What do these shows all have in common: “Law and Order,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” and premiering Nov. 17: “Chicago Med?” Dick Wolf.
For all six of these shows, Dick Wolf is either the creator, executive producer, or even both. Nowadays when people think of prime time television, they think of Shonda Rhimes, but Dick Wolf has been changing the landscape of prime time TV and drama since before “Grey’s Anatomy.” If Shonda Rhimes is the Queen of TV drama, then Dick Wolf is certainly the King. Richard “Dick” Wolf was born in New York City on Dec. 20, 1946. After graduating from college, he worked as an advertising copywriter before his big break where he created commercials for Crest, the toothpaste brand.
He then moved onto the beginning of his television career. Wolf’s television career did not begin with “Law and Order,” but he began as a staff writer on “Hill Street Blues,” (yes, it’s a police drama). For his writing on an episode titled, “What Are Friends For?” he received his first Emmy nomination.
In 1988, Dick Wolf formed his own TV production company, Wolf Films, two years before “Law and Order” aired on NBC.
In 1990, the Law and Order franchise began. The first episode of “Law and Order” aired on NBC on Sept. 13, 1990, and the last episode wouldn’t follow for another 20 years. It tied with “Gunsmoke” for the longest running television drama in television history. It has also been nominated for the most Emmy awards out of the prime time dramas.
Nine years later, my personal favorite out of the franchise, “Law and Order: SVU,” aired its first episode on NBC, and it is still airing episodes every Wednesday. Dick Wolf is the creator and executive producer of “Law and Order: SVU,” and although the cast has changed noticeably throughout the 17 seasons, it still gets high ratings as a prime time drama.
“Law and Order: Criminal Intent”was the last installment in the franchise, but it lasted for 10 seasons, running on NBC from 2001 to 2011.
It is clear that Dick Wolf has a knack for prime time crime dramas based out of New York City, but in 2012 he decided to expand his talent.
Dick Wolf once said in an interview that Chicago was the “heart of the country”, so he decided to make a successful trilogy based out of Chicago.
“Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” and “Chicago Med” are three shows that occupy the same universe. All three shows have overlapping characters and cases.
Not only do the three “Chicago” shows intertwine with each other, but “Law and Order: SVU” has been known to collaborate with “Chicago PD.”
“To have three shows that the casts operate seamlessly, it’s never been done in the history of commercial TV,” said Wolf.
“Chicago Fire” was the first of the trilogy, where Dick Wolf is the executive producer. The first episode aired on NBC on Oct. 10, 2012. The premise of the show is following the lives of the firefighters and paramedics at Engine 51, a Chicago Fire Department. The show is currently on its fourth season and as of Nov. 9, 2015 it has been renewed for a fifth season.
Almost a year and a half later, “Chicago PD,” the second part of the trilogy, premiered on NBC on Jan. 8, 2014 originally as a midseason replacement, but it is currently on its third season, and has been renewed for a fourth. Created by Dick Wolf, “Chicago PD” follows the lives of the detectives working in the Intelligence Unit, and the uniformed officers that work alongside them. The last installment in the trilogy, “Chicago Med,” created by Dick Wolf, hasn’t aired yet, but it is set to premiere on Nov. 17. “Chicago Med” will follow the lives of the doctors and nurses who try to save the lives of their patients.
“Who puts, every day, other people ahead of themselves? It’s cops, firemen, paramedics.
“Chicago Fire” was the first of the trilogy, but it could have just as easily been “Chicago PD.” “And where do you think the paramedics every episode take people? They take them to Chicago Med. So here we are,” says Dick Wolf about the trilogy.
Dick Wolf has changed the landscape of prime time drama, and who knows what is next? There have been talks about bringing back the original “Law and Order,” which, with Dick Wolf, anything is possible.
Keeley Gould is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at KG787739@wcupa.edu.