Original programming is the latest competitive element in television. Enter DirecTV and Rogue.
The network’s first original series pits Thandie Newton ( Crash) as Grace, a mother on the hunt for her son’s killer, but her day job as an undercover detective has her involved with Oakland crime kingpin Jimmy Laszlo ( Marton Csokas, The Lord of The Rings).
Grace struggles to keep her own family together while involved with Jimmy, his hot head son Alec ( Joshua Sasse, The Big I Am) and his power hungry wife Cathy ( Leah Gibson, Watchmen). The characters justify actions — many wrought with sex, violence and immorality — by invoking the importance of family.
“Family is the most important thing in the world,” Sasse says. “If you’re going to fight for anything, fight for love.”
Sasse, who auditioned for the role, got the part and starting shooting the series in the same week, describes Alec as ambitious, but says having his father still in charge creates an “internal struggle.”
Gibson says it is even tougher for Cathy to “hold her own” being a mob wife, but she appreciates the show’s female focus (Grace even reports to a female lieutenant).
“The female energy, particularly because it’s represented with such strength, it’s an appealing thing to watch,” Gibson says. “You’re used to seeing an undercover cop infiltrate a mob family. You’re used to that being a male role, but to have that be a mother who’s grieving, who’s lost her son, that’s a whole different dynamic on it.”
Rogue will have a 10-episode first season with a defined beginning, middle and end. Sasse said that the 45-minute runtime is a “big chunk out of your day,” but worth it due to the quality of writing. He said it’s shot like the film Drive.
Gibson took the idea a step further.
“I don’t really feel that this is episodic television; this is a 10-part movie,” Gibson said. “From beginning to end, the story progresses, it’s not 10 one-hour movies.”
Gibson and Sasse were quick to point out that Rogue is not merely a Sopranos copycat. The actors drew from the concepts of crime classics but feel they made the characters their own.
“It’s a completely separate thing. You want to pay homage to that but create something that has never been seen before as universal as the themes are,” Sasse says.
“Rogue” airs on DirecTV’S Audience Network (Ch. 239) every Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST.