In 1992, CBS commissioned 8 episodes of the summer series 'Bodies of Evidence'. Until 1992, summer TV in North America was considered "the second rack at the department store". The "busy outlet shop" at the time could only be found during the fall, winter and spring seasons. The months September to May in the northern hemisphere were seeing as the "regular television season". 

'Bodies of Evidence' was described as a character-driven drama about the lives of detectives on a big-city homicide squad. Originally called 'Homicide', 'Bodies of Evidence' was written and created by David Jacobs of 'Dallas' and 'Knots Landing' and James L. Conway. The 8 episodes of 'Bodies of Evidence' could be seen on Thursday nights between June and August 1992. Leslie Moonves of Lorimar Television believed, "Summer is absolutely becoming a viable time to launch new shows." David Poltrack of CBS added, "We can save a lot on promotion costs when we have to introduce so many other new shows (in the regular TV season)." 

To combat the influx of viewers migrating from network television to cable channels, the networks decided to use the summer season to develop short-run series, "to try out new shows, new concepts, new performers, to build a following" and to "seek some financial return for series that were ordered but never got on the air during the primary fall, winter and spring seasons." It was understood "old series" normally would not attract "many new viewers", albeit it would be a "costly investment" for the network to create a new show. Hence the network would rather continue with an already existing series which consistently attracted huge audience in its "long time slot" during the regular TV season. 

It was reported the network only paid around $750,000 for each summer show, whereas a show in the regular TV season would get a budget of $900,000, thus forcing producers to keep the costs down. Of 'Bodies of Evidence', David acknowledged, "There's much less money, and I'm not used to that. With less money, a show has to be better written – because you can't cut to the car chase or a big fight. The emphasis on budget is very disturbing to me, but I’m really quite proud of the way the show ('Bodies of Evidence') is going (at the time). I think it's an interesting way to get started. It's like a little lab. It forces you to write the shows much better because you don't have as much money for action scenes." 

To assist the producers, the networks would approach advertisers such as Procter & Gamble or General Motors "to put up part of the license fee for the series." An advantage for the big studios such as Lorimar Television in producing a summer series on a smaller budget was making use of its "other assets to defray costs", such as using the existing sets on its other shows to film 'Bodies of Evidence' instead of building new sets for the series. Also with the summer series, the producers may consider shooting the show on videotape instead of film and reducing "lots of location shooting". The 1992-93 season was 'Knots Landing's' last because of high costs. The network decided to order only 19 episodes of the series forcing Lorimar Production to "rotate all major cast members out of 3 episodes." 

Starring George Clooney as Detective Ryan Walker and Lee Horsley as Lieutenant Ben Carroll, Lee recounted, "I've been in situations before where the show gets rolling and the executive will disappear. That's not so with him (David Jacobs) . . . He spends a lot of time with a show." Of 'Bodies of Evidence', "They talked to me about it, but I think the network wanted to go in another direction. They made a pilot with George Clooney. Then they decided to go in another direction once again. That's when I got involved. 

"I choose roles that are different, things that are different from yourself. I think that's the reason that we get into acting. In the first place, it's very interesting to be somebody other than yourself because we all have that side of us that says, 'I'm an OK person, but really not all that interesting'. All these phenomenal things happen in your lifetime. You have small miracles in the things that make you smile and make you cry. The really interesting roles are those you want to play. I love to work and I love to re-create." 

Of his character, "Ben Carroll isn't a lot of laughs. He's a tough cop who came up the hard way and clings to a lot of old-fashioned ideas. Matt Houston was bigger than life. He didn't have to pay much attention to the laws of the land. Ben Carroll goes by the book, he's more serious. There's not much humor in him. I think there'll be some subtle humor in the show, but it'll be through the other characters. He's a man who earned all his promotions and resists all the newfangled ideas of investigation. Police work is his life, which is why his wife divorced him. But he's having trouble giving her up, even though she's seeing someone else." 

The summer series of 'Bodies of Evidence' garnered good ratings hence the network decided to order for another 8 episodes to be shown during the regular TV season between March and May 1993. The first episode of the second series was shown on a Tuesday night and did well against 'Dateline NBC' attracting 23% share of the audience, some 18.5 million viewers. However the next 7 episodes were shown on Friday nights and fared poorly against '20/20' attracting between 11% and 15% share of the audience or between 8 and 11 million viewers. 

Four of the 11 new summer series in 1992 on 3 of the 4 networks were 'Bodies of Evidence', 'Jack's Place', '2000 Malibu Road' and 'Melrose Place'. Of 'Jack's Place', Hal Linden elaborated, "Jack is a former band leader who runs a restaurant that brings everyone together. We filmed the shows between singing performances on 2 cruise ships and his current tour of his cabaret act. Jack's the facilitator, but he gets involved in the stories. I think our stories have more of an edge and less sentimentality than similar series in the past. We look for the humor in a situation rather than the schmaltz."

Of Jack, Hal observed, "The one thing he never had was stability and a home. The restaurant is an attempt to create a center for himself. He has an ex-wife and a grown daughter, but he never had a home because he was always on the road. We're doing an anthology set in a restaurant. This isn't a new idea. When we did 'Barney Miller' it was a gang comedy set in a police station. That'd been done before with 'Car 54, Where Are You?' (in 1961). It's the execution the counts. It's how you do it that spells the difference between success and failure."

Blog Archive