TVGuide.com recently invited fans of ABC's Men in Trees (Thursdays at 10 pm/ET) to hit series creator Jenny Bicks with your best shots — the questions about Marin, Jack, Annie et al that you ache to have answered. Faster than you can say "Elmo, Alaska," Bicks came through. Here is her exceptionally qualified take on one of the TV season's most enjoyable and frothy hits.
Men in Trees is my favorite show, I love it. The only part I do not like is Lynn (played by Justine Bateman) and Jack (James Tupper). It doesn't make sense that he would change his life just because an old girlfriend that hurt him came back to town pregnant. I keep hoping the father of the baby shows up and takes her away. [That said] I like that I feel good while watching this show, and I love me some Plow Boy.
Jenny Bicks: Thanks for watching! And who doesn't love a little Plow Guy? (Don't fret, he'll be back.... ) Now, you may not like Lynn and Jack together (because — and I am glad to see so many of you feel this — Marin and Jack belong together), but I think it absolutely makes sense that Jack chose to try it again with Lynn. She had only left four months ago, he had a very long history with her, and in some ways he had to try again to see if it was right. He and Marin had not decided they were in a relationship. I know the "other man's baby" thing is hard to get past — it was hard for Jack, too — but a big part of the Jack-Lynn dynamic is that he takes care of her. His stepping up for this baby is just one more way he is showing his (misplaced?) loyalty to her.
Plow Boy and Jane so rock that I'm very happy when we're seeing their story. Please don't ruin this relationship! And I loved when Patrick was telling Buzz about the sperm donation and Buzz said something about, "When I said to 'man up,' I didn't mean all over the place." With this and the excellent Grey's Anatomy, I have me some yummy TV. I really have no questions, Jenny, just have to say thanks.
Bicks: Stay tuned on Jane and Plow Guy. They are rocked, but not over....
[Last week] was another delightful episode. That said, I really do hate Jack and Lynn together. Question: Is Plow Guy the same actorwho plays/played Captain Kelly on Battlestar Galactica?
Bicks: Good eye! Yes, our lovely Ty Olsson did play LSO Capt. Aaron Kelly on Battlestar.
Why do you keep Jack and Marin apart? I started watching because I like Anne Heche, and the chemistry between Jack and Marin kept me coming back. Lynn for an episode or two would have been OK, but now it is just too much. I never watched Sex and the City [on which Bicks was a writer] because watching vapid women is not my thing, and Marin seemed so intelligent, as did Jack. It would have been more fun to watch their relationship grow because of their own insecurities. No man in his right mind goes for the poor, pregnant brunette when they can have a beautiful, intelligent, rich blonde. Just ask my husband.
Bicks: Wow. This comment saddens me on so many levels. I'm sorry you didn't like Sex and the City because I am really proud of the work we did on that show to portray single women as thinking, feeling, complex, smart creatures. So to hear you, a woman, take down a female character because she doesn't look glamorous, well.... That seems a wee bit vapid on your part, don't you think?
My question is this: How did you find such great supporting actors?
Bicks: Thanks for noticing the actors. We have a hugely talented cast. I made it a big priority of mine to find the best actors for each role, not actors that I always felt were "known." This Thursday, Annie Potts and Colm Meaney join the cast as Annie's parents. They were my first choice, and I am really lucky I got them. They are hysterical with Patrick and Annie.
More Jane and Plow Guy! Please have Jane move to Elmo....
Bicks: Not all at once, people! Jane can't move to Elmo till we get Marin a bit more situated. But she'll be back, I promise. In fact, look for her this Thursday night and in the finale in Elmo!
Jack isn't going to be tempted to do anything beyond living with Lynn, is he? He's not going to be tempted to propose, is he? When is Lynn's baby due? Will she have it before the end of the season? Will Jack's brother or Marin's sister make another appearance? Will Sara get a love interest? Will she get back together with Ben? Is her son coming back to Elmo? Will there be anymore quaint, small-town festivals/celebrations/traditions in upcoming episodes?
Bicks: OK, that's a lot of questions! Let's see.... Yes, Sara gets a love interest. You will meet him this Thursday; his name is Eric, and he has a secret. Here's something fun: Eric is played by Nick Lea (of X-Files fame), who happens to be the real live-in boyfriend of Suleka Mathew (Sara). This is the first time they have acted together, and I am happy to report they have great on-screen chemistry. Sara's son has come back to Elmo (see the baby-shower conversation she had with Marin), and you will meet him in Episode 117, "Chemical Reactions." Jack's brother will be back before the end of the season to shake things up, and Lynn is due now in about two months (real time).
Hi, Jenny. I really love the show and look forward to it every week. I don't know if it was part of the master plan or not, but I was amazed at how hard I took Jack's breakup with Marin. You would think I was the one being passed over for the old girlfriend! Even following your story line in its new direction is sad. I've seen a few forums where it seems I'm not alone. My questions are: Are you surprised by the reaction? Do you see it as good or bad for the show? And has it had an impact on where you are taking the story?
Bicks: I have known exactly how this whole season was going to go before we started shooting. As showrunner, you must pitch all the character arcs to the network before you start. So I know exactly what is going to happen with Jack, Lynn and Marin, and so does the network and studio. No, I have not changed it. If I started changing the story because it made the audience uncomfortable, that would be a very slippery slope. The nice surprise is that so many of you guys hooked into Jack and Marin as a possibility early on. They are really great together. So I guess I was pleasantly surprised on two fronts: that my two romantic lead characters could have a possible life together past Season 1, and that you guys care enough about that to be angry, upset, etc, about Lynn. I guess I have been a little surprised at the vitriol aimed directly at me over Lynn, but I also know that it makes for good storytelling when your audience is rooting for two people to be together. I also agree with many posters who say you can put a couple together and create tension from that relationship alone, without a third party. But the goal of this show is five seasons. You can't have it all right away.
If we can't have Jack and Marin as a couple, can we at least have Jack waking up in a cold sweat where he was dreaming about Marin, and him in a hot and steamy situation giving him "food for thought"?
Bicks: Hmm... stay tuned. When you hear the words "wild garlic," you'll be getting closer.
I love Men in Trees! There hasn't been a dud episode yet, but I just don't get the Jack-Lynn relationship, and why he feels the need to "be there" for her. Are we going to find out more about why Lynn left? Or about her baby's daddy?
Bicks: I think I made a bad film-editing choice early on — we often have to make cuts for time — when I lost a sentence where Lynn explained that the father of her baby — no, it isn't Ian or Jack or even Buzz! — wanted nothing to do with the baby. Lynn really is alone on this. Jack is Lynn's only real family, so he does feel responsible for her and for the baby. This will be explained more on this week's episode.
Have we seen the last of Stuart (Jason O'Mara)? I'd love to see more of him! Maybe have Stuart and Marin try a relationship with strings?!?
Bicks: You will get more Stuart!
In light of recent events in the last four episodes, I have several questions I would like to ask. The first one, obviously, is about Marin and Jack. In an interview, James Tupper said that Jack had a few things to figure out. My question is, will he? And if/when he does, will he and Marin have a chance to reconcile?
Bicks: Yes, Jack will figure his stuff out. But it doesn't happen overnight. And if he and Marin have a shot in the future, trust me, she isn't going to just take him back. He did a bit of a number on her, so I'd like to see him have to fight for her.