Continuing several of the trends of this development season, FOX has given a 13-episode series order to “Backstrom,” a crime drama produced for CBS last spring.
Based on Leif G.W. Persson’s novels, “Backstrom” was adapted for TV by “Bones” creator Hart Hanson and stars Rainn Wilson as a Portland detective often hampered by his own self-destructive tendencies. Yes, by the way, “Backstrom” sounds an awful lot like “Rake,” the new FOX legal drama featuring Greg Kinnear as an attorney often hampered by his own self-destructive tendencies and both of them sound an awful lot like “House,” the beloved FOX medical drama about a doctor often hampered by his own self-destructive tendencies. Perhaps that’s why FOX execs are convinced that “Backstrom” is a good fit for the network.
“Hart Hanson and Rainn Wilson are the perfect combination of creative vision and on-screen talent to bring this one-of-a-kind character and story like ‘Backstrom’ to FOX,” blurbs FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly. “I”ve been in business with Hart for a long time, and not only does he have a rare gift for infusing darker themes with relatable humor, he”s one of the best showrunners out there today. Together with Rainn — who absolutely nails this role and makes it a classic FOX character — I think we”ve got something really special here.”
“Backstrom” joins the ever-growing heap of FOX commitments already in place for next season, though the network release specifically makes no mention of a premiere window. Still, FOX has already given series orders to the comedy “Mulaney,” the DC Comics adaptation “Gotham” and the high concept Egyptian thing “Hieroglyph.” Both “Gotham” and “Hieroglyph” were given series orders without pilots, while “Mulaney” and “Backstrom” were shot as pilots for other networks last year. FOX has also already renewed “Sleepy Hollow” for next year,” which means that holes in the network’s schedule are going to be might hard to come by.
Other straight-to-series orders for the 2014-2015 season in what has become a burgeoning industry movement include NBC’s Tina Fey-produced Ellie Kemper comedy and CBS “Battle Creek” (as well as the CBS summer drama “Extant”).
“Backstrom” has a history at FOX, which was developing “Backstrom” back in 2011 with Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan adapting. All of the incarnations have been set up at 20th Century Fox TV.
“There are so few creators out there with the genuine ability to mix great procedural storytelling with humor, and Hart Hanson is one of those guys. Getting another show on the air with him has been a top priority of this company,” state Twentieth Century Fox Television Chairmen and CEOs Gary Newman and Dana Walden. “And getting the amazing Rainn Wilson in the title role was quite simply a coup. His ‘Backstrom’ fits perfectly into FOX”s long history of dramas centered around a bigger-than-life iconic character.”
That’s what I said earlier!
The pilot was directed by “Shameless” veteran Mark Mylod and also stars Kristoffer Polaha, Dennis Haysbert, Page Kennedy and Beatrice Rosen. Production on the series will in early 2014.
Other people also think that “Backstrom” is a good fit for FOX.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to get a chance to dig into Detective Everett Backstrom. For an actor it’s rare to get a crack at a role of such intelligence, humor and complexity. He’s a delightfully disheveled misanthrope with a twisted, brilliant mind and a heart of barbed wire. Truly the role of a lifetime,” states Rainn Wilson. “Hart Hanson is an incredible writer and showrunner and I couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with him. Last but not least, FOX is the PERFECT home for this fun and disturbed piece of entertainment. They are passionate about the show and I’m ecstatic to be working with Kevin Reilly again (he launched “The Office” on NBC and fought tooth-and-nail for us to stay on the air, let’s not forget) and to be on the same network as my frenemy, Mindy Kaling.”
As a fan of the fall run of “The Mindy Project,” I hope Wilson is right that “Backstrom” is on FOX at the same time as Kaling’s comedy.
Adds Hanson, whose Twitter feed was full of excitement about “Backstrom” last spring and then disappointment after upfronts, states, “Naturally, all of us who worked on ‘Backstrom’ thought it was too promising a series to die unseen and Dana and Gary were relentless in their support of the project. Imagine our delight to find that Kevin Reilly and his team at FOX agreed enough to pick it up and give us a good home. Thanks FOX!”
In the fall, CBS gave the “Backstrom” team permission to put the sizzle reel online.
So far, it’s still there:
Meanwhile, we can stop and ponder what this means for the not-yet-ordered pilots on FOX’s development slate. If the network has already ordered four new shows and renewed one current show and if “Almost Human” is currently delivering numbers which I’d describe as “Solid enough to be in serious contention for renewal” what will happen if “Rake” is a hit? And when will FOX announce a premiere date for “Gang Related” and will that even launch in time to be a contender for an upfronts pickup? And can we assume that each new pickup means less and less room for even a reformatted version of “X Factor”?
Are you glad “Backstrom” has found new life on FOX?