They said it couldn’t be done, but FOX has gone and crossed long-running forensic procedural Bones with campy supernatural drama Sleepy Hollow … and the resulting baby is not at all bad looking, actually.
This week, right on time for Halloween, both shows will see their stars making large guest star appearances on each other’s show as an investigation and some hidden history brings this unusual quartet together.
Bones’ “The Resurrection in the Remains” will see Tom Mison’s Ichabod Crane and Nicole Beharie’s Abbie Mills attempting to claim the headless remains of Redcoat general found alongside the body of their latest victim. However, when Brennan (Emily Deschanel) refuses to release the body to the Sleepy Hollow investigators until her crime is solved, Abbie and Ichabod roll up their sleeves and get stuck in.
Then on Sleepy Hollow’s “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” when Crane and Mills find themselves at an investigative impasse, they call on the forensic expertise of Brennan and Booth to help them solve a major mystery.
It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but this crossover is actually a fun exercise in showcasing the strengths of both shows and the unique relationships of their main characters. Having screened both episodes in advance, we were so intrigued that we jumped at the opportunity to discuss the crossover with Bones executive producer Jonathan Collier and Sleepy Hollow showrunner and executive producer Clifton Campbell in more detail.
Full highlights from our conference call follow.
How did the Crossover event come about?
Clifton Campbell: Well, when we started putting the room together, Dana Walden had a great idea to see what kind of a marriage of the two shows that we could possibly come up with to see if it could compatibility-wise, pull an evening together in a very fun and a very promotable way. I know that Jon and Michael on their side and me and my team over here were at first, certainly challenged by the idea of doing something like that, but within that challenge, found a great deal of fun in pairing the two up. So we pitched a few things out. We came up with some ideas. The network landed on the idea of making it a big Halloween/pre-Halloween promotional idea and then we got to work.
It was somewhat easier because one of them was in a supernatural show in the other one grounded in reality. And it also involved only bringing one actor from each cast over, not a pairing. I found this one to be infinitely more challenging and therefore entertaining.
Was it easier to put Sleepy Hollow in Bones or Bones in Sleepy Hollow?
Clifton Campbell: Oh boy. Well, Jon, you want to start with that one?
Jonathan Collier: I will. Clifton please correct me, I would say it’s intrinsically harder to put Sleepy Hollow in Bones because we don’t acknowledge that the supernatural exists. For our characters, it is not a reality, and for Sleepy Hollow’s, both science and the supernatural exist. So we had to have a story where both elements can coexist.
Clifton Campbell: Yes, I definitely have to give that one up to Jon. That was a tightrope act that they had to pull off and we were able to put our heads together and come up with a terrestrial crime that on second look, had a supernatural bent that we were then able to then take off on in our hour and solve on our side of it. But, it was challenging, I’m sure, for those guys to try and you know, to deal with the realities of our show inside of their own.
Jonathan Collier: But, the advantage we had was we got to use these very, very well developed, fully realized characters from Sleepy Hollow, and bring them to our show. It wasn’t like we were starting from scratch.
Would you do it again?
Clifton Campbell: Well, Jon, you want to start with that one?
Jonathan Collier: We’d love it. Absolutely love it. The whole experience ended up, it was challenging but extremely rewarding.
Clifton Campbell: Yeah, I would say as daunting as the idea was initially, working through it with the Bones team was a great deal of fun just from a writer’s perspective. And I think the product grew exponentially from those mutual conversations. And I agree with Jon, I would love to do another one.
What can you tell us about how the four characters will be paired up?
Jonathan Collier: I will start with Brennan and Crane and maybe you can do Booth and Mills. Or either/or. It was incredibly fun for us to get Crane onto our show because we have, correct me if I’m wrong, Clifton, it’s a figure of the Enlightenment to look at Crane, actually. He’s an educated man but from another century who probably would be more like Brennan than not, if he would’ve been born in our time.
Clifton Campbell: Yeah, I mean it was fun to watch that relationship develop through a couple of passes of both scripts. And, you know, there is a real similarity, albeit more sort of from the intellectual point of view than the visceral side, which is what I’ll then speak to in regards to the Abbie Mills and Booth side.
