The now-prolific writers behind The Shield are all plenty busy, but when asked about Vic Mackey’s (Michael Chiklis) current whereabouts, creator and showrunner Shawn Ryan sounded game to revisit the iconic main character of the acclaimed FX drama.
“I have some ideas where Vic Mackey is, but I don’t know where Vic Mackey is until someone puts me in a writers room with a group of these people and some people that aren’t here and give us a week to sort it out,” he said Saturday during a Shield writers room reunion at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, texas. “Usually my first idea … instinct isn’t the right one, so I have some thoughts. I’d love to hear their thoughts and I’d love someone to pay us to sit in a room.”
Revivals are a hot trend at the moment thanks to the recent six-episode resurrection of The X-Files, which brought big ratings for Fox in January. The network, sister channel to The Shield’s longtime home at FX, is getting ready to try the same formula again with upcoming revivals slated for Prison Break, as well as a reboot of 24 with a new star, Corey Hawkins.
However, just when the impressive group of writers would have time to sit in a room together and figure out Mackey’s fate is another question entirely. Ryan is an executive producer on NBC’s new time-travel drama Timeless, and Kurt Sutter is working on a Sons of Anarchy spinoff, among others. The Shield is known for having employed an impressive group of writers, including Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) Scott ‘Skeeter‘ Rosenbaum (V) and Charles ‘Chic’ Eglee (NYPD Blue), who appeared with Ryan and Sutter on the panel.
Although they’ve all gone onto run their own shows, Sutter and others remember the Shield gig as one of their first big breaks as scribes and subsequently recall how competitive the writers room was on the series, which ran from 2002-2008.
“There was an immense amount of pressure,” said Rosenbaum. “It was very, very competitive because we all wanted our ideas to get onscreen and some, when we didn’t, could be angry or petulant, but I think that’s what made it so great, this sense of competition.”
That was particularly true with Sutter. “When you’re batting after someone who always hits home runs every time, you got to either hit a home run or a grand slam — it’s a high bar to follow,” said Rosenbaum.
Sutter concurred, and recalled worrying that only he or Rosenbaum would get asked back, not knowing they would both see their options picked up for future seasons. “When both our options were picked up, then the weird competitive stuff sort of settled in,” Sutter explained.
Eglee, a TV veteran who came from St. Elsewhere, Moonlighting and NYPD Blue, joined the series in season two and was one of the more experienced writers on staff.
“He wasn’t just a new writer, he was this glossy, Emmy-winning big shot,” Rosenbaum recalled. “There was a proprietary feeling of, ‘This is our show. We’re the ones who did this. Why do we have to have a new person come along? We’re capable of doing this show without any other help.'”
Eglee had most recently served as showrunner on the short-lived Jessica Alba drama Dark Angel. “I was coming off a real trainwreck of a show and feeling really sorry for myself and dragged all of that in the room,” he said. “I had been running that show and I just wanted — after the politics and it really got pretty nasty — I just wanted to go and be a writer.”
However, Eglee won over his new co-workers quickly. “Chic came in under an immense amount of pressure and literally with 24 hours or less than that, we realized why Shawn brought him on,” said Rosenbaum. “My first impression of him was I thought he was one of the smartest people I’d ever met.
“A lot of the hostility certainly disappeared,” he continued, “and we realized we had someone really special and he fit in immediately.”
Eglee only had positive things to say about the experience, joking that he was “too self-absorbed” to notice his colleagues’ behavior at the beginning.
“I was really getting on a roller coaster ride where there weren’t any rules, and if there were rules, they were being broken,” he said. “They were the best several years I spent in my career ever. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to match the experience I had with these guys.”
Ryan praised his team, which also included absent writers Sarah Fain (The Vampire Diaries), Adam Fierro (The Walking Dead) and Elizabeth Craft (The Vampire Diaries), and pointed to their success since The Shield ended. “Literally all seven of them have gone on to run their own shows,” he said. “When you look back and think about the talent that was in the room supporting me, it was an amazing, amazing experience.”