Delany returns to prime time in 'The Code'

'China Beach' star back in the military with legal drama
By Jay Bobbin / April 7, 2019
Dana Delany stars in 'The Code' (Photo: CBS)
CBS wisely is using a military crime drama — one of the most popular series around the world — to help launch another military crime drama.

Premiering Tuesday at 9 p.m. after "NCIS," "The Code" revolves around U.S. Marine Corps lawyers and officers in the Judge Advocate Division, where their cases range from treason to murder.

Two-time Emmy winner Dana Delany plays the colonel in charge, with Anna Wood ("Reckless"), Luke Mitchell ("Blindspot"), "Hamilton" Tony Award nominee Phillipa Soo, Ato Essandoh ("Chicago Med") and Raffi Barsoumian ("The Vampire Diaries") also in the ensemble cast.

Moving to Mondays after it debuts, "The Code" lets Delany use her experience from the military-themed "China Beach" only to a certain degree.

"There's a big difference between the Army and the Marines," the actress noted, "and they will let you know that. They're very territorial about their different divisions.

"Also, I played a nurse in 'China Beach' and I'm a lawyer in this show … and to me, those are very different functions. A nurse is all about empathy, and a lawyer has to be about strategy. There are a few books by female Marines; I read 'Hesitation Kills' by Lt. Jane Blair and 'Fight Like a Girl' by Kate Germano, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Marines for 20 years. And one of our writers is the guy who wrote 'Jarhead,' Anthony Swofford, so he's been a great source."

Another reference for Delany in prepping for "The Code" was a woman who had been a judge advocate in California:

"She stepped down because she had young kids. To be a woman in this position, and to last as long in it as my character Col. Turnbull has, is something very rare for somebody my age. She would have started when she was in her 20s, and to deal with sexism then and advance through the ranks, she had to be pretty strong."

Doing her first series since the musical drama "Smash" and Broadway shows that also have included "Amelie" and "The Parisian Woman," co-star Soo said "The Code" has been "completely fun, challenging and exciting" for her.

"A great gift of this experience is that I get to work with some really kind and talented people on a day-to-day basis."

Though her main commitment now is to "The Code," Soo has more stage work in mind.

"The beauty of being in New York is that I'm surrounded by lots of theater and lots of film and television," she said. "Because of the (TV-making) schedule, I've had the opportunity to see more plays than I did when I was working on a play, and I've really enjoyed getting to see and admire some amazing work."