Cop shows dominate drama pilots

Big Four have ordered 22 projects about law enforcement

The Live Feed: Know Your TV Drama Pilots

For the fall, networks are betting heavily on TV's most tried-and-true genre: cop dramas.

Among broadcast dramas in development, Big Four networks have ordered a whopping 22 pilots about law enforcement agencies and individuals including the CIA, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Marshals Service, bounty hunters, police psychologists and rank-and-file cops.

The genre surge follows CBS' successfully launching "NCIS: Los Angeles" and reflects good results from its second-year series "The Mentalist" as well as ABC's burgeoning success with "Castle."

Taking a cue from the latter two titles, several of the pilots feature characters with special abilities. In ABC's "Body of Evidence," for example, the medical examiner protagonist is a former neurosurgeon, and an untitled CBS project spotlights a New York police detective who can remember everything she's ever learned.

There's also a smattering of the other two most common TV professions: doctors and lawyers.

There are five legal dramas in the running, following the success of CBS' "The Good Wife" this season. They include a new entry on NBC from genre master and "Boston Legal" creator David E. Kelley.

With CBS' medical series "Three Rivers" canceled and NBC's "Trauma" performing poorly in the fall, only two new medical dramas have surfaced. One, "Off the Map," is from "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes and features a medical team based in an exotic tropical location.

Virtually absent: heavily serialized or apocalyptic-themed entries. Since the launch of ABC's "Lost," networks had been trying to match that success with similar projects each pilot season.

ABC's "V" and "FlashForward" started strong only to decline to more modest ratings numbers, and networks execs now see procedurals as safer bets. But NBC's "The Event," a vaguely described concept about a man fighting a conspiracy, represents an exception.

Another trend involves concepts that embrace family. "Modern Family" has been a breakout comedy hit, so it's no surprise to see the home life of crimefighters and legal eagles coming into focus. The ABC drama "Matadors" is about two feuding Chicago families, ABC's "No Ordinary Family" features a clan with superhero powers, and an untitled CBS project features a multigenerational family of cops living in New York.

There's also the usual proliferation of spinoffs and remakes, with entries including NBC's "The Rockford Files" and CBS' "Hawaii Five-O."