The Conners has pulled off the feat of broadcasting a totally live episode not once, but twice. And based on what executive producers Bruce Helford and Dave Caplan told PopCulture this week, the idea of another one is not totally out of the question. The ABC sitcom, which is a sequel to Roseanne, first when live during Season 2, Episode 12 ("Live From Lanford"), to have the family give live commentary on the 2020 New Hampshire Democratic primary. They pulled it off again in Season 4, Episode 1 ("Trucking Live in Front of a Fully Vaccinated Studio Audience"), where they had Conners fans video call in during the live broadcast, playing extended members of the family. But will they do it again?
When asked if they've "had enough" of the live episodes, Helford said he's definitely open to doing another one, even though it's a hectic task for the cast and crew. He applauds all the hard work that goes into the broadcasts and thinks the team pulls it off, despite their initial hesitance. However, it will take a concept that makes sense to be pulled off live to make it worth the headache.
"Well, I never have enough of it. The actors had enough of it before they ever did the first one," Helford says with a laugh. "It was really hard for the actors. It was so amazing to me. Laurie Metcalf [who plays Jackie] is a theatre actress and an improv master. And when I said to her, 'We're going to do something live,' she goes, 'Oh, no.' She goes, 'When I go on a theater stage, I've rehearsed for months.' She goes, We only rehearse for a week.'
"But they're game, they do it. They do it beautifully. We only do it when there's a reason to do it, that live makes a difference. The first time we did it, we were commenting live on what the results of the primaries. The second time we actually involved fans, who did not know they were going to get that call. Fans were going to be brought live onto the show and pretend that they were members of the family. And those things you could only do live. And that's what we make some special. And that's why we'll do it.
He continues, "Just doing a show live isn't enough for us. Because really, that's all about just seeing whether the actors can remember the lines and kind looking for flubs and stuff like that. This is really much more interesting for us. And if we come with another idea, or if I come up with another idea that they don't need, then we might try it again. Each time we do it, there's lots of dread and anticipation. And then afterwards, everybody goes, 'That was really fun.' So we're always happy after it's over."
Caplan is a bit less excited about the prospect and jokingly quips back, "When we do another one, Bruce, you'll phone me on an island someplace and let me know how it went. O.K.?"
The Conners airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. If you miss the show live or need to catch up on Season 4, you can stream episodes via ABC.com or Hulu. Stay tuned for more from https://popculture.com/tv-shows/news/katey-sagal-the-conners-health-status-updated-eps-recent-hospitalization-exclusive/ with The Conners executive producers Bruce Helford and Dave Caplan.