Eddie Cibrian, Rachel Bilson and Lamont Thompson in TAKE TWO - Season 1 - "The Smoking Gun" | ©2018 ABC/David Bukach

Eddie Cibrian, Rachel Bilson and Lamont Thompson in TAKE TWO – Season 1 – “The Smoking Gun” | ©2018 ABC/David Bukach

ABC’s new Wednesday-night light procedural series TAKE TWO is created by Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller. Marlowe wrote the screenplays for AIR FORCE ONE, END OF DAYS, and HOLLOW MAN. Most significantly in terms of TAKE TWO, Marlowe created the long-running ABC series CASTLE, on which Miller was a fellow writer/executive producer (Marlowe and Miller have been married to one another since 1997).

Like CASTLE, TAKE TWO pairs someone from the storytelling world with someone from the detecting world. In the case of TAKE TWO, actress Sam Swift, played by Rachel Bilson, comes out of rehab after starring on TV as a cop and decides her best move would be to study private investigator Eddie Valetik, portrayed by Eddie Cibrian. Eddie initially doesn’t appreciate the scrutiny, but sometimes Sam proves her worth.

Over the phone, Marlowe and Miller talk TAKE TWO, as well as their feelings about the end of CASTLE.

ASSIGNMENT X: CASTLE was about somebody in the arts, a writer, who teamed up with a police detective, so was this any version of the original CASTLE premise when CASTLE was still in its gestation, or did you come up with this sort of like, “Well, what are other people in the arts and other people who do detection?”, or did you think, “We want to do a show about a PI,” or did you think, “We want to do a show about an actress researching a role”? What was the birth of TAKE TWO?

TERRI EDDA MILLER: TAKE TWO was partly inspired by CASTLE in terms of our experience of being on CASTLE was that we saw who our actors were, we learned a lot about how police procedurals work, and we were living in the procedural world, and we had conversations with some of our actors about being out on [police] ride-alongs, or being in situations where they had to handle themselves, and the fact that they had been a cop on television allowed them to handle themselves in really difficult situations, and it allowed us to understand certain things that were going on in the world through a different glass. So I think that’s part of the generation of this idea, which is, what would it be like to be that person in Los Angeles as a private investigator? Which is a whole different deal than being a cop, because it opens up the world of investigations a little bit more. Andrew, you want to follow on?

ANDREW W. MARLOWE: I thought that was good.

AX: Does having the investigator be a private detective, rather than a police detective, allow you for a little more leeway in what that character can do?

MARLOWE: Yeah, absolutely. Part of what we want to do with this show is to have the same kind of fun with our characters that we did in CASTLE, but to do it in a different way, and access different kinds of cases that would not have come across our character’s desk in the old show. And it also feels like doing this, we’d be part of a great tradition of private detectives in Los Angeles. We both love that literary history of those great dime-store novels, where you have the rugged, hardened private detective, and we thought, “What if you had a character that was a little bit like the cynical Humphrey Bogart, but who had to team up with somebody who was from the more glittery side of the world, who had a big personality, and how would that affect that person?” When we started talking about it, it just felt like it was a natural, and it felt like it would be a lot of fun.

AX: CASTLE was set in New York, but shot in Los Angeles; TAKE TWO is set in Los Angeles, but shooting in Vancouver. Is that just a financial decision, does it give you something if you’re not shooting where the show is set?

MILLER: Well, I would say that sometimes decisions like that force you to be more creative than you would have had to have been otherwise [laughs]. It was a financial decision, and it’s working out really well for us, though.

MARLOWE: Yeah. There are great crews up here [in Vancouver]. We’ve actually drawn from some of the local talent pool with casting. We’ve had great luck. Some of our supporting cast are really great actors that we’ve found here. We feel like we’ve been really lucky being up here.

Eddie Cibrian as Eddie, and Rachel Bilson as Sam in TAKE TWO - Season 1 | ©2018 ABC/Craig Sjodin

Eddie Cibrian as Eddie, and Rachel Bilson as Sam in TAKE TWO – Season 1 | ©2018 ABC/Craig Sjodin

AX: How did you decide on Eddie Cibrian and Rachel Bilson as your leads?

