Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Mentalist Insider's Blog - The Great Red Dragon

Robin Tunney and Simon Baker filming "The Great Red Dragon"
This week's Insider's Blog, written by The Mentalist Co-Producer and Writer of 6x07 "The Great Red Dragon" Jordan Harper:
The Great Red Dragon" is the seventh episode of season six of the Mentalist and the penultimate episode of the Red John saga. It opens in the aftermath of the explosion at Jane's house and ends with Red John still on the loose and CBI shut down by the FBI. In between, there are gunfights with dirty cops, a trip to the crematorium, and murder by whiskey bottle. All in all an invigorating hour of television. 
The credit says "written by Jordan Harper." But that's a lie. Nobody writes an episode of television by themselves. For one thing, I had the ideas and support of Bruno and the writing staff at every step. But TV is a collaborative thing from beginning to end. 
Let's take the scene near the end of the episode where Jane meets FBI Agent Dennis Abbott and learns that CBI has been shut down. We set the scene so that Jane arrives just as his beloved couch is being moved out of the office. To add insult to injury, the men removing the couch hand Jane the spare change they found in it. And then as Jane faces off with Abbott, his arm is jostled and his also-beloved teacup falls to the ground, shattering in the same way Jane and Lisbon's world is shattering. 
Pretty good stuff, right? I didn't come up with any of it. Jane seeing his couch being taken came from Executive Producer Chris Long during the writing process. The idea for the loose change gag came during rehearsals from stage dresser Bruce Bellamy. And the breaking of the teacup belongs to Simon Baker, who came to set that day with the idea. Who better to know what would affect Jane than the man who plays him? 
This is how TV is made. People working together in ways that sometimes feels more like play than work: Being on the post-explosion set with director Elodie Keene and a special effects guy, picking through tubs of latex body parts for just the right severed foot. Watching Owain Yeoman on the ground in a very dirty alley, working out a fight-ending choke with our stuntmen. Bruno coming up with the t-shirt slogan "Having Fun in Sacramento" during a wardrobe meeting. (Every time I see Drew Powell in that bloodstained shirt I laugh, which might just say something about me.) Playing make believe with these talented and creative people all day long. 
Really, it's a pretty cool job.
Written By
Co-Producer Jordan Harper

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