Boomtown (2002 TV series)

Boomtown is an American action drama television series created by Graham Yost, that aired on NBC from September 29, 2002 to December 28, 2003. Created by Graham Yost, the show's title is a nickname for its setting: Los Angeles, California.

Season 1 DVD cover
Created byGraham Yost
StarringGary Basaraba
Nina Garbiras
Jason Gedrick
Neal McDonough
Lana Parrilla
Donnie Wahlberg
Mykelti Williamson
Composer(s)Philip Giffin
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes24
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time45 minutes
Production company(s)Nemo Films
DreamWorks Television
NBC Studios
DistributorParamount Worldwide Television Distribution
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 29, 2002 (2002-09-29) 
December 28, 2003 (2003-12-28)


The show portrayed a criminal investigation each week, seen from various points of view: the police officers and detectives, the lawyers, paramedics, reporters, victims, witnesses and criminals. Despite the show's innovative style similar to that of Akira Kurosawa's film Rashomon, except all the perspectives agree and glowing critical reviews, the show never drew a significant audience.

The series premiered on September 29, 2002. The first season order was for 18 episodes instead of the usual 22. After airing 12 episodes with disappointing ratings, NBC CTV moved Boomtown from Sundays to Fridays, putting the show on a two-month hiatus before it returned in March 2003. Its first season ended before May sweeps, an important period in determining ratings and thus ad revenue values.

Boomtown was renewed for a second season, but to satisfy the network's concerns with low ratings, the producers made some changes. Most significantly they abandoned the show's unique style. In Season One each story was told in a non-linear fashion, with each character's view adding a new detail. In Season Two, they still would put up people's names as if it followed them specifically, but there was not much new information on the mystery, and aside from a few flashbacks, the episode's events would run in order. There were changes within the cast as well. Nina Garbiras was let go, as the producers wished to focus more exclusively on Law & Order type characters. There was never any mention of her reporter character again. Lana Parrilla's character suddenly joined the police academy. The character had previously been seen as never wanting to be anything but a paramedic after her mother's death. Vanessa L. Williams joined the cast for every episode, but was billed as a guest star. She played Detective Katherine Pierce, a high-ranking officer who transfers into Bobby and Joel's division. Jason Gedrick and Neal McDonough were absent from one episode each (although Gedrick's Tom Turcotte was heard on the telephone), and McDonough was also absent from all but the last 20 seconds of the season premiere. Lana Parrilla was not in three of the six episodes. After airing only two episodes, the series was put on hiatus. NBC broadcast reruns of Law & Order in its place before deciding to cancel the series. Three of the remaining unaired episodes were broadcast on December 27, 2003, and the final episode aired on December 28, 2003.

In restrospect, the show's creator, Graham Yost said: "Boomtown was perhaps, in retrospect, better suited for HBO or FX. But at that time, HBO had The Wire, and FX had The Shield. So NBC was really the only place for it, and they embraced the Rashomon structure and were excited by that, but then when the ratings weren’t spectacular, what happens is everyone questions everything. “Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s this. Maybe it’s that. And the doubt becomes corrosive. So when we were lobbying for a second season, we were told straightforwardly that… there was one particular episode toward the end of the first season where Fearless, played by Mykelti Williamson, has to deal with the past of having been molested as a child, and we were basically told, “You can’t do any more episodes like that.” To this day, I don't know if that was the right decision. I do feel like that was one of the best episodes we ever did. I'm extraordinarily proud of that. But you want to keep going, you want to work with those actors, those writers, that crew. You want to take a shot, and you're hoping you will succeed, but we didn't. So there's a part of me that regrets the abbreviated second season, but there's also a part of me that's like, “Eh. We gave it a shot.” [1]

Boomtown received several awards and nominations, including Emmy Awards, Golden Satellite Awards, and Television Critics Association Awards.

