When at SCAD aTVfest in February, we had a chance to chat with the cast and showrunners of Council of Dads.
The new NBC series is previewing tonight at 10/9c just after the This Is Us Season 4 finale.
The show was created by married couple and former Grey's Anatomy showrunners Tony Phelan and Joan Rater.
The premise of Council of Dads is that, when death is a possibility, a man (Tom Everett Scott) reaches out to his friends in the hopes that they can help his family through his loss.
Here is the official synopsis from NBC:
Family takes on a different meaning in this transformative and inspirational new drama when Scott Perry, a loving father of five, has his entire life's plan thrown into upheaval by an unexpected health scare.
He calls on a few of his most trusted friends to step in as back-up dads to help guide and support his growing family - just in case he ever can't be there to do it himself.
There's Anthony, Scott's oldest and most loyal friend; Larry, his tough-love AA sponsee; and Oliver, his dedicated doctor and wife's dearest friend.
Together, they discover that there's more to being a father than anyone could do alone - and more to being a family than they ever thought possible.
Since we were very short on time, I hoped that Tony and Joan could share with us what inspired the creation of the series that is loosely based on a book by Bruce Feiler.
"If you were this guy faced with his own mortality, he has young children. How is he going to keep himself alive to his children? Who is going to help his wife raise his children and keep his memory alive? We love that idea," Tony said, "and we love the idea of a community coming together to help this family.
"I mean, imagine you have five kids, and your spouse dies. You cannot do that alone."
Joan added, "And especially getting through the grief and getting through all of that. And as we say in the second episode, each one of those kids has different needs. And imagining that one person can do it.
"One person does it all the time throughout America, but the great thing about the show is, Robin, the mom, is the head of the council. So she's the one who's saying, yes and no, but having this extra help and these guys bring a whole different perspective. And the story that we're really excited about is how each of them is affected by the experience."
Tony continued, "And also it's a story about the family overcoming grief. But, as we learned on Grey's Anatomy, that even under really serious intense circumstances, there's humor.
"And so we have a really nice blend. I always say even when someone has died, somebody still has to do the grocery shopping and the laundry. Life goes on.
"And so we, I think, have found a really successful way to blend the pathos and the humor."
The family is incredibly diverse in and of itself, and the show also incorporates the Council of Dads, who offer another level of diversity to the series.
Tony and Joan spoke about incorporating such a broad cast of characters.
Tony said, "I think, really, it comes out of our own life and the people that we have around us in our life. And we were just also excited to show the world as we experienced it. I mean, we have a daughter, just adopted from China, and-"
"Her godfathers are gay," Joan interjected.
"A gay couple who have their own adopted kids," Tony added.
"We have more conservative family members from the Midwest, and you know, we just have a really diverse family ourselves who loves one another and is there for one another," Joan said.
It was also incredibly important to them to show the diversity of Savannah, where the show takes place.
With them were several of the actors on the show. Michele Weaver plays Luly Perry, the eldest daughter of the family, and Sarah Wayne Callies is Robin Perry, the wife and mother.
We caught up with them to get their early thoughts on the series.
Also included in the excitement were the council of dads themselves played by Michael O'Neill, Clive Standen, and J. August Richards.
They seemed to have an entire song and dance routine put together that they very much enjoyed displaying for the crowd.
Since they were super friendly with each other, I asked them to shake it up for their interview.
They were a lot of fun!
Enjoy the results:
Council of Dads airs tonight on NBC at 10/9c.
Will you be watching?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.