TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Big Love”

I’m very much out of my element when it comes to discussing “Big Love.” Not that I’m not interested in the show, but I simply haven’t watched it. I know, however, that another fine member of our editorial staff – one J. Codding – is a regular viewer, so I wouldn’t dare miss the opportunity to cover the upcoming third season of the show. Plus, really, whether you’ve watched the show or not, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to sit in on a panel that includes Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, and Ginnifer Goodwin?

If you haven’t followed the behind-the-scenes activity on the show, it’s been kind of a weird time for “Big Love” since it left the airwaves back in August 2007. The writer’s strike led to a delay in production for the show’s third season, and when the strike was concluded, executive producers Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer made the decision to throw out the ideas they’d come up with for Season 3 and basically start fresh.

“It’s always good to have more time and more time and more time to digest story and to reconsider choices made,” said Scheffer. “It makes the show stronger, deeper, better, you know, to have a couple of goes at initial assumptions. And so it was a blessing in that way, a mixed blessing because we were late coming on back to our fans, but, you know, I think that that little interim period where we weren’t writing when we were just sort of protesting and showering and such that we could have this time to breathe into the characters and the stories even more than we would have if we had just gone on our straight route. You know, I think the show would have been great, but I think what we have now is like beyond great.”

“There’s nothing special about the formulas,” said Olsen. “If you give a writer 10 years to do a script, it will take 9 years, 364 days and 59 minutes to get it done. If you give him two months to do it, that’s how long it takes. So we were just able to constantly reexamine choices and go, ‘No, maybe that’s a little cheesy. What if we flip that choice? And what if we went a different direction?’”

One of the critics described the combination of the three wives as “this, like, triplet of awesome,” suggesting, at least in the first episode of the new season, they all seem very happy and very in love with each other. First, Olsen replied, “We should probably slip you some copies of Episodes 7, 8, 9, and 10,” then Sevigny added, “It shifts so much from episode to episode, the alliances, it’s really hard to make a general note for the whole season.”

So much for family unity, huh?

“Whether it’s happy and well-adjusted or in conflict, they have become a unit that’s very forceful,” said Scheffer, “and the scenes with the three women and Bill tend to be scenes where your jaw drops, when you see the actors interrelating and how quickly they fall into being this unit. It’s bizarre. When the actors themselves start to inhabit, they become a real family, so when we’re working and they just fall into being this family, it’s really awesome.”

“Big Love” returns to HBO on January 18th.


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