Cast and characters


  • Donnie Wahlberg as Los Angeles Police Department Detective II Joel Stevens
  • Neal McDonough as Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney David McNorris
  • Mykelti Williamson as Los Angeles Police Department Detective II Bobby 'Fearless' Smith
  • Gary Basaraba as Los Angeles Police Department Police Officer III Ray Hechler
  • Nina Garbiras as Andrea Little, a reporter (season one)
  • Lana Parrilla as Teresa Ortiz, a paramedic in season one, and a rookie police officer in season two
  • Jason Gedrick as Los Angeles Police Department Police Officer II Tom Turcotte



Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
118September 29, 2002 (2002-09-29)April 20, 2003 (2003-04-20)
26September 26, 2003 (2003-09-26)December 28, 2003 (2003-12-28)

Season 1 (2002–03)

No. in
TitleOriginal air dateProd.
US viewers
11"Pilot"September 29, 2002 (2002-09-29)2101N/A
A drive-by shooting is investigated from several angles. We meet Fearless, detective and Gulf War veteran with a list of things to do before he dies, and a habit of telling stories; Joel, a detective who is still attempting to hide the suicide attempt of his wife Kelly; Teresa, the kind-hearted paramedic who was on duty the night of said attempt; David McNorris, the manipulative deputy district attorney; reporter Andrea Little, his secret mistress; Ray Hechler, a cop under suspicion of corruption; and his young partner Tom, a mediocre officer who is frequently criticized by his father.
22"Possession"October 6, 2002 (2002-10-06)1002N/A
After a telemarketer overhears a murder plot on the phone, Joel, Fearless, Ray and Tom scramble to find him; while David and Andrea find the pressure of their affair building.
33"The Squeeze"October 13, 2002 (2002-10-13)1003N/A
A prominent attorney gets murder charges against him dropped, and everyone takes different paths in an attempt to get him to confess.
44"Reelin' In the Years"October 20, 2002 (2002-10-20)1004N/A
After Joel and Fearless solve the murder of Tom's father's former partner, Tom and Andrea face their past.
55"All Hallow's Eve"October 27, 2002 (2002-10-27)1005N/A
On Halloween, David is stunned when Andrea breaks up with him on the same night that Marian accuses him of adultery; Ray and Tom go undercover to stop pumpkins thieves; while Joel and Fearless try to save Teresa - whose ambulance has been hijacked.
66"The Freak"November 3, 2002 (2002-11-03)1006N/A
Ray and Tom investigate a bizarre case while Fearless risks his life to save a little girl, because of a haunting memory of an old war buddy.
77"Insured by Smith & Wesson"November 10, 2002 (2002-11-10)1008N/A
When Ray goes undercover into a hostage situation inside a sporting goods store, he discovers that the store manager is a former actor of Ray's favorite 1980s TV show. While attempting to convince the manager to help him save the day, Ray's illusions are shattered.
88"Crash"November 17, 2002 (2002-11-17)1009N/A
Fearless's ex-girlfriend joins him and Joel on a case to crack an insurance fraud ring.
99"The David McNorris Show"December 1, 2002 (2002-12-01)1010N/A
While Joel and Fearless investigate the death of a teenage girl, McNorris makes some dirty deals which collapse just as his marriage does.
1010"Coyote"December 8, 2002 (2002-12-08)1007N/A
Joel and Fearless must convince Andrea to face a psychotic homeless man who she went to school with to find a kidnapped teenager.
1111"Monster's Brawl"January 5, 2003 (2003-01-05)1011N/A

On a tip from Teresa, Joel, Fearless, Tom and a slowly falling apart David team up to convict a group of filmmakers inspiring homeless people to kill each other.

Guest star: Neil Patrick Harris as Peter Corman.
1212"Sinaloa Cowboys"January 12, 2003 (2003-01-12)1012N/A
A simple domestic disturbance call becomes a life-changing event for Ray and Tom as they find themselves in the middle of a drug war, while Joel and Teresa grow closer.
1313"Home Invasion"March 2, 2003 (2003-03-02)1013N/A
Joel and Fearless must reluctantly let Andrea in on their case when they discover a group of killers who stake out a family home before torturing and killing the family.
1414"Execution"March 9, 2003 (2003-03-09)1014N/A
On the night of his execution, a criminal gives McNorris an ultimatum: save his life or risk the death of a kidnapped cop. While McNorris attempts to save him, Ray and his fellow officers attempt to take a more pragmatic course, unaware of what they are up against.
1515"Storm Watch"March 16, 2003 (2003-03-16)1015N/A
Ray, Joel, Tom and Fearless are locked down in the station along with their fellow cops when a mole is suspected and Ray has no choice but to ask Andrea - who almost cost him his badge a year earlier - to help; meanwhile McNorris continues on a downward spiral.
1616"Fearless"March 30, 2003 (2003-03-30)1016N/A
In a rather different episode (featuring only one point of view, Fearless's), Fearless investigates the shooting of a drug dealer, and faces his past.
1717"Blackout"April 13, 2003 (2003-04-13)1017N/A
With his wife having left him, and Andrea refusing to take him back, McNorris finds himself drinking into blackouts, which ultimately leads him to wake up with blood on his car. When he learns about a hit-and-run incident, he begins to act fearfully, and his suspicions tip off Joel, who is working with Fearless, Ray and Tom to crack the case.
1818"Lost Child"April 20, 2003 (2003-04-20)1018N/A
Already agonizing over his feelings for Teresa, Joel is put on the case of a kidnapped newborn. While Fearless, Andrea, Ray and David (preparing for rehab) investigate, Joel finds himself finally confronting his wife's suicide attempt and the death of their newborn daughter; while Tom finds himself being coerced into snitching on Joel.

