FALL TV Valor: New military drama is a brave new direction for The CW

Valor -- "Esprit de Corps" -- Image Number: VAL102a_0047.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Christina Ochoa as Nora and Matt Barr as Gallo -- Photo: Quantrell Colbert/The CW -- �© 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The military genre is a new direction for The CW, but Valor executive producer Kyle Jarrow thinks the network’s core audience will find a lot to love in the adventures of a female special-ops pilot (Christina Ochoa) in a male-dominated world. “These are young [characters] living adrenaline-packed lives,” Jarrow says. “They’re screwing around, having relationships and plenty of personal drama.”

Ochoa agrees it’s action-packed in more ways than one: “Leave it up to a playwright as the showrunner to give my character 75 story lines at once,” she says. “Kyle piles on conspiracy, feminism, moral conflict, a love triangle, PTSD, and pill popping — at once. There’s so much wealth of content there.”

For a starting point on all that content and a window into the drama and intrigue, Jarrow turned to his brother, a military veteran. “He was in an airborne unit and he served in Afghanistan,” says Jarrow. “So I sat down with him and asked what were some stories that he’d never seen about military life that he wished he could see. We started talking and one of the things he mentioned was that they’d just started taking female pilots two or three years ago. That really sparked my interest and I started doing some research and it ended up being the kernel that the show was born from.”

With that kernel firmly planted, Jarrow expanded the idea and added a counterplot — or five. The premiere kicks off with Ochoa’s Warrant Officer Nora Madani (one of the first female pilots in Special Operations Aviation) and her co-pilot and commanding officer, Captain Leland Gallo (Matt Barr), having returned from a mission gone awry that left two officers behind and our leads with a secret they’re not quite sure what to do with.

“Yes, it’s about her plight in this male-dominated world where she’s highly competent and adept at her job, but all that’s heightened because she’s put in this extreme situation where a failed rescue mission leads to a conspiracy,” explains Ochoa. Jarrow agrees the story line is two-fold. “One part of the story is trying to get the captured guys back and then we’re also unpacking what really went on in the initial mission,” he says. “It turns out that not everything was what it seemed, so there’s definitely a conspiracy thriller element to explore here.”

“But the main theme is loyalty,” decides Ochoa. “The pilot establishes it as a central theme; loyalty to our self and our own moral compass, loyalty to country, to our unit, to our comrades, to our friends and superiors. There’s a lot of conflict when it comes to loyalty and that’s something everyone can relate to.”

More than Ochoa’s ability to wrestle multiple narratives and all those moral conundrums, Jarrow explains he “needed someone who felt credibly military but also captures that space between toughness and vulnerability.” Or as Ochoa describes her role: “She isn’t just the badass or the tough girl, she’s a real human being. She’s no military Barbie.”

Valor airs Mondays, at 9 p.m. on The CW Las Vegas.