"Prodigal Son": Now THIS is How You Sell Us on a Serial Killer Crime Series [OPINION]

If I was even remotely undecided about tuning in to watch FOX's Prodigal Son when it premieres on September 23, the recent behind-the-scenes first-look "From The Killer's Perspective" had me instantly clearing my calendar and running to the supermarket for popcorn and possibly a security blanket.

The previews have been almost bi-polar in nature. One depicts it as a "serious series" with the expectation of darkness and internal turmoil, whereas the other sets the stage for a family therapy-themed series with murder happening in the background. I've been trying to assess what makes this show different from the slew of detective dramas that came before it… here's how I'm seeing it now:

"Oh please we talk about murder the way most people talk about sports."

For starters, the main character Malcolm Bright's (Tom Payne) father is a serial killer. Bright is a profiler who works a crime scene with his abilty to get inside the killer's head – "compliments" I can only presume of his father's genetics. Dr. Martin Whitley (Michael Sheen) aka "The Surgeon" wishes to get into his son's good graces and is given an opportunity when a copycat case presents itself to Bright and he seeks out his fathers help to solve it – an interesting "reunion" which should – at least from a therapeutic standpoint – require a mediator (at least).


"You look fresh as a daisy. I'm a vegan now, and I haven't seen your mother in 20 years."

It has a very dysfunctional, yet endearing family undertone. Bright doesn't seem like he will be operating as a loner while battling his own demons, or 'psychotic inclinations' and trying to separate his humanity apart from his father. From what I can see s far, he will have support from his loving sister, a critical mother, and a 'warm and loving' father trying desperately to get back into his sons good graces (…or possibly manipulate him to unlock his own homicidal tendencies?).


FOX's Prodigal Son will hopefully succeed in giving us enticing cases with blood and gore, and psychological twists and turns, but what I really want to see?

How the bleakness and toxicity of murder unites a family and salvages their relationships.

That's not asking a lot… right?

prodigal son

From Emmy Award-nominated executive producer Greg Berlanti, executive producer Sarah Schechter ("Riverdale," "You"), and executive producers/writers Chris Fedak ("Deception," "Chuck") and Sam Sklaver ("Deception," "Bored to Death"), PRODIGAL SON is a fresh take on a crime franchise with a provocative and outrageous lead character and a darkly comedic tone.

MALCOLM BRIGHT (Tom Payne, "The Walking Dead") has a gift. He knows how killers think and how their minds work. Why? Back in the 1990s, his father was one of the worst, a notorious serial killer called "The Surgeon." So it makes sense Bright is the best criminal psychologist around; murder is the family business. He will use his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve crimes and stop killers, all while dealing with a manipulative mother, annoyingly normal sister, a homicidal father still looking to bond with his prodigal son, and his own constantly evolving neuroses.

Meet the happy family. DR. MARTIN WHITLY (Emmy Award and Golden Globe nominee Michael Sheen, "Masters of Sex," "Frost/Nixon") is intelligent, wealthy, charismatic and also happens to be a predatory sociopath who killed at least 23 people. Bright's mother, JESSICA WHITLY (Bellamy Young, "Scandal," "Criminal Minds"), an elegant and WASPy New Yorker, wields sarcasm like a samurai sword and has an opinion on every aspect of Bright's life. Perhaps Bright's only ally is his sister, AINSLEY WHITLY (Halston Sage, THE ORVILLE), a TV journalist who wishes her brother would "take a break from murder" and have a normal life.

Unfortunately for his sister, the only way Bright feels normal is by solving cases with the help of his longtime mentor, NYPD Detective GIL ARROYO (Emmy Award and Golden Globe nominee Lou Diamond Phillips, "Longmire," "Stand and Deliver"). Arroyo's one of the best detectives around, and he expects no less from his team – Detective DANI POWELL (Aurora Perrineau, "The Carmichael Show," "Jem and the Holograms"), a headstrong no-nonsense cop who quickly becomes impressed with Bright's work; and Detective JT TARMEL (Frank Harts, "Master of None," "Billions"), a born-and-bred New Yorker who questions whether Bright is a psychopath himself.

PRODIGAL SON is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and FOX Entertainment. Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter serve as executive producers. Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver are both executive producers, showrunners and writers on the series. Lee Toland Krieger directed and executive-produced the pilot.

About Margo Staten

Margo Staten is a Ukrainian born, raised in Brooklyn, organically driven, coffee loving, twice-divorced mother of one baby Einstein. Has a passion for books, yoga in the park and all things 80’s and New Orleans.