When fans of FOX's popular mid-'90s police drama New York Undercover were hit with the news that ABC had given a formal pilot order for a contemporary reboot/restart/reimagining/re??? in late January 2019, questions arose about whether the series would be a fresh start or exist within the original show's "universe."
Some of those questions were answered on Friday when ABC announced original series star Malik Yoba (Empire, The Last O.G.) will reprise his role as Det. J.C. Williams, now supervising the unit as well as the next generation of detectives. The pilot is being spearheaded by original show creator Dick Wolf, Ben Watkins (Hand of God), and director Anthony Hemingway (Underground, American Crime Story). Wolf Films, Universal TV, and ABC Studios are producing.
Written by Watkins based on a story by Wolf and him, New York Undercover picks up 20 years after the end of the original series, this time focusing on New York City Fourth Precinct detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city's most dangerous criminals from Harlem to Battery Park.
Yoba's presence on the new series will help connect fans of the original series to the pilot project: not only was he a lead, but he was also the only actor to appear in every season of the series' time on FOX. The influence of the original series will also be key to differentiating the pilot from other shows it might end up competing against: Yoba and co-star Michael DeLorenzo's undercover detectives were the first two people of color to lead a police drama on American television.
Wolf, Watkins, and Hemingway are set to executive produce alongside Wolf Films' Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski. Wolf Films, Universal TV, and ABC Studios will share production responsibilities, with filming on the pilot expected to begin in New York City in early March 2019.