SPOILER ALERT: The story includes details about the season finale of 9-1-1.
This comes after the explosive season finale of 9-1-1 and the fact that Rob Lowe’s Owen Strand and his colleagues navigated a solar storm in the season finale of Lone Star.
Minear, in a wide-ranging interview about the close of 9-1-1’s third season and the franchise, said that now that he had successfully got one season of Lone Star under his belt, he would look to “cross-pollinate” the two Fox dramas.
Season three of 9-1-1 started with a tsunami enveloping Santa Monica pier and ended with a massive train crash.
The team of emergency responders at the 118 rush to save lives in the aftermath of the derailment in ‘What’s Next?’. Guest stars Rumer Willis, who has starred in Empire and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Scrubs star Travis Schuldt feature as two of the victims of the crash, as well as a man who turns out to be Abby Clark’s fiancé.
This brings Connie Britton’s former dispatcher back to the show, having left at the end of season one, and provides closure to Oliver Stark’s Buck, who helps save the man while finding out his ex is back and with another man.
Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Maddie Buckley and Kenneth Choi’s Chimney discover some good news, while Angela Bassett’s Anthena Grant struggles to open up, with the help of guest star Brooke Shields, after a showdown with a serial rapist.
The series also stars Peter Krause as Captain Bobby Nash, husband of Grant and boss of the LAFD station 118, as well as Aisha Hinds Rockmond Dunbar and Ryan Guzman
The show is produced by 20th Century Fox Television in association with Ryan Murphy Television and Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision. Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear are creators, executive producers and writers on the series, with Bradley Buecker Alexis Martin Woodall, Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, John J. Gray and Kristen Reidel also serving as executive producers.
DEADLINE: Did you get where you wanted to this season? Was the towering inferno of a train always the plan for that final episode?
TIM MINEAR: I mean the train is almost secondary. We had talked about bringing Abby back, bringing Connie Britton back, for the finale, and the idea of the train derailment sort of happened simultaneously. It was almost like, well, what if a 911 call from like a train derailment came into the call center, and Maddie took a call from a woman who sounds like she knows an awful lot about the protocol. Then we reveal that it’s Connie Britton. I thought that’s a great idea, and then literally the next day, I’m at the 100th episode party for American Horror Story, and there’s Connie Britton, and I’m sort of standing there with Angela Bassett. So, I saw her, and I’m said ‘I’m just going to ask her’. So, I asked her, and she said yes, and so, suddenly, I had where we wanted to go for the finale. So, did I get to where I wanted to go? Yeah, completely. Like, exactly the thing that I had hoped for, we did.
DEADLINE: You’d always left the door open for her character. Does this give her character and Buck closure, is that her story now closed?
MINEAR: I think it is. I think that if we had tried to do it, say, in season four, that would’ve meant that Buck would’ve been in a kind of weird stasis for way too long, so I think we were right at the very point in that story where it was ripe, but it was about to turn and rot. So, it needed to happen, and you know we were very careful in season two to honor the character of Abby, even though we knew we couldn’t have Connie back in season two. So, I felt Buck need to sit across from her and look at her and say what the hell happened? So, if for no other reason than that, I think it allows Buck to stop attributing any growth on his part in the last year to his, you know, brief relationship with this one person. Now, he can realize his train never came off the track. It just hasn’t reached the endpoint yet. He’s still traveling.
DEADLINE: You seemed lucky that production on the show, on the finale wasn’t hit by the COVID-19 shutdown.
MINEAR: We literally stepped right through the raindrops on this. We finished production on both 9-1-1: Lone Star and 9-1-1 right before all this happened. So, I have been actually editing post on the last eight episodes from home. I stopped going into the lot almost right when I finished airing Lone Star and started working on post on 9-1-1 to finish the eight episodes, and it sort of stacked up. We finished shooting everything and because of technology, we were allowed to continue from our shelter in place quarantines. I’ve been working with my editors online, and now we’ve reconvened our writers’ rooms online and you know? So, so far, like I said, walking right between the raindrops.
DEADLINE: You had a number of guest stars in the finale, from Rumer Willis and Travis Schuldt (right) to Brooke Shields. Can we expect to see more of Brooke Shields’ character in season four?
MINEAR: I think that character’s an important character and which is why I cast an important actor. So, I would love to bring that character back, and I thought Brooke was great and really just kind of fit into the world of the show just seamlessly. So, yeah, I’d love to bring her back.
DEADLINE: There’s also good news for a number of the other characters. Michael’s health issues seem to have been resolved.
