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From Ifmagazine.com

Tim Minear

Tim Minear - "The Inside" Tv Show - Ifmagazine.com Interview 2

By Carl Cortez

Thursday 4 August 2005, by Webmaster


The creator discusses the inception of the show, the struggles to get it on the air and what to expect from the unaired episodes

It’s one of the summer’s most riveting and fascinating shows, but amidst the reality TV glut, THE INSIDE (on the Fox network) has had a tough time finding a sizable audience to ensure its survival.

Although six episodes remain of the series which follows newbie FBI agent Rebecca Locke (Rachel Nichols) who is assigned to L.A.’s violent crimes unit headed by Virgil Webster aka “Web” (Peter Coyote), chances are the remaining episodes will go unaired until the show makes its inevitable debut on DVD (the episode “Aidan” was supposed to air tonight, but was once again pre-empted by Fox’s SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE show).

Last week, co-creator Tim Minear spoke with iF about the demise of the show. This week he discusses the evolution of the series, what to expect from the unaired episodes and the potential dangers in shuffling episodes orders.

iF MAGAZINE: Was there a tug of war creatively to deliver a show that could be repeated without asking the audience to be familiar with the rich mythology and character arcs going on in previous episodes?

MINEAR: There are sort of two tugs of war. Yeah, the networks have these weird demands. In fact, that’s what killed the first incarnation of THE INSIDE. The guys who brought that to the network were really pitching a season-long arc of a girl undercover in a high school, so it was like WISEGUY. As soon as the network wanted a close-ended procedural with this concept, the original writers were put into a box they couldn’t get out of. I don’t think that particular concept works as a standalone show, because she’s going undercover every week. You have to set up the new place she’s going, not that it can’t be done, but it’s basically taking the idea for an entire season and stretching it to work in every episode.

iF MAGAZINE: I thought Fox wanted to put this show on earlier in the season. Why drop it into the middle of the summer when viewership is down?

MINEAR: I don’t see any other way this thing could have shaken out given all the things that happened. Basically what happened, they had a “go” production schedule for a show starring this girl [Rachel Nichols] and they wanted it to be a particular genre - a “cop show” in the broadest sense of that word. Everything was in place. They had a deal with her, they had sold ad time. They didn’t want this thing to go under because they had invested so much money into it already. They didn’t want to just thrash it. So when I came into the process and explained to them why I wasn’t going to do it and they basically said ‘do what you want to do with it.’ So I had a very short amount of time to get this thing up on its feet — to create it, to write it, to cast it and to build the sets.

iF MAGAZINE: But you managed to rework the entire concept ...

MINEAR: Everybody loved the script I wrote, so we went and shot the script, but it didn’t turn out well — the first pass at this second pilot. There was another director, he had no prep time and I didn’t have time to really focus at being on his side because I was busy writing “Everything Nice” and working on the second script that was going to start shooting in eight days and the one right after that I had to break that because that was going to shoot. We weren’t just shooting a pilot, we were going to shoot 13 episodes of something.

iF MAGAZINE: Didn’t you end up reshooting this version of the pilot?

MINEAR: I got a call from the studio the day we were in prep for the second episode and they had seen the cut, which by the way I don’t think turned out so well, and said “I really loved the script, why do I not like this.” So I said “give me a couple million dollars and I’ll go reshoot it myself” and that’s what we did. We pushed production, started over again, we recast one of the main characters, and sort of reworked the sets. We had 12 or 14 days of dress rehearsal and I got to see all the things that didn’t work and had a very short time to rectify those things. So we went back and reshot most of the pilot, so there really are two versions of that pilot, not just the 21 JUMP STREET one, that’s a third version of a different pilot that exists.

iF MAGAZINE: Is that why you missed midseason?

MINEAR: Yes, we had to push everything, we couldn’t get on in March, which is when they wanted the show to go on the air. They wanted it to go on midseason, but we got backed up, because we were scrambling to get our house in order and come up with a product everyone was satisfied with.

iF MAGAZINE: Did you test it?

MINEAR: It was testing very well. We tested the pilot and that tested really well and we tested the pilot with two other episodes and those tested really well. And we tested three episodes that weren’t pilot and those tested really well and in all different markets. People really seemed to understand it. It was interesting, just in the same way people started liking more as they saw more episodes, that’s exactly what happened in the test audiences. This is the thing I learned with WONDERFALLS too. It didn’t matter which one they saw first. If they saw Episode A, B, C first, they liked C the best. If they saw C, B, and A, they liked A the best. But they were never confused as to what was happening. We had accomplished what we set out to do, in terms of making something you can turn into an episode and you wouldn’t be lost. You understood what the dynamics of the characters were. You understood what job they had, and understood sort of what you were watching. The problem was, if it had only been the Tim Minear/Howard Gordon version of THE INSIDE that we had to reshoot large parts of the pilot for, that would have been one thing. But we had already come in redesigning, reconfiguring and trying to salvage something else called THE INSIDE that they already spent a year on with the same actress. And by the time we had something that was ready to go, we had one network president leaving and one network president showing up. Often when that happens, the projects that were created under the previous regime, get shoved aside or abandoned. I will say for the record that did not happen here. [New Fox president] Peter Liguori came in, watched a bunch of the cuts and really liked what he saw and thought it was cool. The problem was, because the thing was supposed to be on the fall, then midseason and midseason had passed, and they were getting ready to order shows for the next fall, you have this free-floating project that doesn’t belong anywhere. It’s not part of the new fall schedule, it didn’t make it to the last fall schedule, it’s not going on midseason like we thought. If they had held it until next fall, it may have had a shot. They could have promoted it the way they’re promoting BONES and PRISON BREAK. Everyone has an awareness of these shows. Nobody had an awareness of THE INSIDE, because frankly, they decided to put it on two and half weeks before it started airing. That’s not enough time. You need months to launch a new show.

iF MAGAZINE: It makes it harder with print mags as well, because you don’t have enough time to let them know either so they can get their stories ready.

