Following up on the success The Closer and Saving Grace, TNT is looking to dramatically expand its original programming by offering blocks of original content on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. To this end, the cable network has unveiled development plans for a number of new scripted dramas, all of which frankly sound more promising than anything the broadcast nets have served up so far this week:
Delta Blues (working title) tells the tale of an outstanding but unusual Memphis cop: an Elvis impersonator who lives at home with his mother. The series is executive-produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck), Abby Wolf-Weiss, Liz Garcia and Josh Horto and written by Garcia and Horto.
Morse Code (working title) is a crime drama about a young war hero/Drug Enforcement Administration officer who works in his hometown of Boston. The pilot is expected to star Donnie Wahlberg (Boomtown) and will be produced by Wahlberg, Jon Avnet (Boomtown, The Starter Wife) and Walon Green (Law & Order, ER), with Green writing and Avnet anticipated to direct.
The untitled Joel Surnow project is a fast-paced, gritty drama about the life of an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The pilot is being executive-produced and written by Joel Surnow (co-creator of 24) and Todd Robinson.
Angel City (working title) features six cops in three cars during one shift, in the spirit of such classic dramas as Adam-12 and Hill Street Blues. The show, conceived by Los Angeles police officer Will Beall, will be written by Beall and Barry Schindel (Law & Order) and directed by Steve Schill (Dexter).
Tough Trade is a dramatic but humorous look at the Nashville music scene. The show, which focuses on a family of country stars who live like the lyrics to a country song, is written by novelist Chris Offutt and executive-produced by Offutt, Sean Furst and Bryan Furst.
The untitled Rob Ulin project is a quirky yet authentic family drama in the mold of Little Miss Sunshine. It is is executive-produced by Rob Ulin (Roseanne, Malcolm in the Middle).
In addition, TNT has already greenlighted three new series that will debut later this year or in early 2009:
Raising the Bar is a new legal drama series from Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue). The series stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (NYPD Blue), Gloria Reuben (ER) and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle).
Leverage is an action-packed drama series starring Oscar winner Timothy Hutton and executive-produced by Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT’s The Librarian movie franchise) and John Rogers (Transformers).
Truth in Advertising stars Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) and Tom Cavanagh (Ed). The series is executive-produced by Greer Shephard, Michael M. Robin, Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny (all of TNT’s The Closer) and written by Baldwin and Coveny.
TNT has also ordered a pilot for the scripted drama Men of a Certain Age, about three middle-aged best friends, starring Ray Romano. The pilot will be written and produced by Romano and his collaborator, Mike Royce.
And if that’s not enough, the net’s also branching into unscripted programming and has a number new reality shows in development. Whew.
Looks like TNT is poised to give CBS a run for its money in the crime drama department. And good for them, too. If any of these new shows have a voice half as original as The Closer and Saving Grace, I’m in.