TNT introduces a 10-episode limited series, "Murder in the First," on Monday, June 9 from executive producers Steven Bochco ("NYPD Blue") and newcomer Eric Lodal that will follow a complex homicide investigation set in San Francisco. Assigned to the case are homicide detectives Terry English (Taye Diggs) and Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson), who discover as they examine two seemingly unrelated murders, that both victims have a common denominator in Silicon Valley wunderkind Erich Blunt (Tom Felton), who becomes their main suspect.
Blunt is a genius, who viewers will love as much as hate. He has mad computer skills that offer the world something of great value -- and he knows it, but he also has a side to him that is rooted in childhood trauma, which makes him a bit of a sociopath. Abandoned by his parents, he was dumped into the foster care system, and he has come out the other end feeling entitled.
In the pilot episode, it is the murder of a junkie in the Tenderloin district that sets SFPD detectives English and Mulligan on the trail of the city's youngest billionaire, tech genius Erich Blunt. But English's ability to focus is troubled as his wife (Anne-Marie Johnson) battles stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Then, just as the inspectors begin closing in on the case, Blunt's beautiful flight attendant is found dead.
Before tuning in on Monday night, Emmy winner Steven Bochco filled us in on five things to know about "Murder in the First."
No. 1: The impetus for the series
I don't think we've re-invented the wheel, but that wasn't the assignment. Michael Wright [TNT's president of programming] was interested in developing a show that had a single storyline over the course of the season, which is 10 episodes, which is great. Because when I did "Murder One," that was 22 hours and that was a lot.
Michael was interested in a show that featured all the facets of the criminal justice system wrapped around a murder. I was, "I know how to do that." I loved the idea of San Francisco because we haven't seen that a lot.
The idea was to start as a police drama, where a murder mystery unfolds, and let that police drama morph into a legal drama and a courtroom drama, and then it comes back full circle into a cop show again.
No. 2: Why San Francisco was the perfect setting
San Francisco is a great city for this kind of a story because its entire criminal justice system is housed in one giant building at 850 Bryant Street. It is like an entire city block -- all of the court system, the district attorney, the police, the jails, so it gives it a nice box to play in.
What we do is what we did on "NYPD Blue," we bank one day per episode and every four or five episodes, we go up to San Francisco and shoot for a week. We were there for the pilot, obviously, and we just got back from a week, and we will go back up in another three weeks.
No. 3. The inspiration for the story
If you look at big-time sports and all these young men, who in their 20s have millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, and they have been stars since they were this big [indicates child size]. They have never heard the word no, so they have grown up with a sense of entitlement that sometimes borders on socio-pathological behavior, because they don't have to deal with the pushback that the rest of us do in life, so it was really interesting to develop a character like that [who is involved with technology rather than sports].
No. 4: How did you decide on the balance between technology and the human element?
That is an interesting question. San Francisco is still sort of mired in the 20th century in terms of how they work. When you go to 850 Bryant and you to go to the homicide division, what you are struck by is the vast sea of paper. Everything is in boxes. It is real, old-school police work. While we are telling a story about a high-tech person, the guts of the show doesn't have us glued to a computer screen or a GPS system.
No. 5: Season 2 is a totally different crime with only the cops and the prosecutors remaining the same.
I don't think you would have got Tom Felton to commit to a television series long-term. I don't think James Cromwell would have made that commitment. When you say, "Come play with us for four months, and then you're done," I think you can attract a level of talent that you might not put together for a TV show.
"Murder in the First" premieres on Monday, June 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TNT, following the Season 3 premiere of "Major Crimes."