'Last Resort' co-creator Shawn Ryan on the series finale, 'Beverly Hills Cop' and more
Where would the ABC submarine drama have gone if this wasn't the last episode?
Shawn Ryan: The biggest piece of confidence I have is that I've really been wrecked three different times: once on "Lie to Me," when I ran it for a year, then "Chicago Code" and now "Last Resort," where I've had to go up against my friend Bill Prady's show "Big Bang Theory." The best thing I can say about this is it would be on CBS, so they can't put me on against that show. So I feel good about that. When we sold the show in the summer, I still had high hopes that "Last Resort" would be successful. In my mind, this was going to be a palate cleanser from that, very different. I always try to do things that are different from other things I've done in the past. And you could say this is another cop show, and I've done "The Shield" and "Chicago Code." But this is very different tonally. I've always wanted to do something more comedic, I've tried to sell several sitcoms in the last 6-7 years and couldn't get them made. This is sort of a backdoor way in which the studio and network feels comfortable, because of my resume, to give me a shot at doing something more comedic.
Shawn Ryan: I think you and I are both fans of a certain genre of movies in the 1980s, the "Beverly Hills Cop," "Midnight Run" kinda thing. And this is my shot at doing that on TV. Can you do visceral realistic grounded police work and action intermixed with real grounded, funny humor? A lot of movies and TV shows skew too comedic in my mind, and as a result, they feel too light and don't have stakes, and the bullets don't feel real and the stakes don't feel real. This is my attempt to get that alchemy right. This is another high-wire act. I never seem to give myself easy tasks in that regard, and living up to an iconic movie like that is going to be very difficult. But I like the high degree of difficulty tasks. I think we've got a real star in Brandon Jackson. I really really dig him and his acting and his sense of humor. I really bonded with him the last couple of months. It's the first time I've written a script where we already had the lead. It's a lot like a movie in a way, where you're crafting the character to the actor. I really enjoyed that.
Listen, it's going to be a CBS procedural. We're going to solve a case every week, but we're going to do it with a lot of humor and a lot of fun. And I would say the stealth thing I would like to get in is, in a day and age when income inequality and class inequities dominate a lot of the country, this is going to be an opportunity to put a young working-class kid in Detroit in the middle of Beverly Hills, you can do a lot of stealth social commentary.
What people remember about "Beverly Hills Cop" is the banana in the tail pipe, and Bronson Pinchot, and Axel making a big scene at the hotel check-in desk. A lot of that movie is really dark and really violent.
Shawn Ryan: Well, it was supposed to be a Sylvester Stallone movie until about three weeks before it started shooting.
So how are you going to approach that balance?
Shawn Ryan: My approach is to update it and make it feel modern and 2013. The pilot opens with a 4-5 minute sequence which I think is really harrowing and really dangerous, that would be something that you might have seen on "Chicago Code" or "The Shield." I want it to feel grounded in that way. There'll be some opportunities for laughs after that. It's not a laughs come first show. What I loved about the movie, when I talked with Eddie Murphy a lot about what he thought worked about it, is that when he would walk into a scene, you really didn't have an idea, 10 seconds in, whether it was going to be funny or dangerous or violent or silly. It could go in any direction. They didn't tip it. And a lot of the comedy in that movie is played in two shots without a lot of cutting. They just let it play. They don't use the cutting to accentuate the humor, which a lot of modern-day comedy does. It just played. If it played funny, it was funny, and if it played less funny, the audience didn't notice the strain of trying to make you laugh. That's a lot of what I'm going to try to bring to this. Obviously, we have to hire a director, and the director will be a huge part of how this plays tonally, but there's a lot to admire from that era, but there's also a lot that could be updated and modernized as well.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com
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