‘Council of Dads’ Boss Reveals What Would Have Happened in Season 2
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the series finale of Council of Dads, “Fight or Flight.”]
The Perry family has a lot of rebuilding to do after the hurricane did quite a bit of damage to their home and the Crab Shack, but unfortunately, it doesn’t look like fans will get to see it.
The NBC drama, Council of Dads, following the Perry family after the patriarch Scott (Tom Everett Scott) dies, having enlisted his friends to be there for his wife and kids, was canceled after one season. And it did end on a bit of a cliffhanger, as after learning about Gladwell’s plans for the land of the Crab Shack, one of the “dads” Larry (Michael O’Neill) was close to falling off the wagon and at a bar. Did he drink?
TV Insider turned to executive producer Tony Phelan to find out that and what else would have happened in Season 2. Plus, can Council be saved?
Did Larry have a drink? And has your answer changed now that there won’t be a Season 2?
Tony Phelan: Larry, if there were a Season 2, was going to be struggling with his sobriety in a much more granular, immediate way. Whether or not seeing Robin’s name on his phone caused him to not take that drink, I leave that up to the audience’s imagination.
When would Season 2 have picked up? And would it have covering time passing the same way, with some episodes a day or so and others longer?
Yeah. It would have shown everybody recovering from the hurricane and all of the things that happened during the hurricane. It would have also explored how each of the dads finds themselves leaning on the family a little more. Season 1 was very much about seeing these dads hold up the family, and Season 2 would be a lot about seeing the family hold up the dads.
So rebuilding the house while the characters rebuild themselves?
Exactly. You have Oliver and Peter with a brand new baby, they’re going to need a lot of help. Anthony’s trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the family, he’s gotta get the Crab Shack back running again, and he’s tasked with training Theo, and Theo’s a tricky kid. There would have been a lot of challenges ahead for them.
What journey did you want to take Robin and the kids on this season after losing Scott? Did you always know Robin and Scott would have that conversation in the finale?
We did know Robin and Scott would be having that conversation in the finale. A lot of Robin’s journey in Season 2 would be about seeing how she would contend with the enormous struggle she still has ahead of herself, just to put their lives back together again. We would [also] be examining the fact that Robin is dating a cop in the south in 2020, and there were some preliminary talks about some of the dads having some feelings about that. That was going to be a storyline we were going to write in a very measured, balanced way.
Ask Matt: Seeking Counsel About 'Dads,' the 'Live PD' Situation, HBO Max, the Future of Summer TV & More
And what did you want to do with her relationship with Sam?
We would have to see how it went. There’s the challenge of introducing him to the kids and how that’s going to go. There’s also the challenge of what’s going on in the country right now and whether or not Robin is entirely ready for a new relationship and the challenges of meeting Sam’s kids. They would certainly have their struggles ahead of them, but we love Sam as a character and David Walton‘s just a great actor and they had tremendous chemistry. Like everything on the show, none of it would be easy.
Did you know from the beginning how you would craft that relationship?
No. We were lucky enough to find David and he brought so much to the role. We knew we wanted Robin to try dating but we knew it was also going to be a slow process and a struggle and there would be three steps forward and two steps back. We were happy with the way it showed that just because Robin lost her husband, it didn’t mean all of a sudden she was no longer a sexual being and didn’t crave some kind of intimacy.
Anthony and Luly’s relationship became strained after she learned he’s her biological father.
Anthony in Season 2 would be the guy who really steps up. He’s learned a very valuable lesson for him in terms of he’s now really committed to being here and committing to being here 1000 percent. We would’ve seen Luly and Anthony and Michelle, her birth mom, really begin to forge a relationship together.
And then we really looked forward to seeing a bit of a Council of Moms with Michelle, Robin, Anne [Evan’s mom], and Robin’s mom, Patricia, and to explore some issues that dads are just not necessarily well-equipped to handle, whereas moms, especially moms of a different generation than Robin’s, might have some real guidance for her.
Anthony and Margot gave things a try. What did you want to do with that in Season 1 in contrast to the other relationships?
We needed to see the way that Anthony dealt with his intimate relationships with women and use that as a mirror for the way he handled all of his relationships in the fact that he is a guy who has never really been able to commit. We wanted to show by the end of the season he was really ready to commit to the family in a new way.
We love the character of Margot and our intention, if Hilarie [Burton Morgan] was interested, was to bring her back in Season 2 and have Margot and Anthony spearhead the move, along with Luly, to get the community behind somehow wrestling control of Crab Shack away from Gladwell and reestablishing it and thwarting Gladwell’s plans to turn it into condominiums.
Oliver and Peter’s family has officially grown and they don’t have to worry about losing their son. What did you want to do with their relationship and family in contrast to the Perrys?
They are going to be new parents, and they have never had a newborn before. They adopted Tess when she was older. Dealing with babies and what that means and the sleeplessness and the tension it can cause in a relationship is going to be some good drama for them. The other thing is that we’re going to find out more about Peter’s work as an attorney and a community activist and Peter and Evan are going to join forces together to work on Evan’s project in that community while fighting the forces of gentrification.
Another thing we were planning on having Oliver do is engage in a clinical trial. Because of what happened to Scott, Oliver gets interested in combating the specific cancer that Scott had and makes some progress. And his successes are bittersweet because Scott had to die in order for Oliver to put his focus on that problem.
The M&M scenes for Oliver at the beginning of the season were so good.
That was also a little of Joan [Rater] and I carrying our Grey’s Anatomy experience to a new show.
Is there anything you’d had planned in Season 2 that you wish you’d included in Season 1 now?
No, I think the Season 2 plans grew organically from Season 1, and Season 1, I was very happy with the stories we told because our desire was always to have the show be as grounded and as real and as messy as possible. We didn’t want to put out any kind of a glossy take on this, on who these people were, the way they lived their lives, even down to the fact the characters reuse their wardrobe because they don’t have an endless closet. Whenever you’re in the Perry house, there was always stuff everywhere because if you have that many kids, there’s stuff everywhere. We wanted the reactions of the characters at all times to be surprising but understandable. I really feel like we succeeded in doing that.
I liked how much Theo wanted to rescue Cowboy.
Yeah, and Cowboy is a popular addition to the show. We felt like that was a great way for Theo to have a bit of a hero moment at the end of Season 1, but also to finally hear from Theo what a lot of his angst and battle with Robin this whole season has been about and to hear that kid say his fear is he’s just ordinary, [that] there’s nothing special about him. It’s true of a lot of kids in blended families and the actor, Emjay Anthony, did a really remarkable job. You really felt that kid’s pain. It was also fun to see him punch Anthony.
Each kid had a story, too.
Yeah, and come on, Thalia Tran, her work in that scene where she went into surgery and saw Scott again. She was remarkable in that episode, just really great. We feel like we’ve been able to give each character in the show their moments and the intention was always that in this ensemble show, the audience will find their favorites. and in each episode, their favorite’s going to have something to do.
…The show famously does not do flashbacks, but another of the things we wanted to do was have an episode in which we the audience saw why Scott chose each of these guys to be the dads. We would see Scott and Larry in a moment where Larry meets Scott at that bar when Scott falls off the wagon right before he’s going to go in for his test. We would see Scott and Oliver bonding on those long nights when Scott was in the hospital alone and no one was there but Oliver. We would see more of the history of Scott and Anthony and deal a little bit with whether or not Scott knew that Anthony was Luly’s father.
We would tell those stories in a very special episode, as another way of bringing back Tom Everett Scott, who’s just great. It’s nice for the audience to see him come back every once in a while. Not too frequently. you don’t want to overuse him, but it’s nice to touch back on him every now and again.
What are the chances of seeing a Season 2?
I think that’s entirely up to NBC. As the creators, we can make the show, but ultimately what’s done with the show is up to the studio and the network. That said, I know myself and the cast and the crew are really moved by how touched the fans have been by what we did. Fan enthusiasm is a great thing, and with so much content out there, to have people be so invested in the show, that’s why you do it in the first place, is you’re hoping to touch people.
The other thing we’ve been hearing from people is it’s a show families sit down and watch together, and that is increasingly rare, especially with everybody having their own [devices], but to have families come together, watch a show together, and then talk about it, is great, and that’s one of the reasons we set out to write it in the first place. It very much so reflected not only Joan and my family and our story, but also our friends and the world we live in, which is a very diverse world. Diversity in terms of race and in terms of gender and in terms of sexual orientation, that’s a big thing in our lives and we wanted it to be a big thing in the Perrys’ life and that was very much accepted. Especially with what’s happening in the country right now, that message is important and seeing the fans’ response, it’s a message people are really open to seeing.