They’re both FBI agents. The interesting part for our side was that Booth is a veteran agent and someone who takes the job and wears it like a second skin, very seriously. And, Abbie is brand-new to the Bureau and has heard of Booth’s name and it was sort of a natural organic hand-off from one show to the other using the Bureau connection and the FBI investigation. And, it really gave us some stuff to play with seeing the veteran sort of help out and support the person new to the job.
And because, on Abbie’s side of it, it was a real personal connection and a personal journey to be able to see her, see through the eyes of somebody who’s found a work/life balance in a very unique way in his relationship and marriage to Brennan. That’s also a little bit of a wink to the audience. If you squint your eyes, you can see downrange the questions, and the challenges, and the opportunities that would present a pairing like Crane and Abbie in the relationship journey of Brennan and Booth.
Jonathan Collier: And I think beyond that too, beyond the characters, it worked so well with the actors.
Clifton Campbell: Yeah, it really did. It was fun to watch.
Jonathan Collier: You can see it on the screen.
Jonathan, what would you say to Sleepy Hollow fans who are tuning into Bones for the first time? And Clifton, what would you say to Bones fans who were tearing tuning into Sleepy Hollow for the first time?
Clifton Campbell: Jon, why don’t you start?
Jonathan Collier: Oh, gee. Watch your characters get challenged in a way that you haven’t seen before. I think we’re pulling them out of their comfort zone. Not that they’ve ever really ever been in one. That’s the virtue of the show. And we’re opening up a type of mystery that couldn’t be told on Sleepy Hollow. Likewise, we couldn’t, whatever—and I hope that exists on Sleepy Hollow also.
I mean our characters would never ever be able to do an episode in our show like they’ve been able to do in Sleepy Hollow.
Clifton Campbell: And, our side, we have, you know we always sort of have the struggle with accountability and this bubble that we’ve created within Sleepy Hollow, you know there’s so much supernatural and unexplained going on around the police procedural aspect of our show and we don’t want to add open that door up to the rest of the world. So having this much contact with the agency to meet all agencies with the Jeffersonian and their crew was really challenging. And, I think if fans from Bones continue with the storyline and follow in see how we were able to use and utilize the expertise in Bones, they’ll see a fun exchange and really sort of confound the storyline in a an interesting way.
What were some of the specific writing challenges you encountered when meshing these two shows together?
Clifton Campbell: Well, I think that was probably the part that was, at first, the most daunting. Ultimately ended up, Jon, you may feel the same way, the most rewarding. It was because they are so tonally different. The challenges became, how do we get these characters to do and say the things we need to do to mesh as nicely as it ended up meshing and still stay true to the characters, the voices, and the tone of the show. It was a great deal of exchange back and forth with our writers’ room and the Bones writers’ room on how what sort of plot, what platform, and make the differences you know as seamless as possible, yet take full advantage of the tonal shift. And I found on our side of it for that to be the challenging things in all the right ways. Jon?
Jonathan Collier: Yeah, I would totally agree. I would also add that being the challenge for us is how do you get—I mean in our show, we have the world’s most brilliant set of scientists and investigators. And how do you have them be unaware of one reality that’s very aware to another set of characters in the same show? And, it was actually very, very gratifying to work with the Sleepy Hollow team to come up with a solution to that. It’s a satisfying—the case is solved to the satisfaction of our characters, but it also has another dimension for theirs.
Clifton Campbell: Yeah. And, I think ultimately, at the end, and it was always sort of intended in script, but because the actors were having such a good time mixing it up with each other, the take away at the end of the second hour and the combined hours is, “Boy, you know I would really like to see them do this again.” And, there’s a little bit of wink to the audience that something like that is certainly possible.
Bones and Sleepy Hollow kick off their crossover event, starting with Bones‘ “The Resurrection in the Remains” on Thursday, Oct. 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
The story continues, with Booth and Brennan making a guest star appearance on Sleepy Hollow, also on Thursday, Oct. 29 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.