Today at the Television Critics’ Association winter press tour, new drama Council of Dads — NBC’s latest effort to capitalize on the resonating success of This Is Us — was presented. The ten-episode series will debut on March 10.
On the panel were former History channel Vikings star Clive Standen, J. August Richards, Michael O’Neill, Michele Weaver, Sarah Wayne Callies, and executive producers Tony Phelan and Joan Rater (Grey’s Anatomy showrunners) — who are married in real life.
Set in lush Savannah — because Phelan was taken with the location when he and his wife watched The Big Chill — he said they grafted their own family situation onto the show.
Series co-creator Joan Rater also expressed her excitement to tell the story of a transgender kid and to show how a family embraces and celebrates who he is regardless of gender assignment. Noting their own transgendered child, Phelan and Rater shared that they liked the idea of having the family live in the South. He said that they have had conversations about if Rater dies, she has given him an acceptable list of women who are allowed to be near their kids.
When asked about the make-up of the TV family and the unusual circumstances that extend it, star J. August Richards said: “Your capacity to love makes you family.”
Standen — who was the imposing Rollo and brother to Ragnar Lothbrok in History’s dramatic series Vikings — was asked about taking on such a softer role. He said that he read 21 pages of the Council Of Dads pilot and that he was crying his eyes out. He thought it was so moving that he called his manager and agreed, last minute, to do the series.
Rater feels lucky to tell these stories and to be paired with NBC’s This Is Us, which also paneled today at the TCA. She said that she felt that recognizable family stories always resonate with people. Phelan shared that they brought in the “best artists possible across the board” at the beginning of the show and talked to them about their own family experiences.
Unlike This Is Us, Rater says Council Of Dads will not rely on time-bending flashbacks. Instead, the show is “very much moving forward” with how the family deals with the fallout of the patriarch’s death. However, we will see the father again in “the most amazing way” she shared.
Rater added that we get to know main character Scott Perry (played by Tom Everett Scott) through the fathers and the kids. Tom Everett Scott will also appear later on in the show, but not through a flashback.
The show is about moving forward. “I’ve been waiting for a role like this for 25 years. [My character] Larry lives by two rules: try to do the next right thing, and be as honest as you can,” said Michael O’Neill.
The premise is based on best-selling author Bruce Feiler’s book, The Council of Dads, and centers on Scott, a loving father of four whose entire life’s plan is thwarted by an unexpected health scare. He calls on his closest friends to serve as “back-up dads” for every stage of his growing family’s life.
Scott’s go-to dads are Anthony, his oldest friend; Larry, his AA sponsor; and Oliver, his surgeon and best friend to his wife, Robin. They will honor their friend’s wishes and each in their own unique way support and guide Scott’s unique family through all the challenges life has to offer — just in case he dies.
Council of Dads premieres Tuesday, March 10 at 10/9c and moves up on March 31 to 9/8c on NBC.