How the training day series should have worked
Whether you love the original 2001 film, training day, or not, there’s no denying that this feature helped cement Denzel Washington as one of the greatest actors of our generation. It was the actor’s first time as the villain and Denzel Washington knocked it out of the park. The general consensus on Antoine Fuqua’s Vehicle is that it is one of the best crime dramas of the early 2000s. Now, spoiler alert, Alonzo Harris is ruthlessly gunned down by the Russians after failing to repay costs. There was no teasing of a sequel or spin-off, but Hollywood being Hollywood, executives saw a popular brand and wanted to capitalize on it. That brings us to the 2017 CBS spin-off.
Fifteen years later, the world remains the same, but the cast of characters is different. This time we follow Kyle Craig, who goes undercover in the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Special Investigations Sections to spy on Detective Frank Rourke, who may or may not be such a good soldier. Rourke seems sleazy in the vein of Alonzo Harris, and Craig must gather information on the detective. The series only lasted one season due to low viewership and critical ratings. One of the biggest issues with the show was that it was brilliant CBS procedural under the training day Name. It failed to separate itself from your typical network crime drama and the characters were quite dull and bland. Rourke was just another stereotypical anti-hero, and even worse, the show didn’t hide who Rourke was. His moral ambiguity was evident from the start, but that wasn’t exactly the major problem. The reason why the original training day is so beloved is that it teased the complexity of human nature when put into a world that forces their hand. There’s no denying what a corrupt snake Harris is, but there’s an underlying mystery about his character that made him the man he was. Have the streets turned Harris into a corrupt, power-hungry officer? Or was he always a slimy human being who rose through the ranks?
We’re given clues about Harris’ past, but never got an answer. However, Harris did not consider himself a freak. He certainly didn’t make this notion known to Hoyt throughout the film, even when it becomes clear that he is a snake. This ideology could have worked in the context of a television series. First, get rid of stupid procedural crap. training day shouldn’t have been on CBS in the first place. The network is not known for its high quality shows. When it was announced that training day would go to CBS so most fans knew it would end up being a lame procedural. And he did. Second, the actor who plays Kyle Criag seems too clean. There was a certain gritty to Jake Hoyt’s character where you thought he could be in a world full of gangsters and drug dealers. This was not felt with Kyle Craig. I know he wasn’t portrayed as a gangster or a thug, but he just didn’t fit into that world despite the show making him look like a good guy.
Like I said before, the ideology of the original movie works, if we generally saw a man struggling in a corrupt and broken world. The procedural format hinders this notion because there’s no chance for the characters to develop their way of seeing the world, and their overall arc wouldn’t have been compelling. But even then, the most interesting aspect is Alonzo’s son. He may not have witnessed his father’s murder, but he surely saw the betrayal of the neighborhood. Maybe he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps? Or maybe he’s using his power to maintain the place he grew up in? Maybe he just finished being a gangster? There are plenty of interesting avenues to explore that still play on the original film but aren’t a copycat. The series is essentially a simplified version of the 2001 feature. However, it could have been a prequel to the original film itself. How exactly did Alonzo Harris become the monster that paraded the streets? This is where the real money is. Naturally, it’s probably hard to find an actor who can take on the role of Harris following Denzel Washington, but that could also have been a direction they’re going in. Either way, exploring those who live or work in a poor neighborhood could have been an interesting arc. We see a lot of neighborhood movies or shows, but we rarely get that perspective from the police and how it affects their mental work in the toughest city in the neighborhood. training day was a great idea that should have worked.