Deadline

It was May 2010. NBC’s Law & Order was eying a place in the history books with a 21st-season pickup, which would’ve broken law_and_order_s20a tie with Gunsmoke and make L&O the longest-running drama series ever. The mothership series also had just spawned a third spinoff series, L&O: Los Angeles, which had been ordered to series. Then, just days before NBC’s upfront presentation, the network abruptly canceled the long-running show.

Fast-forward five years. It is May, and we have another veteran crime procedural that has created a mega-successful franchise, CBS’ CSI, facing an uncertain fate just as it launched a third spinoff series, CSI: Cyber. I hear CBS is considering different options to give CSI a final chapter next season, including a short run — as short as six episodes — but it is not a sure thing.

L&O had long finished production on its 20th season when the shock cancellation came. With public…

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