Donald Faison, Allison Tolman get chance to show dramatic chops in ABC's 'Emergence'

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019
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'Emergence' stars Donald Faison and Allison Tolman have made names for themselves in comedy; now they get the chance to show off their dramatic skills.

There's a new drama debuting on ABC that blends mystery, conspiracy, danger and a little girl who just may be at the center of it all. "Emergence" stars Allison Tolman as a small-town sheriff who finds a little girl at the site of a mysterious plane crash. Donald Faison plays Tolman's ex-husband. Both actors say the mysteries build each week but the series doesn't draw things out.

"We've been saying it's a sci-fi thriller, wrapped up in a family drama," said Tolman.

"We reveal a lot pretty early, you know?" said Faison.

"Our writers are doing a really incredible job of reframing the world and making the mystery wider and wider," said Tolman. "You think this is what you're talking about and then two episodes later you go, 'Oh! This is how deep the conspiracy goes!'"

"Emergence" offered something very different for Faison. In fact, after his audition, the actor, who is more known for comedy, told his wife he thought he'd blown his chances.

"I was like, 'Babe, I'll be honest with you. I did what I did, but I kind of think they just saw Turk from 'Scrubs,''" he said.

"Okay, second part of the story," said Tolman. "From Michelle (Fazekas) and Tara (Butters), our show runners. Donald came in, they were like oh it's Turk from 'Scrubs.' Sure, we'll watch this, but obviously we can't imagine this being the direction that it goes in. And then he won it in the room."

It's been a lot of work for these two funny people to sometimes stay focused on keeping serious.

"It's so challenging not to make jokes and try to crack everybody up," said Faison.

"But the good thing is it's a funny group, and a fun set too, so when you 'cut' you can make jokes," said Tolman.

"Right, and sometimes I try to sneak them in!" laughed Faison.

"Emergence" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.