Glenn Gordon Caron has a long resume in television as a series creator, showrunner, and director. But this year he’s trying something new: Taking the helm of a drama in its second season.
Caron, who first made his mark with ABC’s “Moonlighting” and had a seven-season run on NBC and CBS with “Medium,” was brought on by CBS and Amblin Television as a consultant for the final three episodes of “Bull” in its freshman year. That test drive and an instant rapport with star Michael Weatherly was enough to persuade him to sign on as showrunner for the 2017-18 season.
As Caron well knows, executing second season of a successful drama series can be just as precarious as getting a show on its feet. “Bull,” the legal procedural inspired by talk show host Phil McGraw’s early career as a jury consultant, was a solid player for CBS in year one. Original showrunner Mark Goffman opted to move on to a development deal with CBS Television Studios.
Caron gave credit to the foundation provided by “Bull” creator Paul Attanasio and Goffman’s stewardship of its first 23 episodes. In season two, Caron’s focus is broadening the world and bringing more of a personal life to Weatherly’s Dr. Jason Bull and his cohorts.
“If a show’s really going to have legs, you have to care about the people,” Caron told Variety. “In my experience, people rarely tune in for the cases. The (legal) stories have to be sound and interesting, but people come to watch the characters. If you have fully developed characters, you have so many more places you can go. Each week can be a drama and a comedy and a tragedy.”
The results so far have been promising. “Bull” remains a top 10 series in total viewers, averaging 14.5 million over four episodes to date (a tally that incorporates only three weeks’ worth of L7 ratings) in the tough Tuesday 9 p.m. time slot opposite NBC’s “This Is Us.” Viewership overall is down about 20% from the comparable frame last year, but so is the show’s lead-in from “NCIS.”
Caron points to recent episodes featuring guest stars Brad Garrett and Minka Kelly as examples of the tone he sought to bring to season two.
“I think it’s a more satisfying show this year,” he said. “I’d love it if people who may have come to a conclusion about the show last year would try it again.”
For Caron, “Bull” marks a rare example of taking on a series that he did not create. Like every other seasoned TV writer, he has been developing a range of projects at a number of outlets. Some were much more esoteric than a big broadcast TV procedural. He also served a hitch working as an cxec producer on FX’s “Tyrant.”
But when CBS and Amblin made their third pitch inside of 12 months for him to join “Bull” as showrunner, Caron decided the time was right.
“I wasn’t consciously looking for a show,” he said. “But there’s a moment when you’re just ready to work.”
With 24 episodes of “Bull” on deck for season two, Caron is getting his wish. He’s also set to direct the season finale.
“There are times in your career where you’re making a wonderful living writing for six people. I was in that mode of writing pilots, and six people were reading them,” he said. “But I like to make things. I like to work with actors, I like to direct, I like to sit in cutting rooms.”
And the fact that “Bull” has a reach of 14 million-plus viewers is invigorating. Every Wednesday morning, the Nielsen numbers provide the adrenaline rush that the “Bull” team needs to complete the 24-episode marathon.
“I’ve always been a big-tent guy,” Caron said. “In a TV world that has become so fractured, maybe there are still some things we can enjoy communally.”