TV Review - Training Day (2017)

This is another in an ever-growing list of movies turned into TV shows. Some film-to-TV adaptations are sheer reboots where the TV show starts over from the beginning. Some adaptations like this one are continuations where the TV show is essentially a sequel. The recent and recently cancelled Minority Report on FOX was a sequel series. It wasn't an engaging series because it didn't seem to understand what made the original film powerful or interesting. The same could be said about this series. It takes place about 15 years after the film Training Day (2001), starring Oscar-winner Denzel Washington as corrupt cop, Alonzo Harris, and Ethan Hawke as rookie cop, Jake Hoyt, who is taken under Alonzo's twisted tutelage and who becomes a pawn in Alonzo's crazy drug and murder plot.

What made the movie powerful and interesting is how the whole thing danced on a razor's edge of increasing boundary pushing and moral conflict. This TV series unfortunately has sapped all the edge and moral conflict out of the story and characters. As such, it's just not exciting and quite frankly boring.

In a sense, the best adaptation of this movie came six months after the theatrical release of that 2001 film, and it was FX's The Shield, which premiered in March 2002. That FX series was and continues to be the best expression of corrupt cops that has perhaps ever been put on any screen, big or small.

That series pushed boundaries and had high moral conflict. It was completely unafraid to be really gritty and dirty. It was authentic in that sense. This series is in a way clean and slick. It less wants to be real as it wants to be clever. It doesn't help that there's already a corrupt cop series on TV that's a pretty good successor to The Shield, and that's NBC's Shades of Blue.

The best that can be said of this series is that it settles as yet another standard cop show. There are tons of cop shows. They're really a dime-a-dozen. This one is no better or worse than those dozens of police procedurals. It's no better or worse than the myriad of CSI knock-offs or even the more brazen Chicago PD.

Justin Cornwell stars as Kyle Craig, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department who is the son of a celebrated cop who is now deceased. He's promoted to detective and is assigned to partner with a detective who the deputy chief thinks will become the next Alonzo Harris. He's assigned to assist but also observe and report.

Bill Paxton (Big Love and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) stars as Frank Rourke, the aforementioned detective who is thought to become the next Alonzo. It's a slight lack of conviction that Frank is a white guy because examining police politics in a post-Black Lives Matter world would have been more compelling if both cops in the lead here were African-American and it would have made this series that much more unique. The truth is Frank isn't a potential Alonzo Harris, but that has little to do with the color of his skin.

The way Frank behaves seems like he has the potential to be somewhere between Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon (1987) or John McClane from Die Hard (1988). It just doesn't appear likely that he would evolve into an Alonzo Harris or even a Vic Mackey from The Shield. He just doesn't have that kind of verve, ego or desperation

For example, in the first episode, writer Will Beall (Castle) attempts to tackle the Black Lives Matter issue of cops shooting an unarmed man. The problem is this show doesn't have the courage of its convictions. The person who gets shot isn't a black person or any minority. The person shot is a white guy who is a known murderer and possible terrorist. There is no question or moral quandary worthy of pause for more than two seconds. It's easy and rather lame.

Rated TV-14-LV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thursdays at 10PM on CBS.


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