Level 9 TV Show

Level 9
Level 9 was a one-hour TV drama about an elite government task force fighting high tech criminals and cyber crime. Michael Connelly was one of the creators, writers, and consulting producers of this TV show, along with Josh Meyer. Nine episodes aired on UPN during the fall 2000 TV season. But then the show was cancelled. It also ran in reruns on the Sci Fi network in 2007. Below is the summary of what the show’s concept was.

Every day another headline heralds a new age of crime, a paradigm shift to an era of high-tech criminality fueled by the explosive growth of computers, the Internet and other cutting-edge technologies now embedded in the fabric of our society.

From this reality comes Level 9: A new cop show for a new era.

Three new computers are sold every second in this country. More than a hundred and fifty million people have access to the Internet.

Not a week goes by that there isn’t a devastating crime linked to these technologies. Or a new fear is raised: A power grid goes down and an entire city lurches to a halt. A computer is tampered with and planes collide, a nuclear plant melts down, prison doors swing open and a paralyzed Wall Street plunges the country into chaos.

Not a week goes by that there is not a promise from our government to begin doing something to safeguard us from these new threats. It is clear that we can’t live without our new technologies, but it is equally clear that we are increasingly at their mercy—especially when they fall into the hands of clever and expert criminals.

From this reality comes Level 9: A new cop show for a new era.

Crime no longer has boundaries; neither can law enforcement. If the computer is the new gun, then our cops need to be just as skilled with one as the other. In Level 9 they assuredly are.

 Level 9 is a television show that embraces this major new shift, or evolution, in society toward high -tech crime. It captures it with the right mix of plot, character and creative vision. It is a show that constantly draws from current reality in presenting dramas that delineate the choices and conflicts facing society in these digital times. All the while, it is a show about people—the characters’ lives, the lives of people held in the sway of our technological advances. It is a show in which technology is cool and edgy but ultimately only window dressing on human stories.
Level 9 is positioned to be totally unique on the television landscape. No current program is exploiting the dramatic potential of the digital arena. Level 9 is so forward on the crest of this wave that it also has the edge on reality. While nearly every major law enforcement agency in this country has at least a fledgling computer squad, the federal government is now devising a plan that will draw on all law enforcement constituencies in the manner Level 9 does. It is likely that in the coming years a real-life counterpart to Level 9 will become a reality to all Americans.

Aside from the good fortune of its timeliness and its showcasing of emerging technologies and issues, Level 9 benefits from an intriguing and gripping mix of characters.

The obsessive FBI agent Annie Price (as in ‘any price’), the mysterious white hat hacker Travis, the exotic Nakano of the US Marshal’s Office, the easy-going Secret Service agent Tibbs, and postal inspector ‘Shootin’ Hooten. Last but not least are the frenetic ‘Fridge Kids’ Jargon and Sosh. A counterpoint to them will be an intriguing mix of techno-villains, including the recurring appearance of the diabolically clever Mailman and the seemingly omniscient presence of CrayZhorse, a dark lord of the digital underworld.

The show offers an unending spectrum of possibilities and character arcs while new story lines appear faster in real life than the show will be able to keep up with.

At times, Level 9 will be ripped from the headlines in the best tradition of shows like Law & Order. At other times, it will run in front of the headlines, delving into the issues that are only now coming into focus as the good guys, the bad guys and those in between move through the netherworld—the “gray new world,” as one character in the pilot puts it—of cyberspace.

The New York Times recently called this netherworld “the land where there is no law.” From this reality comes Level 9.