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TCA NEWS: BACKSTROM Panel with Showrunner Hart Hanson & Rainn Wilson, Dennis Haysbert, Genevieve Angelson, Kristoffer Polaha, Thomas Dekker & Page Kennedy

Backstrom Key Art

Backstrom panel at Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on January 17th.

Backstrom is a brilliant detective and a total dick, as the FOX key art says. Which is different from the Swedish Backstrom in the Leif GW Persson books, who’s a crap detective and a total dick with no redeeming qualities at all. The TV series chose to make American Everett Backstrom extremely good at his job to create empathy but then tests that empathy by voicing all the racist, sexist, homophobic and ageist thoughts in the Portland detective lieutenant’s head. Showrunner Hart Hanson says they’re counting on Rainn Wilson (The Office)’s likability to bring the funny to this crime-dy. But some TV critics are demanding  the show get rid of his racist, homophobic jokes pronto. That can’t be done. The part-procedural part comedy has already  filmed all 13 episodes in Vancouver. Hanson did address the issue back in October at a VIFF Industry panel calling Backstrom a misanthrope — someone who “hates himself and… hates humanity” — as opposed to a sexist, racist, ageist or homophobe. “He’s none of those things”, Hanson argued. “He hates humanity [as a whole].”

Related: VIFF Industry Panel Features Backstrom Showrunner Hart Hanson.

Or as Rainn Wilson put it at the TCA panel: “He hates himself worse than he hates anyone else.” Adding that the character comes from deep inside Hart Hanson’s “demonic soul”.

Setup: the brilliant but boorish Portland detective Backstrom returns to work five years after being kicked out for offensive behaviour. It’s up to members of his newly-formed Serious Crimes Unit like Detective Sgt. John Almond (Dennis Haysbert), Detective Nicole Gravely (Genevieve Angelson), Sgt Peter Niedermayer (Kristoffer Polaha) and ex-MMA fighter Officer Frank “the Muscle” Moto (Page Kennedy) to handle his oafishness and make sure his unorthodox methods hold up in court.  Gregory Valentine (Thomas Dekker) is his roommate.


Related: Backstrom’s Rainn Wilson Films on Burnaby’s Barnet Beach.

Genevieve Angelson told the TCA that people don’t react nicely to Backstrom. That her character and his punch each other a lot in scenes. But reportedly laughed adorably when asked if Rainn Wilson is the opposite of Backstrom. She also joked that the men on Backstrom are all 6’9″ so she had to stand on an apple box while filming.

Backstrom VPL

Robert Forrester is Backstrom’s Dad and Sarah Chalke is his his ex-fiancée Amy Gazanian.


Related: Backstrom’s Rainn Wilson and Sarah Chalke Film at Vancouver Art Gallery.

One of Backstrom’s tricks is to get inside the minds of others by saying “I am ….”, Rainn Wilson says. And it’s one of Wilson’s favourite things.

Backstrom premieres Thursday, January 22nd, after American Idol on FOX.

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