MINEAR: Yes. He’s on a very positive trajectory.
DEADLINE: Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Chimney (Kenneth Choi) are about to have a baby. Will that new baby play into season four?
MINEAR: Absolutely. You know Chimney and Maddie, those characters have earned a little happiness. There’s just not a nicer couple on TV. So, in this case, being a showrunner, I can, by fiat, make babies happen. I think what works on our show is just the evolution of people’s relationships in their lives, and I mean, weirdly, I would say maybe a big influence on me as a writer was Thirtysomething, in some weird way. It’s like people that you want to be around, people that you can relate to, and you know life isn’t static. It moves forward.
DEADLINE: Do you feel proud making a show about people on the frontline, particularly now?
MINEAR: It’s always been my sense. I mean I think that sense has grown in me over the last couple of seasons, but I felt that way really since the beginning, and I think that is what makes the show as popular as it is.
DEADLINE: You were picked up for a fourth season in April. Did getting that news ahead of May help with plotting things going forward?
MINEAR: I suppose so. I mean I think we always just assumed we’d be coming back. I guess the question was, you know, would both shows be coming back and in what form? Like, what’s the order going to be? But we pretty much planned that they’d be coming back, and I’m only now really engaging with the writers’ rooms because I just finished post on 9-1-1. You know post is different, and the fact that I haven’t been late on scripts ever since we wrapped, because I was late for two shows for a whole year, that’s been a break of its kind.
DEADLINE: You started with a tsunami in this season and an earthquake the season before. What are you cooking up for season four?
MINEAR: I’d say a solar storm, except I played that card at the end of Lone Star. You know we’ve got some big ideas. It’s always tough to top yourself, but I’m going to try.
DEADLINE: Presumably we’ll see the cast wearing masks when they do return?
MINEAR: Yes, it’s interesting. I think that we can’t ignore what’s happened in the world, and I think that when we come back, our characters will have gone through what our audience has gone through. We won’t ignore what’s happened. We just don’t want COVID to subsume the show or the storytelling. I think our role is really to aspirationally tell our audience, look, their lives are going on, life can go on. It doesn’t have to be all about this.
DEADLINE: You previously mentioned that you didn’t want crossover episodes between 9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star. Is that still the case?
MINEAR: Hell no. There’s going to be crossovers now. I have a couple of ideas on how to cross-pollinate things. [Before] I was entirely speaking about a first season. Like, I wanted to kind of get the other show up on its feet and let it live in its own lane for a while. But now, I feel like I would probably be foolish not to take advantage of that kind of crossover opportunity.
DEADLINE: You can Dick Wolf it, as it were?
MINEAR: Well, I should be so lucky, but I mean maybe not Wolf it, but maybe I could Norwegian Elkhound it. I don’t know if I could call myself a wolf yet, but I could be a very impressive hairy dog.
DEADLINE: Have you got any concrete plans for more iterations of the franchise?
MINEAR: I know it’s something [Ryan Murphy’s] thought about, and I definitely have notions of like where and what that might look like. But you know, we haven’t talked seriously about it since all this happened.
DEADLINE: You must be chuffed with how both shows are rating?
MINEAR: Yeah. I’m very pleased. I think I’m going to have to change my Twitter handle from @canceledagain to @palaceconcubine or something. I don’t know.
DEADLINE: Don’t tempt fate.
MINEAR: Yes, that’s right. That’s right.
DEADLINE: If there was no COVID-19, you’d be shooting American Horror Story, how do you find working on a broad network show as well as an edgy cable show?
MINEAR: I was trying to sell cable shows, my edgy cable shows, my dream projects [for years]. Dana Walden said ‘You need to go out and pitch a mainstream network idea’, and I said ‘I don’t know what that is, I don’t have that, I don’t know what that is, I want to write this stuff’. Then Ryan comes up with this idea to do 9-1-1, and he’s like you’ll just come up and do this with us, and you only have to do it for a minute. The next thing I know, I’ve got a network hit. The next thing I know, I’ve got two network hits, and I got to tell you, I absolutely love it. I love doing something that feels almost nostalgic. We’re not Emergency!, right? We’re not maniacs. We’re not those procedurals from the ’70s, but we kind of are, and what’s great about it is that I think that as writers in 2020, we can bring some of that aesthetic to our network show, but there’s just something I love about unironically writing a hit network TV show that’s about people that you would actually like to hang out with and not, you know, not just people who are learning how to make meth. Believe me, Breaking Bad is the greatest television show ever made, but I like what I’m doing.