MINEAR: It’s not my job to bring the audience, it’s my job to keep the audience and build the audience. You’re going to have a premiere, and if the network is able to launch that premiere, you will get a large sample coming that first night to sample the show. There will be a drop-off the next week. Depending on how much you drop off, hopefully from the second week you’re on the air, you’ll start to build week to week and we’ve done that. We’ve gone up every single week that we’ve been on. I did what I said I would do.

iF MAGAZINE: You originally had to pull one episode out of rotation when you thought five of the remaining six were going to air - which one did you pull?

MINEAR: An episode called “Point of Origin” which was our serial arsonist episode.

iF MAGAZINE: Didn’t it tie into the previous episode a little bit particularly in regards with Peter Coyote’s Web character?

MINEAR: That episode gives you two important pieces of mythology that you do not need to understand the rest of the episodes in this 13 episode orders. You learn how Rebecca escaped from the fire and you learn one more piece of information about her abductor that would have played out if we had gone on. We call him Pony Man.

iF MAGAZINE: The original concept was radically different than from what you ended up creating, do you feel it took some time to find your stride with the episodes.

MINEAR: By shuffling the air order a little bit, that might have been a mistake. I noticed a lot of people online and even the critics, were like, “finally when they got to episode 4 which was “Everything Nice,” they really hit their stride.” Well that was the thing I wrote right after the pilot. I was getting ready to direct that episode, when we shut down production to reshoot significant portions of our pilot. I think what I’m going to do is order them exactly how I wrote them on the DVD.

iF MAGAZINE: Whose decision in shuffling the episodes around?

MINEAR: A combination. I felt that airing that episode second, would have given the wrong impression in a way. That episode is blue sky, it didn’t feel like the other episodes or pilot. The least, I should have made it the third episode, instead of the fourth episode. I was nervous I was going to give the wrong impression as to what the show was.

iF MAGAZINE: Do you think audiences had a problem with the Rebecca character since at times the character seemed a bit lightweight for the role?

MINEAR: In test audiences, no one had any problem with her credibility. If you look at what we did initially and what we shot, it was my decision and my choice to do a story about a character that has no inside. The arc of the show is her trying to figure out who she is. It’s about identity and trying to become a person. She’s not this fully formed person. She’s emotionally retarded in some levels and that’s a choice. It may be a bad choice. People who have followed the show, a lot of people had that opinion and have revised that opinion and have seen her a little bit, and they’re like “oh, she’s doing that on purpose.” Her not making eye contact, her flat deliver some times, that’s all on purpose and when you see all 13 put together you’ll really notice it.

iF MAGAZINE: Can you talk about the episode that’s not airing this week — “Aidan”?

MINEAR: I think it’s a kick-ass episode. It’s a really good episode and I’m really proud of it. It’s really about Paul’s loss. His wife had a miscarriage and the crime is a pregnant woman is attacked in the teaser. She’s dead or possibly dying and the rescue crew thinks they can save this baby. When they take the baby out, it goes “mama” and someone has shoved a plastic doll in her uterus and the fetus is missing.

iF MAGAZINE: It sounds like an ANGEL episode?

MINEAR: That’s the crime. But I think you will be amazed, because you will have all sorts of sympathy for the villain as horrific as that sounds. And the one after that, I think is terrific too.

iF MAGAZINE:” For people that are curious, what was the plot of “Point of Origin?” which would have originally aired before the “Aidan” episode?

MINEAR: It was about a serial arsonist. That was the crime which was so incidental to really what it was about, which is “Why is Web assisting the fire department with serial arson crimes?” It seems too small for him, but he keeps sending Rebecca into these burn sites and she keeps having these weird visceral reactions and in fact she starts to see things. And what we learn, and Paul does a little digging, and discovers, there’s a possibility the way Rebecca escaped from her abductor as a child — and nobody knows how she escaped because she didn’t speak for two or three months — after she turned up on her doorstep as a kid, she had symptoms that were consistent with excessive smoke inhalation. There may have been a fire, wherever she was being held and he tracks down these old fires and pinpoints where it may have been and where we discover, she may have set the fire in order to escape and certain people died because of that and Paul is “why the f*ck would you send somebody with that kind of trauma into situations like this. Are you just trying to f*ck with her or are you trying to find all her buttons.” And what we find out is Web has an altruistic motive in terms of something that will help her come to some resolve about her situation, we think. And then there’s a shocking ending.

iF MAGAZINE: Is Web with the show the rest of the season? Does he go from one side to the other?

MINEAR: He’s there. His character will do whatever his character feels like he needs to do in order to get the job done.

iF MAGAZINE: And can you go into a little more detail about the two pieces information that audiences would have learned in this episode?

MINEAR: We learn something about her abductor and her abductor does make an appearance in “Little Girl Lost,” and that she set fire to escape and the abductor died in the fire, or possibly not. When he returns later in a subsequent episodes, it’s all in her head. I’m not giving anything away, because you see that in the teaser in “Little Girl Lost.” She’s alone, late at night, working in the office, on the case there is a family that has gone missing. And Web, Paul and Danny are already up in the Angelus Crest Forest on this task force and she’s working at the office working from here. But she’s alone at the office at night and she hears these weird noises and she goes into Web’s office and her abductor is sitting behind Web’s desk. We quickly understand it’s a dream, but she visits this guy in her dreams and he helps her solve cases