Yes, you read that headline correctly. At Saturday’s Television Critics Association Press Tour day, CBS presented its upcoming midseason drama “Golden Boy,” from executive producers Nicholas Wootton and Greg Berlanti. The series clearly benefits equally from Wootton’s background on “NYPD Blue” and “Law & Order,” and Berlanti’s knack for character drama.
“Golden Boy” is particularly reminiscent of Berlanti’s “Jack & Bobby,” which was about a teenage boy and his younger brother — who the audience knew would ultimately become President of the United States. In “Golden Boy,” we meet Walter William Clark Jr. (Theo James), a rookie cop who we know will ultimately become the youngest NYPD Police Commissioner ever.
Clark has elements of “NYPD Blue’s” Andy Sipowicz, though he’s a much more morally ambiguous character. “[‘NYPD Blue’] was a show about its time,” says Wootton. “It was a character that people related to because there was something about those characters that were about their time. There was something fascinating to me about a character that could make mistakes and be redeemed … I knew if I would ever do a cop show that would have to be the genesis of it.”
The genesis of Clark, Wootton says, came after he saw Aaron Sorkin’s film “The Social Network,” about the very young, driven, and sometimes ruthless Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. “That feels to me like the modern young male,” says Wootton. “There’s this drive and ambition, and this sort of thoughtless forward thinking I-don’t-care-who-gets-burned ambition. i thought what if that was a cop… that sort of mentality lent it self to me, thinking that is a modern day character, of a young man who has this sort of ferocious ambition.”
The series also stars Chi McBride as Detective Don Owen, something of a mentor to Clark. In fact, Wootton likens them to Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan — but James nodded emphatically at the suggestion that Clark may also grow into something of a Darth Vader.
“You will see as we continue forth in the series that [Clark] is quite political,” Wootton says. “He is kind of devious. We see him learning the lessons that Chi’s character teaches him, and then we see him learn things that are completely, politically, kind of vicious. Theo’s character in this suffers great loss, which we do see in this season, sort of the basis for his political drive. In the first season there’s no real element of the Clark character having any sense of ‘I want to be the police commissioner’ but you see the elements clicking into place to become the man he is.”
The series premieres with two special previews at 10 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb 26 and Tuesday, March 5. It moves to its regular 9 p.m. timeslot on Friday, March 8.