MARLOWE: Well, we wrote these characters, and any time you write a character, you just have your fingers crossed that you will get a great intersection with the people that you cast. And when we were in the casting process, one of the things that we felt like Rachel brought to the table was this immense likability for her character. If a character is coming in, being edgy and being the disruptive element, you want them to be likable, so that the audience can really key in on them. And Eddie brought this great groundedness to it. We know that shows like this really live or die by the chemistry of your leads, and we feel like we got really lucky in this case. The two of them are so great together on screen.

MILLER: Yeah. We knew going in that this would be really dependent on who played the two main characters, and the first time we saw them perform together, we were blown away by how much fun it was. It just delighted us. And our experience is, if it’s making us smile, it’s going to make the audience smile, too.

AX: The character Monica, played by Alice Lee, is a “grinder.” What, in this context, is a “grinder”?

MILLER: They are people who are using body-enhancing techniques to further evolve themselves as part of the human race. There are all kinds of new things that people are experimenting with to see how they can make human beings better.

MARLOWE: This is an entire [real-life] subculture where they put implants in, whether it’s magnets in their fingertips or RFID [radio-frequency identification] chips in their arms. There are certain folks who put the RFID chip in their fingers, so when they come into their building, they don’t have to get a fob out, they can just hit the keypad and the door will open.

MILLER: They can snap their fingers, and it’s like, you clap, and the lights go on and off, but they can snap their fingers, and the lights will go on, they can snap their fingers and their cars will turn on. It’s been going on for about twenty years.

MARLOWE: But it’s a relatively new field, and it’s evolving every day as new technologies come out that meld with the human body. So Grinders, or body hackers, are the people who are at the forefront of experimenting, and we have a great, really interesting character, Monica, played by Alice Lee, who is a bit on a quest to further herself. So we discover that she is a body hacker.

MILLER: We had come across a couple of articles about it, not in any relation to this show, it’s something that we’d read about, and it was fascinating, and when we were thinking of who this character of Monica might be, it just came to us that this might be a really interesting aspect of her personality.

AX: Is this separate from body modification?

MILLER: It depends on what people are doing with it. There are different ways that you can do it.

MARLOWE: Yeah, but body modification is usually done for aesthetics, and tattooing, the big earrings and stuff. This is the blending of technology and the human body.

AX: So this isn’t done for visual effect, it’s done for practical effect?

MILLER: Yes. I’ll just give you one example. There’s a guy who is color-blind, and he figured out how to create something that he could implant on his head, you can look it up online, and the device helped him hear colors. So it’s all kinds of really fascinating scientific ideas that people come up with to enhance themselves or to improve life for human beings, from their point of view.

AX: As far as the kinds of cases Eddie and Sam take on, is this more like looking for missing people than solving murders?

MARLOWE: Well, the fun thing about this show is that it can have a wide tonal range, and we can be looking at a lot of different kinds of cases. So we will have missing-persons cases, there will be cases where we’ll have bodies drop. There will be cases that seem relatively odd. We’re shooting an episode now that comes a little bit later in the series, where a man comes in to hire Eddie and Sam because his mother has gone missing, but she hasn’t just gone missing, [he thinks] she’s been abducted by aliens. So that’s a fun case. And that’s been fun shooting up here in Vancouver, because we have all the folks who have been working on THE X-FILES – everybody up here has done a stint on THE X-FILES back in the day.

MILLER: So we’ll span the spectrum from the fanciful to the serious.

AX: ABC doesn’t usually run scripted programming in the summer. Do you know if TAKE TWO is part of a larger experiment at the network?

MARLOWE: Well, this is a really interesting project, because we did this as an international co-production. We were approached by some producers at Tandem Productions out of Germany, because with BONES, CASTLE, and THE MENTALIST going off the air, there’s a huge international market for these lighthearted procedurals, and it’s something that we really love writing, and we felt like there was an audience out there for this sort of material. So we set it up overseas first, and got German and French distribution [via France 2 and Germany’s Vox and Studio Canal’ Canadian distribution is through CTV], and that brought it back to the U.S. ABC says they want to be competitive with the year-long scripted cycle that we see coming out of streaming and premium cable. So they actually wanted some scripted content for summer, and they’ve tried to, over the last couple of years, have a scripted show in the summer, even though their stuff tends a little bit more towards reality. So we ended up selling it to ABC Network, and we were very excited to be back in business with them.

