Mansha Daswani hears from leading distributors about how to make an impact in the ultra-crowded crime-drama landscape.
When it comes to drama, crime does indeed pay. Viewers can’t seem to get enough of the genre, whether watching highly binge-worthy, serialized thrillers where they have to wait until the end of the series for the whodunit question to be answered, or enclosed, story-of-the-week procedurals, in which resolution is granted in under 60 minutes.
“The crime genre reflects the rest of TV,” says Stuart Baxter, the president of Entertainment One (eOne) Television International. “It’s growing and attracting more talent, and its creative breadth is becoming ever broader. Accessible procedurals and crimes of the week still work; haunting, edgy, dark and intense serialized also work; and now we see the emergence of hybrids like Stranger Things and our own The Making of the Mob and True Horror.”
Hybrids do seem to be the hot trend in crime drama as producers and writers look for innovative ways to put a new spin on a well-worn genre.
“There is definitely a trend appearing of blurring genres, where you take a crime drama and mash it with supernatural or give it a flavor of family or comedy,” reports Rebecca Dundon, the director of scripted acquisitions at FremantleMedia International (FMI). “Something that makes it different and distinct. That is where the shows will break out. Anything we’ve seen before isn’t going to stand apart.”
At MIPCOM, FMI is showcasing Hard Sun, the latest from Luther creator Neil Cross and the first big commission for FremantleMedia’s revived Euston Films label. “Hard Sun is a prime example of genre-plus,” Dundon says of the BBC One and Hulu co-production. “It’s a crime thriller at heart, but it’s set against a backdrop of a pre-apocalyptic state of Armageddon. That makes it new, exciting and distinctive in the market. It’s got everything you want from a crime thriller, but it’s got so much more [as the characters] face the end of the world.”
As another example, Dundon cites Paul Abbott’s No Offence, which delivers a darkly comedic spin on the police procedural. The show has been renewed for a third season on Channel 4 and has sold into Australia, Denmark, France and Sub-Saharan Africa, among other markets.
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