We Love It When His Plans Come Together

by Daniel Manu May 14, 2010
The Stephen J. Cannell Interview

Today's television viewers are blessed to have some of the greatest writers, producers and showrunners in the medium's history all creating programs at the same time. But despite the tremendous artistic and commercial success of people like Josh Schwartz, Matthew Weiner, Shonda Rhimes, J.J. Abrams, Vince Gilligan, David Simon and so on, it's hard to imagine any of them - or anyone else - enjoying a career quite like Stephen J. Cannell's. With over 25 shows to his credit as a writer or producer - including beloved series like The Rockford Files, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street and Wiseguy -- his IMDB page is practically as long as one of the 15 novels he's somehow found time to write. And he's not done yet: Cannell returns to ABC's Castle to once again play poker with Richard and his other mystery-writing buddies on the season finale airing Monday, May 17, at 10 PM EST, while the long-awaited big-screen version of A-Team finally hits theaters in June. He kindly took a few minutes to speak to us about his projects past and present.

TWoP: The season finale is your third episode of Castle and Castle's coming back for a third year. How would you describe the show's appeal?

Cannell: Well, you know, it's interesting. Television seems to run in waves. Back when I started and created The Rockford Files and Baretta and shows like that, they were very character-oriented shows, and you'd watch television based on how you felt about the characters that they were presenting. And then we went through periods where characters got very dark and got very complicated - like a lot of stuff that Steve Bochco did -- where there wasn't a true hero, but the guy was kind of conflicted and you didn't quite know exactly how to deal with him. Then it went from that to the kind of procedural stuff, where it was all about the forensics and how very smart scientists, basically, solve these problems in law enforcement drama.

And now it has sort of come back to where it was when I started and we're seeing more and more of it in a lot of the cable programming. And Castle, I think, is the perfect example of a show that is about people. That was always my favorite take on how to do a television show. And I think that Beckett and Castle are such a disparate kind of odd couple that have problems in their relationship. So for me, it's the perfect show, and, on top of that, Andrew Marlowe, who is the showrunner, is doing an amazing job on a weekly basis of writing this series and keeping the fun in it. And Rob Bowman -- who is the directing producer -- I've known since he was six years old; his father is one of my best friends.

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