There seems to be a stunning lack of good crime shows these days, what with scripted reality TV taking over. Gone are the good old days of investigating and testing for DNA and what not. In the light of this, I give you the perfect formula for the perfect crime show, in the hopes that someone will bring back crime and investigative series to replace dramas about rivaling brothers and even deadlier rivaling girlfriends.
Your cast will define the show as much as the plot. Debuting actors and veteran superstars are generally a good balance to maintain while casting your characters. Keep in mind the following characters for the main roles:
- A relatively hot guy detective with sparkly eyes. Preferably his character is divorced and/or has a) A 7 year old son or b) a 15 year old daughter.
- A very hot chick detective who is single, save for her dysfunctional relationship with beer and her gun.
- A reasonably quirky rookie who falls for the genius tech guy
- A unit chief’s superior (the boss’s boss) who has either a) Anger management issues or b) has been involved in a high profile murder which may be finally revealed at the end of a later season.
- A funny, quirky M.E./lab guy with a hint of creepy
- A technical analyst-aka hacker tech dude who has been picked up by the cybercrime unit for hacking into the national level intelligence database.
The Perfect Plot
You want sky-high TRP’s, reviews that start out as brilliant and slowly start to wane only towards Season 9. You want characters so significant they have their own memes, and Sunday morning week-that-was rerun marathons that will annoy everyone because everyone already watches your show.
What you need is a fool proof, loophole free plot format. A surefire way to grab the average 10p.m. television watcher and thrust him into a frenzy of suspense for that one hour every weeknight. How, you ask? Here’s how to structure your plot:
The show opens with the crime being committed. Choose the likes of alcoholic blue collar employees with financial issues or an intelligent doctor/businessman/college student turned serial killer who has suffered deep-seated childhood trauma.
Use haunting instrumental music coupled with shaky camera work and violent imagery for that extra effect.
Cue title track: Use a fast-paced upbeat instrumental theme and snapshots of the cast, focusing on the lead detective that will cause teenage girls skip a heartbeat.
Back to the show, the team is now at the scene of crime. Throw in some horrific details, unintelligible cause of death, maybe even the killer’s signature.
At the crime headquarters, the detectives identify the victim and start analyzing the situation. Make sure to include occasional witty jibes between the lead detectives.
Switch to lab scene, where the M.E. and rookie analyze body and find medical/ pharmaceutical anomaly. Use random rock music for effect, old-school Muse, for example, or an up-and-coming garage rock band.
The red herring: this will eat up a majority of screen time very conveniently. The red herring is a literary device that is basically a plot twist, diverting the story away from its real trail of events. This would be in the form of a false lead that the detectives pursue relentlessly till they realize he/she is innocent. It could also be in the form of a misinterpreted medical discovery that throws the whole plot off track till rectified.
Throw in a few psychological terms to keep up the intellectual appeal of the show.
Back to Square one, the detectives continue to crack their heads but catch the wrong guy. The tech guy, armed with super-fast computers and super-awesome wheely chair also fails to find a clue here. Here is where you portray the grit and determination and acting skills of your beloved cast.
Finally, during the last ten minutes, one of the detectives has an epiphany if you will, and realizes that the lead thought to be false, was in fact, the perpetrator. Throw in some high speed chases, a gunshot here and there and the bad guy is finally under arrest.
End the episode with sentimental blues music as all the hardworking members sit in a quaint restaurant for a beer, or each go back to their respective homes, while the chief superior lingers in the office, looking up an old file to build up the suspense for the forthcoming episodes.
Mix it up at times by having the killer get away, or having him kill again before they can catch him, or an especially high-tension episode where he targets one of the team members. Refer to the CSI’s and Mentalists of prime-time television for inspiration. And if all else fails, give one of the detectives subliminal psychic powers or any other such talent that will aid investigation.