The big news out of the TCA Press Tour today was NBC renewing This Is Us for two more seasons.
At 18 episodes per season, that's a minimum of 36 more episodes coming our way over the next two years. You'd think nothing could top that, right? Wrong!!
Creator Dan Fogelman has no plans on letting the story go stale. In fact, the writing staff has a theme and a plan of attack to keep that from happening.
“Our theme on the show is how life will surprise you. We attack it as writers,” he said, “you can take your family and the revealing pieces of information aren’t necessarily that a young woman wound up with a different husband many years down the line, but it’s the order we choose to tell the story.”
And if you're wondering when we're finally going to find out what the deal is with Jack, well, you don't have to hold your breath very long.
This Is Us Season 1 Episode 13 will be a big one for us and the Pearson family, as we'll get the first piece of the puzzle about Jack's death.
Fogelman teased, "There’s a before and after to this family. Before Jack, and after." During a pivotal scene with Kate, we'll discover the when of Jack's death.
Then you can go back to holding your breath again, because the how of Jack's death will be revealed much later.
Here's a shocker: Milo Ventimiglia was not the first choice for Jack. In fact, they had a completely different type of guy in mind for the character. A nebbish type. Until Ventimiglia walked in.
With long hair, beard and carrying a motorcycle helmet, “He was so alpha, it was not what I had in mind,” Fogelman said.
Fogelman then continued, “right away I knew, that’s the dad whose family hinges on him.”
Mandy Moore was always Rebecca. The good news? She spends less than five hours in the makeup chair now. They have it down to about three and a half, and she zens out a bit in the process.
Those monologues the characters do? Fogelman said it's impossible not to do them when they have the acting chops on hand to pull off not only comedy but such brilliant dramatic scenes.
“To not do it would be like having a Ferrari in your garage and only driving it 25 miles per hour on city streets. We have these actors, and each one of them can alternate between comedy and these powerhouse dramatic monologues… It removes all the bells and whistles. You’re just letting great actors act.”
A couple upcoming guest stars were revealed, too.
Katie Couric will play herself on an episode in which she interviews Justin Hartley's character Kevin. Hopefully that means his play is doing well.
Bryan Tyree Henry (Atlanta) will also be joining the cast for some scenes with William (Ron Cephas Jones), both past and present. He should get to experience some of what Moore does in the makeup chair!
Despite how well some of the standalone episodes do, such as this week's The Is Us Season 1 Episode 12, which was almost entirely in the past and featured not only Rebecca and Jack, but Gerald McRaney's Dr. K, there are no plans for a spinoff any time soon.
Fogelman said instead, they'd like to continue to shake up the format by offering those episodes so viewers aren't experiencing the same thing week after week.
There's an upcoming episode that will revolve entirely around Brown's character, Randall.
Fogelman shared, “If well-executed, what would be a spinoff can just be done as an arc or a couple of episodes in our series. It helps make it so that the series doesn’t become the same thing over and over and over again and start boring the audience.”
And finally, Ventimiglia offered his opinion on what makes This Is Us such a success. "I think it’s filling a void, particularly in a television landscape that does get cynical, that does get dark, that does get riddled with zombies. It’s more hopeful.”
Since Dan Fogelman has many more seasons in his mind's eye, and NBC has already unleashed two of them, let's hope we're living with the hope and optimism of the Pearson family for a long, long time.
If your interest is finally piqued after a day full of news about the series, you can watch This Is Us online to catch up.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.