Council of Dads is on the verge of returning to NBC as many other major network shows run out of episodes, and co-showrunner Tony Phelan revealed why it's a great family drama for social distancing. Starring Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead, Clive Standen of Vikings, and more, the series premiere was an emotional rollercoaster that set up an unconventional family dynamic in the aftermath of a tragedy.
Not many shows can deliver the death of a parent in the premiere and end on an uplifting note for the family, but the gathering of a "council of dads" guarantees that nobody will be left alone with their grief as life goes on. With production halts across the industry limiting TV options moving forward, Tony Phelan chatted with CinemaBlend about why Council of Dads is a good option for social distancing:
It's 10 episodes in total. It’s a really great story. I think as people were affected by the pilot, they will be affected by episodes going forward. Everybody has their favorite character, and each character on the show has an arc through that ten episodes. They all come to a brand new place by the end of those 10 episodes. And I think you'll just fall in love with this family and want to spend time with them. So I think if people are looking for a show about family where you feel something every week, you get really invested in the characters, and you are constantly challenged and moved by the stories that we tell, I think Council of Dads is your new show.
Despite the title of the show being Council of Dads, this series doesn't just focus on Anthony, Larry, and Oliver as they step up to help Robin and the five kids in the aftermath of Scott's death. This is an ensemble series tackling the stories of an entire extended family, each of whom brings something different to the dynamic and gives viewers somebody to become invested in.
Of course, one of the concerns with diving into new shows and seasons right now is that they'll run out of episodes early and not come to a satisfying conclusion. Showrunner Tony Phelan confirmed to CinemaBlend that Council of Dads finished filming before productions across the industry halted, and they were "remotely editing" the show. Season 1 will be complete from start to finish.
Tony Phelan, who served as co-showrunner with wife Joan Rater on Grey's Anatomy before Council of Dads, went on to share the challenge of bringing the show to the airwaves as something that can bring some light to darkness:
I think the challenge of the show was always how do you find a balance of joy and loss? We're telling a story of a guy who died of cancer, and what happens to his family. But at the same time, you want to find humor. You want to find joy, you want to find lighthearted moments. I think when things are darkest, that's when people's sense of humor really comes out. And so humor, as it was on Grey's Anatomy, is a big part of the show. And just like there was the gathering in the house before Scott's funeral, we felt like we wanted to end the series with a wedding. We want to see that life goes on and you want to appeal to people's emotions and get them to feel but also get them to relate to the story in kind of emotional guttural way.
With Council of Dads delivering one of the most emotional series premieres (including the death of a father) since This Is Us, the first season will continue to balance joy and loss as life goes on. If you cried during the premiere when Scott went from diagnosis to death within the hour, you also got a wedding by the end.
Although Council of Dads was conceived and produced well before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in social distancing and quarantine, the goal for the series lines up with what families may need while staying at home more than usual. Tony Phelan explained Council of Dads' appeal as a family show and what the show brings that audiences are looking for right about now:
Even before all of this corona stuff happened, we wanted to tell the story of a family and tell a positive story about people coming together at a tough time. And I think that there's a real hunger and I think that's why This Is Us is so popular, because it does so well. Our goal in telling a family story was to kind of tap into that same well of emotion that I think people have and want access to.
Council of Dads is undeniably telling a family story insofar as it tells the story of an unconventional family, which is something that This Is Us fans should be familiar with. It's only fitting that the Council of Dads series premiere aired following the This Is Us Season 4 finale.
Tony Phelan explained why Council of Dads is a family drama for viewers as well as the characters:
The other thing is that we also wanted to create a show that you could sit down with your elderly parents, and your kids and watch together because it's so easy for everybody to be on their screens in separate rooms watching separate thing, and the idea of a show where you can kind of come together and share it with people was important to us as well.
With Council of Dads completing its full first season and being designed to deliver a positive family story with appeal for viewers of all ages, the NBC series could be the place to be on TV moving forward. In case you missed the premiere when it originally aired back in March, you can catch the episode re-airing on Thursday, April 30 at 9 p.m. ET, which will be followed by the all-new second episode of the series at 10 p.m. ET.