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Television super producer Dick Wolf is a great fan of building shows that can be turned into other shows. He did it to major effect with the (still running) Law & Order franchise, and a few years ago he started the process all over again with Chicago Fire and its spinoffs Chicago P.D., and the most recent addition, Chicago Med. Now, he’s continuing his Chicago streak with Chicago Law.
After some speculation, the Hollywood Reporter says that NBC has just confirmed that Chicago Law is, officially, in development at the network.
Obviously, NBC and Dick Wolf have a long-standing working relationship, and one that has been quite successful for both parties. The original Law & Order series began in 1990 and ran for 20 seasons on NBC, ending in May, 2010. It currently holds the title of the longest running crime drama on American primetime TV, and ties with Gunsmoke (1955-1975) for, wait for it…the longest running live action American prime time show with ongoing characters.
We all know that Law & Order inspired several spinoffs, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which was the first spinoff and has been on the air for 17 seasons. It’s obvious that Dick Wolf and NBC love their mutually beneficial relationship and hope to continue the magic with his series of Chicago shows.
Chicago Fire started in 2012. As the title suggests, if focuses on the firefighters and paramedics at one firehouse in Chicago. The show effectively mixes the professional and personal dramas of the characters by combining the action, excitement and danger of first responder work and the toll that work can take on the personal lives of those involved.
Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med follow much the same pattern, with P.D. dealing with a plain-clothes unit of special intelligence officers and a uniformed police patrol, and Med focusing on the life and work of doctors and nurses at a Chicago hospital. The three series don’t just share the same producer and storytelling bone structure, though. The characters on each show know characters from each other show, and they all frequently appear at a bar owned by some of the firefighters. Recently, the three series had a crossover arc which saw the characters of each show deal, in some part, with the same case.
It’s important here to note that the last time Dick Wolf and NBC launched a fourth iteration of a popular series, 2005’s Law & Order: Trial by Jury, that show gave the franchise its first pangs of growing pains. The show was canceled after only one season.
I happen to think that Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. are both appointment viewing shows. But, even though it recently got picked up for a full season, Chicago Med has made me slow my Chicago roll quite a bit, as I just can’t find a good reason to tune in weekly. So, here’s hoping that Chicago Law will take us all back to the glory days of Dick Wolf produced Chicago dramas.