It’s to be expected that when Kevin Williamson (“Scream,” “The Following”) gets involved with a project that it’ll take a turn for the dark side and new CBS procedural “Stalker” is no exception.
Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott star as Lt. Beth Davis and Det. Jack Larson, officers in the fictional Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD (the real unit is the TMU — Threat Management Unit). Each week they’ll hunt down stalkers and protect their prey from harassment, voyeurism and romantic fixation. However, the show is equally about its investigative team as it is about the various stalking cases.
“A lot of these procedural shows, you don’t know much about the characters, but I think that the great thing about this show is that there is a lot of meat on the bone,” McDermott tells a group of reporters including Zap2it during a set visit in early September. “Certainly, Beth’s character has a mystery to her. I think that Jack certainly does too.”
While the offices of the TAU are made mostly of floor-to-ceiling windows — to make everything transparent — the characters of the show are not equally what they seem. Both detectives reveal a darker side to them by the end of the first episode.
“I think that was a draw for both of us that Kevin’s development of these two was going to head this show in a certain direction,” Q says in the same interview. “[Beth’s] assumption is that she knows everything about [Jack]. There’s things that he’s done that are forgivable and things he’s done that are kind of unforgivable, depending on how you look at it. She’s very, very cautious of him.”
“He’s definitely calculated and knows what he’s doing,” McDermott adds. “He thinks this is the right unit for him to be in. Obviously he never thought he was going to run into [Beth]. He thought it would a little bit easier — he wasn’t ready.”
However, if you’re expecting Stabler/Benson levels of palpable sexual tension between these two, think again. Things start off icy and the actors think it’ll stay that way for a while.
“I think it’s going to be six years of rough waters,” McDermott jokes.
“It’s not a scenario in which she’s sort of being coy or cute or being mean to him or putting him off because she’s playing a game. She means it,” Q adds. “She cares about the job first. Once he proves himself I think the dynamic will change.”
Part of the scariness of the show is the psychology of stalking, and how pervasive its become in today’s social media age. The show makes a point of reminding its audience that celebrities are not the only victims of stalkers — anyone can be a target.
“We are giving out too much information and because of that we have too much access to each other. We see in the pilot that stalkings has increased 30 percent in the past decade with the invent of all these sites,” Q explains.
“We can’t have just a female victim every week,” McDermott says of the show’s varying victim pool which includes man-on-man and children stalking within the first few episodes. “We’re trying really hard to mix that up so it’s not just a man chasing a woman.”
One of the most disturbing aspects of the criminals Beth and Jack are tracking down is the idea of transference — when a stalker gets a bigger physical charge from a new person or object and transfers his/her obsession onto them. The phenomenon is explored deeply within the first half of the season after Beth’s confrontation with a stalking subject.
“[Our consultants’] favorite thing about the pilot is the end because every single detective in TMU has been stalked by someone they were investigating,” Q says. “Everything we’re talking about is real. It’s a mental disorder — it’s an obsessive mental disorder and there’s always the risk of that.”
Enter the dark world of “Stalker” when it premieres Oct. 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.