'Blood and Oil' Boss on the Don Johnson Series: "Love Triangles That Will Explode"

Showrunner Jon Feldman tells THR how the ABC series will remain relatable to viewers who might not be familiar with the oil fields of North Dakota.
Brian Zager/ABC

Getting rich quick isn't all it's cracked up to be on ABC's new drama Blood and Oil.

The series focuses on working-class married couple Billy (Chace Crawford) and Cody LeFever (Rebecca Rittenhouse), who move to North Dakota following a major oil discovery. They soon find their marriage threatened as they get mixed up with tycoon Hap Briggs (Don Johnson) and his socialite wife Carla (Amber Valletta).

Showrunner Jon Feldman tells The Hollywood Reporter about the series' many secrets, his feelings about frequent comparisons to Dallas and how the show distinguishes itself from ABC's other current sudsy drama series.

Read more ABC's 'Blood and Oil' Reveals Showrunner Change — After Facing Critics

If you were to bump into someone on the street and were trying to get them to watch the show, what's the elevator pitch you would give?

I would say it's a fun, soapy way to spend Sunday night. 

In what ways will Blood and Oil appeal to fans of ABC's other soapy dramas, and how does it set itself apart?

I think the ABC genre that they've done so well involves fun characters involved in compelling storylines and a big cast of really wonderful actors, and I think we do that. I also think we're set in a new world that ABC hasn't set a show before — it's set in the oil fields of North Dakota — and the dreams and glamor that come along with that world. So I think it's a combination of the fun ABC themes but set in the new world. And I also think it's a bit of a cautionary tale — it's about the price of dreams and what happens when your dreams go awry. 

Are there any surprises from the premiere that you can tease, and how does the pilot episode set the world up?

The pilot introduces us to this really great ensemble of characters inhabited by some terrific actors. The pilot sets the collision course between the uber-successful Hap Briggs and the upstart Billy LeFever. I think we'll start in the premiere by realizing that people right under your roof or right under your nose may have secrets that they're keeping from you. What the series then does is, it finds new and compelling ways for them to compete. It becomes a story of an older man who has everything and a younger man who wants what that man has, and sometimes the worst that can happen is getting what you want. 

What is the tone that you're going for with the series?

We're going for compelling, but big compelling storylines told in small personal ways. It's very important that on a show like this, where you do have big themes and melodrama and high stakes, that we really tell it in a relatable way, so we understand why the characters go through these moves, we understand why the characters are involved in these stories.

 

What has surprised you about working with Don Johnson?

Don has the best instincts for story, the best instincts for the truth of characters. He has a sense of the bigger picture that many people in his position don't have. And unlike many stars, Don does not put Don first. Don puts the show first, and that's an incredibly rewarding and incredibly inspiring thing to be a part of, and it sets a great example for everybody. 

At this point, are you sick of the word "Dallas"?

(Laughs) It's never a bad thing to be compared with an iconic show, and even though I think we're substantially different from that show, it's never a bad thing to be compared with an icon. Hopefully, the people who loved that show will love our show. 

Where is this season heading, and which storylines are you most excited to tell?

The season is headed towards lots of cards turning, lots of reveals, secrets, unexpected pairings, love triangles that will explode, business partnerships that will provide stakes. We have lives and deaths and crime involved against the backdrop of this aspirational show. It's about the aspirations, it's about the dark side of dreams and it's about all the twists and turns along the way. 

Blood and Oil airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

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