Friday, October 8, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Jon Worley discusses "Fustercluck"

Jon Worley is new to television, with Terriers being his first writing job in the mediumJon was kind enough to answer a few short questions about "Fustercluck".  Enjoy!

Pasha: Terriers is your first writing job in television. What was your path like to getting it?

Jon Worley: A very traditional path. Writing my ass off, meeting whoever would meet me, and, of course, male prostitution.

Pasha: “Fustercluck” marks the return to the ongoing storyline of Terriers after two standalones. What was the story breaking process of this episode like?

Jon Worley: The title could possibly refer more to the story breaking process than the episode itself. Without exaggeration, there were about 17,000 versions of this story pitched. We spent more time on this one than on any other single episode. In one, Steph chopped up Lindus and hid his body parts all over the house. In another, Hank and Britt gave up the P.I. biz entirely and opened a Quizno's franchise in Carlsbad. (That first one of those was real.)

Really, though, it was very tricky to balance the very personal Steph story with the stakes-y Lindus story that opened up the world of this larger conspiracy that would last the rest of the season. It was a process of fine-tuning over several weeks and many drafts.

This episode marked the death of Robert Lindus, who seemed set to be a major player in the larger arc of the show. At what stage was the decision made to kill him off?

Jon Worley:
Early on. The fun of it was taking a guy who seemed to be the big bad villain in the pilot, and revealing that he's sort of a pawn in a bigger and much more nefarious game. So instead of his death being a victory, it's a huge complication that pulls our guys even further down into the rabbit hole, and opens up this season-long conspiracy.

The question wasn't so much whether we'd kill him, but how. There were drafts where his superiors had him killed and dumped at Hank's house -- an attempt to frame Hank. In one iteration he literally choked on a chicken bone. We finally settled on this very sudden car accident that at first doesn't seem to be very serious. Anyone who read about Natasha Richardson's death knows that people with head trauma can appear very lucid in the short term, but die within an hour of the impact. So we did a play on that. It allowed us to have two big shocks -- the car crash, and the death an act later.

Pasha: While Lindus may have died this episode, we were introduced to Hank’s sister, Steph. Steph appears to be both a genius and riddled with psychological problems. As Britt’s dog seems to be a source of responsibility for him, the same seems true for Steph and Hank. Was this the intention with Steph’s introduction and will we be seeing more of this?

Jon Worley:
It was an idea early on to give Hank a crazy sister. I mean, in the very first scene of the pilot, Hank thinks he's going senile because his milk's disappearing -- that was Steph.

So yes, she is meant to give Hank someone very real and very emotional to care about and feel responsibility for. He's this character who tilts at windmills and in some ways feels responsible for the safety of Gretchen, a woman who has moved on with her life, so giving him this immediate responsibility felt right. But more than just being a responsibility, she becomes a very interesting character in her own right. She continues to be a major part of the season -- she's not in every episode, but she remains very important.

Pasha: Steph is played by Karina Logue, Donal Logue’s sister. How did this bit of casting come to be?

Jon Worley: She was always the 1st choice. Shawn Ryan had worked with her on other shows, and she just felt perfect. Having that sort of sibling intimacy in real life came across in their scenes together. It worked. I think the episode really comes alive when Steph shows up -- kudos to Karina for really throwing herself into the role, doing the research and all.

As a writer, how easy do you find it transitioning from the more character oriented scenes to the more intricate heist sequences such as the one in “Fustercluck”? They both seem to require very different parts of the brain.

Jon Worley: Well, luckily, in a writer's room, you have many types of brains. Luckily Ted Griffin has a bit of experience with heist sequences, and this was a heist I think he'd had in his back pocket for a while, and it just sort of fit here. Heist aside, the mix of intimate character moments, comedy, and the extremely tense piling-up of unfortunate events toward the end -- that mixture really appealed to me, and was very challenging and fun to fold into this story.

Pasha: Now that the big arc of the show has really kicked into high gear, can you tease us as to what we can look forward to in the next few weeks?

Jon Worley: I'll just say that episode 8, which I co-wrote with Phoef Sutton, takes place mostly south of the border.

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