The tense, taut and remarkably well-sustained season 4 of 24 comes out on DVD next month, and the success of seasons 1-3 on DVD — over 4 million copies sold thus far — is breaking down conventional wisdom about the economics of “single-story line” series, opening up the door to what the entertainment industry does best: imitation.
According to Mediaweek, Fox has now signed 24 creators Bob Cochran and Joel Surnow to develop Hard Boiled, a “steamy” detective series that follows a kidnapping case in Los Angeles. Remarkably, NBC has ALSO ordered a kidnapping series — whether it is steamy or not remains to be seen — entitled Kidnapped, which investigates the abduction of a child of wealthy New York parents.
Jumping into the trend with both feet, NBC also has Heist in the offing, about a group of thieves conspiring to rob three Beverly Hills jewelry stores during Oscar week. Oscar week? Is nothing sacred?
“There was a stigma that you couldn’t make money on this style of storytelling because viewers know what will happen, which lessens its syndication value. And looking at the financial ramifications, it might not make sense,” Jamie Erlicht, co-president of programming and production at Sony Pictures Television, told Mediaweek. Sony Pictures Television is producing Heist, Kidnapped and A Day in the Life – the latter series a comedic look at one important day for a young couple, such as their wedding or the birth of a child, picked up by ABC.
I think unspoken in the previous hesitancy to pick up the single-story theme is the pressure to make every show count inherent in its serial nature. “If you have a couple of bad episodes, you could lose your audience for the entire season,” said 24’s Surnow, adding that quality control is critical. “Even if we have to go back and reshoot, we can’t have a D or an F. We have to have A’s and B’s to keep the audience connected.”
Maybe THAT is why 24 has found such a rabid audience, one that is willing to pay money to watch it again.