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)