Spike is giving drama another try
It seems that more and more cable networks want to get into the drama game. FX has certainly been on a roll with it. TNT and Brenda Leigh Johnson have shown that they know drama. And that whole Mad Men deal they have running over at AMC is a winner. The folks at Spike TV have made runs at it before, with Blade and The Kill Point, but it just never really caught on. Despite those attempts, the network is largely regarded as the Maxim of cable.
Well, they're trying it again. The network has ordered a two hour pilot, and this time the subject matter is the Irish mob. After the boss leaves his position, a battle commences for control of the streets. The interesting twist to the story isn't on the screen though, it's behind the scenes. The show is being produced by Dana White. Those of you that have ever even mistakenly clicked by Spike have probably seen his work. As the president of the UFC, White is responsible for approximately 87 percent of Spike's programming at the moment, or so it often seems. Needless to say, the success they've had with the UFC has given him some freedom with the network.
White is joined by Tom Lynch(South Of Nowhere) in producing the series, and they've brought in Walter Hill (Deadwood) to direct. The script was written by Christopher Bertolini (The General's Daughter). As to the content, White knows what he wants. He references Nip/Tuck and The Shield as he promises to see how big Spike's balls are where violence, sex, and bad language are concerned.
Will it work? It could, but it's certainly not a slam dunk. They're facing a couple of big obstacles here. First, mob stories are a hard sell. They haven't even started production on the pilot and already somewhere out there someone is comparing it to The Sopranos, and it's not going to be a good comparison. More troubling though is the Spike brand. People have in their minds what Spike is. Drawing a new audience, the kind that will support lavish dramatic productions, is going to be hard. The wild card is White. This is his first go at scripted television, which does give one pause. On the other hand, what he's been able to do with the UFC is impressive, so he's got a shot.