CBS' Golden Boy asks the age-old question: How far will someone go to succeed?
The new cop drama (premiering Tuesday at 10/9c before moving to Fridays at 9/8c on March 8) tells the story of Walter William Clark Jr. (Theo James), a young beat cop who eventually become the youngest NYPD police commissioner ever in just seven short years. But as the flash-forwards that bookend his present-day misadventures as a homicide detective demonstrate, Walter has definitely paid the price for his success.
"I didn't want him to be an American hero," James tells TVGuide.com of his character's future self. "I wanted him to be a damaged guy. You have this much older guy. [It's only been] seven years, but in terms of his loss, he's a shell of a man. It raises the game and you want to know how that happened and you see the juxtaposition between the two characters."
So how did that happen? That's still a bit of a mystery. "I don't exactly know what the story is that takes us there," creator and executive producer Nicholas Wootton tells us. "But I do know that I want to end with understanding what it takes to get him there and ultimately what kind of man he is now. The reason for the framing device is basically telling us, 'Look he makes it.' He's going to survive, which takes away an element of suspense from the storytelling. But it also gives it depth because now we have to say: What kind of a man is he? Was it worth it? And was it worth it to the people around him? That's the big mystery: What did it cost him?"
And the people around him are important. The pilot episode's present-day story line shows Walter's first day on the job as a detective. Although he wants to partner up with the department's current hotshot Detective Christian Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro), he's instead stuck with Detective Don Owen (Chi McBride), a veteran who seems more interested in retirement than taking on a trainee. But it's Owens who will ultimately put Walter — who helped care for his younger sister Agnes (Stella Maeve) when the pair was abandoned by their parents — on the right path. "He doesn't have parental figures and he's a lone wolf," Jones says. "So [Owen] becomes a father figure for better or for worse, and he shapes him. So, it's also a buddy bromance."