Bill Paxton deals hard lessons in CBS' series update of the 2001 thriller, Training Day

CBS, Thursdays beginning Feb. 2, 10:00 PM ET

By Lori Acken

Moments into Thursday night’s Training Day premiere, you’ll know this for sure: star Bill Paxton is having the time of his life. No surprise, given the CBS series’ pedigree; it’s executive produced by action master Jerry Bruckheimer and director Antoine Fuqua, who guided Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke to Oscar nominations (Washington won Best Actor) in the 2001 crime thriller from which the series is culled.

Paxton plays LAPD Detective Frank Rourke in the comedy-laced drama, which picks up 15 years after Washington’s dirty Detective Alonzo Harris went down in a hail of Russian-mafi a bullets, leaving a miasma of underhanded dealings and newly emboldened criminals in his wake. Like Harris, Rourke gets things done via his own brand of policing — and that’s caught the attention of Deputy Chief Joy Lockhart (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), who assigns idealistic, second-generation cop Kyle Craig (impressive newcomer Justin Cornwell) to go undercover as Rourke’s trainee to fi nd out if the guy is wholly on the up and up.

“Training Day is really the idea of a seasoned, gnarly street detective taking on a young guy — the idealism of youth and people starting the profession of police work in this vocational, idealistic way, but finding out that it’s just bad guys getting away with bad things. And that in order to get results, you have to bend the rules a bit,” Paxton explains.

In addition to his new “trainee,” Rourke leads a pair of streetwise young detectives, played by Arrow’s Katrina Law and Pretty Little Liars’ Drew Van Acker, both of whom have ties to Rourke beyond the job. And both of whom are well versed in their leader’s unorthodox — and often laugh-outloud funny — tactics in bringing down L.A.’s worst criminals. “He’s quite an iconoclast and a guy that just loves to stir it up with everybody,” says Paxton of the straight-shootin’, wisecrackin’ Rourke. “His only saving grace is that he looks out for kids.”

Despite Training Day’s thoroughly modern action and storyline, Paxton notes, “As you get towa rds the last couple episodes, it goes directly back into the movie, insomuch as characters like Tom Berenger’s comes back. Justin’s character, Kyle, fi nds his way to a secret group who really are those characters from the movie, who still control a lot of things in the shadows and behind the scenes. We even go back to the Pacifi c Dining Car. They’re still going there!”