Glenn Gordon Caron discusses Moonlighting and Bull and conversations that inspired the season 2 finale.
If you haven’t seen the season finale of Bull yet, stop reading now.
Glenn Gordon Caron has worked in TV for decades. He brought us Medium, Moonlighting and joined Bull towards the end of season one. As viewers will have noted, the season was filled with more character development. We got to see more of their lives and what drives them, we also got to see Hamilton’s Christopher Jackson perform a musical number because even though it’s a legal show, Caron couldn’t possibly not have one of Broadway’s biggest stars not perform. Remember the Shakespeare episode in Moonlighting? He makes things happen.
I caught up with Caron to talk about joining Bull and what he brought to the table and what we can look forward to in season three.
Glenn, Moonlighting was my childhood. I used to spend my Monday nights staying up watching BBC2 waiting for the next adventures of David and Maddie.
After Moonlighting ended, I made a movie and it was in the London Film Festival and I was so surprised to see what a big deal Moonlighting was there, it was really gratifying.
It was a huge show there, I think everyone I knew stayed up, not doing their homework. You shaped my childhood with your work, but what films or TV shows shaped your childhood?
Oh wow, what a great question. As a child, it sounds corny, but the Disney animated movies. I remember Pinocchio having this huge effect on me, I can’t explain why, but it did.
As I got into my early teens, there was this fantastic time in American filmmaking, every week a groundbreaking film like The Graduate and MASH came out, and we had these great American filmmakers like Mike Nichols so it was this great time. It all left a huge imprint on me.
In TV, I was really in love with I Spy. I loved the Norman Lear comedies that I think most people were watching. The body of work from the Mary Tyler Moore studios were things I was taken with.
Moonlighting was risque and ahead of its time. Talk about working with censorship then and how it’s changed compared to working on Bull in 2018.
Moonlighting was in the 80’s. I was young when I did it. The 80’s was a time of excess and other stuff, but for me what was so exciting, and also what made the network to get me to do it was that, in my mind, it was about men and women and men that I knew. When I looked at men on TV at that time, the men such as Alan Alda on MASH and those on the Aaron Spelling shows were different. I grew up on Long Island, I didn’t know anyone like that. When Bruce Willis came in for the audition, I said these are the things that were fun for me and thank goodness other people agreed even though the network resisted for a very long time. It’s funny, I never thought about it until you asked the question, but I think the same thing keeps me interested in Bull. He is a man approaching his late 40’s, he’s alone, but who is that guy? He’s very smart and is capable of being charming, but at the same time, he can be difficult to work with. So, I think it’s that fascination with people that keeps me interested and wanting to tell stories. I keep trying to figure out who is this fellow.
The great thing is that I have Michael Weatherly who is a great collaborator in it all.
What I enjoyed about season two since you came in is we see greater character development. What was it like coming to the show for you and were you responsible for that arc this season where we do see these characters becoming richer?
When I came into it which was at the very tail end of season one, my feeling was that the characters were not very well defined. When I watched the show it was clear that the actors were terrific, but they weren’t given a lot of challenging work to do. I sat down with each of the actors and made a pledge that I would try to render them as more complete humans and shift the focus slightly.
CBS has done an amazing job and they have all these procedurals and I thought it was my job to differentiate our show. I wanted to lean more into who these people are. We were still going to do the cases, but let those take place in a universe in which the people are complete and have feelings. I did say to Michael, I did wonder if people were going to like it or if they would want the old thing back. I really worried about it, but luckily people seemed to like it.
The great thing is we get to see Michael Weatherly sing a bunch of different songs and that’s a wonderful thing.
You also directed the season two finale. One of the many hats you wore.
If it were up to me, I’d direct them all. I’d write them all, but when you’re doing 22 episodes a year, it’s impossible. I was going to direct the season premiere, but the studio asked me to wait.
I’d have late night conversations with Michael and one thing we kept returning to was mortality. We talked about what it was like about not being here forever. He wanted to know what I was thinking to do for the end of the season and I told him that it was an idea that he and the network probably wouldn’t like. I was thinking he’d have a heart attack. His character is eating all the time, drinking all the time and he’s not taking care of himself and he’s lost that thing in his life. He’s suffering from tunnel vision. He loved that whole idea and so I shared it with the network and to my amazement, they loved it.
I have to put a request to have Danny explored more the next season.
I’ve actually said that the one character I didn’t explore so much but would like to, was Danny’s character. I’d like to explore more with all of them. I’m actually looking forward to doing that.
You’re working on Bull season three. What, in the overall sense can we look forward to?
We’re going to get to know these people better. We’ve really started to drill down on Marissa’s character. We saw her have that fling or romance. We now know a secret that she came to believe that she couldn’t really work at TAC and her life. She fell back in love with what made TAC so important to her. We’re going to do more exploring there.
We’re going to drill down on Freddy more too. Of course, Bull was married to his sister and so the rupture of that marriage is something he’s never quite made his peace with.
I’m betting we’ll be hearing from the ex- Mrs Bull again. She said to him, “I don’t think you’re any good alone.” I think that will resonate with him once he gets through the heart attack. I think we’ll see how a man gets to be his age and be alone and how to make intimate relationships with other people work.
I told Chris Jackson who is so great and also a great Broadway star, “I don’t know how we can have someone who is such a great singer and not have them perform on the show.” However, we did it, we had this musical number in a dream state. We expanded his character too and there are some avenues to explore for him.
There will be some surprises in Cable’s life too. One of the things we tried to do was have them be engaged in real life cases. I wanted the viewer to not know where the case was going. Having done all that, we’re excited and hopefully, continue to provide a satisfying show for people. Hopefully, we can continue to win over viewers.