In our recession, it seems to me that television studios are constantly deeming it wise to produce and fund detective shows that are the same as everyone before them but with some sort of ultimately lifeless twist. There is no longer simply a “Murder, She Wrote” there and a “Matlock” somewhere else……..
There is now “Monk”, the detective who solves cases with OCD and social idiocy, “The Mentalist”**, a former con-man who helps detectives by continuing to think like a con-man, “Castle”, a mystery writer who helps the cops solve crimes because they decided to give a shit about him for some reason, “CSI: Miami”**, where crimes are solved by David Caruso putting on his sunglasses in a cool fashion before setting Guinness World Records for saying the most useless things ever, “Rizzoli and Isles”, crimes solved by a pair of women who just do what women and men have been doing before them for years……..on and on the list goes.
The central focus seems to be bringing in people who see things in a different way. So, with the huge chunk of Americans still looking for jobs and new-but-still-old detective shows seeming to be a way for easy cash, I thought I’d offer you guys a few ideas to pitch to studios for the future:
1) “French Fried” – About a detective who was employee of the month for 5 years straight at McDonald’s before being hired to work for the police force. They solve crimes by matching which psychological profiles line up with which Happy Meal toy and examining which suspect Super-Sized what. Catchy lines can include “Well, pal, that’s the way the McNugget is cooked” and “I guess his Big Mac didn’t have special sauce.”
2) “Daniel Microsoft” – About someone who solves crimes from their living room couch by using their mother’s credit card to order anchovy pizza every week and renew their Xbox live subscriptions, the catch being that they can only solve crimes that look like something that can happen in “Grand Theft Auto”.
3) “Tree-Huggers” – About a varied-but-familial investigative team that solve crimes by measuring how the suspects recycled their beer cans, seeing their reaction when threatened with Global Warming, and questioning vendors at Farmer’s Markets. The tagline for advertisements can be “Although they eat locally, they can track your carbon footprint anywhere!”
4) “So You Think You Can Solve Murders?” Uh-oh! Brooklyn pop-and-lock duo DirtyFlow and BubbleFace backflip into the police station with a boombox blasting a generic dance song, convincing NYPD that they can clean up the crime rates of all 5 boroughs and joining the force. DirtyFlow investigates suspects while doing the best robot the world has ever seen and BubbleFace scans Medical Examiner results for clues while spinning on her head for hours at a time, without even a hint of a nosebleed.
5) “Courtside Crimes” – About someone who becomes a detective after having a long career as a popular and very well-paid NBA player. He wouldn’t actually solve any crimes, he’d just go around screaming to people that LeBron James is a backstabbing bag of horse manure.
6) “Ku Klux Khris” – About a guy named Khris who uses his 8-year stint in a white supremacist group to help police solve crimes vengefully after suffering the loss of his brother during a Civil War reenactment in Virginia. He only asks that the police pay for a new moonshine jar for him to spit in and a new 6-foot Christian Cross to burn every week. He, however, is always sure that a Black or Jewish person has committed the crime, even when neither one is existent in the episode………or entire season for that matter.
7) “Gaga in the Underworld” – Mega-Pop star Lady Gaga has decided to leave the music scene behind and fulfill her duty to put criminals behind bars, bringing her talents of wearing costumes designed by a team of LSD abusers and using choreographed dance videos as an excuse to show people that she can hump inanimate objects. Mel Gibson can co-star as the lead gay LSD-head designer while Ozzy Osbourne can occasionally cameo as an inanimate object.
8: “MySpaceBook” – Centuries ago, war was declared between two Egyptian tribes when one tribe member rejected the Friend Request of another in hieroglyphics on a Giza pyramid. Today, glamourous, rich and pointless celebrity Lauren Conrad has accidentally come across a conspiratorial plot against New York City in this continuing secret war by joining a Facebook group called “Everything I learned about Black Culture I got from watching Tyler Perry movies” on her iPhone. Now, she must use the weapons of her animal-tested perfume and brain-damaging reality show to investigate and bring peace to the warring tribes.
To go directly against detective gimmicks, you can have a detective show that focuses on having no gimmicks. But paradoxically, having no gimmick would in itself be a gimmick. Counter-culture fail.
So, I can only hope these ideas carry you well on into Hollywood success and long careers, paving the way for someone else to just copy what you did and add something meaningless to it.
**Ok, ok, I watch this show. But still, my point stands……..