Vanessa Morgan & Giacomo Gianniotti Go Wild in New Procedural

From Blink49 Studios and Front Street Pictures, Wild Cards is a new procedural with a comedic bent, led by Vanessa Morgan (Riverdale), Giacomo Gianniotti (Grey’s Anatomy) and Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills, 90210).

The series puts together the unlikely duo of Ellis, a gruff detective demoted to working in Vancouver’s marine unit on a boat, and Max Mitchell, a bubbly, clever woman who scams everyone she meets. When Max is arrested and ends up helping Ellis solve a local crime, the two are offered the chance to redeem themselves—but they have to continue working together.

Morgan, who was previously part of Riverdale’s ensemble cast as Toni Topaz, takes the lead as Max, while Gianniotti, known for his role as Dr. Andrew DeLuca on Grey’s Anatomy, stars as Ellis.

The characters’ opposite personalities make for an interesting dynamic on-screen. “He’s the more serious one,” Morgan says of Ellis. “He’s more by the book, and [Max] is not. For [her], it’s a wild card. You never really know what you’re going to get. [She’s] a con artist, and he follows the rules.”

Each episode sees the pair’s personalities clash as they tackle a different case, involving everything from a porch pirate and a disappearing butcher to a TV star being stalked and a murdered surfer.

Although each week introduces a new case, there are several storylines that run through the entire series for both Ellis and Max. “There’s the overlying arc of ‘will they, won’t they,’” Morgan explains. “Max’s father is in jail; she’s trying to get him out throughout the whole season. Then, Ellis has another storyline with his brother being murdered, and he’s trying to get off the boat and back into his police position the whole time, too. And with Max, she’s trying to make sure she lessens her sentence or doesn’t go to jail.”

These plotlines provide deeper backstories for the lead characters, but the case-of-the-week format makes for an exciting acting experience. “It’s fun because there are new things each time,” Morgan says. “Each time there’s a new storyline, I’m like, Oh, what guest stars are coming? What people are going to come? It’s really exciting; you’re not just with the same people all the time.”

This includes the likes of Dewshane Williams, Leslie Kwan, Chance Hurstfield, Paul Piaskowski, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Sarah Strange, Robert Moloney and many more.

Playing a con artist brought its own fun to the acting experience on Wild Cards as well, Morgan says. Max “always dresses up in disguises and plays other characters. As an actress, it’s like a dream.” It also makes for some surprises. “I think it was way more fun because [she’s] not just like, Let’s follow the books here. I’m even surprised what Max pulls out of the bag each episode.”

Viewers in the U.S. and Canada were able to tune in to Max and Ellis’s adventures earlier this year on The CW and CBC, respectively. Fifth Season is taking the series global.

“This is such feel-good content,” Morgan says. “It’s content that can put a smile on people’s faces. I’m hoping that it can make [it in] the international market because I really think people will resonate.”