Bull finally returned on CBS Monday night with a series premiere unlike any other this fall. While almost every show has come back with references to the coronavirus pandemic, Bull found a unique way to take on the most important issue of the day. Showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron decided to end the episode by breaking the fourth wall, having the show's cast lip-sync to David Cassidy's "How Can I Be Sure" as they toured the set and showed off all the coronavirus safety measures being put in place to bring the show to fans every Monday night. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture, Caron broke down the unique sequence and explained how he came up with the idea.
Gordon said the idea grew out of a "sense of gratitude" toward the audience and he "fooled" the network and studio into letting him pull the sequence off. The cast and crew are "so happy" because they "lived through everything that preceded this because we forget a quarter of a million Americans died - serious stuff - and we're still here." The main reason the show is still on the air is that the audience still tunes in. "I shared that emotion with Michael Weatherly and he felt the same way. It's like, God, yeah," Caron said.
The musical shift was not a complete tonal divergence from the rest of the Season 5 premiere, which saw star Michael Weatherly lip-sync to several classic rock songs throughout the hour in his dream. "I was already sort of putting together this notion of a show in which he has this music in his head and he starts lip-syncing and all this other stuff," Caron explained. "And I thought we need a big hurrah at the end, from everybody in the cast to say to the audience, 'I missed you. I'm so happy and grateful to be back.' That's really where it came from."
For most of the episode, titled "My Carona," the audience and Bull himself do not realize they are in a dream. He slowly learns that the world during the coronavirus pandemic is so different that his job might no longer even exist. While Bull learned his job as a trial scientist is safe, millions of Americans in real life are concerned their jobs are gone and not coming back. This was a fact not far from Caron's mind as he wrote the premiere. "The fact that you wake up every day and there were certain givens to the way you live your life and you take them for granted. And then one day somebody goes, 'Nope, we're changing the rules. Nope,'" Caron said. "I found that fascinating."
While a bulk of the episode turned out to be a dream, Caron said what audiences saw gives a "hint" of how Bull's Trial Analysis Corporation (TAC) team will handle its business. "More importantly, I think it gives you a new insight into [Bull] and to the things he values," Caron told PopCulture. The dream sequence is also a way for the show to "hopefully" reflect "a lot of what people have felt at some point during this extraordinary period of our lives that we're going through right now," the executive producer said.
Caron admitted that not talking about the coronavirus pandemic seemed like an option early on when many thought it would not last as long as it has. But as it dragged on, it became obvious that even though Bull is not a medical drama, it had to be handled. "I had assumed it was going to be a six-week event or something, I thought, oh my gosh, we really need to speak to this because it's going to affect the courts in New York City," Caron explained. "You may think, well, you can ignore that. But truthfully, we can't. We spend a lot of time actually shooting at the courts and they closed the courts." Bull airs on CBS Mondays at 10 p.m. ET.