It has been a somewhat mixed few weeks for the TV adaptation of the 2001 crime thriller Training Day. First the show received a pilot order from CBS, which was most definitely a good thing. Unfortunately, the film’s director — and chief proponent of translating the project to TV — Antoine Fuqua then had to step out of the pilot’s director’s chair due to scheduling conflicts with his latest film. Compounding things was the exit of Training Day star Ethan Hawke, who had been in talks to reprise his role of Jake Hoyt. Thankfully, a bright spot has once again appeared on Training Day’s TV horizon, in the form of actor Bill Paxton (Aliens, Twister).
The plot of Training Day the series is basically a modified racial flip of the movie’s storyline, centering on a idealistic young black cop named Kyle Craig who is assigned to take down a corrupt white detective named Frank Rourke by infiltrating the elite LAPD unit that Frank oversees and gaining the rogue officer’s trust. If he had signed on, Hawke’s Jake Hoyt would have served as the now deputy chief of police, and the man who entrusted Kyle with this exceedingly dangerous undercover mission. With Hawke out, the deputy chief has been rewritten as a different, unrelated character who has yet to be cast.
As you may have guessed, Paxton is set to play Frank, who is none too pleased about the idea of babysitting a rookie. Just how irredeemable the Frank character will end up being remains anyone’s guess at this point, although Alonzo Harris proved that a man can wantonly commit heinous acts to further his own goals if he truly believes in the warped ideals that guide him.
Given recent TV anti-heroes, like Walter White, Rick Grimes, and Vic Mackey, though, it’s fairly easy to imagine Training Day’s writers choosing to take Frank into a more shades of gray area of morality instead of the outright monster that Alonzo arguably ultimately became. If Training Day is picked up to series, Frank will mark Paxton’s first regular role on TV since HBO’s Big Love came to its conclusion in 2011.
With Fargo already going strong on FX, and recent news of a TV series based on Martin Scorsese’s The Departed in the development pipeline, Training Day is likely to find itself entering a crowded sub-field of crime films being adapted for the small screen when the pilot finally airs. That’s not even taking into account the enormous amount of original TV dramas centered around cops and criminals. Training Day will have to lean on its character-based central concept if it hopes to stand out from the pack, and should probably avoid becoming bogged down in the usual procedural trappings of televised law enforcement.
The Training Day TV series has received a pilot order, but has yet to enter production.