It was only a matter of time before this happened. Sometimes networks strike gold with a show and they (and competing networks) take notice and go all “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. This is why we are still getting live musicals (The Sound of Music, Grease… let’s just forget about Peter Pan), remakes (Dirty Dancing, MacGyver, Roots) and reboots (Fuller House, Gilmore Girls). I’m not saying I necessarily dislike this, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been waiting for some of these shows for years (did you hear Sookie’s back in Stars Hollow?). But it can get tired fast, especially when things are done just to “do the latest thing that works” and they can’t compare to the original.
The O.J. Simpson trial started a trend with Reality Television and now, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is doing some trendsetting of its own. After the success of the excellent and critically acclaimed FX series, networks have wasted no time in jumping on the True Crime Series bandwagon.
Only one day after The People v. O.J. Simpson’s: American Crime Story finale aired, NBC announced that a new anthology true crime scripted series from NBC boss darling Dick Wolf is on the works. The series will serve as part of the Law & Order franchise and will be cleverly titled Law & Order: True Crime.
The first season of the series will have 8 episodes and will cover the case of Lyle and Erik Menendez, both convicted of their parents’ murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“We’ve been talking with Dick about how to create an event series coming out of the Law & Order ripped-from-the-headlines brand,” Jennifer Salke, President of NBC Entertainment, announced in a statement. “This case captured the public’s attention like nothing before it as it examined taboo issues such as patricide and matricide in gruesome detail, all against a backdrop of privilege and wealth. We will recreate the cultural and societal surroundings of both the murders and trials when people were not only obsessed with the case but examining how and why these brothers committed these heinous crimes.”
Dick Wolf then stated: “Bob, Jen and I have been focused on the natural evolution of the Law & Order brand for the last several years and are excited to extend the franchise with a scripted limited anthology series that focuses on a high-profile trial. There is no shortage of compelling real-life criminal cases, and the Menendez trial was more scintillating than most crime fiction.”
Since this would be an anthology series the following seasons would focus on different cases, similarly to how American Crime Story works.
Not wanting to be left behind, CBS waited until the next day to officially announce that they will too go ahead and bring the public a new true crime series, with the first season concerning the unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey, the 6 year old beauty pageant regular murdered in her home in 1996.
CBS is in talks with Tom Forman, the Emmy-winning producer of 9/11 and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, to produce the still untitled series. The series, which will not be scripted, plans on reuniting the original investigators from the case with new experts who will revisit it.
It has been stated that the series could develop into a multi-season series with each season covering a different true crime case (Of course! What a brilliant and fresh idea!). While there is no exact release date yet, CBS plans on airing it around the 20-year anniversary of JonBenét's murder, which took place on Christmas day of 1996.
I usually like true crime series a lot. Making a Murderer from Netflix totally absorbed me and I really, really loved The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. But I don’t know about this, I feel like it’s too much, too soon and too similar, and that CBS and NBC are kind of stealing the Ryan Murphy production’s thunder (besides its ideas).