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Training Day - Premiere - Apocalypse Now - Review - “Good Cop - Bad Cop”

Since I am relatively new to SpoilerTV, let me tell you a little about myself. One of my biggest pet peeves as a writer is to see announcement after announcement of a remake or a reboot of a popular movie or television series. My friends and followers on social media will tell you my timelines are filled with the hashtags, #NoMoreRemakes and #BoycottRemakes.

I know most of the time the reasons for them come down to basic economics, but it hurts my soul to know there are so many writers out there with great original stories that are sacrificed to RemakeLand.

That being said, I was looking forward to the premiere of Training Day on CBS (Thursdays at 8EST/9CST) because two actors I enjoy watching, Bill Paxton (Big Love) and Katrina Law (Arrow), were in it. I was willing to break my own rule and give the show a chance, thinking maybe this time they would get it right. Rarely does a TV series based on a movie succeed, i.e. Rush Hour, but Lethal Weapon had given me hope, so against my instincts I watched.

Usually when a show is based on a movie one of two things happen, producers are either so afraid to disappoint a film’s fan-base and remove all the elements that made the film a success or they will go to the other extreme and end up trying too hard to recapture movie magic.

As most pilots or premiere episodes of a series, most of the time is spent telling you who the characters or players are and what direction the story is going to go. The first episode, as one would expect, builds the foundation for the series, unfortunately in this case the foundation is a shaky one.

Being a Jerry Bruckheimer production how else would one expect Training Day to begin except with a plethora of gunfights and explosions.The show literally explodes on the screen with three major explosions in the first quarter of the show. Each explosion in this case,is used like flashing beacons to tell us things it believes it's important we must know.

The first, second generation Police Officer Kyle Craig (Justin Cornwell) rescues a baby during a gunfight. He grabs the child and dives through a second story apartment window with the child in his arms, landing on the roof of a car below. He does all this as the apartment explodes behind them due to the child’s father firing a weapon in the room after a gas line ruptures. What does this explosion tell us? We’re being heavy-handedly told Kyle is a hero, just like his late police-officer father.

The second explosion a short time later comes in the form of a street person firing an RPG into an SUV and armed men attack the ambulance and mysterious patient it was transporting. Someone wants that patient dead, in a very bad way. Before the RPG is fired the driver tells the ambulatory patient that a bum is blocking the way, to which the patient tells the driver to run over the man, kill him. So now we have learned from this explosion/gunfight that we have two villains and they REALLY do not like each other. We later learn they are fighting for control of a Mexican drug cartel in a battle that is being fought on the streets of L.A.

The third explosion comes courtesy of a Molotov cocktail thrown into a drug house by the series lead character, rogue cop, Frank Rourke (Paxton). He uses a riot gun to stun everyone fleeing the house until he gets to the leader. All this because the leader tried to coerce a young neighborhood boy into being a runner and the boy was brave enough to report it to the police, namely Frank. So, this third explosion in a very short time tells us, if we didn’t know it before, that Frank is a bad-ass.

To me this is heavy-handed storytelling that doesn’t let up throughout the rest of the episode. The show is trying hard to come across as edgy and intense but doesn’t quite accomplish that feat.

Training Day, the series, set 15 years after the 2001 film that earned Denzel Washington an Oscar® falls into the latter category of previously described premiere episodes. The show exhibits further heavy-handedness in another early scene where Deputy Police Chief Joy Lockhart, (Marianne Jean-Baptiste-Blindspot) summons Officer Craig to City Hall where she asks him if he remembers Alonzo Harris (Washington’s character in the movie). He tells her his class learned about Harris and the problems he caused in a class on ethics at the Academy. She tells him he’s being promoted to detective and being sent undercover to investigate another rogue cop, Frank Rourke because the department can’t afford another cop like Alonzo Harris. And just why is Craig being chosen for this assignment? Because he’s a hero, an explosion told us so.

There’s just one little problem, Frank Rourke is no Alonzo Harris.

The usually dependable Bill Paxton seems off and ill at ease as Frank Rourke, trying just a little too hard to be Denzel. He’s better off being Frank. Though I can’t lay all the fault at Paxton’s feet, some of it lays with the writing.

I think Det. Frank Rourke in L.A. and Det. Ethan Slaughter, NYPD would be great drinking buddies. Don’t recognize the name? Slaughter was the rogue cop played by Adam Baldwin in Castle’s Season 4 Episode “Headhunter.” I’m wondering. Is there is a rogue cop playbook for television that says that all rogue cops must be unshaven, wear a greasy looking baseball cap, have a souped up coupe from the 80’s and at some point in an episode drive around with a suspect in the trunk of the car banging for attention? See the similarities? I’m not totally surprised by the connection because Will Beall the writer/creator of Training Day was a writer on Castle. (In full disclosure, he is not listed as a writer for the Castle “Headhunter” episode)

The rest of the cast offer both highs and lows for Training Day. To me Julie Benz (Defiance) is wasted in this episode as Holly Butler, a Hollywood Madame dressed in virginal white and killer heels, which she does use effectively to escape a thug. Oh, a in an almost throwaway line you learn she’s in a relationship with Frank. The Rogue Cop and the Hollywood Madame. I wanted to know more about how they got together.

Drew Van Acker (Pretty Little Liars) and Katrina Law are the attractive young, edgy cops of Frank’s team. Van Acker is Det. Tommy Campbell, the long-haired detective with surfer boy looks who may be Training Day’s computer nerd. Law plays one of the more interesting characters in the series, Det. Rebecca Lee, a cop with a chip on her shoulder and the sharp-shooting skills of an assassin.

Training Day waits until the final act to serve up its most interesting twist, one that will keep me watching. You learn that Frank not only went to the police academy with Kyle’s father, but that Frank suspects Deputy Chief Lockhart, who was once Kyle’s father’s Captain, was involved in Kyle’s father’s death.Frank says Kyle’s father came to him worried about something. Something Deputy Chief Lockhart wants but can’t find and thinks Frank knows where it is. That’s why she sent Kyle to investigate him.

Frank’s words give Kyle the clue he needs to decipher the tattoo he has on his arm. He believed it to be a partial plate of the getaway car of his father’s killer, but in reality, it was a verse of scripture that lead them to a box buried by Kyle’s father.In the box is a key. A key to what?

With Frank’s help, Kyle has managed to solve a small mystery about his father that had plagued him for years. It’s enough for him to begin questioning his original by-book-opinion of Frank and he decides to help bring Frank out of the dark he believes him to be in. The trainee wants to be the trainer.

Is Frank right? Was Deputy Chief Lockhart involved in Kyle’s father’s death? And can Kyle bring Frank back into the light? What do you think? Talk about it in the comments below.


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