As season one of the anthology drama wraps up, showrunner Rene Balcer reveals the case he wants to tackle if the show returns.
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders has been a stable performer on Tuesdays. With the help of lead-in This Is Us, recent episodes of the drama has pulled in a 1.6 rating in the adults ages 18-49 demo and 6.6 million viewers with seven days of delayed viewing factored in.
The show has not yet been renewed. If it were to get picked up, it would join Wolf’s large stable of returning dramas Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med. (A fourth Chicago series, the courtroom-centered Chicago Justice, was canceled in May after just one season.)
True Crime showrunner Rene Balcer, also the longtime showrunner on Wolf’s flagship Law & Order as well as spinoff Criminal Intent, already has a case in mind for season two: the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. The bombing, carried out by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, left 168 dead and until Sept. 11 was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
“Just before the [Television Critics Association summer press tour], I had mentioned to him the Tim McVeigh case, and his eyes lit up,” Balcer says of Wolf’s reaction. “Because Dick and I were together, we were in the same office when the bomb went off in Oklahoma.”
Balcer recalls that Wolf immediately thought it to be Arab terrorists, “and that’s what everyone thought at the time. An hour and a half later, Tim McVeigh was under arrest, so our view of domestic terrorism changed,” he says. “I think that would be an incredible case, especially in light of today’s politics. There’s pretty fantastic echoes in the present circumstances of the Oklahoma bombing and what was behind it. That would be a case that would interest me.”
However, Balcer cautions that, should season two get the go-ahead, it would be up to Wolf and Universal TV to decide what to tackle next.
And while previous anthology series, most notably Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story and American Horror Story, have become known for re-casting the same actors in different parts for different seasons, it’s unclear whether Law & Order True Crime will borrow from that model if it moves ahead.
When asked about that possibility in September, star Edie Falco said, “There’s been no mention of anything like that…. I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and I know nothing is real until it’s in front of you.”
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders rests its case Tuesday at 10 p.m. on NBC.