Detroit 1-8-7, an upcoming ABC show starring Michael Imperioli that was originally conceived to be “mockumentary cop drama,” is now being re-tooled as simply “cop drama,” because save for Bones, Castle, The Closer, Criminal Minds, CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, Dark Blue, Flashpoint, In Plain Sight, Justified, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: SVU, Memphis Beat, The Mentalist, Rookie Blue, and Southland, there is a dearth of cop dramas on television. While I used to get annoyed by how many shows aped the mockumentary format, I’ve since resigned myself to the fact that it’s not really an of-the-moment gimmick so much as a format that’s here to stay for a while.
Either way, given the track record of the major networks, there’s not much reason to believe that Detroit 1-8-7 won’t be dispensable, boring television. There’s a flawed and gritty protagonist with a hot temper, you guys, and it’s reasonable to assume that the show will switch to handheld to convey that he is angry or that things are happening (two driving elements of the show). Still, producing a drama in a mockumentary format might have been an interesting experiment.
Of course, when you employ a deep enough level of abstraction, you can argue that all shows are mockumentaries; the difference is that the characters in most shows don’t know that they’re being filmed. On the final night before conventional television networks shut down forever — probably sometime around May 2017, when the last person in America gets Internet service (pick up the phone, Chad Pfister in Salina, Kansas; the Comcast folks are not as unfriendly as you think) — they should pull a huge swerve on all of us. Simultaneously, all characters on all shows should suddenly turn around, look at the camera, and realize that they have been filmed their entire lives. The final hour in television history will document how they react to it. Most characters will suffer nervous breakdowns, save for most of the characters of Mad Men (they are soulless androids). Hey, look at that, another meandering post that concludes with a knock on Mad Men. Sorry, y’all, it’s just that I have to throw some punches while I’m in the ring.