« Carolina Paiz on "Don't Stand So Close To Me" | Main | Krista returns with answers to your questions... »

"Six Days" with Krista Vernoff...

Original Airdate: 1-11-07

The first thing I wanna say is, my three least favorite words in television are “To Be Continued.” Truly. I hate it and I’m so sorry to have done it to you. It was not my intention. I wrote this episode as one hour. But we shot it and it came in at 61 minutes and we only get 43 minutes per hour and so we were faced with the choice of either cutting 18 minutes – which really would have just destroyed the episode – or shooting 4 more days and making it a two-parter. It hurt. It was painful and laborious and I was terrified that the decision to go two hours would compromise the episode creatively and it really was such a beautiful episode at 61 minutes… Anyway, we did what we had to do, and I think that in the end, we made it work as two hours and I hope that you don’t hate us too much for making you wait a week for the pay-off.  It’s worth it, I promise.

Here’s the thing though. There’s just not that much I can talk about in this blog without giving away stuff that happens next week. I could tell you how much I love the stuff you’ve seen and how much I think you’ll enjoy where it’s all going but… I’m thinking maybe instead I’ll save any further discussion of “Six Days” till next week and use this time to talk about some questions you guys have been writing us.  (Also,  I  did the podcast this week – so if you aren’t technophobic, like me, and you actually know how to download and listen to a podcast , you can hear me and Susan, our wonderful editor, talk about this week’s episode in detail.)

What I want to talk about first is reruns. Yes, there’ve been a lot lately and I know it sucks. We had been scheduled to air a new episode on January 4th but  when Six Days became a two-parter, it became impossible to write, shoot and edit all the new scenes and get something on the air by January 4th. The GOOD thing about the change is – we were going to air a new episode on January 4th then have another repeat on 1/11. So – yes, you had to wait an extra week for a new episode, but you will now have 7 WEEKS IN A ROW of new episodes. Yeay.  We hope you enjoy each and every one of them.  We do know how frustrating the repeats can be, but if you break down the math – that the TV season is 40 weeks long and that we can only physically produce 24 episodes in a season – well, there’s gonna be a lot of repeats. That’s just the way it goes.

Second, I want to talk about the process – as in – how and why we do the things we do because a lot of you have been asking.  Here’s how it works: at the end of season two, we spent about 5 weeks discussing season three – really planning out all the arcs for the whole season. Then we went on a 5 week hiatus and when we came back, we started breaking story (which is what we call outlining episodes.) As we break story, we usually veer from what we had planned either a little or a whole, whole lot. Because sometimes things that work in theory do not work in execution and sometimes things that we think are BRILLIANT by 7pm on a Friday seem absurd by 9am on Monday. It’s not a perfect process, it’s not a linear process, it’s a creative process. And that process sometimes involves Shonda sitting up in bed at three a.m. having had an epiphany that completely destroys all of our plans but ultimately works out really well for the season. Or sometimes, we read a script and think it isn’t working and sit and try to brainstorm ways to make it work and we come up with major story points that way.

For example, in "Break on Through" last season, Izzie having given up a baby for adoption was never discussed in the writers’ room. I read the script and felt like it was missing a personal connection and I went to Shonda and the writer of the episode and said “what if Izzie had a baby she gave up for adoption” and they liked it so we put it into the script and put the script out and the writing staff was as surprised as Katie Heigl was because sometimes we get so far behind and so tired we forget to even put out a memo saying, hey, by the way, Izzie gave a baby up for adoption.  (And that, my friends, is what we call a run-on sentence. High Schoolers reading this should NOT, I repeat NOT, try to learn anything from my syntax.)   My point is, we work hard, we plan things and then just as in life, plans change and it’s one of the things I love about writing for TV.  Plus we have a phenomenal writing staff – they roll with the punches and very rarely burst into inappropriate tears when things change at the 11th hour. (Usually, these days, it’s me bursting into inappropriate tears but that’s because I’m very pregnant and wow, those hormones are killer. Greg Yaitanes, who directed “Six Days” parts one and two, stopped calling me Krista and just started calling me “Pregnant Lady.” As in, “Hey, Pregnant Lady, here’s what I’m thinking of doing with this scene.”   One might hear that as patronizing, but after spending 12, 13, 15 hours a day with me for three and half weeks shooting these episodes and watching me burst frequently into inappropriate tears,  I felt he had earned the right. But really – which of you didn’t cry after George saw his dad post-op for the first time and shaking, grabbed Mer’s arm and said “He’s my Dad, He’s my Dad.” ?? The problem is I burst out crying ON THE SET which …y’know…inappropriate.)    Okay, I digress. I was talking about process.   

I have heard it asked repeatedly how much influence you fans have on our storytelling. And I know one of the writers blogged that what y’all have to say carries a lot of weight in the writers’ room. And I think to a degree that’s true. And by that I mean, we read your comments – maybe not all of them but a lot of them – and sometimes we use them as a jumping off place for discussion in the room. Like, “A lot of fans don’t like this character right now. Why is that?” We talk about the character and the things he or she has been doing and where we want to go  -- we also usually discuss the fact that, for every fan who doesn’t like a character, there’s one who does.   That’s one of the things I love about our show – that it is polarizing.  (I used to have an acting teacher who said, “If the audience is on their feet at the end of the play, you’ve done your job. If the audience is booing and  throwing stuff at you at the end of the play, you’ve also done your job. What you never want is to receive “polite” applause.)   If our characters were less flawed, if say, they were just plain sweet and likable, then you would all agree that you liked them and then where would we go? How much growth is possible in a character who never makes bad decisions? How much drama is possible if people are never f**ked up, never bitchy, never raw?  So…our discussions that are prompted by your feedback often lead us down interesting paths, but they never end with us going, “Yeah, some of the fans don’t like that, we should just stop it.” Ever. Because it’s our to keep you on the edge of your seats, it’s our job to inspire you to write us in a feverish rage, it’s our job to sometimes piss you off and hopefully, always, to keep you coming back for more. 

Speaking of coming back for more…I have to go do work now – the writers’ room is calling.  So, because I dedicated this blog to giving you some answers – I will read and answer the first five questions you write me after reading this. (As long as you aren’t asking me to reveal future story points cause you know I can’t do that.)  Okay? And then next week, I promise, I will talk about 6 days, parts one and two in great detail.   Alright then, Happy New Year. I hope this finds you all healthy and happy and loving your lives.

More soon,

Krista 

(oh, and P.S, I wanted to say thanks to those of you who went to see my play in NYC. It was an honor and a privilege to meet some of you and I so appreciated your support!)

Comments

rose

is addison pregnant!!!! ok i know u cant answer that...im just so excited for next week. question: who is your favorite greys character and why.

Madison

Awesome episode! I was just wondering, how different is this season to what you had orignally planned?

Jamie

Great Episode:)

Question:
Why was the old Addison elevator scene from Yesterday showed in this episode? I was like WTF!

BTW, I LUV Addison and Kate Walsh! She is so Gorgeous!

rose

P.S if your having a girl a highly recomend the name Rose :)

shan

why is this episode
called
"6 days"
??
or is just bc
the whole 2 parter
takes place over
6 entire days ??
all though
i think
weve only seen 2
so far ......

Rosemary

Wow. Thank you for the long explanation; it was really useful!

I just want to say that I personally love each and every character on this show, but the five interns most of all. Especially Meredith and Cristina. For Mer and Cristina, especially Meredith, all the writers have done a fantastic job of creating human, likeable,relatable characters that have moving and interesting performances each episode. But all the characters are great!! (Even as frustrating as some people, such as Thatcher, are) The writing team has created a wonderful show; Thank you!

R

I love the show, and really liked this episode...I am a big fan of the Mer family storyline, and was glad to see the return of Thatcher.

My question: you mentioned the decision to extend this episode into a two-parter. How exactly do you make that work, as you say, "without compromising the creativity"? Do you add to existing storylines, or actually add in new scenes? Or, did you alter the original 61 minute editing, and incorporate more of already shot scenes?

Keep up the great work!

Kelly

Darnit - I know I won't be in the first five, but I hope someone will think to toss this information up/around somewhere.

I know you guys have in-house medical counsel (in one of your writers, at least) who consult on the show - is that all you use, or do you use any of the pro agencies that exist? (I know of two offhand, one by the CDC and one by... people's whose name I forget, but I'm sure there are more.)

Personal interest, plus trying to figure out something semi-academic/professionally.

Cheers!

Jenny

This was a really good episode. I hate To Be Continued but its better than nothing at all and so far the episode is fantastic
btw...it was great to have Meredith be the source of Mcdreamy's sleepless night but in a different and nonsexual way. lol
My question is...
Did George know what really happen in the operating room and how bad his dad really is at the end of the episode because he seemed so sad, especially after the whole scene with Callie. That kiss, by the way, was GREAATT and perfectly placed!!! i love george and his family!!!

DrTrish

I've noticed that there's a lot of story behind many of the characters, and one I've been interested in is Callie. What's her background? I'm curious about Alex, but with the secrecy behind him, I imagine there's more to be revealed about him.... but Callie is hot. Everyone in my house loves her. She's hardcore, in your face, and a great addition to the motley crew. What's her story?

