‘FBI’ Creator Reveals Biggest Difference Between ‘International’ and Main Series

by Suzanne Halliburton

Dick Wolf expanded his FBI franchise by one more spinoff this TV season, giving viewers three intense hours of all things crime.

And Wolf says there’s one main difference between FBI, the first of the shows, and FBI: International, the newest spinoff. It’s all about geography.

FBI: International films in Budapest, Hungary. And in Wolf’s fictional crime world, that’s where this International Fly Team is based.

“There was a lot of exploration of where would be the most compatible,” Wolf told Entertainment Tonight. But, he selected Budapest because “there are a lot of older buildings and modern buildings.”  

Budapest, a city of more than 1.7 million people, is a perfect place, especially because of its old-world charm. The city can trace its roots back for more than 2000 years. It’s the ninth-largest city in Europe, so it fits the just-right category.

As for all his FBI shows, Wolf said “each … has a unique perspective that makes it stand out from the rest. They are vastly different in storytelling, techniques, and location. And I think it’s an incredibly good mix.” 

CBS devoted Tuesday nights to these dramas. FBI: International is sandwiched between FBI and FBI: Most Wanted. On Tuesday, FBI drew an audience of 6.39 million. International followed with 5.9 million, then Most Wanted at 5.48 million. The only Tuesday show with more viewers was The Voice at 6.89 million. So the FBI procedurals are very good for CBS.

And as Wolf said, all three shows tell vastly different stories. The plot for FBI: International involved a cryptocurrency heist. The team needed to travel to Switzerland to help solve the case. Wolf called the episode Secrets as Weapons. And here’s another tidbit that allows International to stand out from the other two shows. There’s a dog named Tank with the fly team.

Photo: David M. Russell/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

FBI’s Tuesday Episode Was About Vets As Bombers

FBI, which is in its fourth season, also featured a very dramatic and poignant episode called Trauma. It opened with a mother and her five-year-old son going through security at a federal courthouse. The little boy’s backpack blew up, killing four, including his mother.

What made this such a traumatic episode? The bombers — the domestic terrorists — were American veterans. They served their country only to return home and see the system screw them over. The IRS was auditing one. Another was addicted to pain meds. The ATF had a club for former soldiers under surveillance for gun-running. It turns out, the bombers planned their revenge from there. The FBI also asked a troubled vet to gather information. And that vet ended up killing the ring leader.

As Wolf, who gave the TV world Law & Order, said of his three FBI shows:

It’s “an opportunity to tell stories. This is still the biggest canvas in the history of the world… and that’s very satisfying.”