Fans of the venerable Law & Order series got a nice gift to start off the new year. Through the venerable crime drama is down in the ratings once again, NBC’s President of Primetime Entertainment, Angela Bromstad, has vowed to renew it for another year.
Law & Order was created by Dick Wolf and first debuted in September 1990. The series revolves around NYPD crime investigations and the trials that follow. Though the premise has remained the same, the cast has changed many times over the years. The current performers include Jeremy Sisto, Anthony Anderson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Linus Roache, Alana de la Garza, and Sam Waterston.
The show has been on the air for 20 seasons now. Interestingly, it didn’t break into the top 30 in the ratings until season four. Even more amazing is that Law & Order actually hit its peak in season 12 when it ranked number seven for the year. The show has been in decline since then however, ranking 73rd in year 17 and then 62nd last season.
The crime drama is a survivor though and so is its creator. Wolf reportedly made concessions to NBC last spring in order to keep Law & Order around for another season. He wanted to match the 20 year record that’s previously been held for Gunsmoke as the longest-running drama in US primetime.
This season, the show opened to a dismal 1.2 rating but the numbers have improved slightly over time. Though its ratings haven’t been very good, even for a Friday night series, it looks like Law & Order will surpass Gunsmoke’s record. In an interview with BusinessWeek, Bromstad indicated that she intended to renew Wolf’s show for a historic 21st season.
She said, “I’m a Law & Order junkie… I wouldn’t want to be responsible for not having Law & Order break the record.”
Bromstad acknowledged that the schedule has to be essentially rebuilt and is ordering 18 pilots for next season. Still, they can’t cancel everything and from that standpoint, they have no reason not to keep Law & Order around for another 13 episodes. It’s produced on a tight budget and, since it’s made in-house by NBC-Universal, they can make money on the backend from syndication and DVD sales.
What do you think? Are you surprised that Law & Order is sticking around for season 21? Should it stay or is are you ready for the series to go?
Image courtesy NBC.