would simply give a little insight into the behind the scenes nature of “Bones.” But the response was so fast and large … I went from 50 followers to THOUSANDS in a very short period of time. Now there’s pressure to come up with stuff that is at least a little bit interesting. And sometimes I see my own Twitterings and wonder who the hell this smart-ass guy is talking so much about my day. I’m going to stick with it because Stephen Fry recommended it, because Paul Feig makes me laugh so hard on his Twits (Tweaks?), because it gives me an excuse to connect again with Amy Brenneman, and because I’m kind of interested in the phenomenon.
Q. “Bones” has some pretty enthusiastic fans. Do either of you “nerd out” for any show or movie? (Lisa)
A. My favorite show of all time, ever, without a doubt, is on BBC America and it’s called “Top Gear.” It’s everything you could ask in a TV show. I clap my hands whenever the theme music starts.
Q. Is there any character you find the easiest to write for? One that just seems to develop itself/take on a life of its own? (Tara)
A. We have this incredible cast of actors and they have all given their characters very distinct voices. That is a gift to any writer. That being said, and possibly because I’m the showrunner, writing for Dr. Cam Saroyan, is very therapeutic for me. Writing for Brennan is very hard because she’s so much smarter than I am.
Q. Will the tone of the show shift back a little toward drama (more like S1 and S2)? I really like the comedy but I would also appreciate more serious episodes again. (CantBelieveI said that); I think the writing has changed … toward comedy where it is hard for the audience to feel anything for the victims or the case. Any plans to address it so each case is humanized for the audience? (Quratulain); When was it decided that the show would forgo the drama in favor of goofball/wacky comedy? Did you worry that fans who signed on to the show as a drama wouldn’t stick around for the change? (Deb)
A. Our early discussions for Season 5 have included a plan to make the episodes more … um … EPISODIC. What that means is that we have to do our character storylines within distinct episodes. If we do our jobs correctly, you won’t even notice this but you may notice that the episodes will tend to be a bit more grounded. That being said, “Bones” is, for the most part, a “crimedy.” It’s part romantic comedy, part crime drama, part character-driven procedural. We’re pretty sure that the tone of “Bones” is one of the things that keeps our audience loyal. Do we worry people won’t stick around? Yes! That’s ALL we worry about, it feels like.
Q. I’ve heard that the fourth season is the roughest season for a show — a metaphorical hump. Does the fifth season of a show carry with it a new set of challenges? If so, what are your strategies for overcoming those challenges? (ForensicMama) S4 seems to be a transitional season for both Booth and Brennan. Can the same be said of the writing team? (1 critic)
A. I’ve never heard that the Fourth Season is the toughest. There does seem to be something horrible and malignant about EPISODE six in each season. Or maybe that’s just a coincidence. Each and every season carries a set of challenges unique to the series, in my opinion. What’s so tough? Not repeating yourself, for one. Not getting into a formulaic rut. Ensuring that characters continue to unfold in interesting ways. Keeping actors interested in their characters… it’s all a tough go.
We are very much looking forward to Season 5 though — we have proven ourselves in many ways and we as a theater company are more confident than ever.
Q. Many viewers loved the season finale, others reacted more harshly, even angrily. Thoughts included:
- The cliffhanger is too cliffhanger … could you make it up with some fluff in season 5 so i can forgive you? (Sarah)
- I HATE YOU… The last episode was WRONG. (Shrikha)
- I think you two “need to grow a set” LOL. Either get Booth and Brennan together or don’t. Make a descision. But don’t mislead the fans into thinking they hooking up, it was just too cruel. (SHAZ)
- Did you get cold feet? Fans want B&B naked in bed. (Tara)
- Please dont make the I-don’t-remember-anything line on Booth for more than 5 episodes because this show mainly relies on Booth and Brennan’s chemistry. … “Bones” is my favorite show and I don’t want to see it go down in flames. (Alexa)
Two of you to summed it up best and posed your feelings in the form of a question:
Q. Are you taken aback the uproar of the S4 finale? (Mary) Just wondering what Hart must be feeling in response to the strong emotions he has sent the fans into … they seem to be very good or very negative. (Jennifer)
A. Hmmm, this is the kind of question that gets me into trouble. The fact is, if hardcore fans “really” didn’t like our season finales, we wouldn’t have more fans now than we did before. But we do. Ergo, fans felt something at the end of Season 4. The emotion they felt may not have been “joy,” for example. But they felt something. And that’s our first job, to make our audience feel something. That’s the tightrope we walk. If I did what everyone wanted me to do, then Brennan and Booth would have been married by the end of Season 1. My job is to make people want them together, not necessarily to put them together in the way the audience thinks they want.
