For ’04, Nets Eye Serialized Dramas

While drama development for fall 2004 is still dominated by procedural shows such as Law & Order, networks are also looking for more serialized dramas, spurred by the success of Fox’s The O.C.

ABC, for example, is developing three serialized dramas, said Tom Sherman, svp of drama series. One, described as “Dynasty-meets-Seabiscuit,” centers on a horse-racing family, another on a family that owns a large media company, and the third follows a New York family who moves to Montana to run a horse ranch.

But of the 30-plus scripts in development so far, procedural shows still rule. Universal Television, which produces Law & Order, is developing a medical mystery for Fox that Universal TV Productions president David Kissinger said could do for the medical genre “what CSI did for crime investigation.” CBS is developing IQ, a murder mystery, but tweaks the procedural formula with a more character-driven storyline. Similarly, ABC is developing a drama about first-year med students titled The Cut that Sherman said “will come from a place of character.”

The popularity of Fox’s thriller 24 is spawning shows such as Den of Thieves, a 24-like heist drama in development at NBC. “All the networks are looking for dramas that break the traditional form,” said Gary Newman, president of 20th Century Fox Television, which is producing a Fox project about gun runners with filmmaker John Woo. “While these are episodic stories, it’s all leading up to a big event at the end of the season.”