The Red Line Trailer: First Look At Greg Berlanti & Ava DuVernay’s CBS Event Series

Jira Calder-Brennan and Noah Wyle in The Red Line

CBS has an extended first look at the new event series The Red Line, from executive producers Greg Berlanti and Ava DuVernay. The series will be something of a first for the broadcast network, as it moves away from the usual police procedurals that have dominated its schedule for years now, to deliver an eight-episode event that follows the lives of three Chicago families in the wake of a police shooting that claims the life of an unarmed black man, who is married to Noah Wyle’s Daniel Calder. 

The format and the tone of the series will be the biggest departure for CBS, as The Red Line not only appears as though it will differ dramatically from the likes of Magnum P.I. or any of the various NCIS series currently airing on the network, but it will also be delivered in two-hour blocks, effectively turning each episode into its own mini-movie that will air over four consecutive Sundays, beginning in late April of this year. 

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The extended first look is similar to the sort of trailer networks would share with potential advertisers during the annual network upfront, and it’s easy to see why. The series has a sizable cast and an intricate plot that moves in and out of the lives of various people as they deal with the fallout of the police shooting. Take a look at the trailer and read the synopsis below: 

“THE RED LINE is an eight-episode event series that follows three very different Chicago families as they journey toward hope and healing after a tragedy connects them all. On the north side of Chicago, Daniel Calder is a high school history teacher mourning the death of his husband, an African American doctor who was shot by a white cop. As Daniel tries to comfort their grieving daughter, Jira Calder-Brennan, the two butt heads when she decides to search for her birth mother against his wishes. Daniel seeks comfort in his colleague – and Jira’s teacher – Liam Bhatt. On the south side, Tia Young scours news of the shooting, torn between her political ambition of running for alderman and risking it all to comfort the daughter she gave up for adoption as a teen. Tia’s husband, Ethan Young, a red line train operator and devoted father to their 6-year-old son, champions her running for office, but cautions her about connecting with Jira. On the west side, police officer Paul Evans is horrified that he shot an innocent man, conflicted about the circumstances around how it happened and worried about the public and legal fallout. His police partner, Victoria “Vic” Renna, whose loyalty may have driven her to go too far to protect him, and his brother, Jim Evans, a volatile former cop confined to a wheelchair after being shot in the line of duty, may cause more harm than good in their attempts to help him. As the stories of the Calder, Young and Evans families converge, a positive message surfaces: it’s possible to emerge from tragedy stronger than before, and it’s important to come together with others, not just to survive, but to thrive.”

That CBS is moving into event series is one of the more interesting bits stemming from the trailer. While The Red Line boasts two notable names in Berlanti and DuVernay, it’s the intent of the series, and what it signifies for network television that might be most interesting at this point. Though cable channels (premium and otherwise) and streaming services have been investing in limited or event series for years now, the format hasn’t really been the broadcast networks/ cup of tea. But as television continues to expand and viewers continue to deal with content saturation and Peak TV, the event series may soon become a way for networks to not only get more viewers’ but to produce content that feels as though it can compete with cable and streaming services. It will be interesting to see if The Red Line is the start of something new for CBS. 

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The Red Line premiers Sunday, April 28 @10pm on CBS.

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