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With 'Law & Order Toronto,' the pressure looming over the show's creators is immense

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Nobody wants to be the person who mucked up the "Law & Order" franchise.

It’s a fear that’s haunted veteran procedural writer Tassie Cameron since she embarked on the most daunting responsibility of her career: turning Dick Wolf’s beloved legal drama into the new Canadian spinoff "Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent."

Despite years of experience writing on "Rookie Blue," "Pretty Hard Cases" and "Mary Kills People," she quivers at the responsibility she holds as the show's Thursday broadcast premiere approaches.

"I think we all feel a tremendous amount of pressure not to let down Toronto (or) Canada – it’s horrifying," the showrunner said.

"People have such embedded expectations about the show because almost everybody's watched it and has feelings.

"You don't want to disappoint the franchise holders in the States, but you don't want to disappoint your country. And it starts to feel big like that. I know that sounds ridiculous."

Sitting alongside fellow executive producer Erin Haskett at their production office, the pair are discussing how far they've come in only a few months.

It's December of last year and the Canadian production has one shooting day in the whirlwind season, which came together on tight timelines as the dual Hollywood writer and actor strikes halted many other films and TV series.

"The show got greenlit the first week of June, with one script," Haskett said.

"Then it was like, oh my God, we need nine more," added Cameron.

"So I was calling writers (asking,) 'Is anybody available tomorrow to sit in a room with me for two weeks to start writing this thing?"

"Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent," a co-production between Rogers' media division and Vancouver-based Lark Productions, was filming on the streets of Toronto before the end of August, Haskett noted.

"And it's been (working) night and day pretty much since then," she added.

The show follows detectives Henry Graff, played by Aden Young, and Frankie Bateman, played by Kathleen Munroe, as they investigate high-profile homicides in Canada's largest city.

The cases featured on the show are ripped from the headlines and inspired by real-life criminal investigations.

The show's leading cast also includes Karen Robinson as inspector Vivienne Holness, and K.C. Collins as deputy crown attorney Theo Forrester.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2024

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