With the Beauty and the Beast Season 2 finale looming tonight, TV Fanatic recently chatted with Executive Producer Brad Kern - and he had some warm messages to share with loyal viewers of the series.
Scroll down for excerpts from the conversation and for a few teases regarding what's on tap for tonight's big episode...
TV Fanatic: Was the second season finale completed before the renewal, and how did that play out?
Brad Kern: Yeah, it was. We had to write the season finale in a vacuum. We did not know if we were going to come back or not and we knew were actually on the bubble. We designed the last episode to be, frankly, epic because we weren't sure if that was going to be the series finale so we wanted to make sure we did everything we could.
We left nothing in the locker room for this episode in case it was to be the last, but we also laid in some elements during a couple earlier episodes to help us build upon for Season 3. We did not get picked up until after the show was actually edited and in addition to that the audience did not see the last six episodes. The network, however, had the last six episodes and because they liked the direction, that helped us get the pickup.
TVF: The fans are an extraordinarily vocal group. Do they have an impact on the way you write the show or what you feel comfortable writing?
BK: Well, there's kind of two answers to that. One is we're usually so far ahead with stories, scripts and shooting the shows before the audience sees one episode that their immediate impact is not great. For instance, last year we shot six or seven episodes before the audience had seen the first episode, so the season arc, the first third of the season, was already done by the time they saw the first episode. So, in that way, what they like and what they don't like -- if we agree with it or want to -- we can't really incorporate it immediately.
But, the broader answer is that this is an incredibly loyal fan base and though the mandate for Beauty and the Beast Season 2 was to try to broaden the fan base -- as you know, the show barely got picked up for a second season -- the network wanted us to do whatever we could to try to broaden beyond the loyal fan base, which I don't think we were overly successful in doing.
But, because the loyal fans stayed with the show, almost every episode, give or take, had the same viewership for the entire season and was remarkably consistent, which reflected a very loyal fan base. So we certainly listen to what they want and try to give them as much as we can give them while keeping an eye on building a five-year show. We're building elements for what could go next. As we're thinking about Season 3, we're thinking about what could be Season 4 and what could be Season 5.
TVF: They'll like to hear that.
BK: Yeah, we've been picked up for Season 3, but we were in the writers' room last week and everything we talked about as we start to arc out next season -- and we're here because the network likes the show and the fans are loyal -- is all bout what can we do character wise and story wise to help force the network to pick the show up again for another season. We're always thinking about that.
TVF: Now that Vincent and Cat are back together and you realize perhaps the audience isn't going to expand beyond the type of viewer you already have, will that have some influence on keeping them together romantically and throwing other challenges in their way? Because they do have to be separated at various time to keep it interesting, but their love is demanded at this point.
BK: (Laughs) I agree! Beauty and the Beast Season 1 had everyone trying to figure out what the show is behind the scenes. People can argue from both sides of the picture whether it was a good idea or a bad idea to have Vincent and Cat get together so quickly. That makes it challenging to a long-running series when that happens and because of that -- and the mandate of the network to try to expand the audience -- the obstacle was designed to try to separate Vince and Cat for six or seven episodes to try to explore their separate characters, to have them become stronger separately and to then bring them back together stronger than ever.
Unfortunately for the audience and for us, at the last second the network decided to pull the last six episodes from the audience so they weren't able to get the reward of finally getting back together again and they had to wait for two months plus. Now that they're back together again and now that the loyal audience remains the main audience, going forward our focus, absolutely, is to make the show more Cat/Vincent love-centric. To challenge their love in different ways, but not by splitting them up or tearing them apart.
TVF: That's great! There were some inconsistencies this season, and one of the things everybody wonders is what happened with Vincent's family when he announced that he was alive? Will that ever be addressed?
BK: I mean, that's something we talked about a lot this season and it's admittedly a dropped thread from our point of view. It's challenging to figure out who his family is and where they are to incorporate them into the show. We tried to bring in a nephew, which we did in Beauty and the Beast Season 2 Episode 4 I think, but we didn't really feel like that relationship was worth carrying forward, although we kept looking for Vincent's family.
It's a dropped thread and it was a challenge that we did not meet in this season and we are still trying to figure out how to do that going forward. It gets harder every season because of the simple question; where were they all this time? So, it's been a challenge. This series is very challenging with a lot of balls to juggle and that's one element we weren't successful incorporating.
TVF: I know the theme this year was "Who Am I" and you've mentioned the theme for Season 3 will be "Who Are We." Is that still the idea?
BK: Yeah. I mean, again, the focus of that question is meant to tell the audience that the focus is on Cat and Vincent in Season 3 as they explore what it's like to be a normal couple that has this greater destiny. They've gone through hell and back, Cat and Vincent, but they haven't really dealt with a lot of normal issues yet and that'll be the fun with some of the challenges that we look forward to them working through and dealing with as they deal with the next level of the mythology, which will be in Season 3.
TVF: How do you hope that fans react to the Season 2 finale and let's just throw it in there -- Gabe? Are we going to be happy with how Gabe is featured on Monday?
Well, I can't answer it for the audience, but we feel like we're building the season to a very rewarding finale. As I said earlier, the possibility that it was going to be the series finale effected our decision making in laying out the Season 2 finale, so that if this were to be the end, the loyal audience would find it rewarding in as many ways as we could possibly get them to find it rewarding. It remains to be seen from the audience's eye, but we certainly tried to give them a rewarding season finale, specifically because -- and that involved the Gabe character -- it was possible that this would be the last episode of the series.
TVF: Is it possible, with Cat still not back to the police force, that they might move away from the police aspect and that could be a part of their discovering who they all are, with Cat and Vincent and JT and Tess working together in a different way?
BK: That's a great question and the practical issue is the impediment to that. The show was originally designed as a police procedural and they built a very expensive police precinct. The show doesn't have the money, especially with a 13 episode order, to blow all that up and start from scratch. So, there's a practical element that forces us to keep the cop part of the show in the series. Our goal, however, is to try to expand beyond or to take the show away from the cop world, which we did last year, too, but we have a major precinct set, so there's a practical reality to the way the series was originally built that we have to work with.
TVF: That makes sense. I think people can understand that logic.
BK: Yeah, this isn't Game of Thrones. We don't have $6 million an episode to do whatever we want. We have to work within the parameters of what we have to work with and when a show is originally built as a police show, we might want to get away from that, but in series television, as well as doing 13 episodes as opposed to 22 episodes, we must deal with the element that we inherit.
TVF: What one thing would you like to say to our readers as you end Season 2?
BK: Thank you! Thank you for sticking with the show and being the main reason why we're coming back for Season 3. Our goal for Season 3 is to reward the loyal viewers with a show that focuses more on what it is that they love, which is the love of Cat and Vincent.
Beauty and the Beast Season 2 Episode 22 airs tonight at 9/8c on The CW. Be back here shortly afterward for a full review of the installment.
If you crave more, you can watch Beauty and the Beast online via TV Fanatic.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.