An Open Letter to TV Show Producers

Dear TV show networks and producers (particularly CBS, NBC, and ABC),

Enough of the cop and medical shows already. Enough.

As much as I love my Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS episodes, they get methodical after a while and I need something new. Show me that you can do more than another TV show that has some cop who needs to overcome family politics or a poor childhood or something. Show me a little imagination.

A TV show like Grimm, with a cop who must contend with being a storybook reality? Yes I’ll take that, it’s quite clever. A show like Forever, which isn’t really a cop show but a conceptualization of life and mortality? Yes, that’s something I want (and ABC, you all are foolish for axing this too soon). But unless I see a show that spins the cop-drama in a new and clever way, please skip it and give me something else. And no, a single-mother trying to make it in the FBI isn’t enough of a departure to really matter.

This mean that unless you’ve really found a way to reinvent being a police officer, I don’t want to see anything with:

  • the FBI
  • the CIA
  • the NSA
  • the ATF
  • the Navy (we have 3 NCIS series, that’s enough)
  • special police forces
  • spinoffs (if it says NCIS, CSI or Law and Order in the title, please no)
  • remakes and copouts (we have a remake of Hawaii Five-0, we’re good)
  • any police department (no more Blue Bloods clones, I beg you)
  • spies (unless it’s Burn Notice-quality, your spy show will probably suck)
  • perceptive detectives (your Monk, Psych and Elementary-clones aren’t fooling anyone)
  • cops and spies
  • cops and doctors
  • cops and lawyers
  • crime scene science (no more CSI-clones, please)
  • autopsy science (we already have Bones, we don’t need another)

If one of these sorts of pilots comes across your desk, please think very carefully about whether you’re green-lighting something interesting with a new twist, or if you’re simply recycling ideas because you’re burnt out and scared. Be a little bit more imaginative with your programming. Because I guarantee that your audiences know when you’re playing it safe (like now).

To get the creative juices flowing, here’s a list of shows that were cancelled way before their times. Yes, many of these have a police element, but they spin it so uniquely that it doesn’t feel like a run-of-the-mill cop show. It feels like something new and exciting. Chances are, you probably screwed up by canceling one of these shows:

  • NUMB3RS — (a show that’s less about the cops and more about the math)
  • Lie to Me — (a show about micro-expressions with misanthropy)
  • Forever — (a show about the concepts of time, death and mortality)
  • Awake — (a show about dual lives and the notion of living)
  • The Glades — (yes, a cop show, but with a misanthropic and comedic detective)
  • Leverage — (a badass show about funny thieves and clever con-artists)
  • Unforgettable — (admittedly a Monk and Psych knockoff)
  • Necessary Roughness — (an entertaining show about a shrink)
  • The Dead Zone — (the psychic detective deal, but way before Medium)
  • White Collar — (more slick con-artists, but with great banter and characters)
  • King & Maxwell — (the cop thing, but with interesting subplots)
  • Journeyman — (about a man who time-travels to solve mysteries in his own life)
  • The Finder — (Bones-spinoff that was actually unique from its parent show)
  • Common Law — (another cop show, but with enough witty banter to make it funny)

Thank you for your time. I suggest you think long and hard about your programming for the next year. We’ll be watching (or not).

-Me (and a lot of other people)

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