The bad boys, bad boys are back — but on a new network. Cops launches its 26th season this Saturday at 8/7c on Spike TV, which grabbed the long-running documentary/reality show from Fox earlier this year.
Spike TV ordered 22 new episodes of Cops — the granddaddy of reality shows — and also struck a deal to license older repeats that will be paired with the new ones. "We've been energized by the move," says executive producer John Langley, who's been behind Cops since 1989. TV Guide Magazine caught up with Langley and his son, Morgan Langley (also an executive producer), to see how the big switch is going.
TV Guide Magazine: What's it been like at Spike TV so far?
John Langley: Spike has been great. In all honesty, I don't think we could have found a better home for Cops. I think they feel the same way. They've been running a bunch of our syndicated reruns and doing very well with them. And they're looking forward to doing even better with the first-runs.
TV Guide Magazine: Have they wanted to tweak the show or give you any notes?
John Langley: I talked to [Spike TV president] Kevin Kay personally, and I told him that there is one thing I'm not hot about, and it's listening to some young TV executive telling me how to do a show that I've been doing for 25 years. And Kevin said, "I'll make that real easy for you. The only guy who you ever have to talk to about the show to is me." I appreciated their attitude and receptivity and Kevin's a great guy. Spike has been great.
Morgan Langley: That's one of the main reasons we decided to go with them and not even shop it around. They told us, "Look, we want the same show you have been doing. If it ain't broke." And they had the very simple strategy of keeping it on the same night in the same time slot, which we thought was great.
John Langley: So all of our fans can still find us on Saturday nights at 8.
TV Guide Magazine: There have been incremental changes to Cops over the years as the world of policing evolves. What's different this season?
John Langley: You know what we benefit from? We've identified over the years the best techniques and strategies to shooting. We've done our own research about when are the best times to film. Crime has a statistical reality like a lot of things and life. And we've figured out how to maximize the potential of getting good shows. You can't make it happen, but you can certainly be there when it happens, if you use your experience. We've had great shows so far this season. In terms of high action, activity and interesting characters. We film in the prime time [for crime].
Morgan Langley: Cops is a fairly large production, we've got a lot of guys out in the field. Everybody involved was excited about the move to Spike. We had been getting pre-empted by sports on Fox a lot of the time. And it felt like rejuvenation for everyone. Our guys were really excited to get out there this season and do something extra special for the new network.
TV Guide Magazine: Where do you guys head this season? I know you stop in Sacramento and Palm Springs.
John Langley: We also go to Palm Beach, Fla.; Indianapolis; Amarillo; Las Vegas; Beaumont, Texas. Quite a few. We're a road show. We're not going to change the essential format of Cops. But it seems to me we have a little bit more action this year. A lot of chases, both foot chases and car chases. And we've also had a lot of comedy, with fleeing fugitives who end up trying to pass themselves off as residents in homes they don't belong to. So we've had some comic twists. A lot of variations on the theme.
TV Guide Magazine: From a marketing perspective, do you feel like Spike has been getting the word out?
Morgan Langley: The other thing that I think is exciting is, the last ten years on Fox there had been zero promotion.
John Langley: Fifteen years.
Morgan Langley: There was no promotion to speak of. At Spike, it is exciting to see them focus on promotion a little bit and get the word out.