Hallmark Channel had a surprise hit last season with Cedar Cove, the TV series based on Debbie Macomber's successful book series. The show is back tonight with a brand-new season, and on Friday we checked in with Brennan Elliott - who stars as the show's sort of antagonist Warren Saget - to get the dish on what's ahead and the transition between seasons.
Charming, powerful, and manipulative, Warren is not about to win any popularity contests in the fictional town of Cedar Cove. So what's it been like for Brennan to inhabit him? "The fan response actually has been overwhelmingly positive. He's a character you either love or love to hate," he said. "It's just one of those characters that it's a joy for an actor to play. I'm having an absolute ball - probably my best experience on a TV show that I've ever had in my career."
When he says that, it really means something, because Brennan is one of those actors who's been all over TV. He had a main role on Lifetime's Strong Medicine, and you've seen him on Cold Case, Castle, Desperate Housewives, House, and CSI, just to name a few of many other series. He also has a role in the upcoming Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which is in theaters December 19. He knows the small-screen world very well. Yet the success of Cedar Cove - Hallmark Channel's first original series - still came as a bit of a pleasant surprise.
"For me, I didn't think it was going to be like this," he reflected. "When we did the pilot, we kind of did this little backdoor TV movie that might get picked up as a series. And when it got picked up, we had a lot of growing pains. We had to find our voice. And I think we got into that about [episodes] nine and ten...We all have Twitter accounts, and to see the fans and to see how many people have been dying for July 19, it's great. We love it."
If you're not one of those folks on board yet, though, don't worry. Brennan assured us that you don't have to have seen season one to tune into season two. "If you haven't seen the first season, I will say that it ends [with], there's some crime and some things that have happened. It's kind of left to a cliffhanger as to who did what and what happened and who's involved. It continues throughout the season to some kind of clarity.
"I think season two is our year of showing what Cedar Cove is really about," he continued. "Just the way we're shooting it, and the storylines, and the crossovers with different characters, we're on the rails, so to speak."
Another change between seasons happened behind the scenes, as 7th Heaven veteran Sue Tenney joined the program as its new showrunner. This is something that isn't uncommon in the TV business. But what does that really mean?
"For me as an actor on the show, we had some growing pains in our first season. I think we kind of needed to have someone that gelled everything together," Brennan explained. "She came on and really, it was amazing. Not only is she a brilliant showrunner and also a brilliant writer, she kind of knew what the network really wanted and came in and made an effortless transition."
His character's arc is a prime example of how Cedar Cove has become much more developed this time around. "Last year, Warren was a character that was brought in for a few episodes. He was the bad guy. We didn't know where he was going to go," he continued. "This is his season, where he's a real part of the show. And there's a really nice storyline happening with him and Jack's son...from episode three to the the end of the season."
Of course, when you're part of a cast that also includes the likes of Andie McDowell, Dylan Neal, Bruce Boxleitner, and Barbara Niven, it's hard not to have a good time, really. "It's amazing. These are people that have been around and done everything," Brennan enthused. "I think we've got the best cast in the world. I go to work and I come home and I go 'Um, was that work?' I have such a good time working with them - and I'm the bad guy!"
The new season of Cedar Cove starts tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on Hallmark Channel (check your local listings for specific channel). For more with Brennan, follow him on Twitter (@Brennan_Elliott).