-DrTrish

Pam in Janesville CA

Dear Krista,

To show the patient's imput, as in George's dad telling Bailey and the Chief that they MUST remove the tumor.......it is true. Sad, as so many times it is the knell of death, that the cancer has spread. The family interaction is on target, and I loved George kissing Callie. and Mer giving him comfort......and Mer's dad hovering....unsure.

Looking forward to next week, thank you so much !

Pam in Janesville, CA

Hillary

My question: when you introduce a story point (ie Izzy's baby), do you then come up with a plan for when you will readdress the point? I kow you won't tell us exactly how or when we'll find out new information, but we will find it out. Right? Please?

Don't leave us hanging on some of this stuff!

MerLover

Hey Krista,

I loved the first part and can't wait for next week. One question though: where have Meredith's voice-overs gone? They were a "Grey's" staple -- and made the show compelling and rich -- and I'm missing them!

Alicia

I really hope this is one of the first responses because I want an answer...

How do you become a writer for a show like Grey's Anatomy? Because I would love to be one. Love. And I have no idea how to do it.

Besides that I LOVED this episode. In one second I'd be laughing and then I'd be crying and it was just great. I adore all the Mer/Der cuteness. And I love George and Callie. And finding out more about Mark and Addie. And well I hate Burke. I honestly hate him right now. Which is apparently okay, but well I do.

And since you do read these and do listen to us...well....Meredith and Derek need some sex. None of this sleeping clothed as cute as they are. They need hot passionate sex. My boyfriend just moved away, I need some sex somewhere. So please, let them have some sex.

Ashley

So what happened with Christina and Burke that they feel as if whoever speaks to the other first is going to have the "power" in the relationship?

Nicole Bellavance

I am a HUGE fan!! I love the writing, you guys are the best. My question is with regards to the show's timeline, why is it so unclear? You go into great detail in explaining other things, but not that. There has been one Thanksgiving and one Christmas so are we to believe that a year hasn't even passed yet although the show is in its third season? What has happened to Meredith's voice over? I love the voice overs and the themes in each episode! Keep the episodes coming:) Take care,
Nicole

Nickel

We start to see pieces of family from all the characters. But what about Karev? I think he is the least known...part of his charm but it'd be nice to see more about him. We his dad was a drug addict and abusive, but that's really it.

Maria

You actually discussed the topic of my question. Is the storyline of Isobel's child ever going to be brought up in the near future?

What is the timeline of the show? Has a year even passed since the start of the show seeing as we have only had one Christmas and one Thanksgiving? Where are the voice overs?

Ang

What I like from my characters if for them to make sense. Many characters on this show seem gray just to say that they are gray. Mark IMO is ruined. I really don't want him with Addie and I fear she will be sacrificed to redeem him. But why does he need redeeming...he was deliciously bad until episode 3 and he went off the track. Now he is a slut - not a lovable slut, not a slut you love to hate, just a slut. I feel nothing for him.

And the same can be said for many other characters.

FamousARTIST

That was so good! Seriously.

I love George. I think he should be in line for a few awards. But like last year, the episodes just keep getting better and better.

My question is this: In a teaching hospital, giving the opportunity to straighten someone's spine, wouldn't be "comped" for the teaching benefits?

Of course, it does pave the way for Izzie to try to pay for the surgery, which is so cool, but in reality, I think Seattle Grace would have paid for it.

It was a joy watching every second of this episode, and I can't wait for the rest. Also, who ever did the camera work this time... it was brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Susanne

Thanks for a great episode. I have been so obsessed with this show that I used the time of repeats to try to function normally. I had to keep myself busy because the wait was so long, and you know I was fine. I still did a few Grey's chats, but I was fine. Tonight I just cried the whole episode, somewhat because it was sad but mostly because I just missed it. I really missed it. Crazy! Well, in hope that this, after being approved will be in the top 5. Here is my question. A silly question I know, but it still bugs me. Why was Finn wearing green in every single episode? Was it on purpose or what? It just made me think he was a psycho or something! Thanks, Susanne

Michelle

Thanks Krista and I cannot wait for next week! There is so much going on but the "almost kiss" between Alex and Addison....HOT! When he said "because he was rude to you." AHHHHHH---so, so intense.

I probably will not be one of the first five but if by some slim chance I am--What do you think is the largest misconception about writing for televison???

Ally

Great job with the episode! Are we going ever going to find out more about/meet Alex or Izzie's families? I feel like all of the other interns have pretty well-developed family backstories (well, maybe not Cristia, but we did meet her mom), so...yeah...it's be great to meet them.

Miss M

Now I can't think of a single question to ask. Hmmm...

You mentioned the way Isobel having a child was a sort of "happy accident" that wasn't planned; I imagine that they have the potential to write you into a corner. What's the hardest corner you guys have had to write yourself out of during the series?

The comments to this entry are closed.