I Watched The CBS ‘Training Day’ Pilot So You Don’t Have To

Let’s say you really liked Training Day. As you should. Antoine Fuqua’s crooked cop thriller is one of the very best entires in the subgenre, a masterclass in mounting tension and performances from both Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke that transcend their genre trappings. It’s a great film. So if you like it, congratulations, you have terrific taste.

Now let’s say you thought Training Day was fine, but you thought it might be better served if it were run through the CBS homogenizing process and dumped on society in a more generic and uninspired, serialized TV show. The film just wasn’t obvious enough for you, and you want more tone-deaf dialogue, more meaningless action, more preposterous developments at every turn.

If that’s your bag, have I got the show for you.

CBS has adapted Training Day for their Fall network slate, much like FOX has done with Lethal Weapon. Only this time, ya know, to mix things up, the crooked cop is a white guy and the trainee is African American. And that crooked white cop, in case you had fears of subtlety or the lack of scenery chewing, is none other than overacting savant Bill Paxton, who plays openly corrupt Frank Rourke. Paxton is doing his typical “hey, man, whatevs” work here. The fresh meat is Justin Cornwell, played by Kyle Craig. He’s fine I guess. He’s breathing.

But there’s a twist! You see, Kyle Craig is fresh off a preposterous baby-saving incident that kicks off the show, one of the most absurd sequences I have ever witnessed. It has to be seen to be believed – but you can turn it off after that. And in his newfound fame, Craig is recruited by his captain to go undercover. You see, in this new Training Day universe, the events of the film have happened. Alonzo Harris’s antics are yet another blemish on the LAPD and all of the cases he was involved with were thrown out, leaving the streets overrun with ethnic criminals of all shapes and sizes. Craig is tasked with making sure this sort of corruption nonsense doesn’t happen with Rourke, and we’re off and running.

There’s really no need to break down plot details and developments in this pilot. You can probably guess everything here since this is a CBS show, and CBS works really hard to make every one of their “crime” shows look and feel the exact same. Your grandpa will love it. There’s plenty of arbitrary violence and action on display, but it’s not too violent. There’s no blood, don’t be ridiculous. And there is plenty of bland dialogue to condescend viewers.

Kyle Craig’s wife, for example, lays everything out in the first three minutes of the show. He’s the love of her life, hopefully the mother of his children, he needs to be careful in all his endeavors. Oh, and Craig has a partial license plate on his wrist from the car responsible for his cop dad’s death. Not a tattoo, mind you, but apparently just a sharpie number that he has to keep retouching at times during the show. First of all, you couldn’t get a tattoo, dude? It’s not important enough for that? Also, it sure seems like after a few DAYS – let alone YEARS – since your father’s death, those digits would be seared into your head. But maybe he has short-term memory loss… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you have that uncle who celebrates all the CBS shows… if he’s a fan of Blue Bloods or he can’t wait for the new season of CSI or NCIS: Milwaukee or whatever they have running these days, then absolutely point him in the direction of Training Day. It’s right in his wheelhouse. But if you (or your other, cooler uncle) has respect for the medium of crime drama storytelling, avoid this ridiculous show. Just go back and watch the movie. Hell, watch the movie every time the show comes on TV and you’ll be better off for it.

Larry Taylor - Managing Editor
Larry Taylor - Managing Editor
Larry is the managing editor for Monkeys Fighting Robots. The Dalai Lama once told him when he dies he will receive total consciousness. So he's got that going for him... Which is nice.