A few weeks ago, news came out that CBS was dropping their CIA comedy CHAOS from the schedule, and as a result was pushing the U.S. premiere of established police procedural Flashpoint up a month to the 8pm slot. A slot which is new to the show as Flashpoint has always been switching between the 9pm and 10pm slots since it began in the summer of ’08.
I had the chance to ask series co-creator Mark Ellis about what fans can expect from the upcoming season:
CBS moved the premiere up because of the under-performance of CHAOS. Do you have any worries with Flashpoint becoming the night’s lead-in as opposed to the closer, or do you view it as a sign of confidence on CBS’s part?
I do think it’s a vote of confidence. We’ve hit our stride this season and the episodes we’re shooting right now are pretty exciting.
What can fans expect from the new episodes?
Big stories. We deal with terrorism, riots, massive drug busts and bombs. There will be a two-part episode that’s a game-changer for the team. We dwell more on team stories. Parker and Ed’s friendship and leadership are tested. Sam and Jules make tough decisions. Spike and Wordy have huge episodes this year. And there will be new characters too. Our writing team this year is incredibly strong.
You’ve been talking a lot about putting focus on some of the other members of the team this season that haven’t really been put in the spotlight before, could you elaborate on that?
There’s a Spike episode we’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ve just seen a cut and it really exciting. David Frazee directs and our production team did an outstanding job. It’ll come up late season. Wordy has a really interesting journey this season. Mike Cram puts in some outstanding performances.
Victor Garber will be guest starring in an episode this season, what was it like to work with him? Is he a fan of the show?
Well, I didn’t ask him. I kinda just hung around on set and basked in his awesomeness. Victor is a complete pro. An absolute gentleman. He raised everyone’s game. He’s in two episodes and we’re brainstorming ways to bring him back.
Since these episodes are the ones of season 3 that are left to air in the U.S., I assume you are well into the production of season 4. How is that going so far?
These remaining episodes will be followed by some of the new scripts we’re shooting now. We’re halfway through filming the next 18. Every season there’s a few episodes I love, a lot that were good, and a few I wish we’d had more time to tinker with… this year our batting average goes up.
One thing cop shows love to do is pull stories from recent news headlines from time to time. I know the pilot of Flashpoint was inspired by a real life incident – will we be seeing any more of that in the future?
We are inspired by what we read and by the stories we hear from cops. We rarely rip straight from the headlines. For example, the G20 was in Toronto last summer. But we put our riot story into a very different context and worked hard to personalize the issue at the heart of the protest. We consider how difficult it is for cops to get everything right in these volatile situations and try to give a balanced take on both sides of the line. Max Martini does a great guest turn in the episode. I was a big fan of The Unit and it was great to get him on our show.
And finally, cop shows made a huge comeback this season in both the U.S. and Canada with shows like The Chicago Code, Endgame, and Hawaii 5-0. Are there any cop shows or just shows in general that really stood out to you this season?
I really like Endgame. A challenging concept and I think Avrum Jacobson really pulled it off. David Frazee was heavily involved in that show and did great work. I read the pilot for Chicago Code (then titled Ride Along) and it’s a master class in great writing. Shawn Ryan is at the top of his game. Same goes for Graham Yost, a fellow Canuck who I’d love to work with one day. Justified was outstanding.
Flashpoint returns this Friday at 8pm on CBS.
To listen to the latest episode of Merrill’s TV Podcast, The Idiot Boxers with Kevin Carr, head over to Fat Guys at the Movies.