The team behind the detective dramedy Take Two, airing this summer on ABC in the U.S., talks to TV Drama about how the series came together.
With the transatlantic alliance seemingly in jeopardy, it’s reassuring to see that Americans and Europeans are not only talking to each other but also working together—at least when it comes to television.
The series Take Two, airing this summer on ABC in the U.S., is the fruit of collaboration between partners on both sides of the Atlantic. It is produced by TANDEM Productions and MilMar Pictures in co-production with ABC Studios, and was co-developed and co-financed by ABC, VOX in Germany and France 2.
Rola Bauer, the managing director at STUDIOCANAL TV, the parent company of TANDEM Productions, has decades of experience co-producing and co-financing. More than two years ago, she met with Terri Edda Miller and Andrew Marlowe, showrunners of Castle, the crime dramedy that earned legions of loyal fans in the U.S. and around the world.
“Terri, Andrew and I met at a CAA event, and being a huge fan of their work, I explained our indie way of working with international partners,” explains Bauer. “From there, we had several conversations to narrow down the direction they wanted to take creatively and that could potentially work for our network partners.”
“We talked about a million things and she asked us if we had anything in the same genre as what we’d done before, and we said, ‘We actually do, we have a really fun idea,’” says Miller.
“Once we were ready, we took the series to MIPTV in 2016,” adds Bauer. “I knew I needed to pitch this differently from Pillars of the Earth or Crossing Lines, which was financed out of the international market first. On this one, we needed to have the Americans from the get-go. So it was a matter of identifying who the partners were in Europe. We locked down the French and the German market, and then we took the project Stateside and partnered with ABC, who also became our partners internationally.”
Take Two is an upbeat detective series starring Rachel Bilson (Hart of Dixie, Nashville) and Eddie Cibrian (CSI: Miami, Rosewood) as an unlikely couple of sleuths. A former star of a hit cop series, Sam Swift (Bilson), is desperate to restart her career after a very public breakdown and subsequent period in rehab. She convinces a lone-wolf private eye, Eddie Valetik (Cibrian), to allow her to shadow him as research for a possible comeback role.
The series’ procedural format fills a need of European broadcasters looking for shows that can be easily placed and repeated in a linear schedule. Open communication, and most importantly, listening, were crucial factors in crafting a series that satisfied multiple partners.
“We set the tone in the first episode and there was a lot of communication about how and what the partners’ needs were,” explains Bauer. “And Terri and Andrew have a very good understanding of that. They know how to make great drama, but they have also been very respectful and have listened and heard what the Europeans want.”
“It’s always a balancing of sensibilities, but we tried to get that balance right very early on so that everybody was invested in the same kind of show; that way we wouldn’t really feel like we needed to continue to talk about what kind of show we were making,” adds Marlowe. “Once we got those conversations out of the way and everybody bought in, it’s actually been very smooth sailing. The notes that we receive from our domestic and international partners are very much in sync; I think everybody is seeing the same show, and they’ve all been very helpful and very supportive in the process.”
Miller and Marlowe are well aware of producing for an international audience. “We feel that in the new television market—as fractured and complex as it is—show creators have to be paying attention to what’s going on in the rest of the world,” says Miller. “And knowing that Castle is hugely successful, we wanted to take those lessons into our next show, which is one of the reasons we partnered with TANDEM and why we went to the international market first. If the content is going to be shown worldwide, we felt like we needed to have stakeholders that could represent different parts of the market, of the international market. Showrunners in this day and age need to be entrepreneurial to compete in a world where there are 500 scripted shows on, and we wanted to forge those partnerships in the hopes that this show could have the same kind of international reach as Castle did.”