‘Training Day’ Bill Paxton Tribute: Ratings Soar After Debut

Fans of Training Day were left wondering what was going to happen to the new show after Bill Paxton passed away unexpectedly on February 25. If ratings from the March 3 tribute to the program’s deceased star are any indication, audiences are ready and willing to keep tuning in. In fact, the tribute episode helped Training Day rise out of a ratings slump that had seemed fated to lead to cancellation.

It remains to be seen exactly what the future holds for the CBS crime drama, but one thing has been made clear: Bill Paxton will not be replaced. Instead, if the decision is made to move forward, expect the creative team to retool the story and bring in a completely new character.

When news of Paxton’s death first hit the media, many were convinced that Training Day would be cancelled immediately. However, reports surfaced indicating that Bill Paxton did finish filming the entire 13-episode first season. This, combined with a ratings jump of 21 percent, will most likely convince CBS to air the remaining eight episodes.

Fans of the late Bill Paxton will need to wait a little longer to see more of his work as this coming Thursday evening will be filled by the first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The regional semifinal will also be aired by CBS on the following Thursday, so it’s unclear when Training Day will return.

There was a gracious tribute to Bill Paxton placed at the beginning of Episode 5, and this probably helped attract the attention of his fans. Sadly, the ratings dropped again for Episode 6 on March 9, although they were still stronger than the two episodes that preceded the death of the lead actor.

Industry experts continue to speculate that there will be no retooling and Training Day simply won’t return next season. This may be in everyone’s best interests as it would allow CBS to honor Bill Paxton by showing his last work without putting more money into Training Day, which has been under-performing since its debut. It also remains to be seen if viewer interest garnered after the actor’s death causes a ratings bump for any episodes that have yet to be aired.

Origin of Training Day: How Did Bill Paxton Get Involved?

When Training Day was first under development, the goal was to get Ethan Hawke to reprise the character of Jake Hoyt from the original source material. The 2001 film version of Training Day also starred Denzel Washington in a stunning role that led to him landing an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Training Day Cast and Director, Antoine Fuqua, Director, Denzel Washington & Ethan Hawke

When Hawke turned down the opportunity to bring Training Day to the small screen, the decision was made to create an entirely new character. Bill Paxton took the role of a corrupt cop, Detective Frank Rourke.

Perhaps part of the reason that Training Day wasn’t a big hit as a TV show is that it came 16 years after the movie of the same name. This extended wait most likely caused the show to not resonate with many moviegoers. When you combine this with the lack of any original actors, CBS was definitely taking a gamble that they could get audiences interested. This most likely led to casting Bill Paxton in TV’s Training Day, as he has typically drawn in large audiences with movies such as Aliens and Twister.

Bill Paxton Training Day Star at Twister Movie Premiere

Once CBS announces their plans for the rest of the first season, it will be much easier to determine whether or not the show has any type of future. If they do bring it back, it may be deemed necessary to get a fresh start by replacing the other lead, Justin Cornwell. In the meantime, Bill Paxton fans can take solace in the fact that his full work on Training Day will almost certainly air at some point and end up released on DVD and Blu-ray.

[Featured Image by CBS Photo Archive Contributor/Getty Images]