The Mysteries of Laura is a mash-up of a traditional crime procedural and a comedy with a divorced couple at the heart of the story. Laura is a detective, a mother, and an ex-wife. Each of her roles provides opportunities for both serious and funny moments.
Executive Producer Jeff Rake previewed the new dramedy and discussed the unique tone of the series and mysteries, the relationship between Laura and Jake, how the kids will fit into the weekly stories and more. Read on for excerpts of our conversation about the new NBC show.
The Mysteries of Laura has a unique tone unlike anything else on TV right now. What type of feel will the series have?
I had the great good fortune to inherit wonderful source material from Spain. This is a show that I had the luxury of adapting. The first thing that I loved when I saw the Spanish original was the tone of the show. That it was a dramedy, a closed-ended episodic murder mystery just told with a light touch. There was the wonderfully charming iconoclast at the center of it.
I’ve tried to recapture that in this American version and I’m going to try and keep that tone alive. It’s a tricky thing because we’re trying to tell grounded murder mysteries every week, but at the same time trying to do so with a light touch.
Largely, the way I’m trying to navigate that tone is by bringing Laura’s home life into the series and giving it almost an equal footing with the mystery of the week. The goal is just to let the audience have a protagonist and celebrate the trials and tribulations of the everyday working parents.
The first mystery gets solved in a Columbo sort of way. Is that going to be the tone of the case of the week with a twist or more straight up?
My adaptation of the original pilot is very faithful and that original pilot was a little bit wonderfully old school in a Columbo or even Agatha Christie kind of type approach to how the detective solved the mystery. I think that you’ll find going forward the cases that we are solving are following a little bit more contemporized path that television audiences are used to.
Fans of the detective procedural, but still trying to stay faithful to the tone of the original by interjecting the fun, chaotic often incredibly stress inducing reality of her home life. And also trying to bring some unexpected comedy to the cases themselves through Laura being kind of a being a shameless truth teller and iconoclast who kind of says what’s on her mind and do whatever it takes to get the job done.
To that extent, I try to be inspired by some of the great, lighter toned detective television shows and movies that we’ve all enjoyed in the past. From Miss Congeniality, Beverly Hills Cop and everything in between.
Should viewers be rooting for either Laura or Jake over the other? Will there be conflict? Or will it be lighter?
Staying true to the tone of the show, I’m trying to put the lighter side of the conflict without making light of the conflict. If that distinction makes sense. We have no intention of trivializing the heartbreak of an ended marriage and the stress and frustration that often comes with co-parenting. And also the stress and chaos and fun and opportunity of putting one’s romantic life back together and trying to get back out there as a single person in the world.
Laura’s the protagonist of the show, so we’ll be more focused on telling the stories through her lens, but hopefully not in a way that is just celebrating her and demonizing the Jake character. I hope that it plays somewhat balanced, that said, he cheated on his wife. He is who he is and incredibly charming and compelling and still in love with Laura. So he’ll continue to be a draw, but Laura will continue to see through that. We’re not trying to play Kramer vs. Kramer. I’d rather smell more like Moonlighting than Kramer vs. Kramer.
How do the kids fit in every episode?
We’re not going to be spending a lot of time cutting away to the kids and playing their own stories. The kids are present in the show to the extent that kids are present in any working parent’s life. It’s those slice of life moments at home, it’s when Laura and/or Jake has to pop into school or after school activities or get into it with other parents about stuff that has arisen, a problem with their kids and other people’s kids, the woes of flaky childcare providers and the juggle that results from that.
We’ll see them at home, we’ll occasionally see them popping into the workplace at opportune moments and hopefully utilize them in small, but still significant doses to remind the audience of the struggle that so many of us deal with every day of our lives.
Spoiler Alert: The next question has a spoiler from The Mysteries of Laura premiere.
When Jake takes over the department, will we see the other detectives in the precinct taking sides between Laura and Jake?
Initially, the precinct falls in love with Jake just like Laura fell in love with Jake because he’s incredibly lovable at least at first glance. There’s a really fun moment in the second episode where Laura and Jake are getting into it about childcare and how it’s going to work. On the one hand, Jake seems like he’s dropping the ball, but on the other hand, he brought cronuts. When the rest of the precinct sees that he brought cronuts, well, he’s the champion of the day. Even Laura’s loyalist assistant can’t help admitting that Jake is sort of the best.
We’ll use the precinct as a little bit of a Greek chorus to kind of play out the dichotomy of Jake and kind of remind Laura of both why she fell in love with him and why she still kind of finds herself gravitating to him on the one hand, but on the other hand knowing that being in a relationship with him is just bad news. Hopefully that helps keep her internal conflict alive in the series.
The Mysteries of Laura airs Wednesdays at 8pm ET on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC.)