Interview: Executive Producers Clifton Campbell and Jonathan Collier On Bringing Bones to Sleepy Hollow

Creating a convincing crossover was a "daunting" challenge, showrunners say.

By , Columnist

Images are copyright NBC Universal.

Typically, TV crossover events involve shows that are in the same genre or franchise. Good examples would be Grey's Anatomy, which shared a story with its own spinoff, Private Practice, or episodes of CSI that combined characters from that franchise's various series.

Accordingly, this TV season's crossover between FOX's Sleepy Hollow and Bones is a rare exception. Aside from their comedic undertones and procedural core, these two shows - one based around forensic science, the other a far-fetched romantic romp into the supernatural - couldn't be more different.

SH_305SleepyHollow_DeadMenTellNoTales-A10_0035 (Custom).jpgFor NBC the idea of a crossover between Bones and Sleepy Hollow has obvious appeal. Introducing the latter to the former's large fan base could draw in new viewers. Stringing these two shows together was no easy task, though, as Sleepy Hollow showrunner Clifton Campbell and Bones executive producer Jonathan Collier told TMR during a recent press conference call.

"Because they are so tonally different, the challenges became, how do we get these characters to do and say the things we need them to do to mesh as nicely as it ended up meshing and still stay true to the characters, the voices, and the tone of the show," said Campbell, who came onto Sleepy Hollow in the summer as part of a cast and crew reshuffle. "It was a great deal of exchange back and forth with our writers room and the Bones writers room on what sort of plot and what platform, and to make the differences as seamless as possible, yet take full advantage of the tonal shift."

SH_305SleepyHallow-ResurrectionRemains_scene27pt_0129 (Custom).jpgFor the writing crew on Bones, one of the biggest hurdles was giving the lead characters - who are committed to scientific and rational explanations to the mysteries they investigate - a reason to accept witches, magic and a man who could be brought back to life after spending over two hundred years buried in a cave.

"How do you have them be unaware of one reality that's very aware to another set of characters in the same show?" Collier explained. "It was actually very, very gratifying to work with the Sleepy Hollow team to come up with a solution to that.  It's satisfying that the case is solved to the satisfaction of our characters, but it also has another dimension for theirs."

SH_305SleepyHollow_DeadMenTellNoTales-A8_0192 (Custom).jpgThe two-part crossover event aired on NBC in North America as back-to-back episodes of Bones and Sleepy Hollow just before Halloween. Yet, UK fans of these shows have had to wait a while to judge how convincingly Ichabod Crane (England's own Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) slot into the world of Bones and whether FBI agents Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel), are at home in Sleepy Hollow.

British viewers will finally get to see the Sleepy Hollow installment, 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' when it airs on Universal Channel this Thursday, November 19, at 9:00 PM. They should expect the story to reveal a whole new side to the shows' main characters, said Collier.

"Watch your characters get challenged in a way that you haven't seen before.  I think we're pulling them out of their comfort zone. Not that they've ever really been in one.  That's the virtue of the show.  And we're opening up a type of mystery that couldn't be told on Sleepy Hollow. I mean our characters would never ever be able to do an episode in our show like they've been able to do in Sleepy Hollow."

SH_305SleepyHollow-ResurrectionRemains_scene20_201 (Custom).jpgThe futures of both Sleepy Hollow and Bones are uncertain beyond the current season, especially the former, which will be moved to Friday nights on FOX in February 2016. If both shows do come back for another season, though, this season's crossover might not be the last time they get together, Campbell suggested.

"Because the actors were having such a good time mixing it up with each other, the take-away at the end of the second hour and the combined hours is, "Boy, you know I would really like to see them do this again. There's a little bit of wink to the audience that something like that is certainly possible."

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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