AX: Did the French and German distributors have any particular things that they want?

MILLER: Well, one of the great things about putting this together is that we found like-minded partners in Tandem, in the French and the Germans, and in ABC, who were all looking for the same kind of show. This is something that they all wanted, because as Andrew was saying, a lot of the other shows that were like our show, that had the same DNA, were going off the air, and this is something that we all feel the audience is looking for right now, something that is a little lighthearted and that has the procedural element and is episodic, that they can drop in on, or that has a light arc that the loyal viewers can come back to over and over again. And that’s something that everybody was on the same page about. The German audiences, the French audiences, and now the Canadian and U.S. audiences are all excited about having this kind of show around. So the info that we’re getting from everybody is very much on the same page.

AX: If TAKE TWO is successful, will it move to be a midseason show, or would ABC keep it in the summer?

MARLOWE: Ultimately, that would be an ABC decision. Our concern is the make the best, funnest show possible, and towards a great summer series that people can return to, but if I’m a network executive, I’m also looking at what my development is, what the fall shows look like, what the numbers look like. So anything is possible. That’s not really our end of it, that’s more the network end. Our end of it is just to have fun in the writing, and have fun with our cast and crew.

MILLER: Yeah. We never thought of it as a summer show, or a fall show, we just thought of, “Okay, let’s make this really good show that people are going to enjoy.” And we’re just hoping that they’ll watch it, no matter what time of year it’s on.

AX: To ask a CASTLE question, you left CASTLE at the end of Season 7. CASTLE was about novelist Richard Castle [Nathan Fillion] and NYPD detective Kate Beckett [Stana Katic], who fell in love over the course of the series. At the end of Season 8, it was announced that Stana Katic was not coming back, and if Season 9 had gone ahead, Kate would have been killed off. Instead, the series ended after Season 8. Were you ultimately relieved that CASTLE went off the air before they did a season without Kate?

MARLOWE: I think it wasn’t fun for us to see what CASTLE would have been without the Kate Beckett character, because in our mind, we were telling a great, long love story. For many reasons, we had to step off at the end of Season 7. So in terms of it going off the air, we would always feel bad for our crew not having work and the series not continuing, but we felt for the show that we had created and for what the fans had invested in, that maybe those decisions were not necessarily the right decisions for the show. But it’s hard to come in and figure out what would have been best in the circumstances with the people who were running it at the time.

MILLER: But the bottom line is, to answer your question, Castle and Beckett were a great love story, and we wanted that love story to go on. We like to imagine them having fun off in the world, solve more cases, and have a great, fantastic, adventurous life full of love.

AX: Back to TAKE TWO, there is apparently also a real-world social media component …

MILLER: I think in terms of the social media stuff, we had a really good time on CASTLE, breaking the fourth wall with him. And we thought there was a great opportunity to do that in this show with Sam Swift, who as a TV star, has her own Instagram, has her own Twitter, and be out there in the world before this all happened, when she was a star on her previous show, HOT SUSPECT. So we are creating the Sam Swift Instagram and Twitter, and we’re also creating Instagram [profiles] for our supporting characters Monica and Berto [Xavier de Guzman], because they speak to a whole different audience, their characters, of a completely different point of view of the world. And Valetik Investigations is going to have a website down the road.

MARLOWE: So for the audience members who are getting excited about what we’re doing, we can extend the storytelling into these other platforms and invite them into the in-world world.

MILLER: Right. And communicate with them – the characters can actually communicate with them and have a life outside the show.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about TAKE TWO?

MILLER: I think that if they come to watch TAKE TWO, they are going to have a really good time. They’re going to watch romance, adventure, humor, really fun characters. They’re going to see a lot of chemistry between Rachel and Eddie, and that we’re going to entertain them.

MARLOWE: One of the reasons that we wanted to do this show is that we saw a lot of other shows going the darker, serialized route, and we saw a lot of material out there featuring people who [are ethically compromised]. We feel like we are living in very difficult, challenged times, and people’s days are complicated, and we think it might be nice for folks to come home and be able to turn on the TV and enjoy themselves for an hour with characters who are trying to do the right thing, trying to be noble, trying to find their way.

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Article: TAKE TWO: Creators Andrew W. Marlowe & Terri Edda Miller on new series – Exclusive Interview


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