Fox’s '9-1-1: Lone Star' looks a promising firefighting procedural with diversity, romance and accuracy
Procedurals can become a dull affair without a strong central storyline and ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ seems to have a solution to that already. A sophisticated Manhattanite, one can only expect a clash between the philosophies of Owen and those held by local Texans. This provides ammo for drama
Procedurals about cops, federal law enforcement and doctors are all too common. The one department that is yet to achieve any kind of mainstream success in this genre is the fire department.
While shows about firefighters have existed, they have failed to get the kind of recognition that crime and medical procedurals achieve with relative ease. Lo and behold, arrives ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’.
Fox’s upcoming firefighting procedural is a spinoff from the TV series called ‘9-1-1’ that follows the lives of Los Angeles first responders, be it the police, paramedics, firefighters or dispatchers.
‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ has every opportunity to strike big. For one, it stars Rob Lowe, an actor who has proven his prowess to play both serious and comedic roles on television.
Lowe, who is perhaps best known for playing Sam Seaborn in Aaron Sorkin’s White House drama ‘West Wing’ and Chris Traeger in the local government mockumentary 'Parks and Recreation', will take the role of Owen Strand in the show.
The lone survivor of his Manhattan firehouse on 9/11, Owen then had the Herculean task of rebuilding his station. 20 years later, after a firehouse in Austin, Texas, experiences a tragedy of its own, Owen is asked to do the same.
So, Owen shifts base to Texas along with his firefighter son, T. K. (Ronen Rubinstein) to take charge of the city’s fire safety. He has the additional task of rebuilding the team from scratch.
Procedurals can become a dull affair without a strong central storyline and thankfully, ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ seems to have a solution to that already. A sophisticated Manhattanite, one can only expect a clash between the philosophies of Owen and those held by local Texans.
This provides ample ammunition for drama. But this show boasts more than that. According to Fox’s synopsis of the show, “On the surface, Owen is all about big-city style and swagger, but underneath he struggles with a secret he hides from the world – one that could very well end his life.”
One has to wonder what that secret is. It adds a layer of mystique to this show. On top of that, there is his relationship with his son T. K., who is supposed to be a somewhat troubled man.
His demons, combined with the father-son dynamics, should also make for good TV. And then there is also the all-too-necessary romantic angle. The brilliant paramedic Michelle Blake (Liv Tyler) and Owen, if the trailer is any indication, would often be at loggerheads over jurisdiction and control.
But the power struggle is not sans sexual tension, is it? In the trailer, we see a brief clip of Owen and Michelle square dancing. And why not? It is Texas, after all!
And if all of this wasn’t fodder for good television, there is the whole process of Owen forming a new team. We have all seen this formula work wonders. Be it in ‘House M.D.’ or ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, new blood is always a solid source of diverse storytelling. And ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ will take that diversity to a possible new height.
Owen’s team will supposedly comprise of the devout Muslim Marjan Marwani (Natacha Karam), the transgender firefighter Paul Strickland (Brian Michael Smith), and the rookie Mateo Chavez (Julian Works).
While viewers of procedurals are hardly sticklers for accuracy, this show promises that as well. Recently, at the TCA Winter Press Tour presentation, Lowe spoke about how the cast underwent intense training for the roles.
He said, “I have done hour upon hour upon hour of training so god forbid someone in this room would have a medical emergency, I could almost help.” Tyler, speaking about how many of the show’s extras were first responders in real life, said they had a rich source of experts to turn to for guidance.
“That is really helpful for me because I can ask them a million questions while on set,” Tyler said. All in all, ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ aspires to crack the procedural formula and from the looks of it, it may just succeed.
‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ will premiere on Sunday, January 19, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, followed by another episode at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Monday, January 20.