|What's in a name? Although Dick Wolf has named his three NBC shows by the same name, "Law & Order," the executive producer argues that the shows themselves are completely different.|
"The stories are very different," Wolf told reporters at the Television Critics Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Wednesday (Jan. 9) referring to the shows "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."
"The only things that are identical in all three shows are the title cards and the ching ching."
The similarities in the name is just branding, says Wolf, a way to automatically give the audience an idea of what they'll be getting.
"They're not the same show. It's the same brand. It's Campbell's soup."
However, the similarities across the three shows are more than just music and title cards. All three shows are constructed the same way in that they are all non-serialized and that they all feature police officers solving crimes, following up with the legal side of the case. Although "SVU" zeros in on sex crimes and "Criminal Intent" lets you know who committed the crime, the format used for telling the story is very similar. In addition, all three shows are "ripped from the headlines," as NBC promos keep reminding us.
"The thing that is the distinguishing factor on all three shows, I really believe, is the writing," he says. "What I think is really similar about all three shows is the great writing."
Obviously, it's a formula that's working. Not only are all three shows in the top 20 in the ratings for the last two weeks, but NBC recently picked up "Criminal Intent" for next fall. The show's success has opened up the possibility of another update on the "Law & Order" franchise. Wolf says he does have new projects on the drawing board, he refused to give any details.