I've been traveling the last week and a half from L.A. to Dallas to Atlanta and back. Still working off little sleep, I find myself daydreaming. I used to walk and talk in my sleep when I was a child. Would wake up and find myself out of my bed, down the stairs in the living room on my rocking horse, or other places. I've done it a couple of times as an adult, had conversations with friends on the phone that I don't recall and waking up in a different room. I wake up slightly disconnected for the rest of the day. Having roamed while asleep, I then dream while I'm awake. I associate travel with dreaming. Fall into a reverie on trains and planes. When I come to, I'm in another city, another time zone, and sometimes feeling that no time or space has passed at all.
I was in Atlanta last Tuesday when CBS aired
's double-header evening of "Sub-Conscious" and "Johnny B Good."
"Sub-Conscious," written by Daniel Voll, explores the dreams of unit wife Kim Brown (played by
Audrey Marie Anderson
). Voll presents surreal settings of Kim on the submarine where the unit's men are on a mission. She relays those dreams to Molly and Tiffy, and is overheard. Somehow parts of Kim's dream intersect with details of the unit's mission in North Korea. Kim is questioned by a psychiatrist - played by
- to determine if her husband has breached security in passing on secret information, or if she's channeling her husband's sub-conscious fears as she sleeps. When Unit wives lay their heads on their pillows at night next to husbands who have been trained not to talk in their sleep, to safeguard their secrets, do those wives sometimes intuit what's on their husbands minds? Linda Hunt's character offers, "Did you ever have an unexplained premonition? Of course you have. 'Something told me... to get off the plane.' You haven't thought about Aunt Marge in five years, and the phone rings.... Have you ever at the same time uttered the same thought as your husband? After an hour of silence?" Both Kim's and Bob's fears for the men away on the submarine mission come bubbling to the surface through Kim's dreams.
Voll consciously plots that Kim's dream may have been triggered by her watching a movie starring
. Voll's wife is Peck's daughter.
) the documentary
Shut Up & Sing
, about the female country band
The Dixie Chicks
. The film follows the fallout of Dixie Chick
' offhanded comment about
President George W. Bush
around the onset of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. As radio stations are censoring the band across the country, they find the courage to change their tune, if not recant. In the process they find their own voice - a stronger voice than before. Oh, and
- playing himself - is in Kim's dream.
We shot the funeral dream sequence in the dusty cold hills of Santa Clarita. Everyone is dressed in black. There's a band playing New Orleans ragtime music. Don Rickles is dressed as a priest. During takes,
(Charles) lie dead-still in their coffins. Inbetween takes, the band continues to swing and the guys play like dancing zombies. Mr. Rickles has cast and crew rolling, riffing on anyone who passes near.
There is a roster of directors who come in for each episode. "Johnny B. Good" is directed by our own co-executive producer,
. Moosekian feels that while it's difficult to wear both hats, the advantage is that you have more insight. You know the actors, you know the crew, and that makes the job easier.
A hard part in this shoot for him was the sheep. A herd of sheep block the roadway in a scene set in Afghanistan, but shot in the Santa Clarita Mountains. "The sheep kept running away. Herders would have to round them up," he says. Moosekian enjoyed most directing the Mack/Tiffy relationship.
(Tiffy) says, "Max and I had some great scenes where we really dig in. One take in particular totally caught me off guard. We really wanted to bring out the pain that has been boiling up to the surface in this marriage, but we debated about how emotional we should go with it. I was voting to embrace the drama, for Mack to crack in front of his wife. How else can we begin to heal the relationship?" Max was "excited to show Mack as both the hardened soldier, and also a very real human being."
Mack has to make hard decisions on this mission to Iran where one thing after another goes wrong. He comes back like one walking and wounded, afraid he is losing parts of himself and looking for trouble to ease his pain. He finds trouble in the arms of Crystal, who is avoiding Jeremy, her fiance who has returned home faceless, maimed, among the war casualties.
"The Water is Wide"
(airing Feb. 13) is directed by our own director of photography,
. He also feels the advantage of working with this crew everyday. There is a shorthand established between himself and the crew that allows a fluidity, that frees him to give his mind fully to filling his role of director. His episode has the team racing time to detonate a bomb delivered in a birthday cake, and takes Molly and Tiffy to Vietnam in search of a missing vet. Like Mossekian, a former actor, Rao is sure about the shots he wants, and engages easily with the actors, drawing out specific nuances from characters who have become like family. A long distance bicyclist, Rao is enjoying this ride.
We shoot Vietnam in the foothills of Santa Clarita, and the set looks just like Vietnam. I went there on a cultural tour about six years ago, traveled from Ho-Chi-Min City along the coast up to Myrnmar. Daydreaming along the way. I go back in time for a moment, but it's way too cold in these foothills on this day. Unbelievably, it begins to snow in sunny Southern California.
) plays the mother who asks Molly to find her son. She's searching for peace - is he MIA, POW, or dead? Not knowing haunts her waking dreams. A nightmare.
airs Tuesdays at 9 pm/ET.