Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union Will Star in NBC’s ‘Bad Boys’ Spinoff

Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union Will Star in NBC’s ‘Bad Boys’ Spinoff

So here we have two successful actresses in Alba and Union, working with NBC to create a spinoff of the Bad Boys movie franchise as the hopes of there being another installment in the franchise has diminished to virtually nil. Signing Jessica Alba on for the co-starring role is fantastic news for NBC, as she has a considerable amount of recent television experience so there is little doubt about her marketability. She also has a significant amount of sex appeal, opening the door for this two woman detective series to appeal to men as well as women. (Yes, this may be a bit chauvinistic, but this is about the long term viability of the series.) The presence of both actresses gives the spinoff a solid footing, especially when considering Gabrielle Union was a major factor in the success of Bad Boys II.

The current storyline for the series is that Union plays a former DEA agent, Syd Burnett, which reprises her role from the movie’s second and final installment. Burnett has now taken a job as an LAPD detective. Alba is being cast as Nancy McKenna, a married working mom with children. She is partnered with Burnett after serving in the Army as an MP.

The unspoken truth about the hype for this dynamic combo is that their presence may not be enough to give it much hope in the long run. There have been a total of maybe 5 female detective duos in network or cable television: Cagney and Lacey, Rizzoli and Isles, Scott and Bailey, and Cold Justice. Of those 4, only Cagney and Lacey was on a major network (CBS) and it lasted for a total of 7 seasons — in the 1980’s. So it’s been 30 years since the idea has been pursued by a major network. Of the three remaining series, Rizzoli and Isles, Scott and Bailey, and Cold Justice, they are/were broadcast on TNT, ITV, and OWN respectively.

Another problem is with NBC itself. The network almost always manages to step on its own feet when it comes to keeping prime time talent and shows. Alba apparently did her homework, as she negotiated being credited as an Executive Producer before signing on for the pilot show. At this point, the 2017 – 18 lineup is depending on “The Voice” to anchor in 3 prime time slots on Monday and Tuesday. It has been changing its judges about every season, likely because they can’t keep them around for more than a season or two. Despite is more than 12 seasons, it can’t get above a 6.6 rating on IMDB or TV Guide.

It continues the Law and Order SVU franchise, perhaps until the detectives are forced into retirement. Then there is Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., which are cut from the same cloth. A one hour news program fills the Thursday final prime time spot. There is not much new talent in their primetime lineup, which echoes the programming itself.

All this signals a program scheduling challenge because they need to position it to get initial viewer attention without getting crushed by the competition from the other networks. Friday is the programming graveyard, so that’s out. Thursdays during the fall season will have it competing with football, so that’s iffy. The most likely starting position would be Tuesday after “This Is Us” which is preceded by “The Voice, which may keep people tuned to NBC all night.

There appears to be a steep mountain for NBC to climb to make this new series a success. The talent is there, and the Bad Boys franchise has done reasonably well, so there can be plenty of optimism. (As a matter of history, Tyne Daly was cast in Cagney and Lacey after her performance alongside Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in The Enforcer. Angie Harmon of Law and Order fame was a viewer favorite before taking on the role of Rizzoli.) The familiarity and popularity of Alba and Union should go far in getting a solid start. But in the end, it’s up to NBC to determine its programming fate.

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