How ‘SEAL Team’ Star’s New ‘Cal Fire’ Show Will Compete Against ‘Chicago Fire’

by John Jamison

If fire is what you desire when you kick back on the couch and flip through the channels, it’s hard to do much better than Chicago Fire. We Outsiders are also partial to the Rob Lowe-led 9-1-1: Lone Star, but for the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on how the developing Cal Fire series intends to compete with the Dick Wolf juggernaut that is One Chicago.

Who does CBS think they are going toe to toe with the Wolf Entertainment powerhouse? Well, the network has actually been a collaborator with Wolf since FBI hit the small screen in 2018. Perhaps the success Dick Wolf has found in his portrayal of first responders has rubbed off on CBS.

Now, a new series from the mind of SEAL Team star Max Thieriot is in the works. It will reportedly explore the world of firefighting in Northern California from the perspective of a laboring convict named Bode Donovan. Deadline reports a narrative drama based on the premise of a man attempting to shorten his sentence by helping elite California firefighters get wildfires under control.

Going off of that, the serialized nature of Cal Fire distinguishes it from Chicago Fire. Dick Wolf’s series often present an audience with compelling characters facing changing situations. On the other hand, Cal Fire will revolve around this Bode Donovan character and his journey toward redemption.

Where Did ‘SEAL Team’ Star Max Thieriot Get the Idea for ‘Cal Fire’?

According to Deadline, CBS has been in the market for a first responder drama for some time now. In fact, they have another in the works led by none other than Eric Christian Olsen of NCIS: Los Angeles fame.

SEAL Team star Max Thieriot based the idea on his Northern California upbringing. His youth subjected him to the terrors of raging wildfires and the heroics of the folks with the impossible task of wrangling them.

Perhaps the most significant difference between Cal Fire and the highly successful Chicago Fire is this setting. Small town California couldn’t be further from big-city Chicago. And when it comes to fire, well, California has Chicago beat.

The prevalence of wildfires in California means a greater variety in firefighting techniques. This undoubtedly factored into the network’s thinking when it comes to competing with series like Chicago Fire. Fascinating as any firefighting is to an audience, California employs the use of smokejumpers. For those unfamiliar with the term, these are essentially the Navy SEALs of firefighting.

Smokejumpers are elite wildland firefighters who drop into the middle of raging fires via parachute. They are a quick reaction force and are often the first on the scene when a wildfire breaks out. Throw airtankers—huge planes laden with thousands of gallons of water—into the mix, and Cal Fire should have no problem distinguishing itself from the likes of Chicago Fire.