The fifth season of One Tree Hill completely reinvented the series. Instead of following the characters to college, which is a move that has doomed countless other teen dramas, creator Mark Schwahn decided to jump four years ahead and follow the characters through adulthood. It was a risky move, but one that ultimately paid off. To get fans ready for the show’s sixth season, which kicks off on September 1, we sat down with Mark to get the scoop on what’s coming up for the OTH gang.
For the first part of our two-part interview, we asked Mark questions submitted by BuddyTV readers. Read on to find out what’s in the future for Mouth and Millicent, which familiar faces might return in upcoming episodes, and how Mark expects fans to react to the resolution of last season’s romantic cliffhanger. Check back on Monday for part two of the interview, where we’ll get even more scoop on what’s coming up in One Tree Hill‘s sixth season.
Hi, this is Don with BuddyTV and today I’m talking to Mark Schwahn, creator of One Tree Hill. There are a lot of One Tree Hill fans at BuddyTV, so we asked them to submit some questions for you. I just wanted to go over some of those. People want to know if Mouth and Millicent are going to get serious next season.
Yeah, I feel like Mouth finally found a girl. Fourth season, fifth season, Mouth sort of drifted a little bit until we met Millicent, and it just felt so right to me, that couple. Obviously they’re pursuing their own dreams and ambitions, and I think when you’re young and you’re in your twenties, you’re trying to set up the architecture for what your life is going to be down the line. You feel like if you don’t do it right now, there may never come another chance to do it, in terms of career. I think that their storyline will be: can you have your career ambitions and also be a couple, and what does it mean to your relationship if you’re chasing different things? But that’s a couple that gives me a feeling of sort of safeness and makes me comfortable to watch them together, and I like that for the audience and I like that for the show. That doesn’t mean they won’t have obstacles ahead of them, as all couples do on One Tree Hill, but fans will definitely see more of them in season six.
There are a lot of fan favorite characters that people would like to see back, like Rachel or Tim or Chase or Whitey. Is there any chance of any of those people coming back this season?
Yeah, there’s a chance that you would see all of those characters — well, I don’t know about Tim. I’m being sarcastic. We’re pretty early at it in terms of mapping out the entire season, but I would add Jake to that list, too. I’ve been talking to Bryan [Greenberg] about coming back, I don’t know if it’ll work out with his schedule and what he’s doing. I think the great thing about being in season 6 is you have all of that architecture, all of that history to draw upon. I always felt like Rachel went away in not the best light when she disappeared, and I’d love to check in with Whitey. I always think it’s great when we can see the return of some of these characters. We’d like to do that and we have some concrete plans to do it, but a lot of it is up in the air.
A lot of people want to know what happened to the theme song and if it will make a return appearance.
It’s interesting about the theme song. Not only is it costly — and that never sort of drives what we do creatively, but I think fans don’t understand that there’s money on the table every time they hear the theme song. That sounds like a bullsh*t producer response, too, but that’s a part of it because every year our budget is pretty challenged. Knowing that, when I looked at the jump ahead, the four year jump, I felt like “I Don’t Wanna Be” was very much an anthem for their adolescent lives. It was very much about who am I going to be and who am I and who am I going to be someday. Not to mention that it was 42 seconds of screen time that I knew I could use for story. So a lot went into the decision to drop the theme song, it wasn’t done lightly. For Chad [Michael Murray’s upcoming noir-themed] episode it would be fun to hear that theme song done in a more time period relevant way. Never say never, but right now I think we’ll probably just go with the black card.
There were a lot of new characters introduced last season. Is there anyone new joining this year?
We will meet some new faces along the way, sure. One of them is John Doe, who is playing Nick Wolfe, who may or may not be Peyton’s biological father. And I think that that’s very much at the center of the storyline, is they expect him to be her father but he’s not very forthcoming as a character with that information. The question is why is that the case when he clearly made a choice to reach out to Peyton. So we plan to see John earlier than later in the season. We’ll see the return of Daphne Zuniga’s character, Victoria, which is really great. Above and beyond that, we will see some new characters. One of them is a character named Samantha, who is being played by Ashley Rickards. She’s a younger character, I always think it’s important to keep younger characters in the show while the show has aged. You still have a young fan base that’s interested in those stories, and so Samantha is going to be a high school student that we’re going to meet early on and tell stories about her as well.
