Sometimes you just can’t keep a good franchise down. Law and Order, that mot venerable of US crime shows, is to have another incarnation, and this time, it’s coming to Blighty!
The story has hit the wire this morning that the boffins at Kudos, those talented chaps who make Spooks and the upcoming Echo Beach/Moving Wallpaper, are currently in negotiations with NBC and Law and Order creator Dick Wolf to produce Law and Order: London for ITV.
Obviously these are very early days, but the fact the story is out there indicates that there’s a certain confidence that this new chapter in the franchise will at some stage see the light of the day.
Is this is a good thing? Is it a malaise of television that nobody seems to be able to come up with new ideas (see The Royal Today), or should we take the view that you can never have too much of a good thing? There’s no denying the quality of Law and Order, even after 18 years, and that of its various spin-offs, despite it not being quite at the top of the ratings tree any more.
If Law and Order: London comes to pass, will it even be a spin-off in the truest sense of the term? I guess that would depend on branding, and it may be that NBC and Wolfe are keen to extend the franchises worldwide profile even further. The notion of international versions of Law and Order is not new. Both Russia and France have recently developed locally produced versions of the franchise. Indeed, Richard Belzer, who plays Det Sgt John Munch is rumoured to be making an appearance as his veteran character in a future episode of Paris enquêtes criminelles, the French spin on Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
Whichever way the wind blows on this project, I tentatively think it could be a positive thing. Law and Order has always proved quality TV by and large, the presence of Kudos in the equation can only be encouraging, and it could bring a quality new crime drama to ITV. It certainly fits in with ITV looking to court new audience strands – I only wish we could do that without having to hammer the heck out of existing franchises.