Set in wintry Chicago, through which runs the Red Line train, Ava DuVernay and Greg Berlanti's new eight-part mini series deals with the aftermath of a mistaken shooting of African-American surgeon Harrison Brennan (Corey Reynolds) by a young white cop.
The incident sparks the unlikely intersection of three families’ lives. We meet high school teacher Daniel Calder, played by ER's Noah Wyle, as he grapples with a new reality with adopted daughter Jira (Aliyah Royale) after his husband Harrison's untimely death; rising politician Tia Young (Emayatzy Corinealdi), who happens to be Jira’s birth mother and the cop himself, Paul Evans (Noel Fisher).
The series marks Wyle's comeback to a new Chicago-based drama after 90s hit ER. The Emmy-nominated actor, now 47, won acclaim for his portrayal of dedicated and empathic doctor John Carter in the show's 15-season run.
In The Red Line, co-created by Caitlin Parrish (Supergirl, Under the Dome) and Erica Weiss (The View From Tall), Wyle's character once again taps into complicated emotional territory as he attempts to seek justice for his late husband while dealing with the unsettling reality that the same thing may happen to his African-American daughter one day.
As the story unfolds, we're given a window into the private struggles of politician Tia and her supportive husband Ethan (Howard Charles); and officer Paul, who’s backed by his fiercely loyal cop partner Vic (Elizabeth Laidlaw) and his protective brother Jim (Michael Patrick Thornton) as they pick up the pieces of their lives.
Stoic and wise beyond her years, 17-year-old Jira is determined to meet her birth mother. For it to happen, however, she legally needs her father’s sign-off. Daniel refuses, compounding his pain to see Jira hurt, but he’s just as determined to protect her.
Meanwhile, Tia is considering making herself known to Jira in the wake of the young woman’s grief, a decision her husband disagrees with, not least because of how it may affect her political aspirations.
Fledgling cop Paul is sickened by his fatal error on the night of the shooting. Vic and Jim form a strong forcefield of support around him. Their loyalty is fierce to the point of stifling. Has Vic gone too far to protect his actions?
As the characters forge their lives anew, we’re swept up in caring deeply about their welfare, and are reminded of the complicated reality of race-based violence, the beast that is grief and the fortifying power of unconditional love. This is an excellent series that makes you glad about television.
The Red Line is now available as a complete season at SBS On Demand.
Ron Howard calls into the The Playlist studio from the Rome Film Festival, to talk about his new documentary, 'Pavarotti', about the life and loves of Luciano Pavarotti. Elsewhere he tells Fiona about what he has been watching (in what little time he has to spare whilst making three movies simultaneously), and why, as a director, he feels compelled to make a conscious effort to mix up his movie choices.