A lot of people want to know if An Unkindness of Ravens will actually be published as a tie-in novel or anything like that.
We have talked about that and it hasn’t come together just yet, because somebody’s got to write it. If it’s going to be written, considering it was Lucas’s book and it introduced Lucas as an author fictionally, it’s got to be quality, it’s got to be a decent book. It’s not something where we just want to hire a ghostwriter and say, “Just do this so that it’s a piece of merchandise.” I would just want to make sure there is a reason to do it and that there’s spin that we could put on it. We have talked about it though, so hopefully that’ll come to light. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t for trying, that’s for sure.
Is there any chance that either Haley or Brooke will end up with another baby any time soon?
That’s also being talked about. I think Brooke, certainly we’ve planted the scenes for. Her storyline centers around what a family is and what a family can be considering hers was not what she had hoped for. And so I think that’ll continue to be at the center. If she ends up with Lucas, I think that they would love to have kids. And if she doesn’t end up with Lucas, I think the idea of family is still very much at the forefront of her story. And we’ve actually, just so you know, and I haven’t said this publicly to anyone else, we’ve talked about Nathan and Haley as well. What it would be like to introduce a baby, because with the four year jump the fans didn’t get to spend time with the baby with that couple, we jumped ahead to Jamie as a four-year-old. Yeah, all of that stuff is up for grabs.
Just one last question here. Now, I know you can’t tell us who Lucas invited to Las Vegas, obviously, but do you think the fans will be happy with how that storyline plays out?
You know Don, I really hope so. I know that there’s a danger in — One of the staples of our show and the staples of television in general has been the love triangle. For us it became a love rectangle, which was my version and the show’s version of trying to turn that dynamic on its head a little bit. I think at the end of last season no one would have expected Lindsey, no one would have expected the introduction of someone else that Lucas was interested in and that Lucas loved. Whether the fans loved it or hated it or whether they felt like it worked, I always felt it was a way of challenging the audience and yet still giving them the show they sort of love. Obviously, I’m not stupid about this stuff and I don’t make these decisions lightly, I know that if Lucas picks one person, that changes the dynamic that the audience has been familiar with for a long, long time. The relationship and who Lucas picks will frame the season for a lot of fans. For the ones that are happy, it’ll be a great season. For the ones that wish he would have picked someone else, the season will suck. I would just urge them to look beyond that and look at what we’re doing as a show. I mean, when you watch the first three episodes, it’s undeniable that this is still a relevant, risky, forward thinking show. I think that this season is once again a really challenging, forward thinking season of One Tree Hill.
The relationship between Nathan and Haley certainly had its fair share of problems during the fifth season of One Tree Hill. Not only did the couple have to survive Nathan’s anger at being temporarily wheelchair-bound, but the whole nanny Carrie drama really drove a wedge between them. When I recently spoke with OTH creator Mark Schwahn about the future of the series, I made sure to ask him if the Scott family would continue to experience turmoil in season 6. You can read his full answer in the interview below, but it does sound like “Naley” will continue to have their ups and downs when the show returns.
In addition to getting scoop on the Scott family drama, I also talked to Mark about his plans for season 6, what’s coming up for Jamie, and what fans can expect from the episode Chad Michael Murray recently scripted.
Hi, this is Don with BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Mark Schwahn, creator of One Tree Hill. Season 5 of One Tree Hill definitely seemed to reinvent the show, so what are your plans for season 6?
I think we want to continue with the momentum that the jump ahead gave us. Obviously we have a few cliffhangers to address, whereas I chose closure in season 4 because we were closing up that time of the characters’ lives. The show in many ways has been refaced and reinvigorated. It’s very much a twentysomething show now with some relevant adult characters, and I really like that energy for the show. It allows us to be a little more complex in the storylines, and the actors welcomed the change and are thrilled with the material they’re getting, not only last season but this season as well. I think it sets us apart from shows that have been positioned as being similar, but there’s not a lot of people doing what we’re doing right now. I feel like with the success that we got from the jump ahead, just continuing that and continuing to build on that is sort of the blueprint for season 6.
One thing I definitely didn’t see coming last season was the relationship between Skills and Deb. What inspired you to do that?
