Crime and mystery channel ID (Investigation Discovery) had a banner year in 2010 in terms of viewer numbers and is the top ad-supported cable net in terms of the length of time viewers tune in. It has five new series for 2011-2012.
Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos) fronts this one-hour show about contract killings and was pressing the flesh at the Upfront presentation last week. The network also has another ex-Sopranos star on its books, with Lorrain Bracco fronting I Married a Mobster, about the significant others of well-known mob bosses.
Verdict: Getting The Sopranos alumni to front these shows lifts them above the numerous run of the mill crime series on cable.
Big Law: Deputy Butterbean
The show features former heavyweight fighter Eric Esch, better known as Butterbean and is ID’s first reality series. The 400lb tough guy is deputised as an Alabama sheriff and this show follows his crime-fighting exploits thereafter.
Verdict: Reminiscent of A&E’s Steven Seagal Lawman, albeit with a much bigger cop in the starring role.
Real Crime/Reel Story (WT)
Starring legal crusader Erin Brockovich in the first episode, the series aims to uncover the truth behind popular crime and justice movies.
Verdict: Nice movie tie-in format and Brockovich’s involvement adds some extra cred.
Science, the net previously known as the Science Channel, has a second series of An Idiot Abroad, its most popular show ever, for the 2011-2012 season. Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington taped an address for the advertisers at the Upfront last week, promoting season two, An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List. Morgan Freeman was also there to push the second season of his show for Science, Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, which is made by his production company, revelations Entertainment.
Ridley Scott’s Prophets of Science Fiction
The Hollywood producer fronts a show profiling some of the luminaries of the science fiction world, including Isaac Asimov, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
Verdict: Having the Blade Runner director present a show about sci-fi series will no doubt have the geek community buzzing – the question is whether the show can reach out to a wider audience.