CBS tried to reform the cop show. Police reform advocates are not impressed.
The “Police and Courts” segment that aired on December 22, 2000 was a landmark piece of television for the “Law and Order” franchise. It was the first show in which the audience was invited to become a part of the police investigation, by giving input on how the police should handle such situations. It was a critical moment for the program. The show was watched live by millions of people who did not watch TV, as well as by the general public who saw it on cable and the Internet. The show was watched by tens of millions of people after its broadcast.
The show was the result of several years of research and planning by producers. They were very conscious of creating a show that would build on the positive legacy of other reality shows, such as “Cops” and “Law & Order.” The first major television crime show with an audience of millions, the show was about how law enforcement and policing work, as well as the criminal justice reforms that had made America safer.
As with any well-produced television show, an audience wants closure. If a plot is not resolved, the audience starts to feel as if they had wasted their money. With a real-life crime, the audience can always follow the detectives’ investigation. But what if the television audience knew more than the detectives? What if the audience was involved, as they were in the investigation by tuning in and contributing to the dialogue? This was the challenge that the producers took on when they created the show.
This case involved the murder of a young mother and father in Newton, Massachusetts, by a neighbor whom the mother had hired to watch over the children. The victim was a little boy who was playing in the backyard when a neighbor confronted and beat him. The neighbor then killed the boy and disposed of his clothes, so that the crime would not be connected to the parents. The mother discovered that her own children had been targeted and was fearful that she would lose custody of her grandchildren.