Season 2 (2003)

No. in
TitleOriginal air dateProd.
US viewers
191"The Love of Money"September 26, 2003 (2003-09-26)2001N/A

Joel, Fearless, Ray and Tom work together to investigate a group of cop killers, who threaten Joel's family. Joel has Robbery/Homicide detective Katherine Pierce reassigned to their division to assist. Meanwhile, David recovers in rehab and Teresa considers her future.

Guest star: Rebecca De Mornay as Sabrina Fithian.
202"Inadmissible"October 3, 2003 (2003-10-03)2002N/A

Ray and Katherine testify against the cop killers; David comes out of rehab and gets straight onto the case despite his recent alcoholism; and Teresa joins the police academy.

Guest stars: Rebecca De Mornay as Sabrina Fithian, Stacy Keach as Mac McNorris, and Roma Maffia as Sally Jacobson.
213"Wannabe"December 27, 2003 (2003-12-27)2003N/A
Joel and Fearless investigate when Teresa discovers a body at the police academy; Ray, Tom and Katherine work to stop a gang of thieves who pose as police officers.
224"Haystack"December 27, 2003 (2003-12-27)2004N/A
A gang of fleeing bank robbers take a group of hostages at a shopping center, including Teresa.
235"The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang"December 27, 2003 (2003-12-27)2005N/A

A frat boy killed and buried in the wall of a frat house twenty years ago is found, and David, Katherine, Joel and Fearless investigate.

Guest star: LeVar Burton as Marvin Lloyd.
246"The Big Picture"December 28, 2003 (2003-12-28)2006N/A

Not following his instincts on a domestic disturbance call, Tom is horrified when the woman goes missing and the chief suspect is murdered; so he works with Katherine in a desperate effort to find the truth.

Guest star: Virginia Madsen as Erika Ashland.

Awards and nominations

Awards and nominations for Boomtown
Year Award Category Recipient Result
2003American Film Institute AwardTV Program of the YearWon
Casting Society of America's Artios AwardBest Casting for TV, Dramatic PilotMeg Liberman and Camille H. PattonNominated
Imagen Foundation AwardBest Supporting Actress - TelevisionLana ParrillaWon
NAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesMykelti WilliamsonNominated
Online Film & Television Association Award[2]Best Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesNeal McDonoughNominated
Best Direction in a Drama SeriesJon Avnet (For the pilot episode)Nominated
Peabody AwardNBC Studios, in association with DreamWorks Television Inc., and Nemo FilmsWon[3]
Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Main Title Theme MusicPhilip GiffinNominated
Television Critics Association AwardProgram of the YearNominated
Outstanding Achievement in DramaWon
Outstanding New ProgramWon
Individual Achievement in DramaNeal McDonoughNominated
2004Satellite AwardBest Television Series – DramaNominated
Best Supporting Actor – Television Series – DramaNeal McDonoughWon

DVD release

Lionsgate Home Entertainment release Season 1 of Boomtown on DVD in Region 1 on July 20, 2004. Season 1 was subsequently released in Region 2 as well. Despite strong sales of season one and popular demand on TV-DVD websites, season 2 was never released in the USA or UK. The season two episodes were made available, however, on the French DVD box set Boomtown Complet, which also includes a short interview with French film critic Alain Carraze, who offers comments about the show. The DVD's released in the United States contain an optional commentary soundtrack by individuals who were involved in making the show but this is absent from the French and British DVD releases.

The Region 1 release has been discontinued and is now out of print.[4]


  1. VanDerWerff, Emily. "Graham Yost talks Justified, Speed, and… Full House?". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  2. "2002-03: The Season of Angels in America". Online Film & Television Association. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  3. 62nd Annual Peabody Awards Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, May 2003.
  4. "Boomtown: Season One (DVD 2004) - DVD Empire". Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
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