Here are some of the surprises that may await viewers of the anxiously anticipated Feb. 12 episode of ABC’s thirtysomething.
· Nancy Weston (Patricia Wettig) has exploratory surgery, and the news is grim: Her cancer has spread, giving her a 5 percent chance of survival.
· Gary Shepherd (Peter Horton) is killed in a tragic accident.
· Nancy’s second-look surgery shows her to be free of cancer.
· Gary is seriously injured when a bus hits him while he’s bicycling, but he will recover.
· Absolutely nothing of consequence happens to Gary or Nancy, but little Janey finally speaks.
Confused? That’s just the way thirtysomething‘s creators, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, want it. Curiosity about this season’s plot twists has run high since Nancy’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed last January; over the summer, rumors of Gary’s pending demise spurred an even more complicated guessing game. So thirtysomething‘s writers and actors, hoping to avoid advance publicity that might diminish the segment’s impact, have gone to rare lengths to conceal pivotal plot lines; Zwick and Herskovitz are said to have even prepared a decoy script that was convincing enough to fool several insiders at ABC.
”They don’t want audiences to build up a particular emotion prior to the show,” says production company spokesman Kim Reed. ”I don’t think they filmed five different endings or anything like that. But honestly, I don’t know what they’re going to put into the episode.”
That murkiness may explain ABC’s advertising: Print ads will feature a photo of Wettig and Timothy Busfield (who plays her husband, Elliot) with the unrevealing slogan ”Life and Death.” ”We’ve leaked correct and incorrect information,” admits writer Richard Kramer, who is giving nothing away. ”Our basic premise is that how it ends shouldn’t matter.” You don’t say.