Fox has just wrapped shooting on Smile, You’re Under Arrest, the working title of a pilot for a new alternative series the network hopes could work for midseason.
From creator Scott Satin (Who Wants to Marry My Dad?, Who Wants to be a Superhero?), the show features law officers in Phoenix setting up grandiose sting operations to lure criminals with warrants into their waiting hands, and cameras.
“It is a reverse Punk’d,” says Fox President of Alternative Entertainment Mike Darnell. “Instead of the worst day of your life and then a joke at the end, this is the reverse. This is the best day of your life, and then we arrest you.”
One of three set-ups just shot in Arizona features the cops luring a criminal to a movie set with the promise of making him an extra and paying him a couple hundred dollars. An elaborate film set is staged and filming begins on a faux movie. The set-up continues as the director then gets mad at the lead actor, fires him and replaces him with the law-breaking extra.
The scene escalates with the fake director introducing the mark to a supposed studio mogul and continuing to create this dream-comes-true sequence. Finally, all the participants are revealed as officers of the law, and the criminal is apprehended (before signing waivers to let the footage be used in the show).
Other scenarios include a fake fashion shoot where the subject thinks he is about to become a supermodel and another in which the mark becomes an auto racer, a set-up which ends when a police car comes up behind him on a race track to pull him over.
“If it were a regular person you’d feel bad for them, but they are all wanted by the law,” Darnell says. “It’s Cops as comedy and no one’s ever tried it before.”
According to Darnell, all of the marks are non-violent criminals. Darnell adds that set-ups are a common way for law officers to pull in law-breakers with warrants. However, most sting operations tend to be much smaller scale, such as tricking them into thinking they won tickets to a major sporting event.
Darnell envisions the show as an hour-long format. It was shot without a host, but would have someone providing narration.
Other titles under consideration are Now That’s Just Criminal and It’s Just Criminal.