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‘3 Body Problem’ Was Delayed for Months to Add One Scene That Made It Better

Netflix’s 3 Body Problem was actually finished and ready to be released on the streamer in mid-2023.

But showrunners David Benioff, Dan Weiss and Alexander Woo realized their sci-fi epic adaptation of Liu Cixin’s acclaimed novels was missing something: Their first episode quickly plunged viewers into a mystery surrounding the suicides of top scientists and a mix of brainy characters — but too quickly and, even, rather confusingly.

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So they crafted a scene to be shot and inserted near the very beginning, of Auggie (Eiza González) and Jin (Jess Hong) having a drink in a bar. The five-minute scene accomplishes an extraordinary amount of heavily lifting in a very short time. The scene introduces Auggie and Jin, gives them a chance to literally spell out their respective careers (when they’re approached by a drunken flirt), gives some sense of their romantic lives (like when Auggie gets a call from Saul), explains a bit about how science has “broken,” connects the duo to Vera’s suicide and gradually begins Auggie’s countdown clock. Without the scene, the episode went from Vera’s suicide into the Oxford Five assembling for her funeral, with Auggie already seeing the countdown. Without the scene, it’s tough to imagine the episode working nearly as well.

Typically, adding one conversational scene wouldn’t have caused such a long delay, but the Hollywood strikes extended the time it took to get the episode shot.

“We got the scene written the day before the strike,” Weiss recalls to The Hollywood Reporter. “It was literally five pages, but we really thought it was worth doing. Netflix was great about it. It would have been very easy for them to be like, ‘You have a finished show that is ready to air, for us to hold that [for a scene that’s] five minutes of two people in a bar … that it took some fortitude for them to just say, ‘Yeah.'”

Allowing the team the extra latitude was not a hard decision, adds Netflix scripted head Peter Friedlander. “I want to tell the best version of this story, and if there’s a critical moment that the producers want to capture and we have the time and resources to do it, I want to figure it out with them,” he tells THR. “They were total professionals, total collaborators and very clear what their vision is. I don’t want the audiences to miss out on that. So it was not a hard decision for me.”

Since the show’s release last week, the Rotten Tomatoes review scores for 3 Body Problem, both critic and audience, have gradually climbed (now up to 77 and 78 percent, respectively), while the show has risen from No. 2 to No. 1 on Netflix’s Top 10 viewership chart. The jury is still out whether drama will get a second season, but the showrunners have said it would be even better than the first.

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