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If you take a cursory look at NBC’s programming over the last couple of years, you’ll notice two things (beyond the fact that the network seems to enjoy setting comedies up to fail): it loves Dick Wolf-produced spinoffs, and it loves airing things live. And now the stars have aligned for both of those aspects to come together in one project, which will be a live reality series spinoff of the Law & Order franchise which will go by the name Law & Order: You the Jury. Because they’ve already tried everything else, so why not get weird with it?
With a premise that I’m certain has to jump through some kind of a legal loophole in order to exist, Law & Order: You the Jury will be a courtroom docu-series that airs real-life cases, but rather than having a jury of the defendant’s peers, this show will give audiences the responsibility of deciding what the verdict will be. And during the trial, Deadline reports that viewers will be able to vote on how efficient they find the evidence presented, as well as how truthful they find the witnesses to be. I’m somewhat surprised that this is falling under the Law & Order brand and not Carmen Sandiego.
This isn’t the first time that Dick Wolf has gotten a courtroom-based reality show on the air; back in 2002, he also produced the trial series Crime & Punishment, which lasted for three limited-episode seasons. And you might remember that his most popular drama series also took one short-lived season to bring audiences a trial-based spinoff called Law & Order: Trial by Jury. You can’t say the guy isn’t full of perseverance. Beyond that, his production company was also behind such nonfiction series as Cold Justice and its spinoff, as well as Nightwatch and Dead Again.
NBC, which had mostly transferred its Law & Order spinoff prowess to the Chicago franchise, has also been quite interested in putting together as much live programming as it can. Beyond the obvious Saturday Night Live, the network is making Season 3 of Undateable completely live following the success of the live episode in Season 2. And after such specials as Peter Pan Live and an Ed Sheeran concert, they also have a few more musical specials lined up, including The Wiz Live.
While you’re waiting to hear about a live Chicago Fire spinoff where viewers get to vote on how well they think the flames are being put out, don’t forget to tune into the first episode of Law & Order: SVU, with its Robert Durst-inspired plotline, when it premieres on Wednesday, September 23.