Every Show Needs A Little Dick (Wolf)
Foolproof lupine franchise options for four hit shows.
Remember when it seemed like Dick Wolf's reign as the franchise king of network television was coming to an end? That was when SVU was the only Law & Order we had left, and they were terrible days. Little did we know, however, that Ol' Dick was packing his bags for the Windy City, preparing 9000 series under the Chicago banner. (And with S. Epatha Merkerson joining the upcoming Chicago Med, all seems settled in the universe.)
But while planted spinoffs have certainly become de rigueur for procedurals -- even in those few crime-solving universes NOT shepherded by Wolf -- other genres haven't followed suit. Sure, you still get your odd spinoff here and there, but where are the multi-headed, overlapping series? Where are the reality shows that can pick up the torch of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge? Where are the sitcoms that can recreate that hurricane crossover episode of Golden Girls, Empty Nest, and Nurses?
Here are some suggestions for other series that have barely begun to tap their own potential, and thus need the Dick Wolf Expansion Pack model -- and the shows that could spin off from them.
The concept is basically in place: after all, Rock & Roll Jeopardy! used to exist, and there are already all those in-season tournaments on the Mothership, pointing the way. Plus...who doesn't want to provide more answers in the form of a question?
Jeopardy!: Teachers vs. Students This series will revolve around teachers selecting students (or vice versa, depending on the cycle) to compete against them in a series of games. Tensions will run high when Professor Baumgartner tells Miami University of Ohio freshman Angie Roistacher that she's not living up to her obvious potential! Hosted by John Slattery.
Jeopardy!: Out Of The Hole This series will be restricted to Mothership contestants who finished in the red. But here's the catch: they start the game as deeply in the hole as they ended their initial run. Hope they don't select any of the hidden "Double Negative" clues, which unexpectedly make them lose the dollar amount of the clue. That'll make it even harder to get out of the hole! Hosted by Whoopi Goldberg.
Crossover? Each show will run a Tournament of Champions, and the winner of all three will be placed in an Ultimate Tournament. Alex Trebek will host, but John and Whoopi will be on hand for special clues/hilarious bits.
As a cop show, it's perfectly positioned to be Dick Wolfified -- though obviously the franchise extensions need to match the original's zany energy.
Brooklyn Pizza Parlor Late next year,* this pilot will be planted in an episode of B99 that involves a stakeout at Famous Original Joe's, a classic pie shop in Gowanus. Darcy Nardone (Rachel Dratch), the no-nonsense proprietress, will do a great job helping the cops bag the crooks who are trying to shake down her customers as they leave the premises, and everyone will agree that her pizza-chef sons Marco and Reg (David Krumholtz and Haley Joel Osment) are invaluable muscle, even if they're kind of dumb. That'll set us up for this hilarious new series about the high-pressure world of pizza making in the world's most food-obsessed borough. Every week, our three leads will get into a variety of quirky scrapes as they try to stay competitive with the foodie places and keep from killing each other on produce delivery day. And if Sgt. Terry drops by for a slice, so much the better!
Brooklyn Dry Cleaners Do you think law enforcement is tough? Try tough stains! You'll love getting to know the quirky community that keeps the steam irons firing at the Ace Experience Dry Cleaners, just across the street from the Nine-Nine. From store owners Manny and Janice Davis (Reginald VelJohnson and Jackee) to Globe (George Takei), the guy who sells them reinforced hangers, you'll love learning the ins and outs of hems and pleats!
Crossover? There can be an annual episode where Darcy and Sons host a pizza cookoff fundraiser for the Nine-Nine, with special shirts embroidered by the Ace Experience team. It's a great way to bring everyone together, even if something always goes hilariously awry. When Boyle gets Darcy's marinara on his uniform, he'd better hope Janice will help clean it before tonight's cook-off finale!
The Amazing Race
I realize that Family Edition was a disaster, but we've got to press forward. As old as it is, TAR still offers plenty of visceral entertainment, sight-seeing allure, and opportunities to love or hate strangers with a surprising amount of passion.
The Amazing Race: Foot Traffic Teams meet up in an American city, and they're told they have a month to reach a location at least 1000 miles away. But they have to walk, jog, or run the entire distance. No cabs. No bikes. No planes. There will be challenges built in along the way -- like the REI Rock Climbing episode -- and endless talk of aching arches. But eventually, some lucky pair will straggle across the finish line.
The Amazing Race: Relay On this series, it's not just teams of two that race across the world...it's teams of six! However, the sextets will always travel two at a time, and in each episode, the currently competing couple will have to find another teammate somewhere in a foreign country. Will BJ and Whitney, the IT co-workers, be able to track down their colleague Sandy in the middle of Jaipur? And here's the next twist: once the competing couple finds their "hidden" teammate, that new person has to replace one of the people who finds them. Suddenly, Sandy is taking over for BJ, but what if next week's leg requires BJ's skill with fly fishing? The suspense! The drama! The excitement!
Crossover? Each series will always feature at least two racers from one of the other franchises.
You've seen the ratings, right? As luck would have it, Fox executives are putting ALL of the following series into immediate production, with each one slated to premiere in 2016!*
Empire: Lifestyle Follows the arm of the company that makes shoes and cologne.
Empire: Video Dreamers Follows an upstart group of music video directors.
Empire: World Tour Every season follows a different Empire artist on a global trek.Empire: Budget Meetings Empire: Jamal Sings for 23 Minutes Empire: Cookie Looks Directly at the Camera and Says Funny Shit Empire: SVU
Crossover? Beginning in January 2017, all Fox programming will be exclusively dedicated to Empire, so it won't even be necessary.