Remember Rainn Wilson? It’s been almost two years since fans last saw the character Wilson made famous – Dwight Schrute – on NBC’s “The Office.” The actor has been relatively out of the spotlight since the show went off the air in 2013, but Wilson returns to primetime television Thursday where he’ll debut in a more serious role – sort of.
Thursday is the premiere of the new FOX detective series “Backstrom” – which airs at 9 p.m. EST. In the show, Wilson plays Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom, the head of Portland’s new Special Crimes Unit. However, while Backstrom will be taking on some serious cases, the brilliant detective is anything but serious himself.
Check out 9 things fans need to know before the premiere:
“Backstrom” will live and die with Wilson’s portrayal of the titular character – Everett Backstrom. When fans meet Backstrom he will be returning from a five year exile from serious police work for past offensive behavior. The irascible detective has been brought in to head Portland’s new Special Crime Units (S.C.U.) and handle the city’s most serious cases. Backstrom, who smokes cigars at crime scenes and will declare an apparent suicide a homicide investigation just so the bureau will pay for breakfast, is difficult to work with to say the least. His new partner, Detective Nicole Gravely (Genevieve Angelson), is frustrated that he only sees the worst in everyone, but he insists he “sees the everyone in everyone.”
As previously mentioned, the show will take place in Portland, Oregon. However, the Portland in “Backstrom” will not be the quirky, hipster-filled city made famous by IFC’s “Portlandia.” This Portland is dark, gloomy, and rainy – not to mention filled with murder cases for Backstrom to solve – and will remind fans more of the depressingly rainy “The Killing” – set in Seattle, another major Northwest city – than “Portlandia.”
"Backstrom" is based on a hit series of novels by Swedish criminoligist and author Leif G.W. Persson. The show will be in the hands of creator/EP Hart Hanson who previously worked as the creator and EP of "Bones."
In addition to Wilson, “Backstrom” will star Genevieve Angelson (“Top Five”) as Nicole Gravely, Backstrom’s new partner, Dennis Haysbert (“24,” “The Unit”) as Backstrom’s boss, Detective Sgt. John Almond, and Kristoffer Polaha (“Ringer,” “Life Unexpected”) as forensics expert Peter Niedermeyer.
5. Premiere Synopsis
The synopsis for Thursday’s premiere, “Dragon Slayer,” reveals that after taking over Portland’s S.C.U., Backstrom’s first case is the apparent suicide of a Senator’s college-aged son. However, things get complicated when evidence surfaces indicating the suicide might actually be a murder. Plus, Backstrom will butt heads with his doctor about the detective’s questionable health and diet.
6. Episode Titles
Here are the episode titles for Season 1 of “Backstrom” with the expected air date:
Episode 1 –“Dragon Slayer” – Jan. 22
Episode 2 – “Takes One to Know One” – Jan. 29
Episode 3 – “I Am a Bird Now” – Feb. 5
Episode 4 – “Bella” – Feb. 12
Episode 5 – “The Inescapable Truth” – Feb. 19
Episode 6 – “Give ‘Til it Hurts” – Feb. 26
Episode 7 – “Bogeyman” – Mar. 5
Episode 8 – “Love is a Rose and You Better Not Pick It” – Mar. 12
Episode 9 – “I Like to Watch” – Mar. 19
Episode 10 – “Title TBA” – Mar. 26
Episode 11 – “Title TBA” – Apr. 2
Episode 12 – “Corkscrewed” – April. 9
7. Guest Stars
Sarah Chalke will guest star in the series in the recurring role of Amy Gazanian. Gazanian is the ex-fiancé of Backstrom and must be a pretty interesting character to have ever put up with the grumpy detective for very long. Chalke is best known for her role as Dr. Elliot Reed on “Scrubs,” as well as roles in “How I Met Your Mother,” “Mad Love,” and “Rick and Morty.”
Reviews for the series have been mixed with critics praising the performances of Wilson and the ensemble cast, while criticizing the show's lack of originality as, essentially, the cop show's answer to "House."
Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "There are some interesting ideas, like calling out Gen-Xers for romanticizing pessimism, and several well-cast, offbeat supporting characters, but 'Backstrom' needs to find a more cohesive voice and stronger case-of-the-week plots if it wants to keep walking the prime-time beat."
The show holds a 53 out of 100 rating on review aggregate site Metacritic.
Watch the trailer for the premiere of “Backstrom” below:
"Backstrom" premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. EST on FOX. Will you be watching? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.