Court TV Goes From Law To Order, Orders Crime Drama
The whodunit series, "'Til Death Do Us Part," tells the tale of a bride and groom--one of whom kills the other--in each episode. Viewers spend the show guessing who will be the victim and who the culprit as a character known as "The Groom Reaper" chronicles how a relationship goes from wedded bliss to murder.
Besides the drama foray, Court TV--which announced new programming at a New York upfront event yesterday--has a slate of new reality shows on the docket. Several bear more than a passing resemblance to series on competitor A&E, including "SWAT USA" (not to be confused with A&E's more geographically limited "Dallas SWAT"), and "Bounty Girls" (not to be confused with A&E's more masculine "Dog The Bounty Hunter" or, for that matter, HBO's "Family Bonds.")
"SWAT USA" promises an inside look at special weapons and tactics teams across the country, while "Bounty Girls" (a project still in development) focuses on an elite team of female SoCal bounty hunters who use brains and beauty to find criminals on the lam.
Court TV may have trouble expanding its take during the coming upfront due to flat ratings. Prime-time performance this season in its target adult 18-to-49 demo is at a .3, the same as a year ago.
The network's prime-time median age of 51.6 also skews high. That's the same as Lifetime, a network laboring to attract a younger audience, and just below the older-skewing History Channel at 51.9.
The network is in 85 million homes, and is co-owned by Time Warner and Liberty Media,
Other reality shows nearing launch are "On the Run," where the network highlights international manhunts by law enforcement arms such as the FBI and CIA, and "Missing Persons Unit," a real-life version of CBS hit drama "Without a Trace" that reconstructs the last two days of a missing person's life while breaking down hard-to-solve cases.
In addition, plans call for an extension of the "Beach Patrol: San Diego" series, which launched in January, with "Beach Patrol: Miami Beach." Both shows follow lifeguards specializing in ocean rescue.
Longer-form reality initiatives include several documentary films. There's "SPAM: The Documentary," about the criminal purveyors of mass e-mail, which the network says is "an insightful and often humorous investigation." And a look at Jan Lewan, "the Elvis of polka music," who sold out months of shows in Atlantic City, but was also a criminal mastermind.
Longer-term, Court TV announced several other series in development, including "Divorce Story," a reality series following couples who use binding arbitration for the terms of their breakup, and "Call 911" which goes inside some of the most intriguing emergency calls.
Several projects try to tap further into the public's fascination with paranormal activity. "Haunting Evidence," set for a June 14 debut, includes psychics trying to provide new insight into cold cases. And the still-in-development "Phenomena Police" will focus on a group of peace officers who investigate paranormal activity.
Among the returning series the network announced are "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice," "Forensic Files," "Hollywood Heat," and "Parco, PI."