NEW YORK -- "Will Trent" debuted to the best ratings for an new series on ABC this season.
Almost 9 million viewers saw the first episode on the network and on Hulu, where it starts streaming after its primetime airing at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays.
There's an old saying in network TV that, "imitation is the sincerest form of television," and this is so often true; but once in a while a show comes along that's different enough to warrant your time and attention.
"Will Trent" is just such a show. The format may be familiar, but it's a police procedural with characters who are as interesting as the cases they solve.
Will Trent may dress nattily in three-piece suits, but looks are deceiving in his case. He was abandoned by his parents as a child and grew up in the foster care system.
"There's heart to his story," explains Ramon Rodriguez, who plays him. "It's a great aspect to a character that I connected with immediately, and then how do we show what's been through? How do we show this person's traumatic childhood and do it in a way that feels authentic, and also plant these seeds throughout so it's intriguing for people to want to know more about him?"
Will has never been the popular kid, especially not in his current job with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, where colleagues resent his ability to solve cases by reading crime scenes expertly.
His supervisor tells his new partner, "Will can teach you to see things that nobody else does."
As Will pouts it, "I'm a pretty observant guy."
As a person who has dyslexia, Will has a problem with reading, writing, and spelling.
"But, here's what I find really interesting," Rodriguez said. "He's not defined by these things."
The new show is based on a best-selling series of novels featuring this character.
"He's a complicated, a bit strange and a loner and so how do you pull back that onion little by little," Rodriquez said. "And that's a lot of fun to have those conversations with writers."
A strong supporting cast and complications stemming from an on-again, off-again romance at work complicates Will's life, but adds to the show's appeal.
It's show that defines the term character-driven.
"It isn't just we solve the case and we move on, how do we learn about our characters through this case and continue that journey throughout a season," Rodriguez said.
The star speaks with a slight, southern accent playing Will Trent, and said one of the joys of the job was working on the dialect.
In real life he describes himself as a "New Yorker, Puerto Rican who grew-up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan."
He may work elsewhere, but he still carries a Metrocard from the NYC transit system in his wallet.