Also, the Season Finale of Season 4 was not universally disliked. It was contentious, certainly. And it in no way pleased everyone. But I do stand by it. I always thought of that finale as a very, very inside joke with our very dedicated fans and I think, for the most part, those people got it. Here’s the real question: are there enough of those harcore, loyal, longtime fans to justify dedicating an entire season finale to them and them alone? Even after four seasons? Maybe not. Probably not. But man, it was fun to make that episode which means that maybe it was a little too self indulgent. I don’t want to be self indulgent.
Many of you asked about spoilers…
Q. How do you deal with the constant leaks of spoilers? Does that encourage you to change things last minute or keep more details to yourself until later in the scriptwriting process? Do your fans reactions to those spoilers affect your thought process? (Maggie) Did you feel it necessary to tell the press and fans lies regarding the season finale in order to protect its integrity? I was so complimentary of you and the show for being honest with what was going to happen (sex), but still keeping the bulk of the plot secret (how). But now I am just saddened that a) the lies occurred and b) that someone felt it necessary to lie in the first place. I know spoilers are rampant on the Internet, but what did this accomplish other than alienating fans and causing them to be even more distrustful of the television industry? (Laura) Hart, (in TV Guide) you said “no dream sequence, no undercover assignment, not even alcohol, they’re actually in bed having sex, they won’t be able to just walk away from what happened. It will have serious ramifications” On E! you said “Solemn promise it’s not hallucination. We found out that sex is very closely related to having children.” Can you see why the fans are mad? (Tara)
A. I know it’s semantics, I know it’s splitting hairs, but I didn’t lie about the finale. All I said is that they would have sex (they did) and it wouldn’t be a dream (it wasn’t). And in absolute candor … I am never, EVER going to announce in advance when major story points will occur. The most common question I get asked is, “When are Booth and Brennan going to get together?” folllowed by “Are Booth and Brennan ever going to get together?” The answer to both questions will come out of the series. You have to watch. I’m not telling. I’m not answering. That’s what the series if for. So if you want a straightforward, direct, simple answer to those questions, I am the last guy you want to ask. And that’s the last honest reply you’ll get on the subject. Maybe. Most likely. No, definitely. Probably.
Q. Do the writers take any of their inspiration for the B&B vibe, the comedy, and the action from the old Myrna Loy/William Powell film series, “The Thin Man”? I’m often reminded of those films when watching episodes where B&B banter while solving the whodunit. Enjoyed the finale! (Dianab) (Yoda also noted a “Thin Man” vibe) Did you watch “X-Files” and how much did you learn from Chris Carter? (Seriously, nine seasons and only four kisses, obviously you learned something.) (Alexandria; Emma also mentioned parallels to “The X-Files”). I was wondering if you could give a few examples of real-life inspiration in “Bones” episodes? (ForensicMama)
A. I absolutely love the “Thin Man” movies. “Bones” is part of a long line of shows. I always found the banter between Adam and Eve to be hilarious (until they ate the apple — that wrecked everything). I watched “X-Files” religiously, “Moonlighting,” “Gilmore Girls” … but I’ve often thought “Bones” is equally influenced by the original “Star Trek” and the Aubrey/Maturin stories written by novelist Patrick O’Brian. Also the Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn movies … also “Bringing Up Baby.” I could go on…
Q. Some the science lately has been incorrect or sometimes quite far off the mark (granted, most of your viewers would not catch the complexities of this, but you do tend to attract a science oriented crowd and we do catch the errors). Do you use a scientific consultant on a regular basis and if so, what are the qualifications of your consultant? (Jen) How much research do you do for each episode about the forensics involved with each murder? Have you ever had any experience in forensics or any affiliation with the FBI or military? How much of Booth’s ideals about America and patriotism parallel your own? (Jacey) As the series progresses, do you find it difficult to find new and interesting ways to involve the scientific part of “Bones” into the episode’s plot? What are some of your sources and how do they play a part in the writing process? (Maria) How involved is Kathy Reichs in the story lines and plot development? Is she involved in any character development, particularly the characters of Booth and Bones? (Tracy)
A. With all due respect, our science is pretty damn good, especially in comparison to the other forensic shows. We compress time and it happens from time to time that the fritzlegurber being referred to in dialogue comes up a gritzlefurber on the screen, but those are usually honest mistakes made in the haste of production.
Kathy Reichs herself looks at every script. We have a dedicated team of researchers and many, many technical consultants including a techie on stage with the actors.
We are also fortunate to have more than a couple of real forensic geeks on the writing staff. I hope I don't sound defensive but without naming other forensic shows, I gotta say, we kick everybody’s ass scientifically.
Q. In dealing with Brennan’s past how much of her personality have you based on the psychological information gathered from actual foster children? (Jacey)
A. I worked on “Judging Amy” for years and amassed quite a bit of knowledge about the foster system. Also contacts.
Q. Do you think with David and Emily’s personal and professional chemistry
and with outstanding writing that “Bones” might be able to break that
“so-called” curse? Why or why not? (Dan Kelley)
- As the creator of the show do you yourself fear your leads getting together? Or would you like to eventually see them end up together? (chubbybadass)
- I’m hoping that B & B will finally admit and give in to their feelings for one another rather than dance around the issue. (Tracy Mc.)
- How long are you going to exploit these HUGE elements delivered in the finale during next season? Should we expect a whole new kind of chemistry? (Cristina)
- Don’t you worry that if you do not make a will they or won’t they choice , it will hurt the show anyway? (Rosie)
- Are you guys afraid of the “Moonlighting” Syndrome? (1critic)
A. See my answer above? If I tell you what I think then you’ll know what I’m going to do and you won’t see the need to watch “Bones” anymore and that would be bad.
Q. It seems there have been changes in the characters this season. You’ve portrayed Brennan as oblivious, sucking at interrogations, lacking empathy, unable to recognize basic facial expressions. It seems as though she was somebody else.She used to be so multi-faceted and special.Where did that go? The goofiness you added in Booth hasn’t gone unnoticed either. Was it done on purpose,for some reason we haven’t seen yet? Is there any chance we’ll get our beloved characters back,the way we got to know and love them? (Jen)
A. I respectfully disagree that Brennan’s character has become increasingly oblivious. I think she is getting better at human interaction, not worse.
Q. Would it be too much to ask to let Booth do his job properly? He doesn't need any help to do so, let from alone Sweets. Remember Booth is the guy who reads people, can tell when people are lying, uses his gut. Remember the essence of the character that you created? You are doing a real disservice to Booth by letting other people do his job i.e Sweets and Brennan, interrogating suspects and figuring out the murderer. (Amber)
A. See what I mean? The above question assumes that Brennan is getting better at interrogation while the preceding question assumes she’s getting worse at it. You guys have to get together and then holler at me. I think we've done a pretty good job of having Sweets be right sometimes and wrong sometimes. On more than one occasion Sweets has suggested Booth take a tack in an interrogation only to watch as Booth goes another way and gets the answer. Sometimes Booth listens to Sweets. We like to think that Booth listens to the Sweets on the theoretical stuff and not so much on the life-lessons stuff.
Q. What does the title of the last episode (The End in the Beginning) mean? What significance does it have? (Hannah; also Leanne)
A. It’s a very, very literal title. That’s all I have to say about it. It was inspired by John Milton’s line: “The childhood shows the man, As morning shows the day.”
Q. In what way has the network made a significant impact on the show, in an episode by episode basis as well as an the show as a whole? (Maria)
A. The network is our client. They are heavily involved. We get network notes on every single step of the show from the inception of the idea to the final cut. It can be a very contentious relationship. We are often at odds. That means they have a huge impact on the show.
Q. I have always enjoyed the cultural, ethnic and social diversity featured on ““Bones”” in both its cast and the plots of some episodes (especially the interns this season). How do you think this diversity adds to the show? (Combined TV Watcher and Suzanne)
A. Well, it’s the world, isn’t it? Weird as network drama can be, it succeeds inasmuch as the audience finds a world they recognize within the series.
Q. Are there any past episodes you would submit for a “do over” if you could? (Corinna)
A. Every single one. Every — single — one.
Q. From what we’ve seen of on-set footage, things seem pretty laid back behind the scenes. Can you share some examples of any frantic moments? And, are there any notorious pranksters or running gags on the set? (Lisa) So I was wondering are the cast and crew as good friends as it seems in the behind the scenes videos? (Megan) The actors have commented on many occasions about the playful and joking atmosphere. How much of the characters’ banter do you have to script and how much can you let that talented group of actors loose with your idea? (Alexandria)
A. We are a very harmonious group — for a TV series. There is plenty of conflict going on behind the scenes, believe you me. What’s true is that the cast are extremely fond of each other. David and Emily, especially, are in so many scenes together. I’ve never understood how such a brotherly/sisterly vibe offscreen turns into a sexually charged romantic vibe onscreen. I don't want to look too closely at that, it might be creepy.
Visiting directors love working on “Bones.” I have always thought of a TV show as a Company. A few hundred years ago we’d all be driving around in wagons, putting on shows — only without any females. TV is better.
We have a very good deal with the actors. They say the words that are in the script and we are open to improv above and beyond that. So far it works well for us.
Q. I’m curious about the writing process as you put together the cases for the episodes. Do you create the method of death/body condition first (possibly based on an interesting/unique forensic technique in a forensic journal that you can then use to solve the case) or do you build the case first and then backtrack to create a body to match your desired scenario? (Jen)
A. Every story arises differently. The only commonality is that there is a room full of creative, smart, invested people yelling back and forth at each other. I try to stay out of there.
Q. One thing I have really enjoyed about season four is how the crimes are used to spur character development. How do you develop murder cases to mirror the character issues? Which do you plan first? What kind of “fact checking” process do you use? Do you sometimes just choose to change the facts of the series for purposes of the story? (AngelBuffMel)
A. The personal stuff tends to arise after we have the murder case laid out. The murders themselves inspire what goes on between our characters.