Director Antoine Fuqua, who is pretty much an ace in the hole with great movies like Shooter, The Equalizer, and last year’s The Magnificent Seven, brings another one of his hit movies to television this month. This time Fuqua is in the executive producer role along with Jerry Bruckheimer for Training Day, a sequel series to the film, airing Thursday nights at 9 p.m. Central on CBS, starring Bill Paxton (Aliens, Apollo 13, Edge of Tomorrow, Twister, Weird Science) and newcomer Justin Cornwell, with Julie Benz (Angel) and Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Without a Trace). The series is directed by Danny Cannon (Gotham, CSI, Eleventh Hour).
Training Day was the 2001 surprise hit that garnered Denzel Washington an Oscar and Ethan Hawke one of his four Oscar nominations. It’s known for its gritty realism and its view of urban street life with a rookie (Hawke) in his first day in a new role with a veteran cop of questionable motives and actions (Washington). The series is far less gritty, fitting the modern police procedural framework with more humor and bordering a bit on the melodramatic.
For the series, which aired its first episode last night, we’re brought 15 years after the events in the movie with young do-gooder detective Kyle Craig, played by Cornwell, tasked by the squad’s deputy chief (Jean-Baptiste) to track the actions of an alleged crooked cop, Detective Frank Rourke, played by Paxton. Training Day’s first episode reveals this is just the latest in decades of L.A.P.D. shows going back to Dragnet. It’s plenty fun simply to watch an hour of Bill Paxton spouting those quirky words of wisdom his characters are known for. Episode one even throws in a Western stand-off complete with some background music straight out of an old Western TV show.
The plot of the series is swappable for any police procedural. The hook with the series is the title, which fit the movie better since the entire movie took place in one day, but Training Day could easily be a follow-up to Martin Scorcese’s Departed, another film about a rookie trying to get the goods on a bad cop. The change-up is in the title–who is training whom? The TV series updated the movie’s 1979 Monte Carlo with an even earlier muscle car for the series taking place so many years later–you can envision a series 40 years from now still using 1970s cars as their street rides. Ultimately it will be enough for Paxton fans to see him driving around in that car in a seedy L.A. doing his shtick every week.
Here is a behind the scenes look and a preview for CBS’s Training Day: