Not to get all block-quotey today, but I think Katie has a good point about cop shows:
Where’s the cop show set in the suburbs or a small-but-not-excessively-quirky town? Sure, there wouldn’t be enough major crime to make it a procedural, but a character-driven drama combined with day-to-day cop stuff could totally work. (The closest to this I can think of is, God help us, certain seasons of 7th Heaven. I’m thinking more along the lines of Friday Night Lights.) The police setting invites all sorts of interpersonal conflicts: Someone’s spouse doesn’t like the hours. Someone’s kid is acting up. And how do the cops deal with knowing all sorts of stuff about the people they see at the grocery store or church every week?
I actually think a transition towards this is under way. A show like FX’s Justified is a move from the city to the country, even if the show focuses on U.S. Marshals, and a wider range of territory, than cops in a small town. I haven’t had a chance to check out TNT’s Memphis Beat yet, but that’s another show that’s making a transition from the coasts into the heartland, even if Memphis still counts as a city. Geographically, these shows are closer to the city than the country.I do wonder, though, how small a town can get before a cop show can’t thrive there. In part, I think that’s because of a strong bias in our procedurals towards murder as the crime of choice. In the town of 30,000 where I largely grew up, there hadn’t been a murder for five years before we moved there, and there hasn’t been one since. That’s great for quality of living, but bad for drama. The town in mind would have to be designed with certain social problems to guarantee a plausible and predictable level of time while also having the same small-town dynamic Katie writes about. I don’t think it’s impossible, but I do think it would have to be carefully done.