Glenn Gordon Caron is almost midway through his first season as showrunner of “Bull,” CBS’ Michael Weatherly drama about a high-powered trial consultant loosely based on the real-life work of Dr. Phil McGraw. But, of course, it’s hard not to first ask him about “Moonlighting,” the legendary romantic comedy starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, which broke every television rule back in the 1980s.
And indeed, in this era of remakes and reboots, Caron told IndieWire that he’s often approached about putting “Moonlighting” back on television. He’s torn on whether to do it — but has some great ideas should it go.
“Maybe you do it with Channing Tatum and Emma Stone? Or for a moment I had this idea of doing it [again] with Bruce and Cybill. I can’t tell you all the ideas I’ve had. But at the same time there’s a voice in my head that goes, ‘leave well enough alone.’ I have this debate with myself constantly.”
One reason to bring it back, perhaps, is to dispell the “Moonlighting” myth that the show ended because David and Maddie, the characters played by Willis and Shepherd, wound up together after years of will-they-or-won’t-they flirtation.
“The unfortunate thing was, once we did it a bunch of things happened that I had no control over,” he said. “There was a huge writers strike that went on for what seemed like forever. Cybill got pregnant with twins, so she wasn’t able to work for an extended period of time. And Bruce suddenly became a movie star. Those three things created a perfect wave where there was an extended period that we couldn’t make the show. It wasn’t meant to be.”
Caron, however, believed there was much to mine in the fall out from that relationship. But if he harbors any regrets, it’s that he didn’t let ABC merchandise “Moonlighting” at the time.
“I thought that diminished the show,” he said. “I look back on that and think, what a fool!”
IndieWire’s TURN IT ON sat down recently with Caron to discuss his mission on “Bull,” which he’s made a bit more fun while diving deeper in the show’s characters, and of course, the legacy of “Moonlighting,” more than 30 years later, and where things stand on revisiting it. Listen below!
Caron broke almost every rule in TV back in the 1980s with “Moonlighting.” It was an hour-long comedy drama that played with the form almost every week. Caron ignored his episodic order, doing as many episodes as he wanted. And he notoriously cut the show so close to air that many weeks ABC had no idea whether they were even going to have a new episode in time.
“I was young and stupid and had the kind of arrogance,I thought so much of television was so bad,” he said. “All I ever wanted to do was be a movie maker. The fact that people were given this opportunity to make one-hour movies and squandering it by making sloppy or ill-considered work made me crazy. I insisted on shooting our own promos and doing our own ad art. My attitude was I wanted to make movies, I never wanted to make more TV so I was going to burn the town down!”
Instead, Caron later had an even bigger hit in “Medium,” which aired for six years on two different networks. Now he’s doing something different, taking over the CBS drama “Bull” as it returned this fall for its sophomore season.
Caron admitted he wasn’t high on the idea behind “Bull” at first. “I didn’t think it would work,” he said. “It struck me initially as the sort of thing that suggested if you were wealthy you could purchase the services of this man and his company and effectively job the justice system. I couldn’t imagine why you would want to propagate that idea.”
But when he was asked to come in and energize the show for Season 2, Caron met and immediately clicked with Weatherly. “In the heat of [‘Moonlighting’] it was like being in a great band. I felt that for Michael.”
The idea in Season 2 was to “subvert the form a little bit… what are the edges, where can I go, how can I make this matter? I’m trying to fill him up with realistic ache. How did you get here, in your mid 40s and you built this thing and you’re alone, so what’s not working the way its supposed to work.”
To build up story, Caron even made a weekly pilgrimage to Dr. Phil’s house in order to discuss ideas. For months, he stopped by McGraw’s home every Thursday at 9 a.m. “For some people I think I’m a lot to put up with,” he quips.
“Bull” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.
IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now on TV — no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.
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