According to a new report, when presented with a choice between the two, Hollywood focus groups are overwhelmingly favoring a fake television show filled with ‘problematic’ elements over a ‘woke’ series that is actually in production.
A typical industry practice, ‘focus groups’ are a sort of group interview conducted by various studios to gauge the interest of various demographics in a given product, such as a film, television show, or video game.
As allegedly detailed to independent Disney reporter WDW Pro by one of their verified insiders, over the past two years, one unnamed studio has been organizing a number of such interviews in order to gauge interest in one of their new, already-greenlit police action series.
To do so, they screened three episodes of said series, as well as three episode of a fake, tonally opposite cop show – produced solely for the purpose of the focus group – and afterwards asked participants which of the two options they found more engaging.
Notably, these episodes were composed of “partial animatics with an audio accompaniment with limited voice cast (different for each)” and featured “no music”.
As detailed by WDW Pro’s source, Show A, which is currently in production, follows the story of “a young POC policewoman who gets dumped by her girlfriend and transfers to a new precinct in a Southern town where she is shocked by the racism, sexism and abuse of power of her new colleagues as well as their poor relations with the communities they serve.”
“With few friends, she doesn’t know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys anymore and has to watch her back on and off duty while she tries to initiate change both in her department and in her community,” the source added.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Show B presented viewers with “Two young detectives (two white guys, one Ivy League and the other a good o’l boy) who are partnered in Vegas where they cultivate informants and recurring girlfriends.”
“Every episode includes a fistfight with chairs and bottles flying, every second episode has a car chase,” detailed the insider. “Alleys with blowing newspapers, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, unnecessarily overpowered firearms, and muscle cars on the strip.”
“Vegas location used to the hilt – from grungy and run down to full on glam, an explosion per episode, tough police chief who supposedly hates the two rookies but he really has a heart of gold, good natured camaraderie among officers, helicopter unit heavily featured along with a K9 as a semi regular,” they continued. “Vegas is Vegas, cops are good, bad guys are the bad guys and they either get shot, blown up or caught and go to jail.”
Unfortunately for the studio, according to the insider, Show B “tested better with all groups, no matter age, sex or race.”
“The production house went on to pitch show A to a couple of streamers (one was Netflix) with a few modifications,” they explained. “It was always their intent to pitch show A, show B was only there as a control, an assemblage of classic cop show beats to learn from.”
Interestingly, as pointed out by the insider, “While episodes for Show A where adapted outlines done by the real writers of the proposed show, Show B episodes where quickly hacked up adapted old episodes of Starsky & Hutch, with the car swapped out for a Dodge Challenger.”
“Very little effort was put on the audio and the animatics (we objected at the discrepancy in quality of the presentation materials),” they recalled. “but it didn’t matter…. Show B popped huge, just huge! The leads, the chief, Vegas, the women, explosions, the helicopter, the Car, the Dog! All!”
In light of this feedback, the studio is said to have gone back and made “a few modifications” to Show A before pitching it to streamers.
However, as per the insider, streamers still “apparently passed on Show A,” though they note that the project is not dead, but is instead being “re-reworked [with a supposed] military setting and is still being shopped around.”
Ultimately, WDW Pro’s source concluded, “Man, somebody is going to get real rich putting a 1970s/1980s style cop show on the air on of these days. Just buy up the rights to some old Starsky & Hutch episodes and give them a very slight polish and you’d be golden.”