It's TV pilot season, when hopeful writers, directors, and actors give the networks glimpses of what could be their next big hits. Few pilots will ever make it to air, and the odds might be especially long over on ABC, which has already renewed many of its current shows. Over the past few weeks, I've been looking at the pilots and trying to spot the trends that could be coming soon to a TV near you. I've already told you about shows focusing on tough working women, the supernatural, and British imports, and today I'm looking at cop shows.
Cop shows have been a TV staple forever, from "Dragnet" to "NYPD Blue" to "CSI." But with the "CSI" and "Law & Order" franchises aging fast, networks have a slate of new cop dramas in development for the fall. While the genre isn't typically a favorite of mine, I'd be tempted to tune in to some of these. Here's a handful:
- "Marlowe": This ABC drama updates the classic Raymond Chandler detective stories, transferring them to modern-day Los Angeles. But it doesn't sound like Detective Philip Marlowe himself has gone through many changes; ABC describes him as "a low-tech guy unfazed by our high-tech world," who prefers a revolver to a fancy crime lab. The structure sounds like a throwback to cop shows of the past, with first-person narration and a noir-style atmosphere. Conveniently, though, this version of Marlowe — who will be played by Jason O'Mara (at right) — has hired himself a hot female assistant to spice things up.
- "K-Ville": I've heard a lot of buzz about this Fox drama pilot, the first network series to be set in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. The stories of real-life cops deserting the city were widely reported in Katrina's aftermath, but "K-Ville" focuses on a group of officers who chose to ride out the storm and help the city rebuild. The show centers on a longtime New Orleans police agent who stayed put even when his partner deserted him, a new agent and former soldier who comes to New Orleans seeking redemption, and a team of officers with too-clever nicknames ("Glue Boy," "Love Tap"). It's ambitious to take on the New Orleans story while it's still playing out, and I'd be curious to see if this show can present it in a respectful and compelling way.
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- "The Apostles": This Fox pilot sounds a little like "Desperate Housewives," The Crime Years. The "apostles" of the title are a group of cops living side-by-side on a cul-de-sac in the Los Angeles suburbs. While the series is set in a police department, its true focus is the officers' private lives, where — unsurprisingly — deep secrets are brewing under the surface. The show's executive producer has worked on both "Desperate Housewives" and "Melrose Place," so over-the-top soapiness is practically a given.
- "Suspect": After many serial dramas ("Kidnapped," "Standoff," "Day Break") got canceled this TV season, networks largely stayed away from them when developing shows for next year. ABC's "Suspect" is an exception. The story starts with a brutal murder, and the group of detectives at the center of the series quickly assembles a list of suspects. One by one, their stories will be dissected until finally the murder is solved. Guy Ritchie is executive-producing and directing the pilot, which stars Carrie-Ann Moss (at left), among others.
- "Fort Pit": Bafflingly, NBC describes this show as a "dark comedy that's so satirical, it has to be called a drama." Huh? Anyway, the idea behind "Fort Pit" is that one precinct of Brooklyn has become a dumping ground for all the NYPD cops who screwed up — until a new captain comes in, hiring a bunch of ragtag rookies to breathe new life into the joint. I'd be wary of this pilot if it didn't have such a good pedigree: The team behind FX drama "Rescue Me," including Denis Leary, is executive-producing the show.