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The show will soon celebrate its 800th episode on the network and has shown 2,044 arrests across 140 U.S. cities.
“We’re doing gangbusters,” creator John Langley said. “It’s an existential variety show — dramatic, life-threatening, philosophical and legal. We’re still the only show on television with no script, no actors, no host and no re-enactments.”
Despite its age, the franchise also ranks as one of the few primetime broadcast series to maintain its ratings this year. Although Friday shows have been declining, Saturday night’s “Cops” continues to rake in a steady 5 million viewers per week and a 1.7 rating in the adult demo.
Launched in 1989, the show has changed little over the years and outlived a legion of imitators. Most recently, A&E’s “Steven Seagal Lawman” drew comparisons to the Fox show. Langely said he isn’t a fan of “Lawman,” where cameras follow Seagal on duty with a Louisiana sheriffs department.
“He lectures everybody he arrests,” Langley said of Seagal. “It reminds me a little of (the short-lived CBS series) ‘Armed and Famous,’ where people like Erik Estrada pretended to be a cop. He should stick with movies.”
A few series in primetime still outrank “Cops” for longevity. Saturday night partner “America’s Most Wanted” is in its 23rd season, along with CBS’ “48 Hours.” ABC’s “20/20” is in its 32nd season, and CBS’ “60 Minutes” is in its 42nd.
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