First and foremost, I think Antwon and Barbara are an asset to the show. Great actors that are oftentimes used as counsel to the other actors. It always frustrated me a little bit that they didn’t have their own relationships and their own journeys. Obviously we didn’t see much of Deb in season 5, and right around the writers’ strike I told Barbara that there were plans to see Deb in [episode] 101. When the writers’ strike rolled around I told her to just be patient, and that that character was coming back in a really great way. I was just inspired to put them together because people, on face value, would find it so odd and unlikely, and they see the comedic shades of it. But this season we’re going to continue to play that relationship, and it’s great to hear people who are surprised at the likability of that couple, and that there’s a lot more going on than just using it for comedic effect.
Nathan and Haley definitely had a lot of problems last season. Are they going to continue to have troubles next year, or are you going to let them bond again?
Nathan and Haley’s fan base is so strong, and there’s a reason for that. That couple is gold as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve felt that way since the very beginning. People always ask me about when I’m just going to let them be happy, and it’s always an interesting question because I feel like they’ve always been the most stable couple on the show. They have a lot of obstacles come their way, but at least last season they overcame them together for the most part. The nanny Carrie stuff was obviously challenging to their relationship, but I see them growing — especially with the jump ahead and aging them a little bit — I see them growing into some really great places, not only as individuals, but as a family.
I think if they were safe and happy and nothing really happened, I think the fans would be bored by that. The difference is rather than antagonizing the fan base by driving obstacles between them, they’re facing obstacles together. That’s a big part of life, whether it’s the heightened version on our show or not. In your twenties, stuff happens, you know? A lot of it is unexpected, but I think the stability of that couple is really fun to watch, and one of the biggest and best parts of the show. We’ll continue down that path, and continue with the seeds that we planted, which is basically whether Nathan is going to pursue basketball and Haley is going to pursue music, or any other dream they might have. Are they able to pursue those things and still remain a family and a couple? Are those things going to be detrimental toward their relationship?
Speaking of that family, I thought that Jackson Brundage was fantastic last season.
I agree with you. He’s amazing.
Is there anything coming up for Jamie that we should know about, and will Chester make a return appearance?
You know, Chester is going to be put in peril in one episode.
I can’t say enough about adding Jackson Brundage to the cast. That search to find the right kid to play Nathan and Haley’s son was very exhaustive, and I took it very seriously, because I felt like the bar was set very high and fans were expecting us to rise to that challenge. Jackson is just above and beyond anything I had hoped for. I knew that he was going to be really special, but he’s not that sort of fake-y kid actor. He’s a real kid, he’s a rough and tumble kid, and he comes from a really solid family, and yet he’s got a gift where he’s very, very talented at what he’s doing.
I think what we have to do is hold back the want of writers and actors to have him in every scene of the show. Actors aren’t dumb, they all ask me for scenes with Jackson because they know the cute quotient and the likability quotient goes through the roof when he’s in those scenes, and all the writers want to write for him. But he’s a seven-year-old boy who can only work limited hours and gets tired, and also should have a fulfilling life outside of the show. He’s going to have his own storylines from time to time, and obviously he’ll be at the center of a lot of what’s going on with Nathan and Haley, Lucas, Brooke and others. I think adding him to the cast was like adding Butters to South Park. It’s rare when you add a new character who becomes instantly as important as the rest of the cast. I think that was true with Jackson, and it’s a testament to his God-given abilities. He’ll be at the center of a lot of stuff this year.
I’ve heard that Chad Michael Murray has written a black and white noir-themed episode for later in the season. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
I think that noir-themed is very risky, because I think that noir can be very dark and very guy-ish in its approach. I’d say this is more Casablanca infused. It’s set in the ’30s, I think Joe Davola is going to direct it, and we’ve been talking about doing it in black and white. I think we will. But yeah, Chad had this idea for the last couple years, and we’ve talked about when would be the right time to try to do it. It felt like in season 6 we’re in a good place right now creatively. I actually found a place where not only would it fit as a standalone episode, but it’ll also have a few handles to the serialized nature of the show and be able to advance story a little bit as well. He’s been working on the script and he did a great draft, and I’ve been working with him since he’s new to writing. The writing staff has embraced it, and I think the actors are excited to do it too. That’s something the fans will see during the first half of the season, toward the middle of the season.
– Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of the CW)