It doesn’t take a crime scene investigator to uncover the latest trend in drama development: ”CSI” rip-offs. And ironically, CBS — ”CSI”’s network home — is the main one doing the ripping off. The Eye is developing both a spin-off of the coroner show, which will be set in Miami, as well as a drama about the missing persons unit of the FBI, both from ”CSI” executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer. ABC, meanwhile, is investigating doing a drama about the goings-on at the Centers for Disease Control.
”Procedurals are the hot property these days,” says one development executive. ”’CSI’ is a reconfiguration of a proven genre, and in ‘CSI’ there is crime and suspense, which you find in any good mystery.” Wannabes of The West Wing are also receiving high approval ratings. ABC is developing dramas about a big-city mayor and a young congressional staffer. Fox has a drama about the D.C.-based Secret Service, while NBC has one that focuses on a naive man who becomes a U.S. senator.
CBS, meanwhile, has a behind-the-scenes look at Washington power brokers called Georgetown and even a comedy starring Nathan Lane as a television actor-turned-congressman. Since Sept. 11 ”Washington is very much in the public’s consciousness,” the development executive says. Now we just have to hope these copycats don’t render us unconscious.