The TV series “Training Day” aired on CBS for a single season in 2017, and while it got a decent 68% approval from the audience on Rotten Tomatoes, it didn’t fare well with critics, so it is likely we can say farewell to the possibility of a season 2 in the future. There are a number of reasons for this, though nothing has to do with the death of actor Bill Paxton a month after the show aired. All the episodes for season 1 had been completed, and the network said if there was to be a season 2 it would be without Paxton’s character.
This leaves the question as to why Training Day 2 as a TV series is virtually doomed. The basic reason is it makes some basic mistakes when trying to move a 2 hour popular movie to the small screen. Historically, few TV shows have successfully pulled off the move. Here are some others.
The flashback is the worst type of plot device that can be used in a TV series. It’s like watching a soap opera except it is compressed into a 60 minute time slot. Yes, there are people who watch soap operas, but the basic action of the movie Training Day was only a bit soapy. This is the fault of the writers, who apparently couldn’t be creative enough to actually put together a 12 week continuous plot and storyline.
This criticism is again tied to the writers, who clearly made the women on the TV show simply stereotypical objects to be pursued, just like the early days of television. Of course, back then there was no #metoo movement, which only exacerbates the problem. It would be interesting to find out how many of those 68% Rotten Tomato approvals were male.
It was on TV
As strange as this sounds, the fact is there are things you can get away with in the movies that are far more difficult to make happen on the small screen. In defense of the writers, who maybe shouldn’t be defended, you have to walk a fine line to make both the critics happy and pass muster for the TV censors. The line could have been crossed to find out what they could have gotten away with, but the script ended up trying to play it too safe. The final result was a muddled mess that had fans of the movie devotedly watching it, hoping for a regular Training Day series.
OK, we hated to do this but the fact is that the main character of Training Day the Series was basically a non-law and order guy. He operated without rules, which obviously appealed to many viewers, but ran contrary to the cultural tone. That doesn’t mean the 68% of approving viewers were all anti-Trumpsters, but TV history tells us that if there is an acceptance to breaking the rules it should have significant popular support. Consider M*A*S*H* when it opposed the Korean War with an insolent and anti-patriotic Hawkeye Pierce and “24” where Jack Bauer was running up against terrorists of every sort. Both politically incorrect, anti-law themed shows that were among the most popular in their generations.
If you pay attention to the types of TV shows the major networks offer their viewers, you will see a pattern. CBS has problems generating any comedy shows for some odd reason, but seem to get the doctor-first responder shows exactly right. CBS tends to avoid shows that have a very dark theme, which was required of a Training Day movie transition. Again, in defense of the writers they had to work with the network. It’s not like they could freelance with the script and hope the network liked it. How dark is too dark? It depends what channel you tune in to.
In the end, Training Day failed because it ended up being a sanitized version of the movie. Critics of the critics need to realize that there are 1,000 cop shows that have been tried, and what made Training Day the movie so popular was its grit and darkness packed into a 2 hour time frame. Not only did the TV version fail to capture this quality, in part because of the network’s personal standards, but because it had to do it on an episodic scale.
Few movie-to-TV conversions have fared well, and this is no exception. The fact that CBS picked up the show in the first place may tell you something about why the other networks passed on it. If there is any hope for a reboot to the Training Day TV series it will have to come from another network.